Lake Life In Door County, Wisconsin

Lake Life In Door County, Wisconsin

Lake Like in Door County, Wisconsin is like stepping back in time. They have a dedication to tradition that has kept the charm and quaint beauty of the area alive. Many of the resorts give you all the Dirty Dancing feels. Meanwhile, you can also experience life on the peninsular from the late 1800s in time areas. 

From water sports to arts and culture, Door County has it all. Keep scrolling to learn more about the area, including restaurant recommendations for everyone. I’ve included traditions like fish boils and supper clubs. Foodie finds that range from cheap eats to fine dining are also included in this guide.

The Cape Cod Of The Midwest

 It’s no wonder that this charming area has been given the nickname “Cape Cod of the Midwest”. At the Northeast corner of Wisconsin, you’ll find 300 miles of shoreline on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This region known as Door County is comprised of ten quaint towns. 

Experience the labor intensive fish boils and supper clubs thanks to the dedication to tradition that these towns have upheld so wonderfully. In addition the area has wineries, orchards, art galleries, boutiques and more. There are even restaurants and ice cream parlors that have been serving the community for over 100 years.  You will enjoy lake life in Door County Wisconsin!

This guide wouldn’t be possible without the input and recommendations that have come from friends, followers on social media and the help of the Door County website. It is always a delight to get input from you all so please- keep it coming! I’ll keep sharing the information so others can explore these places we love to visit. There are plenty of guides coming soon from recent trips, but you can always start here to learn more about my  home town of Atlanta.

Door County, Wisconsin

Cape Cod of the midwest

 It’s no wonder that this charming area has been given the nickname “Cape Cod of the Midwest”. At the Northeast corner of Wisconsin, you’ll find 300 miles of shoreline on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. This region known as Door County is comprised of ten quaint towns with plenty outdoor sporting for a summer you never want to end. Experience the labor intensive fish boils and supper clubs thanks to the dedication to tradition that these towns have upheld so wonderfully.  The area has wineries, orchards, art galleries, boutiques and more, with restaurants and ice cream parlors that have been serving the community for over 100 years. 

Folklore of the area tells us that Door County got its name from Death Door Strait on the north end of the peninsula. There is documentation that describes the treachery of this strait for ships, sailors and pirates a like. It’s known for having choppy waves and hidden underwater rocks that were dangerous for travelers. Today you can safely navigate the strait by hopping on the Washington Island Ferry for an adventure to Washington Island. 

Staying In Door County

Discover your favorite town

Towns and municipalities cluster along the shorelines of the peninsula that is Door County. Each of these towns have their own flavor and style, so you can refer to this short list and description of a few of the top spots. Just know that Door County is small and it is easy to hop from one charming spot to the next. You don’t have to feel like you’re stuck in one place, but instead can see so many different things from cultural to historical, hiking and camping to fishing and boating. The area is small but they do summers well and have a little something for everyone. Go in with an open mind and know that much of the area has not changed through the years. They are dedicated to tradition in the very best way. You’ll feel like you’re going back in time, but I’ll also share a few modern and updated spots to stay for more luxurious comforts.

-Sister Bay-

Sister Bay has gained a reputation for being the food, dining, and beverage hub of the county. Options include supper clubs, pubs and taverns, waterfront dining, seafood, bakeries, pizza, craft beer, breakfast spots, and way, way more.

Visitors also flock here for the beaches, where sunbathing, swimming, paddling, boating, and other water sports are all on the menu. Reserve a room at The Dörr for a fantastic stay in a modern scandinavian style hotel.


Ephraim is known as Door County’s quiet, historic town nestled on the shores of Green Bay. Stay at the Water Street Inn for a quiet stay with great views.

The idyllic setting offers the famously graffitied Anderson Dock, access to the county’s largest state park, and tons of water sports and activities in addition to a slate of restaurants (Trixie’s is a must! They are committed to working with local farmers for the most fresh ingredients), and old-timey treats (Like Wilson’s Ice cream Parlor. They’ve been serving cold treats to the community for over 100 years). The best coffee is roasted here too, so you’ll want to check out Isely Coffee.

-Fish Creek-

In many ways, Fish Creek is the hub of Door County. A good portion of the region’s top restaurants, fish boils (White Gull Inn has the best one in Door County. Thanks for the recommendation Lauren!!), shops, and outdoor attractions are in or near this quaint-yet-bustling town.

Come here if you seek social and family life, arts and culture (definitely check out Peninsula Players Theatre for a show), historic sites, world-class dining, and shoreline sunsets.

-Baileys Harbor-

A near-perfect confluence of art and nature, Baileys Harbor is home to thousands of acres of beautiful, protected lands.

Here, you’ll also find plenty of space for hiking, biking, motorcycling, and paddling as well as a fair share of independent restaurants, a brewery, a coffee shop, waterfront lodging (Gordon Lodge will make you feel like you’ve stepped onto the set of Dirty Dancing. It is iconic in the best sort of way), and three historic lighthouses (all three are worth a visit but the Cana Island Light is surrounded by beauty). Keep the Dirty Dancing feeling going and grabs dinner at Florian II Supper Club. 

-Sturgeon Bay-

Maritime and nautical themes reign supreme here, with iconic stops like the Pierhead Light, two additional lighthouses, a maritime museum (I always love to visit local museums and this one is on the list), waterfront parks, a shipbuilding yard, the famous steel bridge, and plenty of fishing and paddling opportunities. Hundreds of shops, restaurants, Supper clubs (Donny’s Glidden Lodge has spectacular views and a great menu) , and the arts and theater scene are also here. The Inn at Cedar Crossing Is definitely the spot to stay here. Their restaurant is one of the top fine dining spots in the area.

-Ellison Bay-

This tiny town is a fascinating combination of art, history, oddity, and the very best pies on the peninsula (get them at Bea’s Ho-Made). Between The Clearing Folk School, artist studios and galleries, and indie shops, there’s no shortage of unusual experiences to be had here.

Outdoorspeople will enjoy exquisite lake views, dramatic bluffs and cliffs, boating and paddling opportunities, and access to the extraordinary Newport State Park.

Dining In Door County

Fish boils, supper clubs, tradition

Lights, Camera, Action

Museums, theaters, and cultural spots

Where to begin…For being a smaller area, this county has a lot of museums and educational opportunities to check out. My sister and I have always made a point to check out museums whenever we travel together, and it’s something I’ve added to my own travels as well. I really love touring old homes to not only learn about the area and the families who built it, but also see the way homes are constructed. The craftsmanship of many of these homes is incredible and I believe it’s good to see things well done so you know good quality when you see it. That goes for homes, art, and yes- even fashion!


Alexander Noble House | Greek Revival Meets farmhouse in this 1875 beautifully preserved home

Door County Maritime Museum | Door County has a rich heritage on the water and this is a great museum to get you better connected to the water

Heritage Village at Big Creek | Step back in history and experience Door County during the late 1800s to early 1900s

Ephraim Historical Foundation | The area has been deeply influenced by Moravian and Norwegian architectures and this walking tour allows you to take it all in


Midsummer’s Music | A true treat to have in this area! During the summer world class musicians come to Door County to perform. Check the performance times

Northern Sky Theater | To me, summer performances are some of the best. There are two stages nestled in the woods and under the stars

Peninsula Players | This is a professional theater that brings Broadway-quality comedies and musicals to Door County. The stage is an incredible wooden structure and there are wide doors that open to the outdoors bring a breeze

Historic Landmarks

Cana Island Lighthouse | There are eleven lighthouses in Door County, and this is one of the more iconic ones 

Rock Island Boathouse | Built by Chester Thordarson in 1929, this is a shining jewel of Rock Island. Nearly every material used to build it was sourced from the island

The Farm | This is the spot if you have kids. They can not only see farm animals but also bottle feed goat kids, lambs and piglets 

Scenic Interests

Cave Point County Park | Rent a kayak to explore the caves up close and personal

Newport State Park | Recently, this park was designated as a “Dark Sky” park meaning you have a spectacular view of the stars. On clear nights you can even see the Northern Lights 

Door County Coastal Byway | Experience the beauty from your car on this 66 mile long  drive

Ellison Bluff County Park | Along the coastline of the peninsula you’ll be able to see some incredible bluffs that are part of the Niagara Escarpment. This park has an easy to access wooden boardwalk that follows the coast

Farm to Table

Cherry Lane Orchards | By mid-July it’ll be cherry picking season and you can pick your own here

Door County Farmer’s Markets | There is a farmer’s market going on somewhere in Door County nearly every day of the week in the summer. Click here to see the list and pick up some canned goods to take home for yourself or as a gift

Lautenbach’s Orchard Country | Create your own flight of local wines and hard ciders then hang out and listen to live music in the summer. They have a full market and bakery there as well for you to pick up some good eats and treats

Door Artisan Cheese | You can’t go to Wisconsin without getting some cheese. Take a tour of their cheese caves then enjoy a cheese board made from local Wisconsin cheeses


Peninsula Golf Course | The course offers spectacular views of Eagle Harbor and the Village of Ephraim as you meander through the beautifully sculpted holes and scenic landscape

Sail Door County | Book a tour on the 65 foot schooner The Edith M. Becker for a one-of-a-kind sailing adventure! Heave a halyard with the crew or sit back and relax while enjoying the views

Kayak Door County | Join a kayak tour and experience the peninsula in a whole new way. The water is clear in a lot of places and it’s gorgeous 

Sister Bay Marina | You can easily find a boat rental here, or at any of the other marinas found around Door County. You can rent pontoon boats, sail boats, or speed boats

I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t stress it enough- this area is bursting with art and culture. Here is a list of events going on in the summer. You’ll be surprised at how much there is offered and the website I linked it really the best. With as much as I travel and research areas, this is hands down one of the best websites I’ve come across with information on things to do and see. It’s comprehensive view of the area gives you a great idea of what to expect! Click here for the Door County Website.

Door County is like a summer camp for adults and families. It’s laid back, has plenty of excursions to go on and everything is designed to enjoy the season to the fullest. They manage to do this while keeping the charm and tradition of the area so things move a little slower and are casual. One of my favorite comments on a post from Instagram mentioned that style in the area is casual so people who dress up too much are thought of as “from Chicago”. In other words, you’ll stick out. So don’t over do it on the pack and keep things comfortable, simple and versatile. If you plan on waterspouts, I’d also include some appropriate clothes for that. Something like a boat shirt, and shorts that’ll dry quickly. Otherwise, these outfits are perfect to wear while exploring the beauty and delights of Door County.

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