This Lake Michigan shore-side park epitomizes Door County's wilder lake side. Some barren dunes, some covered with swaying grasses rise up from the lake. The tallest, nicknamed Old Baldy, rises 92 feet above the lake. Nice hiking trails and boardwalks let visitors explore the area without doing any damage to the fragile dunes. (Grasses and other native plants anchor the dunes; foot traffic easily tramples them and quickly erodes the sandy hills.)
The beaches are composed of the same soft sand, making Whitefish Dunes an excellent spot for wading, beach walks and swimming (just be aware of possible rip currents). The nature center includes several exhibits about area history and archeological significance as home to the Oneota people about 1,300 years ago—visitors can even check out replicated longhouses in the woods. Watch for naturalist events, too. Kayaking and snorkeling tours to one of Whitefish Bay’s 14 shipwrecks are in the works.
The park is day-use only; no camping is permitted. Admission fees are $5 per vehicle for one hour, $7 a day for Wisconsin residents and $10 a day for out-of-state visitors.