In 2011, the Schooner Coast was launched, hailed as Wisconsin's newest tourist destination. It's not new, really—it's simply a way to market the 60 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline stretching from Manitowoc in the south to Sturgeon Bay in the north. Though the scenery, towns, shops and museums along the Schooner Coast may have been there a while, grouping them under the heading is a great way to entice people to explore this part of the state and its maritime history. And there are a lot of interesting things to see.
Each of the Schooner Coast's anchor cities has a nautical museum: Manitowoc is home to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum; Sturgeon Bay hosts the Door County Maritime Museum. Both are worth a stop. In Manitowoc, you can also tarry a bit to watch the massive S.S. Badger car ferry entering or departing the harbor for its once- or twice-daily trip across the lake to Ludington, Michigan. In Sturgeon Bay, take a cruise on the historic Door County Fireboat, which once operated out of Chicago. In both cities, and all along the lakeshore, you'll find picturesque lighthouses, miles of sandy beaches, old-time supper clubs, and interesting shops and inns.
The Schooner Coast organization publishes a savings passport booklet with plenty of ideas about what to see and do, plus numerous discount coupons to local businesses. It also lists special events in Schooner Coast towns, such as the Kewaunee Trout Festival, Algoma's Shanty Days Celebration and the Door County Lighthouse Festival. Plan to spend three days meandering up or down the coast, and perhaps a little longer if you'll be stopping for a festival. Ahoy!