On a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan, this one county contains 11 towns (and an island) plus wineries, cherry orchards, outdoor fish boils, boutiques, art galleries, lighthouses, hiking trails and boating expeditions.
Dress like a scalawag or battle like a buccaneer in the Pirates: Ship to Shore exhibit, or just look at artistic renderings of the scoundrels at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay.
Stop by Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek for a hike, then lunch on creamy whitefish chowder at The Cookery. For dessert, we like the handmade pies at Sweetie Pies; try the oh-so-appropriately popular apple-cherry.
Artists show off their pottery and demonstrate how it’s made at TR Pottery.
Buy high-quality works from a revolving roster of artists at Edgewood Orchard Galleries, in a restored 1918 fruit barn.
In Sister Bay, sip a lauded wine with your steak topped with bacon and blue cheese butter or salmon topped with mango salsa at Mission Grille, in a former Catholic church.
Stays at Blacksmith Inn on the Shore in Baileys Harbor are all the more delightful for the in-room whirlpool baths, gas fireplaces, balconies and harbor views (from $245).
After the breakfast buffet, use the inn’s bikes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to explore Baileys Harbor, then grab lunch at Harbor Fish Market and Grille. (Try the decadent lobster bisque.)
The eight wineries along the Door County Wine Trail promise incredible scenery and expertly crafted vintages; Stone’s Throw Winery in Baileys Harbor pours vino made from California-grown grapes.
Fifteen miles south in Carlsville, the Door Peninsula Winery complex includes Bistro 42, where eggplant Parmesan pairs with award-winning reds.
Or skip the wines and go straight to the gentle sand dunes and Lake Michigan shoreline in Whitefish Dunes State Park.
Guests on the creepy Door County Trolley Ghost Tours hear tales of ghostly sunken ships and murder at stops in a cemetery and at haunted lighthouses.
More information: (800) 527-3529; doorcounty.com
5 Great Places to Get Outdoors in the Door
1 Peninsula State Park Stick to the shoreline or head into the woods? Miles of hiking and biking trails make both options appealing in the 3,776-acre park near Fish Creek. An observation tower on the park’s east side affords long views of Green Bay; Eagle Bluff Lighthouse on the west side houses a museum. (920) 868-3258; dnr.wi.gov
2 Door County Plein Air Festival Master artists working outdoors in Fish Creek transform blank canvases into beautiful paintings at the biggest annual event of its kind in the Midwest (July 19–25, 2015). (920) 868-3455; doorcountypleinair.com
3 Cana Island When water levels are low, drive to this small island outside Baileys Harbor to see the remains of the freighter M.J. Bertelme, which ran aground in 1928. Scale the 97 steps of the Cana Island Lighthouse. (920) 743-5958; dcmm.org
4 Schopf’s Hilltop Dairy Tour the Sturgeon Bay dairy’s operation and say hi to the dairy cows, then indulge in two scoops of chocolate. In late summer and early autumn, wander the corn maze. (920) 743-9779; dairyview.com
5 Fish Boil at White Gull Inn At the far end of Main Street in Fish Creek, the turn-of-the-century New England-style bed-and-breakfast hosts one of the best fish boils on the peninsula—part dinner, part theater, all tradition. (920) 868-3517; whitegullinn.com
A 6-mile ferry ride from the northern tip of the Door County peninsula carries visitors to Washington Island, where mopeds and bikes are fun ways to get around. Why make the trip? For the bird-watching, rock-skipping and golfing, as well as guided kayak tours along the shoreline with Bread and Water Washington Island Kayak. (920) 535-0077; breadandwaterwi.com
Tender lake perch and the house specialties—steaks or salads of lobster and blue crab—delight guests every night of the week at Fish Creek favorite The Summertime Restaurant. (920) 868-3738; thesummertime.com After dinner, see a Broadway production along the wooded shoreline at open-air Peninsula Players Theatre south of town. At intermission, head to a giant bonfire to watch the sun set over Green Bay. (920) 868-3287; peninsulaplayers.com