Door County Is The Midwest’s Most Exciting Luxury Destination Right Now

Door County Is The Midwest's Most Exciting Luxury Destination Right Now

November 4, 2021 by

Lauren Brocato Lauren Brocato

Plan the perfect getaway to Door County with our guide to what’s notable and next on the peninsula.

door county view

Door County has long been known as a crown jewel of the Midwest—not only for its picturesque waterfront, which glimmers against the sun throughout the summer; or for its bountiful landscape on which falling red and orange-hued leaves populate in autumn; or even for its serene ambiance in the winter, which offers the ideal backdrop for a season spent ice fishing and skating. Rather, the peninsula’s ever-enchanting appeal lies in its laid-back pace, which begs visitors to unplug, slow down and simply appreciate its glorious essence.

A trip up north is best spent when you arrive with an itinerary already in place. And if you know where to look, the hidden gems and longtime favorites will make a visit to Door County unforgettable. Pro tip: Pack your walking shoes, because there’s a big beautiful corner (or rather, tip) of the world to explore in Door County. Here, our ultimate guide to the gem of the Midwest.

Where To Stay

When booking a stay in Door County, consider the type of experience you’re looking for. Thankfully, there are a few routes you can go.

If in search of a top-notch bed and breakfast, check out Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim. This B&B sprawled across five acres on the town’s main drag offers a cozy yet sophisticated experience for long- or short-term stays. Also suitable for an extended stay is The Lodgings at Pioneer Lane, another Ephraim favorite, nestled right behind the village hall. This spot is highly desired for its refreshing ambiance complemented by a staff that makes each guest feel at home with daily room service upon request with a personal touch. Here, you’re just a few steps away from Trixie’s, a quaint, yet buzzy and definitely cool, natural wine bar where you’ll see guests hanging through the evening.

Other enticing accommodations include the new Dörr Hotel in Sister Bay, the hot new waterfront development that draws on the peninsula’s rich Scandinavian roots, The Feathered Star Bed & Breakfast in Egg Harbor, and Carl’s at the Farm in Baileys Harbor. Each offers an ideal base from which to explore Door County and promises a quiet place to resort to at the day’s end.

Where To Dine

Door County is teeming with noteworthy dining options, and even outside of the high season, there’s a diverse selection of eateries to experience year-round.

On the trek up or down the peninsula, stop by Sturgeon Bay’s Scaturo’s Baking Co. & Cafe for a bite. (Hint: take some sweet treats from the bakery with you on the way out.) Another Sturgeon Bay standout is Renard’s Cheese, which dishes up an out-of-this-world mac, as well as delicious pizzas and dreamy melts, that you’ll be thinking about for days—take my word for it.

Also of note is the new Thyme Restaurant location, helmed by two seasoned Door County restaurateurs, in Sister Bay. Right now, Thyme is hosting pop-up dinners at the still-in-development spot, but their partner, Twelve Eleven Wine + Provisions’ on-site bar, is already up and running. Take a seat at a table outside, or plop down in a chair around one of their fire pits with a glass of vino in hand for the full experience. Maybe it’s the picturesque natural surroundings or the laid back ambiance, but either way, you’ll want to stay here all night.

A trip to Door County would not be complete without a stop at Door County Coffee and Tea Company in Carlsville. This family-owned roaster and cafe, led by president and founder Vicki Wilson, serves only specialty Class 1 Arabica coffee beans (the top 2% of what is grown in the world) alongside delectable dishes such as the hash brown potato bake and baked oatmeal. Peruse the gift shop before you head out to take some of the caffeinated goodness home.

And of course, attending a proper fish boil is essential while in Door County, and Fish Creek’s White Gull Inn is the quintessential destination to do so. Established in 1896, this bed and breakfast and restaurant is one of the only spots that hosts fish boils year-round. Primed with a thorough history lesson on this iconic Door County tradition, the intimate and utterly breathtaking experience of the boiling of Lake Michigan whitefish is one that’s not to be missed. But, be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time as seatings are usually packed, rain or shine.

Where To Explore

No matter what time of year you find yourself in Door County, Cave Point County Park in Sturgeon Bay is a must-visit. Boasting 900 feet of shoreline on the lake side of the peninsula, the nearly 19-acre park is a scenic haven consistently teeming with visitors in search of a beautiful adventure. The picturesque sea caves create thunderous echoes as waves crash against them—a truly awe-inspiring spectacle that you’ll surely want to capture on camera.

Door County boasts multiple notable state parks, and another can’t-miss is Newport State Park, Wisconsin’s first designated International Dark Sky Park. A nighttime visit here is worth the drive up to the tip of the peninsula for its stunning, unobstructed view of a glimmering array of stars you certainly won’t see in the light-polluted city.

Another important stop when exploring Door County is the newly reconstructed Eagle Tower, recently opened in May, which is Wisconsin’s first accessible observation tower. Most opt to travel leisurely up the 850-foot ramp, where at the top, a glorious view of Horseshoe Island and the bay from Peninsula State Park awaits. After, grab a bite from family-owned and operated Julie’s Park Cafe & Motel to refuel for the next adventure.

The Can’t Miss Attractions

Aside from its natural beauty, Door County is also home to many exciting businesses and experiences that bring the peninsula to life. One of the most interesting attractions is the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor. Inside an open-air barn, the gallery features the works of more than 75 local and regional artists across a variety of mediums from watercolor and oils to metalwork, pottery and jewelry. The space also serves as the scene of concerts, weddings, dining events and other unique experiences throughout the year. Plus, co-owner and manager Andrew Seefeldt (alongside his wife Jillaine), crafts custom, handmade furniture from wood and metal all sourced from Door County, and his one-of-a-kind works are definitely worth a peek.

For an experience that’s both educational and fun, take a naturalist-led hike through the woods at Ridges Sanctuary, Wisconsin's first land trust, in Baileys Harbor. Here, you’ll witness how the ridges and swales have formed over decades of lake movement, as well as be able to visit Baileys Harbor Range Lights, which at the time of its construction in 1869, served as a guide for ships to avoid rocky reefs and shallows. A guided tour here will undoubtedly have you reconnected with nature by the time you leave—who doesn’t need that these days?

To take a deeper dive into the peninsula’s rich maritime history, head to one, or all, of the three locations the Door County Maritime Museum operates: The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor and Death’s Door Maritime Museum in Gills Rock. All are thoroughly enriching and eye-opening in regard to Door County's history, but notably, a trip to the lighthouse is an unforgettable experience. After crossing the causeway via hay wagon (a thrilling ride in itself), climb up winding 97 steps to reach the gallery deck and witness the stunning view of Lake Michigan and the peninsula.













Door County Is The Midwest's Most Exciting Luxury Destination Right Now

November 4, 2021 by Lauren Brocato

Plan the perfect getaway to Door County with our guide to what’s notable and next on the peninsula.

door county view

Door County has long been known as a crown jewel of the Midwest—not only for its picturesque waterfront, which glimmers against the sun throughout the summer; or for its bountiful landscape on which falling red and orange-hued leaves populate in autumn; or even for its serene ambiance in the winter, which offers the ideal backdrop for a season spent ice fishing and skating. Rather, the peninsula’s ever-enchanting appeal lies in its laid-back pace, which begs visitors to unplug, slow down and simply appreciate its glorious essence.

A trip up north is best spent when you arrive with an itinerary already in place. And if you know where to look, the hidden gems and longtime favorites will make a visit to Door County unforgettable. Pro tip: Pack your walking shoes, because there’s a big beautiful corner (or rather, tip) of the world to explore in Door County. Here, our ultimate guide to the gem of the Midwest.

Where To Stay

When booking a stay in Door County, consider the type of experience you’re looking for. Thankfully, there are a few routes you can go.

If in search of a top-notch bed and breakfast, check out Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim. This B&B sprawled across five acres on the town’s main drag offers a cozy yet sophisticated experience for long- or short-term stays. Also suitable for an extended stay is The Lodgings at Pioneer Lane, another Ephraim favorite, nestled right behind the village hall. This spot is highly desired for its refreshing ambiance complemented by a staff that makes each guest feel at home with daily room service upon request with a personal touch. Here, you’re just a few steps away from Trixie’s, a quaint, yet buzzy and definitely cool, natural wine bar where you’ll see guests hanging through the evening.

Other enticing accommodations include the new Dörr Hotel in Sister Bay, the hot new waterfront development that draws on the peninsula’s rich Scandinavian roots, The Feathered Star Bed & Breakfast in Egg Harbor, and Carl’s at the Farm in Baileys Harbor. Each offers an ideal base from which to explore Door County and promises a quiet place to resort to at the day’s end.

Where To Dine

Door County is teeming with noteworthy dining options, and even outside of the high season, there’s a diverse selection of eateries to experience year-round.

On the trek up or down the peninsula, stop by Sturgeon Bay’s Scaturo’s Baking Co. & Cafe for a bite. (Hint: take some sweet treats from the bakery with you on the way out.) Another Sturgeon Bay standout is Renard’s Cheese, which dishes up an out-of-this-world mac, as well as delicious pizzas and dreamy melts, that you’ll be thinking about for days—take my word for it.

Also of note is the new Thyme Restaurant location, helmed by two seasoned Door County restaurateurs, in Sister Bay. Right now, Thyme is hosting pop-up dinners at the still-in-development spot, but their partner, Twelve Eleven Wine + Provisions’ on-site bar, is already up and running. Take a seat at a table outside, or plop down in a chair around one of their fire pits with a glass of vino in hand for the full experience. Maybe it’s the picturesque natural surroundings or the laid back ambiance, but either way, you’ll want to stay here all night.

A trip to Door County would not be complete without a stop at Door County Coffee and Tea Company in Carlsville. This family-owned roaster and cafe, led by president and founder Vicki Wilson, serves only specialty Class 1 Arabica coffee beans (the top 2% of what is grown in the world) alongside delectable dishes such as the hash brown potato bake and baked oatmeal. Peruse the gift shop before you head out to take some of the caffeinated goodness home.

And of course, attending a proper fish boil is essential while in Door County, and Fish Creek’s White Gull Inn is the quintessential destination to do so. Established in 1896, this bed and breakfast and restaurant is one of the only spots that hosts fish boils year-round. Primed with a thorough history lesson on this iconic Door County tradition, the intimate and utterly breathtaking experience of the boiling of Lake Michigan whitefish is one that’s not to be missed. But, be sure to reserve your spot ahead of time as seatings are usually packed, rain or shine.

Where To Explore

No matter what time of year you find yourself in Door County, Cave Point County Park in Sturgeon Bay is a must-visit. Boasting 900 feet of shoreline on the lake side of the peninsula, the nearly 19-acre park is a scenic haven consistently teeming with visitors in search of a beautiful adventure. The picturesque sea caves create thunderous echoes as waves crash against them—a truly awe-inspiring spectacle that you’ll surely want to capture on camera.

Door County boasts multiple notable state parks, and another can’t-miss is Newport State Park, Wisconsin’s first designated International Dark Sky Park. A nighttime visit here is worth the drive up to the tip of the peninsula for its stunning, unobstructed view of a glimmering array of stars you certainly won’t see in the light-polluted city.

Another important stop when exploring Door County is the newly reconstructed Eagle Tower, recently opened in May, which is Wisconsin’s first accessible observation tower. Most opt to travel leisurely up the 850-foot ramp, where at the top, a glorious view of Horseshoe Island and the bay from Peninsula State Park awaits. After, grab a bite from family-owned and operated Julie’s Park Cafe & Motel to refuel for the next adventure.

The Can’t Miss Attractions

Aside from its natural beauty, Door County is also home to many exciting businesses and experiences that bring the peninsula to life. One of the most interesting attractions is the Woodwalk Gallery in Egg Harbor. Inside an open-air barn, the gallery features the works of more than 75 local and regional artists across a variety of mediums from watercolor and oils to metalwork, pottery and jewelry. The space also serves as the scene of concerts, weddings, dining events and other unique experiences throughout the year. Plus, co-owner and manager Andrew Seefeldt (alongside his wife Jillaine), crafts custom, handmade furniture from wood and metal all sourced from Door County, and his one-of-a-kind works are definitely worth a peek.

For an experience that’s both educational and fun, take a naturalist-led hike through the woods at Ridges Sanctuary, Wisconsin's first land trust, in Baileys Harbor. Here, you’ll witness how the ridges and swales have formed over decades of lake movement, as well as be able to visit Baileys Harbor Range Lights, which at the time of its construction in 1869, served as a guide for ships to avoid rocky reefs and shallows. A guided tour here will undoubtedly have you reconnected with nature by the time you leave—who doesn’t need that these days?

To take a deeper dive into the peninsula’s rich maritime history, head to one, or all, of the three locations the Door County Maritime Museum operates: The Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor and Death’s Door Maritime Museum in Gills Rock. All are thoroughly enriching and eye-opening in regard to Door County's history, but notably, a trip to the lighthouse is an unforgettable experience. After crossing the causeway via hay wagon (a thrilling ride in itself), climb up winding 97 steps to reach the gallery deck and witness the stunning view of Lake Michigan and the peninsula.