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Door County Wisconsin: An Open “Door” to a Tranquil Paradise

15 min read

As world vacationers, Pursuitist adherents might consider “paradise” as a vacation spot that provides lengthy white sand seashores, bordered by palm bushes swaying in an ocean breeze. Effectively, I might take into account that paradise as properly, however a latest journey to a unique form of paradise has reset my psychological expectation of what paradise is absolutely all about.

Welcome to Door County, Wisconsin!

Sure, Wisconsin. Are you able to identify something in Wisconsin apart from cheese and the Inexperienced Bay Packers? I couldn’t till Pursuitist was contacted by Jimmy Department of Geiger & Associates Public Relations on behalf of Vacation spot Door County, tasked with enlightening journey and luxurious Web pages in regards to the true gem Door County is.

About Door County

With a inhabitants of about 31,000, Door County Wisconsin may very well be thought-about a really small county. And whereas the identify “Door County” appears like a single place, the identify refers to an space comprised of greater than 3,000 sq. miles, 19 distinct communities, 35 named islands, hundreds of various companies,  and numerous methods to spend a day, week, or a complete season.

Photograph by Moon Journey Guides, courtesy of Avalon Journey


The historical past of Door County consists of recognition of Native American tribes such because the Winnebago and Pottawatomi.

Later, European settlers, together with a lot of Scandinavian and French ancestry, moved there to benefit from the wealthy fishing and agriculture of the realm, together with cherry farming, which continues to be a serious a part of at the moment’s Door County financial system.

For those who journey by air or drive to Door County, it’s about 245 miles from Chicago, 177 miles from Milwaukee, and simply 67 miles from Inexperienced Bay.

Door County is understood for its beautiful views of Lake Michigan year-round. From clear blue waters in spring, summer time, and fall, to a stable sheet of ice throughout winter months, the place a novel set of actions like ice fishing make this particular place a year-round vacation spot.

Whereas a substantial amount of the County is flat, cliffs alongside the Cuesta Ridge are distinguished. At Peninsula State Park, you too can get pleasure from excessive bluffs and sandy seashores. Mountaineering or bicycling is the popular methodology for exploring trails that wind by the quiet inside of the park. Peninsula Park White Cedar Forest is without doubt one of the pure areas inside Peninsula State Park which incorporates a continuum of 5 distinct neighborhood varieties that change with elevation away from Inexperienced Bay.

Get pleasure from cherry blossoms within the spring, effective galleries the place locals promote distinctive artworks, craft breweries, and naturally, cheese! For those who don’t like cheese, you might be within the fallacious place! Significantly although, cheese making is a vital a part of the financial system and tradition of Wisconsin, and through our tour, we sampled cheese curds and exhausting and smooth cheeses, together with loads of craft beer and nice wine from eight native wineries to accompany it.

With 34 islands in Door County, ferry journey is a good way to discover when Lake Michigan will not be frozen over.  Remember to go to Washington Island’s Schoolhouse Seashore, with its uniquely easy stones, to reconnect to nature’s magnificence. The island’s lavender fields, that includes horizon-spanning purple, are one other must-see in Door County.

So A lot to See!

With Door County dwelling to so many specialty experiences, we have been desirous to get began. Our Fall itinerary was distinctive, as winter experiences are additionally a media tour choice. Extra on that later.

We started our journey by checking in to the Dörr Resort, situated within the coronary heart of fashionable Sister Bay. The Dörr  Resort celebrates the Scandinavian historical past and spirit of the County, and gives 47 rooms styled with Scandinavian furnishings and fittings. It sits simply above the principle street in Sister Bay on a modest hillside, and gives nice views regardless of the room.



A number of media colleagues stayed simply up the street on the Hillside Waterfront Resort, nestled alongside the Eagle Harbor in Ephraim. The lodge is listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations, and options 5 rooms in the principle home and two non-public cottages. James Lohmiller, Director of Visitor Providers on the Dörr Resort, and Diane Tallon, proprietor of the Hillside Waterfront Resort ensured we had a memorable keep!

Twelve Eleven Wine Bar and Provisions and Thyme Restaurant

Earlier than dinner, we had a fantastic Comfortable Hour expertise at Twelve Eleven Wine Bar + Provisions, recognized for native picks along with California labels, with winemakers that hail from Wisconsin and Michigan. Native beer and cider may also be discovered, with a menu of hors d’oeuvres to pair. Twelve Eleven was based in 2015 by Garret Torgerson and Tim Raduenz with Companion Liz Wuesthoff; all three are initially from Wisconsin.

Subsequent up was dinner on the new Thyme Restaurant, full with a bar and out of doors eating.

Thyme is understood for contemporary, new dishes such because the crispy hen cherry bomb sandwich, with cherry barbecue sauce and habanero goat cheese, and classics like red-wine braised beef brief ribs. Thanks Tonda and Karl Bradley of Thyme for setting us off on a fantastic begin.


Breakfast at White Gull Inn

The subsequent morning we received an early 7:30 am begin with breakfast on the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, a Mattress and Breakfast Inn and Restaurant.  The Inn opened in 1896, and options superbly renovated, meticulously maintained rooms, suites, and cottages, many with fireplaces and double whirlpools. The restaurant is understood for cherry-stuffed French toast for breakfast, and for dinner, the Door County fish boil, that includes Lake Michigan whitefish caught by native fishermen and cooked exterior over an open hearth, simply because it was 100 years in the past by the Scandinavian settlers of the Peninsula.  Fish Creek is listed by Forbes as one of many 15 Prettiest Cities in America. Thanks Innkeeper Meredith Coulson-Kanter for the most effective French Toast ever!


White Gull Inn


Lautenbach’s Orchard Nation Vineyard & Market

Our subsequent cease was Lautenbach’s Orchard Nation Vineyard & Market, which has been rising, harvesting, and producing award-winning fruit merchandise since 1955. Lautenbach’s is situated on 100 acres of blossoming orchards and plush vineyards. Owned and operated by three siblings, you’ll discover estate-grown wine and cherry merchandise galore – jams, salsas, pies and extra! Thanks exit to Director of Advertising and marketing, Carrie Lautenbach-Viste.



Edgewood Orchard Galleries

One of many Midwest’s most revered artwork galleries, Edgewood Orchard Galleries options works from greater than 100 artists and has been recognized since 1969 for its exhibitions exploring concepts in a variety of media—work, sculpture, glass, clay, wooden, and jewellery. The setting is as distinctive because the paintings proven. The gallery is housed in a stone fruit barn in-built 1918 and situated on an 80-acre orchard. Thanks gallery homeowners Nell and J.R. Jarosh.




Goodies or Artwork?

Earlier than lunch, we had the choice to get pleasure from candies on the Pattern DC Chocolate Design Café, or go to the Peninsula Faculty of Artwork. I made a decision to take a look at the college, which gives courses for all ages and an artist-in-residence program. As well as, the Guenzel Gallery shows a rotating schedule of exhibitions of nationally-recognized artists’ work all year long. We considered some very spectacular works, and because of Government Director Cathy Hoke for the excellent tour.

Colleagues who received their chocolate repair on the Pattern DC Chocolate Design Café touted the hand-made truffles, chocolate bars, molded candies, and extra. Thanks Cole and Kara Vanderleest for “Chocolatizing” the crew!


Burgers and Root Beer have been proper on time on the landmark Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim. Established in 1906 by Oscar and Mattie Wilson, the “Wilson Custom” has been a trademark of the neighborhood ever since. Wilson’s is now owned by member of the family Sarah Martin, who gave us the total historical past of Wilson’s.  The long-lasting restaurant nonetheless has the flagstone ground put in by the Wilsons once they first opened the restaurant.

Cruising on Sister Bay

As an avid boater, a spotlight of this system for me was a 90-minute tour of Sister Bay aboard a vessel owned by Sister Bay Scenic Boat Excursions.  With seasoned Captain Nick Dokolas on the helm, we relaxed and loved a easy cruise whereas listening to tales about Native People, early settlers, and landmarks alongside the best way on shore and on the waters of Inexperienced Bay. The corporate additionally gives cruises with reside music and sundown cruises. And every time there’s an event for fireworks, such because the Sister Bay Marina Fest, gobble up tickets quick to benefit from the spectacle from one in every of their vessels and the Bay’s distinctive viewing factors. Total, the cruise was superior and must be in your “must-do” checklist when visiting Door County.



Free Time in Sister Bay

Sister Bay has lengthy been a fantastic eating vacation spot since an area character put a goat on a roof over 50 years in the past. As we speak, a well-liked vacationer spot is a watering gap with a grass roof with Billy and his goat buddies having fun with munching on the grass roof. It’s important to see it to consider it!



I spent an hour strolling the principle drag,  with new eating places, a marina, retailers and galleries, and a 1900-foot waterfront. I loved a fantastic cup of espresso and a few scrumptious cheese curds whereas absorbing the sunshine.



An Night of the Arts and Native Delicacies


Sure, dinner on the Wild Tomato Sister Bay supplied all the gadgets I might have on an ideal menu, together with my favourite – hand tossed, wood-fired pizza. The meals was nice and the homeowners are properly vested in the neighborhood. An amazing instance of that is Wild Tomato’s “Donation Creation Pizza of the Month,” the place one greenback from every of that month’s specifically created pizzas is donated to Door County Household Providers. We tried the month’s “Hen & Choke Pizza,” laden with grilled hen, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach, over an artichoke dip base, topped with a particular cheese mix. I’m certain hungry ghosts of early French settlers upon making an attempt that particular pizza would have shouted C’est Magnifique! Huge due to the supervisor of Wild Tomato, Juan Ornelas, for the fantastic meals and a fantastic expertise.




Northern Sky Theater

Subsequent up was a go to to a vital a part of the material of Door County – The Arts. We attended a efficiency of “Sunflowered,” by Aidaa Peerzada and Lachrisa Grandberry. It instructed the story of a younger lady’s life-changing determination and her friendships. Advised by humor and music. It must be famous that Grandberry is an African American lady, who’s now in her fifth season with Northern Sky Theater. It must also be famous that there aren’t plenty of people that appear to be Grandberry and yours actually in Door County, but her efficiency as playwright and actor within the efficiency earned the troupe a standing ovation, and never one time did I really feel any angst in direction of me regardless of the place I went throughout my unbelievable keep. It’s a spot that welcomes everybody!

The Northern Sky Theater’s 248-seat Gould Theater opened in 2019 in Peninsula State Park. The theater advanced sits on 40 wooded acres, and its towering home windows and distinct structure mix with Door County’s pure components. Thanks Advertising and marketing Director Ann Birnschein for a really inspiring night.



Espresso Anybody?

The next morning, we loved breakfast on the Door County Espresso & Tea Firm. The corporate touts itself as a premier espresso roaster, roasting espresso in small batches to exacting specs. Are they legit? You guess they’re! First, after breakfast, we attended “Espresso School,” the place our host, Vicki Wilson, Founder and CEO of the corporate gave us the 411 on all issues espresso, from the place it originated (Ethiopia) to the sorts of beans and optimum rising circumstances.



After college, we donned hair nets and toured the roasting and packaging components of the corporate. Nice espresso, nice tour!



Wax for a Nice Trigger

Not solely was our go to to Door County Candle Firm a fantastic perception into how a candle-making enterprise is operated, however we additionally discovered {that a} proportion of the corporate’s Ukrainian flag-colored candle gross sales are donated to assist Ukrainians affected by the mindless warfare there. Excessive-quality candles in scents like “Door County Cherry” and “Lakeshore” mix with a fantastic sense of native and worldwide dedication to doing good. Thanks proprietor Christiana Trapini to your and your crew’s efforts!




Door County Distillery and Door Peninsula Vineyard

To prime off a fantastic morning, we visited the Door County Distillery and Door Peninsula Vineyard, the county’s unique and largest vineyard, and the primary distillery to provide vodka, gin, and fruit-infused vodka. The Vineyard has been in enterprise since 1974, handcrafting wine from contemporary fruits grown regionally and all through the U.S.



The Distillery is paying homage to the informal, pastoral environment of Door County and showcased within the stone-barn type really feel of the constructing’s exterior, but trendy and chic inside, showcasing the copper nonetheless and small batch, on-site manufacturing. The Distillery is traditional Door County, as are the spirits, distilled with clear, limestone-infused waters from the Door Peninsula. Thanks Beth Levendusky, Operations, and Artistic Director, and Rob Peterson, Advertising and marketing and Gross sales Director.



Door Artisan Cheese Firm

One factor was constant all through our wonderful go to to Door County – cheese! Sure, each meal included cheese curds. A cheese curd isn’t a particular form of cheese. It’s only a younger cheddar, one which hasn’t been aged in any respect, and they’re scrumptious! Cheese curds are separated from the whey throughout the cheesemaking course of, and as an alternative of being molded for a future cheese wheel, they’re sliced up and bagged to be offered instantly.


Having mentioned that, our go to to the Door Artisan Cheese Firm took our cheese like to the proverbial “subsequent degree.”  Each conventional Wisconsin cheeses and original-recipe creations are hand-crafted by two Wisconsin Grasp Cheesemakers. We watched the cheesemaking course of by viewing home windows. Cheeses age in three cheese-aging caves on its decrease degree.




Door Artisan Cheese additionally incorporates a specialty meals retail market providing over 100 native, regional and imported artisan cheeses. The informal fine-dining restaurant, Glacier Ledge, gives a soothing eating expertise to style and share plates that includes contemporary, regionally grown components. Get pleasure from a glass of wine and an artisan cheese and charcuterie plate on the attractive patio! Thanks Richard Stulginskis.


Cappaert Up to date Gallery

Twenty years in the past, Kathy Mand Beck turned an 1873 log dwelling right into a gallery the place she showcased unique Dovetail Sprinklers in addition to creating stunning gardens for all to get pleasure from. In 2014, artist Ginnie Cappaert took over on this breathtaking location which options artists working in up to date portray, sculpture, glass, clay, jewellery, and the “unique Dovetail Copper Sprinklers.”




Macready Artisan Bread Co.

After studying about craft cheeses and effective artwork, our appetites have been sturdy! House owners Jenny and Mike Macready of the Macready Artisan Bread Co. in Egg Harbor has the answer. The store makes a speciality of hand-crafted artisan breads, selfmade soups, and savory sandwiches made out of oven-roasted pure meats. I loved the Cranberry Hen Salad sandwich, made out of contemporary hen breast, inexperienced onion, celery and mayonnaise, and loads of delish dried Wisconsin cranberries. Yum!


One Barrel Brewing Firm



After lunch, we loved a number of chilly ones at Door County’s dwelling to distinctive beer, the One Barrel Brewing Firm. After main success in Madison Wisconsin, proprietor Peter Gentry opened the doorways to a second One Barrel location in Egg Harbor. Not your typical bar, this spot emulates a laid-back, Wisconsin tavern vibe. They rotate many contemporary brews and ciders to maintain beer lovers like me coming again repeatedly. And all the things they brew is served contemporary out of the barrel! Thanks Operations Supervisor Olivia Templin!


Anchored Roots Winery and Vineyard


The Winery and Vineyard is Door County’s latest vineyard and opened on Labor Day Weekend 2022, however was established in 2020 by Amy and Eric Gale. What began as a 3-acre winery doubled to 6-acres by 2021. The vineyard options Washington State wines, with Wisconsin wines able to be shared in 2023. Thanks Amy and Eric for sharing your story and your wonderful wines!


Juddville Up to date Clay Studio Gallery


Are you into uncommon, but extraordinary artworks? Then be sure you go to the Juddville Up to date Clay Studio Gallery.



The Gallery options the works of nationally acknowledged clay artists Rebecca Carlton and Tony Staroska. Their studio and gallery is situated within the historic Juddville Faculty. From the early Eighteen Eighties by 1957, a whole lot of native kids acquired their early schooling at school.


Subsequent, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church delivered numerous sermons to its worshipers within the area. It additionally housed a number of earlier artwork galleries. Juddville Up to date Clay has referred to as the schoolhouse dwelling for the previous 13 years. Whereas Rebecca Carlton creates site-specific artwork, Tony Staroska creates large-scale sculptures and up to date effective artwork vessels fired in on-site kilns and ovens utilizing the processes if salt, saggar and slip-resist raku. Staroska additionally confirmed off his potter’s wheel abilities! “When you have constructed or bought your dream dwelling in Door County, you’ll be able to additional adorn it with paintings that may improve your own home and replicate your particular person type. We have now sculpture, ceramics, and customized tile,” mentioned Staroska.

The Juddville Up to date Clay Studio Gallery is one other must-visit location in Door County, and is ranked quantity three in Yelp’s rankings of galleries within the space.


Dinner at Burton’s on the Bay

We wrapped up our final full day in Door County with a grand dinner at Burton’s on the Bay. Positioned on the Alpine Resort, Burton’s on the Bay gives picks akin to a smoked salmon wood-fired private pizza with goat cheese curds, and crispy pork stomach with soba noodles and bulgogi sauce, all served with a smile and a sensational view of the solar setting on Inexperienced Bay. Huge due to Burton’s Director of Advertising and marketing Jen Welsh for a beautiful night!



All Good Issues Should Come to an Finish

Earlier than we mentioned goodbye to an epic vacation spot, we visited the Sway Brewing and Mixing firm for a morning spherical of farewell beers. Since their latest opening in Baileys Harbor, Sway has created easy, easy-drinking beers—served instantly out of the fermentation cellar to the inviting beer backyard. They serve great-tasting beers with nice names like “Cracks within the Sidewalk,” “A Very Comfortable Begin,” and a “Pretty Place to Be,” amongst different inventive names. A giant thanks to Sway proprietor and Brewer Matt Sampson of Hacienda Beer Firm and his beautiful spouse for sharing their nice entrepreneurial story about how they received the enterprise began.




Farewell Lunch at Renard’s Artisan Cheese

Recognized for his or her “cherry cheddar,” a novel deal with together with their well-known cheese curds, Renard’s Artisan Cheese, Door County’s oldest cheese retailer, is in its third era of cheese makers. Get pleasure from lunch from their deli, “Soften,” that includes gourmand sandwiches, salads, mac & cheese, and naturally melts. Café favorites embrace honey truffle soften and curd Panzanella. Thanks Ann and Chris Renard, homeowners of Renard’s. In addition they have a fantastic reward store at Renard’s. I got here dwelling with stunning crystal holograph mini-obelisks for my assortment of eclectic gadgets.


What a superb time in a fantastic vacation spot! A standard theme amongst the nice enterprise homeowners we met is that the majority have been born in Door County, and have continued multi-generational household companies through the years.

Winter in Door County!

As you may count on, winter in Door County entails very chilly climate, snow, and a frozen Lake Michigan and Inexperienced Bay.

Worry not! Door County is able to welcome you with distinctive indoor and out of doors actions for snow and ice lovers!


Although the peninsula is finest generally known as an escape within the hotter months, many guests get pleasure from Door’s much less crowded days, particularly throughout the vacation season. From Christmas parades to tree lighting ceremonies, there’s no scarcity of festivities. Door County was as soon as dubbed by Nationwide Geographic “A kingdom so scrumptious.”


A snow-covered entrance signal at Whitefish Dunes State Park


Throughout winter months, Door Peninsula has its personal sense of dwelling for the outside. Take a horse-drawn sleigh journey by downtown Fish Creek. Discover snow-covered trails on cross-country skis, snowshoe the tranquil countryside, traverse the rocky shoreline of Lake Michigan or sled down pillowy white snow banks. Benefit from the Merry-Time Pageant of Timber. Are you into ice fishing? No drawback!


Cave Level County Park on a winter afternoon

Thank You!

Particular thanks exit to Jimmy Department and Carrigan Ramsey of Geiger & Associates; and to Julie Gilbert, Jon Jarosh, Jen Rogers, Yvonne Torres, Laura Bradley, Michelle Rasmusson, Phil Berndt, Pat Nash, Cathy Lynch, Morgan Rusnak, Whitney Meza, Amy DeMeter, Brittany Nemeth and Laura Lloyd at Vacation spot Door County, in addition to nice firm from my media and influencer friends.

Door County! Thanks!





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