You may not have heard of Door County, Wisconsin. It is certainly not as well known as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It might be a secret that Wisconsiners have been trying to keep. However, we found out anyway. Door County is a peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, just off Green Bay. It offers a wide selection of adventures. You should definitely look into it if you like any of the following: small home-style wineries; large wineries using Michigan and California grapes; little lighthouses; big lighthouses; souvenir shops; fishing; boating; camping; nature preserves; and so much more.
Door County, Wisconsin, is a place where a multitude of state and local parks intertwine with farmland and vineyards in a most charming way. Take a drive through the countryside. It will reveal rolling terrain and lovely wooded areas directly adjacent to fields of wheat. The architecture is also unique. As you break the crest of a hill, you might see a small town spread out below you. It has so many new buildings that you think you are entering the suburbs of a major metropolitan area. No, it is just a small town that was built recently, with a view to modern life styles – condos, boat docks and retail spaces for groceries, restaurants and the like – all within walking distance. You could just as easily, break the crest of the hill to find a small, quaint older town with wide open streets and shops lining each side of the street. Rest assured that in either case, the bicycle police are not far away. These towns are quaint, but have the modern conveniences and attitudes suburbanites have come to expect.
One small town that is especially charming is Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is situated on the west side of Lake Michigan about half way up the peninsula. The town is a blend of old and new, as is so much of the peninsula. The downtown area is an attractive combination of shops, from thrift shops to galleries of works by local artists. Visit the Madison Avenue Wine Shop for a very nice selection of local and imported wines. The shopkeepers are extremely knowledgeable and willing to share their expertise with you. There are some interesting local wines that they can give you the lowdown on. If you succumb and purchase some, do not be surprised if they send you home with one of their wine bags. It is a kind gesture as well as a wonderful remembrance. The shop is also the dealer for the Door County Olive Oil Co., which produces all types of olive oils including those for dipping. There are even some you can sample in the shop.
Venture on up highway 42 and you will find yourself at Peninsula State Park of Door County, Wisconsin. It is one of those parks that is enjoyable either walking or driving. It has lots of biking trails, hiking trails and campsites. Toward the middle of the park, on the west side, you will find the Eagle Bluff lighthouse. There are tours of the lighthouse available from the Door County Historical Society. They run three times per hour and last about 30 minutes.
There are 10 lighthouses on the peninsula. There are more than five wineries. There are five state parks and numerous local parks. There are lots of beaches, bicycle trails and plenty of places to walk, eat and shop. If you drive all the way to the end of the peninsula, you will find yourself at Northpoint. From here, you will need to take a car ferry if you want to go further. There are many attractions at the far end of the peninsula. Watch for another article about this area.