Autumn in Door County
Door County was selected by Travel + Leisure Magazine and TripAdvisor as one of the best fall foliage destinations in the United States. Located 40 miles northeast of Green Bay, Wisconsin, the 70-mile long peninsula of Door County is situated perfectly between the waters of Green Bay (to the west) and Lake Michigan (to the east) giving visitors a variety of experiences on two distinctive coasts and charming towns in between. Door County features 300 miles of shoreline, 11 lighthouses, 5 state parks, and 19 county parks. It is known for its natural beauty, artistic offerings, and outdoor recreation opportunities.
One of the best ways to see Mother Nature’s big show is to drive the Door County Coastal Byway (www.doorcountycoastalbyway.com).
The third in the state to receive the Wisconsin Scenic Byway official route designation, the new Door County Coastal Byway runs along the peninsula’s Green Bay and Lake Michigan coastlines and includes the northernmost sections of state highways 42 and 57. This scenic 66-mile long route loops around the northern two-thirds of Door County and follows two-lane roads, connecting many of Door County’s quaint waterfront towns, inland communities, lighthouses, three of the county’s five state parks and a variety of picturesque vistas.
The Door County Circle tour is another self-guided drive that takes visitors up one side of the peninsula, over to Washington Island via the Death’s Door water passage, then back down the other side of the peninsula. The tour could technically be completed in a day, but ideally, it should be spread out over at least a few days to take advantage of Door County’s great fall packages, festivals, and fruits of the harvest season.
With the sweet smell of apples (both baked in sweet treats and fresh from the orchards), pumpkin patches, orchard markets, and “you-pick” farms around every turn, visitors will “fall for fall” in this idyllic Wisconsin setting. Door County is home to more than a dozen orchards and farmers markets where visitors can pick fresh fruits or fill a shopping basket with apples, gourd vegetables, jams, and pies all while basking in the dazzling reds, golds, and browns of changing leaves.
If you're interested in a Door County Leaf Peeping Fall Harvest Getaway? Check out the following sample activities during a visit:
The Fall Door County Lighthouse Festival is October 12-13, 2019. The Festival weekends include land-based, boat, and adventure tours that together reach all eleven of the treasured lighthouses of Door County. Many of the tour excursions are unique to the Lighthouse Festival weekends and provide visitors exclusive access to several lighthouses not typically open to the public, including Chambers Island Lighthouse, Plum Island Range Lights, and the Sherwood Point Lighthouse.
There are tours for all levels of activity and accessibility. Some tours involve hiking, while others ride in the comfort of the Door County Trolley. Boat tours depart from a variety of locations around the Peninsula, including Sister Bay, Gills Rock, and Baileys Harbor.
Sister Bay celebrates its 74th annual Fall Fest on October 18-20, 2019. This fun three-day event is filled with family fun, kids games, great music, local food, and a huge Arts & Crafts Fair. The Lion’s Club Classic Car Show and Fish Boil are yearly favorites along with Saturday’s Pancake Breakfast followed by the annual Fall Fest Parade at 11 am.
Begin at Orchard Country Winery and Market in Fish Creek for your first real taste of estate-grown handpicked apples, including the Honeycrisp, Macintosh, Gala and Golden Supreme varieties. After a “pick your own” apple outing, visit the market and tasting room to sample locally made jams, dressings, salsas, and pie fillings, in addition to wine made from the grapes, apples, and cherries from the 100+ acres of orchard and vineyard. (www.orchardcountry.com)
Visit Wood Orchard in Egg Harbor and shop for fall craft gifts and farm treats like pumpkins, Indian corn, squash and gourds. Be sure to try a new variety of apple called SweeTango®, a sweet and tart cross between Honeycrisp (the mom) and Zestar (the dad). Kids of all ages can enjoy the corn maze, peddle cart tracks, scarecrow decorating and cider pops. (www.woodorchard.com)
Head north to Sister Bay and stop in at Seaquist Orchards, a popular family-owned and operated farm market that is home to more than 30 acres of apples and grows 12 varieties. Be sure to warm up with a cup of hot apple cider. (www.seaquistorchards.com)
Drop-in at Koepsel’s Farm Market in Bailey’s Harbor, the oldest farm market in Door County with recipes for jams, jellies and canned goods dating back from before they opened for business in 1958. Selections include homemade jams, jellies, fruit butters, canned goods as well as fresh bakery items, meats, smoked fish, cheeses, fresh vegetables & fruits, Door County wines, Door County maple syrups, antiques, and souvenirs. (www.koepsels.com)
Don’t miss Saturday’s Farmers Market in Sturgeon Bay where visitors can meet the people producing the food on the plate. Find your local Door County fruits, herbs and vegetables to get a true flavor for the peninsula.
For a complete listing of special lodging packages available in Door County for the perfect fall harvest getaway, visit www.doorcounty.com. Photos provided by the Door County Visitors Bureau.
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