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Water Play Every Way

Surrounded by water on three sides, Door County has a strong maritime history and a love for water recreation. Kayak between mega ships in the bay or paddle up the coast to Cave Point County Park, where ancient caves along the beach seem part of another world. Cruise the bay on a historic fireboat, snapping photos of islands, lighthouses and sunsets that never fail to impress. Under the waves are hundreds of shipwrecks dating to the early 1800s; many rest in just a few meters of water and are visible from a boat or kayak. Anglers can cast a line for trout and salmon in Lake Michigan.

 

Islands and Parks

Once you’ve explored the water, spend some time on an island. You’ll hear a lot about Washington Island, Door County’s largest, which is inhabited by 700 residents and offers dining, shopping, arts and overnight amenities. Climb the Mountain Park observation tower; look for Stavkirke, a fantastical wooden structure modeled after a Norwegian, Viking-era church; and visit Schoolhouse Beach, one of only five smooth-pebble beaches in the world. From here, you can take a short ferry ride (seasonal) to Rock Island State Park to hike, see the lighthouse and camp out on a primitive, car-less island. If you still need more time outdoors, there are five state parks in Door County to fill your need for nature.

 

Nature’s Tasty Bounty

More than 1,000 hectares of cherry orchards burst into fragrant bloom in mid- to late May and by late July, the trees are heavy with ripe, red cherries. Cherry picking is a must if you visit that time of year, followed by apple picking in the fall. Those same cherries and apples, along with grapes, are used to make the local wine, beer, hard cider and spirits available throughout the area. Hit up a Friday-night fish fry and linger over an Old Fashioned at a supper club – Wisconsin is famous for them – or get to know the locals at a fish boil. This culinary tradition features large quantities of locally caught whitefish boiled with potatoes and served from a giant kettle, finished off with a slice of cherry pie made from – what else? – Door County cherries.

Fun Fact

Cherry orchards on a blue-sky day in Door County, Wisconsin
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Door County is widely known for its cherry orchards; there are more than 1,000 hectares of them throughout the county.

A ship passing through Death’s Door strait in Wisconsin
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Death’s Door, the notoriously treacherous strait between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, has sunk 275 vessels and inspired the county’s name.

Pebbles stacked on Schoolhouse Beach in Door County, Wisconsin
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Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island is one of the only sand-free beaches in the world. Instead of sand, its shores are made of smooth pebbles.

A pair of stand-up paddleboarders in Door County, Wisconsin
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