Head East on Highway I-94 to head into Wisconsin. After about 2-hours on the road, stop in Thorp, WI at the Penterman Farm and Marieke Gouda Cheese Factory. You can stop for some lunch and check out some cheese being made. Also, they have a big jumping pillow for the kids and a soccer field to run around on.
Keep driving East and make your next stop in Green Bay, WI. There’s lots to do in this little city if you want to stop on your way to Door County. If you want to get out and stretch your legs for a bit, stop by the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary or the Green Bay Botanical Garden. If you are getting hungry, check out Al’s Hamburgers for the best burger in Green Bay. It’s an old-school eatery, dating to 1934, known for burgers, breakfast & shakes in a no-frills setting.
If you are ready to make camp for the night, you can take your chances on Bay Shore Park, about 15-minutes north of Green Bay. However, their sites are on a first-come, first-serve basis so you might have to get lucky.
There are lots of great camping options throughout Door County. Peninsula State Park would be a good option if you want to travel a little over an hour North of Green Bay. This is one of Wisconsin’s most popular camping spots. The park features six separate campgrounds totaling to more than 700 campsites.
There are 11 lighthouses scattered along the peninsula’s shoreline. Eagle’s Bluff at Peninsula State Park has a great view of the island chain leading up to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Cave Point County Park is perhaps the most iconic natural landscape of Door County. Revered by divers, photographers and all who visit, the beautifully carved rock faces lining the blue waters of Lake Michigan are quintessentially Door County.
Whitefish Dunes State Natural Area preserves the largest and most significant Great Lakes dunescape in Wisconsin.
Up towards the tip of peninsula, you can explore Newport State Park. Here you will find easy hikes that lead through a coniferous forest to a rustic beach. It’s also Wisconsin’s first International Dark Sky Park with stunning views of the Milky Way on a clear night.
A really great private campground to try is Wagon Trail Campground up near the top of Door County. This is a highly rated campsite with really nice bathrooms and free showers.
Small towns like Egg Harbor, Fish Creek and Sister Bay offer shopping, restaurants and art galleries. A great restaurant to try in Sister Bay is Al Johnson’s. The Swedish-themed restaurant has sod on the roof and goats can be found grazing during the day. You can fill up on Swedish pancakes, or plättar, which resembles a crêpe, or traditional Swedish meatballs. The Wild Tomato has 3 locations in Door County. They have delicious scratch-made pizzas. Grumpy’s Ice Cream and Popcorn in Egg Harbor is a great place to stop for dessert.
Passengers can be as involved with the crew or as laid-back as they would like on one of Sail Door County’s cruises, based at the Sister Bay Marina. Choices include a lighthouse and islands cruise or a caves and bluffs cruise on Sail Door County’s 40-foot sailing yachts.
Sturgeon Bay has a quaint downtown shopping district that has plenty of antique shops, coffee spots and bookstores. It also has the largest shipbuilding port on the Great Lakes, with two active yards of racing yachts and Great Lakes freighters, some in excess of 1,000 feet. Linger outside the gates at Bay Shipbuilding Co. to watch work at the giant dry dock and gantry crane. Then head down the busy waterfront to Door County Maritime Museum and delve back in time into the lives of fishermen, ship captains, craftsmen, inventors, and lighthouse keepers. To sample all of Door County’s local specialties in one place, wander the Sturgeon Bay Farmers Market, where nearly 70 vendors sell cheese curds, cherries, berries, maple syrup, artisan sausages and meats, fresh-picked produce, and grilled brats. Several wool vendors bring their alpacas on leashes, too. A good place to start a bike tour is just above Sturgeon Bay. Follow the dunes and rocky shore along the Lake Michigan coast and take the Serpentine Glidden Drive across meandering Shivering Sands Creek to Clark Lake, then swing into the forest near Cave Point County Park. The shoreline is dramatic with cliffs and caves, and the course is cool with lake breezes that sweep the road as you glide through dappled shadows of birch and pine.
The city of Ephraim is full of history. It was settled by Norwegian Moravians in the mid-1850s. They decreed all buildings be painted white or not at all and have retained that elegantly sparse weather-beaten sensibility. Today more than 30 of the buildings are registered historic sites. Don’t forget to stop for a handcrafted root beer float or giant sundae at the classic Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor. If you want to try some more upscale dining, try the Old Post Office restaurant where we can dine on the waterfront.
Door County’s rolling hills are also filled with orchards growing cherries and apples and scores of dairy farms. Small breweries, wineries and a distillery produce locally made beers, ciders, wines and spirits often infused with local cherries and other fruits. It’s easy to spend an afternoon sampling Door County fruits, cheeses and beverages.
For an extra little side-trip venture across “Death’s Door” on a ferry to the must-see Washington Island. Once ashore, tour shops and galleries, skip rocks at Schoolhouse Beach or visit one of the upper Midwest’s largest lavender farms.