I needed to get away for just a few days. Somewhere rich in natural beauty, good shopping, delicious food and low stress. Door County, Wisconsin fit the bill perfectly. Since this trip was spur of the moment, I turned to Door County’s excellent tourism website, www.doorcounty.com to find a place to stay and then I hit the road with my sister and her grandchildren in tow.
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Natural beauty abounds. Lake Michigan has sculpted amazing cave and inlets, depositing sand and stone making for stunning beaches. Visit Cave Point County Park to view the wind caves carved out of the limestone cliffs by strong winds. Cave Point, is actually surrounded on three sides by Whitefish Dunes State Park , and by Lake Michigan on the fourth. Whitefish Dunes offers a mile of white sand beach and the highest sand dunes in Wisconsin.
Seaquist Orchards Farm Market, on Hwy 42 in Sister Bay grows famous Door County cherries and apples. When the apple harvest is in, the scent of apples greets you at the door. Today, I smell something freshly baked. A cherry pie, maybe? A wedge of cherry deliciousness is reasonably priced and generously sized. Beautiful red cherry jams and jellies appear like precious jewels in the bright, sunlit store. Seaquist’s produces many of their own products locally. Free samples, too. A new customer-friendly processing plant, along with seasonal displays and kid activities, makes this a destination stop.
Gills Rock makes the most of its fishing heritage, offering delicious and fresh smoked fish, along with spectacular natural water shows, when the waves come crashing over the edge of the breakwater. You can see in this photo why some people call the parking lot near the Shoreline Restaurant the “Door County Car Wash”.
From Gills Rock, we head over three short miles toward Jacksonport for the ferry to Washington Island. On a windy day, you can get a sense of why this passage way was called “Port des Mortes,” or “Death’s Door” by the French fur traders. Drive yourself around the island, or leave your car on the mainland and take the Cherry Train, a guided ride around the island with a narrated history of the Island. You will have plenty of opportunities to see the island, visit historic places, like the Jacobsen Museum, filled with fascinating artifacts going back the the earliest days of the French trappers.
Time to explore “the quiet side”, along Hwy 57. First stop is to indulge in sesame-encrusted Corsica bread from the delightful Door County Bakery . This European-style bakery, cafe, deli and wine shop is surrounded by charming little gardens and is definitely worth a visit.
Next stop is Schopf’s Dairy Farm. Located on County I at the North end of Sturgeon Bay, this busy dairy farm has cute little goats, calves and piglets on display and a kid’s play area. Schopf’s features an engaging and hands-on display that brief explains dairy farming, with a plaster cow and a working milking device. A window to a milking station shows the real thing in action. Schopf’s also makes their own delicious ice cream daily. Calories don’t count today!
Sister Bay, Ephraim, Fish Creek and Egg Harbor make for a delightful drive homeward. Breakfast at Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay, is a must for any first-time visitor. The goats on the grass roof watch us as we wait outside. Inside, we indulge in the Swedish cherry-topped pancakes and other delights. Sister Bay is known for excellent dining and wonderful shopping. The town’s shoreline boasts a beautiful sand beach and great view.
Domicile in Sister Bay houses a wonderful collection of art and handcrafts created solely by Wisconsin artisans. Unique, unusual and local. Ephraim boasts a gift shop that is worth a stop. The Rusty Rabbit offers high quality art and gifts to satisfy many tastes in a beautifully renovated old house in an fairytale-like setting.
Our final stop is Cooper’s Corner to shop at Fat Louie’s Olive Oil Company. I promise myself that next time I will eat here! The sun sets as we drive through Fish Creek. And, yes, you should visit for the sunsets, too. The beauty of Door County was just enough to soothe our souls, treat ourselves and not break the bank.
Thanks to the fabulous Julie Ravely for this suggested itinerary.