We’re answering some of your most frequently asked questions about where to eat and what to do in Door County so you're fully prepared for your visit this summer season! So many people come into Sister Golden looking for recommendations that we decided to round up all of our favorites in one blog post.
Let's just say this list has been a long time coming, since I started visiting Door County on a regular basis about 35 years ago! My husband (Brooke’s dad) brought me up from Chicago for the first time way back when and I fell IN LOVE! This bonafied addicted-to-the-west-coast-ocean-girl was in awe of the magical place Door County was. It ticked all of my vacation destination boxes. We, of course, brought Brooke and her brother up as soon as they were old enough to be strapped into the car, and they both ended up working summer jobs here when they were in high school and college. It felt like a second home to us since the very beginning, and ultimately did become our permanent home after we moved here to open our brick and mortar store 3 years ago!
In case you’re not familiar with this amazing place we always speak of, here’s a quick geography lesson: Door County is a peninsula off the east side of Wisconsin with Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other, connected to the rest of the state by 3 bridges. Door County’s natural breathtaking beauty is reflective of its location and the geology of the region, running along the Niagara Escarpment – a massive limestone cliff. The escarpment actually runs for 900 miles up through Canada and into New York State, where it supports the waters of Niagara Falls. So, this means a mix of rugged cliffs and soft white sand beaches make up the shoreline, with magnificent views of vast water (Lake Michigan may as well be an ocean, you know), and amazing sunrises and sunsets!
You could plan an entire trip around the 11 historic lighthouses, 5 state parks, and 300 miles of incredible coastline here, especially if you’re into hiking, camping, fishing, boating, water sports, photography, or outdoor fun of any kind!
[Photos above via Matt Sampson Photography]
These are the 5 state parks to explore:
Music and theater are not only plentiful here, they’re actually really good! There are so many performances going on in the county throughout the summer season, it’s hard to choose where to go and what to see.
We recommend seeing a show at:
- Peninsula Players Theatre
- Northern Sky Theater
- Door Shakespeare
- Third Avenue Playhouse
- Door County Brewing Co. Taproom and Music Hall
- Door County Auditorium
- Sister Bay Bandshell
- Peg Egan Performing Arts Center
[Photo via Door County Brewing Co.]
One of the most attractive things about the county for us has always been its arts and culture. Having lived in Chicago for years with access to places like the Art Institute and countless amazing galleries, you get a little spoiled, but we continue to be impressed by the diverse art scene.
There are many studio-galleries to browse, like:
- Edgewood Orchard
- Fine Line Designs Gallery
- TR Pottery
- Martinez Studio
- Linden Gallery
- The Hardy Gallery
- Margaret Lockwood Gallery
- Blue Dolphin House
- Balancing Mother Nature Gallery at Sister Golden (This is us! Come in and say hi, we'd love to see you!)
If you want to get your hands dirty, you can take all types of classes at places like:
Peninsula School of Art devotes a whole week every year to their “Plein Air Festival” with artists from all over the USA traveling in to participate. This year, 39 contemporary plein air masters will flock in to paint outside July 21st -27th!
[Photo via Matt Sampson Photography]
Let’s talk FOOD – one of our favorite subjects! For us, having a great food experience is part of what keeps you coming back to a place, right?! Before living here permanently, every time we would come up for the weekend to visit Door County, we’d leave saying, “well, we ate our way through DC again”. There are all types of delicious food experiences here, and we’ve participated in a majority of them. Our tried and true lineup is as follows.
Our best places to eat in Door County:
Breakfast/Coffee (from South to North)
- 5 & J Coffeehouse (Sturgeon Bay)
- The Town Hall Bakery (Jacksonsport)
- Bearded Heart (Bailey’s Harbor) – Don’t be surprised if you see us here in the morning. We stop for our morning coffee here multiple times a week. It’s a tiny place on the inside with lots of outdoor seating. Plus, the avocado toast is too good.
- Heirloom Cafe & Provisions (Bailey’s Harbor) – If we’re in Bailey’s and not making a quick stop at Bearded, we’re sitting at Heirloom for awesome coffee and equally awesome breakfast and lunch dishes.
- Chives (weekend brunch – Bailey’s Harbor)
- Whistling Swan (weekend brunch – Fish Creek)
- The Cookery (Fish Creek)
- Good Eggs (Ephraim) – Essentially a surf shack breakfast burrito bar. You can sit outside at one of their surfboard tables right across the street from the beach!
- Ephraim Coffee Lab (coffee only – Ephraim)
- Cloud Nine (Sister Bay) – One of our very favorite spots for breakfast and lunch. Clean food with full-on flavor, plus gluten free and vegan options.
- Wickman House (weekend brunch – Ellison Bay)
[Photo via Bearded Heart]
- Blue Front Cafe (Sturgeon Bay) – the perfect lunch stop if you’re too starving to make it north of Sturgeon Bay!
- Heirloom Cafe & Provisions (Bailey’s Harbor)
- Taco Cerveza (Fish Creek)
- Trixies (Ephraim) – If you’re into a glass of rosé with your lunch in a picture-perfect, blush-tinted house, stop here. You’ll thank us later!
- Cloud Nine (Sister Bay)
- The Creamery (Sister Bay)
- Roots Inn & Kitchen (Sister Bay) – Best elevated brat and cauliflower tacos in town + so much more!
[Photo via Trixies]
- Chives (Bailey’s Harbor) – One of our favorite burgers (the DOCO Burger) in the county!
- Parador (Egg Harbor) – Tapas + sangria!
- Mr. Helsinki (Fish Creek)
- Whistling Swan (Fish Creek)
- Wild Tomato (Fish Creek & Sister Bay) – Wood fired pizza, including gluten free pizza options!
- Trixies (Ephraim)
- Sister Bay Bowl (Sister Bay) – Our favorite fish fry on the peninsula!
- Wickman House (Ellison Bay) – It’s worth the drive to the top of the peninsula for their food and cocktails. Make a reservation!
[Photos via Wickman House]
- Wilson’s (Ephraim) – A Door County staple. Grab your cone and cross the street for the sunset!
- Door County Ice Cream Factory (North Sister Bay) – Homemade and so worth the drive a bit more north.
- Door County Brewing Co./Hacienda Beer Co. (Bailey’s Harbor) – You could hang here all day if you wanted to, especially when you claim a seat in the outdoor beer garden and take advantage of the food truck, fire pit, and live band!
- Hatch Distillery (Egg Harbor)
- Island Orchard Cider (Ellison Bay)
[Photo via Door County Brewing Co.]
You guys, you can’t NOT have a blast in Door County. You’ll never get to all of the food, music, art, shops, theater and outdoor adventures in a weekend or even a week. We still haven’t seen everything and seriously discover news things every time we’re out. But the places above we’d highly recommend adding to your list.
[Photos via Matt Sampson Photography]
I remember yelling from my bike to my husband on the last day of my first visit, “I’M NEVER GOING HOME! You do whatever you need to do, but I’m not leaving!”. We were biking on a shoreline road from a friend’s place to Cave Point County Park, where the beauty is National Geographic level, if you ask me! Fast forward many years, I’m at the health club sitting in the whirlpool. Random, but part of the story. I was chit chatting with a woman about Door County, when she blurts out, “when I die I’m having my ashes spread out at Cave Point!”. Not sure that’s legal, but you get my point. There’s magic here!