Door County is Wisconsin’s best kept secret. If you know of or have been to Door County, you are probably from the state. In this post I’m going to share with you what my perfect 3-day weekend in Door County looks like, everything from where to stay, where to eat, to what to do.
Where to Stay:
In the summer and fall months Door County is a real hot spot, which means vacancies are few and far between the closer you get to your desired visiting dates. Be particularly prepared if you plan to go over a festival weekend, things like Fall Fest are a big deal and generate a large crowd of tourists. I’ve had a lot of great stays in Door County, but my favorites have been either in an Airbnb/VRBO or a cabin/lodge. If you’re looking for a cottage, there is no shortage of them in Door County, particularly for small parties (1-2 beds), however, if you’re taking the whole family I recommend Door County Cottages in Egg Harbor. My family stayed at The Lodge, which is one of their larger cottage options and not only is it beautiful, it’s plenty big enough for a family, pet-friendly, and comes equipped with a fire pit and large yard. The owner, Dale, was incredibly nice to my family and was available to us via phone at a moments notice if we needed anything.
Where to Eat:
For breakfast, look no further than Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay. If you’re a pancake lover like me, this will be your heaven. Their Swedish pancakes are my favorite pancakes I’ve ever had. Their gift shop is decked out in Swedish and Norwegian flags and mementos to take home and remember your visit by. Aside from the delicious food, the best part of Al Johnson’s is that they have goats on the roof, yes you read that right, goats…on the roof. The restaurant has a grass roof that the goats roam and lay on throughout the day, however from my experience they’re most active in the early morning. Want to know if they’re outside before you go? They have a goat cam on their website. My advice when going here is to get there much earlier then when you plan to eat, unless you’re going around lunch. It becomes insanely busy from 9am on with an hour or more wait time and they do not take reservations. It may not seem worth it when you get there but trust me when you’re eating a stack of paper-thin Swedish pancakes doused in maple syrup, it’s worth every minute spent waiting in the gift shop.
Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim is the spot for top notch ice cream, I dare say the best ice cream in the state of Wisconsin. They’re also a great lunch spot for classic diner food, burgers, hot dogs, etc. Another great lunch or snack spot is Husby’s Food & Spirits in Sister Bay, down the road from Al Johnson’s. They have classic bar food that really hits the spot during a busy day visiting Door County, particularly their deep-fried cheese curds, a must try at Husby’s. In the evening, they have an outdoor bar space where live music is a common occurrence, however they haven’t hosted live music since COVID-19.
For dinner, there are so many great options so buckle up! My first pick would have been Fred and Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar & Grill, it is also in Sister Bay and, you guessed it, right on the water. It’s a causal outdoor restaurant perfect to for watching a sunset, skipping rocks, enjoying live music, and eating delicious food. Unfortunately, their property was very recently sold to build a one-story family home. I’m not sure then the restaurant will actually shut its doors, but if you get the chance to go definitely make it a priority. Barringer’s in Fish Creek is perfectly situated between the many Fish Creek shops and the docs, a great place to walk along during sunset. Barringer’s is an American restaurant. Their menu is made up of delicious steaks and seafood, with my personal favorite being the sole. CHOP is a steakhouse in Sister Bay situated halfway between Husby’s and Al Johnson’s. Both Barringer’s and CHOP are great restaurants, if you’re looking to sit outside, I’d recommend CHOP, but both have quality outdoor seating so you really can’t go wrong, but it’s hard to compete with CHOP’s beautiful upstairs patio.
These are my must-stop choices, but there truly isn’t a shortage of good food in Door County. I could have easily made a whole article on food alone and it wouldn’t have been enough. No matter where you eat, the food in Door County is always delicious.
What To Do:
The most important step, figuring out what to do. Door County has a lot to offer, and you could definitely fill more than one weekend if you wanted to, so I’m just highlighting my personal favorites, but there’s really something for everyone.
Shop Fish Creek
Shopping through Fish Creek has always been something my Mom and I love to do together, granted, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim and Sister Bay all have fantastic shopping, but Fish Creek has the most stores very walkable from one to another.
Peninsula State Park
If you’re a fan of the outdoors, Peninsula State Park could easily take up a whole day. There’s so much to explore around this nearly 4,000-acre state park. The hiking trails are stunning, especially when the leaves turn in fall. Although I’ve never gotten the chance, camping here is also very popular, so be sure to plan ahead of time (I’ve been told to reserve a site about a year in advance).
Boating and kayaking are other fun outdoor options as well.
More on those options here.
Go on a Trolley Tour
I’ve been a number of the offered trolley tours, aside from the ones involving alcohol since I’m only 20 years old, no pub crawls or wineries for me yet. The trolley tours I’ve been on include:
- Narrated Scenic Tour
- Family Ride
- Lighthouse Tour
- Ghost Tour
- Murder & Mayhem Tour
Each tour has its own audience it caters to. If you’re debating between the Ghost Tour and Murder & Mayhem Tour, the Ghost Tour is cheesier, less scary, and includes some great Halloween tunes. The Murder & Mayhem tour is a collection of true, strange, and unfortunate happenings from around Door County. If you’re looking for realism and don’t consider yourself a lover of the supernatural, definitely take the Murder & Mayhem tour. If you’re looking for a night that gives off major Ghostbusters and campfire story vibes, the Ghost Tour is for you. Click here for the website.
Play a Round of Putt Putt
Playing putt putt – or mini golf – is a tradition for my family every time we’re in Door County. My Mom used to insist there needed to be some kind of dare for the loser to do in front of everyone else there, luckily that part of the tradition has died.
There are two popular mini golf courses in Door County, The Red Putter and Pirates Cove Mini Golf Course. I’m partial to Pirates Cove, as you get farther in the course there are a few really unique holes, the theme is done well, overall the course is just more interesting and fun to play.
Find Live Music
Live music is never too far away in Door County, if you can find live music near the water, that’s even better. One of my all-time favorite memories from Door County was my family hearing music from our hotel room patio and deciding to immediately drop everything and walk towards it…in our pajamas. I ended up in Al Johnson’s beer garden, packed with people, wearing M&M pajama pants.
Now you know my key stays and stops for my perfect weekend in Door County. Door County is my favorite part of Wisconsin and my family always makes a point to visit at least once a year. If you’re planning a Door County Trip soon I hope this helped!
Photos courtesy of Jason Hunt