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  • Door County, Wisconsin
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    Door County,

    Wisconsin

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    Door County is the easternmost county in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of the 2020 census, the population was 30,066. Its county seat is Sturgeon Bay, making it one of three Wisconsin counties on Lake Michigan not to have a county seat with the same name. Instead it is named after the strait between the Door Peninsula and Washington Island. The dangerous passage, known as Death's Door, contains shipwrecks and was known to Native Americans and early French explorers. The county was created in 1851 and organized in 1861. Door County is a popular Upper Midwest vacation destination. It is home to a small Walloon population.
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    Inspiration

    Take an adventure in Door County, Wisconsin

    There are fields upon fields of lavender, and orchards ripe for cherry picking. The root beer floats sold in the 1950s-era diner are known across state lines, and the beaches are some of the finest in the midwest. But to get to this spot in Door County, Wisconsin, you'll have to hop on a ferry and cross Porte des Mortes, AKA Death's Door. It's a stretch of treacherous water linking Lake Michigan with Green Bay, and it sits between Washington Island and the tip of the peninsula. Below the water - where your fancy ferry crosses - is literally an underwater cemetery. More than 250 ships sank on this short turbulent stretch of beautiful water, which today is home to the most stunning vacation cottages, lavender gift shops and historic hotels that money can buy. It all started in the 17th century, when a battle between Potawatomi Indians left the islands north of the Door County peninsula to attack the Winnebago Indians on the mainland. Poor weather and ridiculously strong currents capsized the ships, hundreds of people died and the stretch of water was deemed “Porte des Mortes.” But that’s not all. Legend has it that unpredictable weather and rough waters have capsized many a shipwreck since. The tally? No one knows, but it’s believed that thousands of ships have sunk on their short journey through Death’s Door. There's a tour for those interested in Door County’s deadly maritime history: the water here is so frigid that many of the sunken ships are still intact, and some can be spotted by snorkelers in the shallow depths. But if you want a less gruesome vacation - as long you don’t visualize the literal skeletons under the water - you can hop on the Washington Island Ferry which transports people year-round from Door County to the 22-mile Washington Island ($14 per person) in 30-minutes flat. In 75 years of operation, they haven’t had any near death experiences. Once you get to Washington Island, you’ll see why so many people attempted crossing Death’s Door to arrive. Continue your relaxing journey by heading to Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm & Shop (the island is tiny, so nothing is too far away). The lavender farm was created by Martine Anderson, who lived in the south of France and dreamed of one day owning a lavender garden. Dreams have a way of shifting and changing, so it wasn’t until she retired and moved to Wisconsin’s Washington Island with her husband, that she finally opened her lavender garden - which is actually a field containing 20,000 lavender plants, complete with a UPick lavender section. And yes, the scent is so heavenly, that if you look at the ground, you’ll see all the bees that are literally passed out drunk from it, no joke. About a minute away from the lavender fields by car or bike (cycling is a very popular form of transportation on the island) is the Stavkirke, a church inspired by one built in Norway in 1150 AD. This newer version was built by hand taking about a decade, and while it’s closed due to COVID, you’ll be at peace simply by wandering around the outside of the building, which is a work of art. Reward yourself post-ferry ride back to Door County’s mainland (you made it once again across Death’s Door!) with the most legendary root beer float in the midwest at Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor, a classic since 1906. Lautenbach’s Orchard Country, you can snag all things cherries, along with cherry wine. Not sure which wine to buy? Here, they offer five wine samples for just $3 - or try a wine flight for $10. Cheers to Door County survivalists.

    Road TripsBudget Travel Lists

    6 Secret American Road Trips to Add to Your Bucket List

    The United States is renowned for its plethora of jaw-droppingly beautiful stretches of highway. In fact, for many travelers, the very word "America" conjures images not of bustling cities or world-class museums (though the US offers no shortage of them) but of iconic roads such as California’s Highway 1, the Southeast’s Blue Ridge Parkway, and Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. But what about the lesser-known American drives? The ones that aren’t necessarily jam-packed with road trip enthusiasts but nevertheless offer gorgeous scenery, family-friendly fun, education, and even cultural enlightenment? Here, six outstanding “secret” drives that travelers will love to boast about “discovering.” Big Bend, Texas Big Bend National Park, along the Texas border with Mexico, is often overshadowed by its more famous fellow parks like Yosemite and Grand Canyon. But a road trip through this gorgeous environment, with its limestone cliffs, scenic overlooks, and Rio Grande River, is a unique way to experience the American landscape. As with many US national parks, Big Bend includes small “villages” that can serve as handy milestones in planning a drive. One option is the Panther Junction-to-Rio Grande Village drive, about 21 miles (34km) passing ancient limestone, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for stopping for a short hike at Boquillas Canyon or the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail. Cherokee Hills, Oklahoma This is a lesser-known road trip that provides a healthy dose of cultural education as well. The Cherokee Hills Scenic Byway, in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in eastern Oklahoma, runs about 84 miles (135km), so set aside at least two hours for the drive. But the best approach is to make many stops along the way. You’ll see some of the oldest buildings west of the Mississippi River, many predating the state of Oklahoma itself; five small towns; the Cherokee Heritage Center, where visitors learn about the painful history of the Trail of Tears but also about the modern-day initiatives of the Cherokee Nation; and natural wonders including Lake Tenkiller and Natural Falls State Park. Door County, Wisconsin The Door County peninsula, sometimes called the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” is a narrow, beautiful stretch of land between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Its Coastal Byway (Highway 42/57) is a Wisconsin Scenic Byway, covering more than 60 miles (97km) passing through the towns of Sturgeon Bay and Northport. Here, visitors discover the natural beauty and relaxing pace of this prized corner of Wisconsin – including farms known for their fresh cherries, a summer theater festival, and charming communities that hug the lakeshore, offering great food (including house-made ice cream), unique shopping, and forests perfect for easy hikes. Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway Sure, Delaware is one of the smallest states in the US, but it packs plenty of history and natural beauty. The Brandywine Valley Scenic Byway, in northern Delaware, takes visitors past sights as diverse as the city of Wilmington and the beautiful countryside. Officially only 12 miles (19km) along the Kennett Pike and Montchanin Road, the byway focuses on the 300-year history of the Brandywine Valley and its role in the industrial revolution and the growth of transportation across the early United States. Consider the byway as your introduction to the larger Brandywine Valley region, which stretches into Pennsylvania and includes an array of important historical homes with great art collections, such as the Winterthur Museum, Garden, and Library; the Nemours Mansion and Garden; the Brandywine River Museum; and the Delaware Museum of Art. Beartooth Highway, Wyoming & Montana Warning: once you’ve driven the Beartooth Highway, which adjoins Yellowstone National Park and is surrounded by national forests and the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, you may be spoiled forever. The highway, a National Scenic Byways All-American Road, is a winding route up into the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains – achieving an elevation over 10,000ft (3,000 meters) at its zenith, it’s the highest highway in the northern Rocky Mountains – with peerless scenic overlooks, glacial lakes, waterfalls, and, before you ascend back down, a high alpine plateau above the treeline. Set aside a few hours to truly enjoy the 67 miles (108km) of highway, and get to know one of the gateway communities such as Cooke City and Red Lodge, Montana, or Cody, Wyoming. Mississippi Blues Trail, Mississippi For an immersion in one of America’s original art forms, the blues, head to Clarksdale, Mississippi, gateway to the Mississippi Blues Trail. Although you’ll see the beautiful sights of the legendary Mississippi Delta along the way, the Blues Trail is not primarily a scenic drive but rather a set of interpretive markers and cultural institutions that visitors can navigate to create their own personalized road trip devoted to Mississippi’s incredible musical legacy. The trip’s mileage and time frame are entirely up to you. Highlights include Clarksdale’s Delta Blues Museum (where you’ll learn about local luminaries Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson) and Ground Zero Blues Cafe; Indianola’s B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center and Club Ebony (for blues music and soul food); and Greenwood’s Blues Heritage Gallery and excellent restaurants in the historic downtown district.

    Road TripsBudget Travel Lists

    5 Perfect U.S. Road Trips

    Fire up your GPS and start your engines! Every corner of the U.S. delivers amazing road trip opportunities, from parkland to scenic byways to vibrant towns and cities along the way. Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite epic drives from sea to shining sea. Your only remaining challenge is to pick your favorite trip and hit the road. BEST OF THE WEST: CALIFORNIA’S HIGHWAY 1 (Jonas Weinitschke/Dreamstime) Pick any stretch of Highway 1 along the California coast and you’ll be treated to epic views and great stops along the way. But perhaps the most iconic portion of the route is the drive between the San Francisco Bay Area and San Simeon. While the drive can be accomplished in just a few hours, we recommend you plan affordable stops along the way: A motel stay in Santa Cruz, at the top of Monterey puts you walking distance to the beautiful beach and fun-for-the-entire-family boardwalk. A day or two in the city of Monterey gives you time to explore the coastal walking trail with its jaw-dropping views of the gorgeous blue waters of the bay and playful sea otters, a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and several world-class meals of fresh crab, sourdough bread, and other California favorites. Continue down Highway 1 for the star attraction, the winding drive along the cliffs of Big Sur, towering over the Pacific, and stop at Pfeiffer State Beach or a walk in the mountains just to the east of the highway. Your Highway 1 road trip can end at San Simeon, home to the incredible estate built by William Randolph Hearst with its truly amazing art collection and grounds. Or keep driving south for the delights of coastal communities such as San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay, and the renowned beaches and cities of Southern California! ROAD TRIP TIP: Before leaving home, make sure you have the appropriate auto insurance policy for your vehicle and needs. A visit to Geico.com can help you understand your options and potential savings. SOUTHERN CHARM: BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY You don’t have to choose between a big-city culture and the natural beauty of a national park. The Blue Ridge Parkway allows road trippers to enjoy Washington, D.C., with its free museums, historical sites, and cultural offerings, then head to Virginia’s Skyline Drive along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which turns into the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of FDR’s New Deal projects, linking Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee. The parkway’s hairpin turns and epic tunnels will delight every family member, and a manageable, affordable national park experience is unforgettable, with ranger-led walks and talks, serene hiking trails, and the opportunity to spot an array of wildlife, including black bears, from a safe distance. More adventurous travelers may want to try rock climbing and whitewater rafting (with guidance from a local outfitter). Cool towns such as Asheville, NC, deliver tasty Southern cuisine, and you can balance the great outdoors experience of Great Smoky Mountains National Park with fun family-friendly activities in Gatlinburg, TN. While camping is always the most affordable way to visit a national park, reasonable lodging is available a short drive from both Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. ROAD TRIP TIP: Get your car inspected before embarking on your drive. Proper tire pressure and engine tune-up can save you money on gas mileage, and having up-to-date safety and security devices may even reduce your auto insurance rates. MIDWEST SPLENDOR: DOOR COUNTY, WISCONSIN Can you keep a secret? Door County’s Coastal Byway, a Wisconsin Scenic Byway, delivers an amazing, lesser-known Midwestern vacation experience that keeps families coming back year after year. Stretching over 66 miles around the Door Peninsula (nicknamed the “Cape Cod of the Midwest”), this scenic byway and the stops along the way add up to a relaxing and delicious getaway. Situated between Lake Michigan and Green Bay, the Door Peninsula can be explored in a weekend, or you can stretch out your experience (which we heartily recommend) over several days with stays in the region’s beautiful towns. Ephraim, on the shores of Eagle Harbor, boasts beaches and harbor views you may associate only with New England, and a stop at Wilson’s for ice cream is a must. Peninsula State Park is one of those “hidden gems” just waiting to be discovered, with acres of forest, shoreline, and camping facilities. You’ll find great food in the town of Sister Bay, and some pleasant opportunities for quiet family time on the eastern side of the peninsula in Bailey’s Harbor and Jacksonsport. ROAD TRIP TIP: Pack a cooler with fruits and veggies, whole grains, grab-and-go protein like cheese sticks, and plenty of water (when visiting a wilder space such as a national park, a gallon of water per passenger per day is recommended). SOUTHWESTERN PARKS: UTAH’S ‘MIGHTY FIVE’ (Ralf Broskvar/Dreamstime) Did you know that Utah packs five incredible national parks into one state? Whether you hit two, three, four, or all of the “Mighty Five” (Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, and Canyonlands), a scenic drive into Utah’s wild spaces is perhaps the ultimate road trip experience. While your GPS may recommend major highways along the way, give yourself permission to explore Scenic Byways such as State Route 12, the 120-mile drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon, and return home with brag-worthy photographs you can’t snap on the Interstate. Once you enter one of Utah’s national parks, hiking will likely be the “main event,” and each park deserves at least a day or two, whether you take ranger-led walks or strike out on your own. Consider trying something new, like a guided horseback tour in Bryce Canyon, and remember that Bryce and Zion both offer exceptional public transportation to get you from site to site. Camping is an affordable way to bunk down in Utah’s parks, but be sure to reserve your spot several months in advance, especially if you’ll be visiting during the summer high season. ROAD TRIP TIP: Don’t count on GPS as your only source of driving directions, especially if you’re visiting a national park or other wild space. Pick up printed maps that cover your road trip and plan out each day’s driving in advance using both GPS and your map - you’ll thank us when your smartphone suddenly says, “No Service.” ULTIMATE NEW ENGLAND: VERMONT & WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS The Green Mountains of Vermont and the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts deliver one of the Northeast’s finest driving experiences, easily reachable from New York, Boston, and other cities. Start in Bennington, VT, where you’ll soon discover that a New England road trip can combine world-class art and culture with natural beauty right outside your car window. The Bennington Museum offers a permanent art collection plus exhibits devoted to contemporary work, and the Grandma Moses gallery lets visitors not only enjoy the work of the iconic American folk artist but also to recognize the nearby Green Mountains as the backdrop of many of her most iconic paintings. Outside Bennington there are ample opportunities for canoeing, hiking, and chowing down on comfort food (and, yes, they serve classic New England clam chowder even as far inland as Vermont). Head to Williamstown, MA, for another incredible art collection, the Clark, and a truly charming small town experience with a vibrant downtown, great shopping, and more. Then it’s off to North Adams, MA, for the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and the endless opportunities for exploring the nearby Berkshire Mountains. You can keep busy in western Massachusetts for days, and it’s also a relatively short drive to the beaches of Gloucester, the New Hampshire seacoast, and even the stretch of Maine near the New Hampshire border, but that’s a road trip for another day! ROAD TRIP TIP: No matter what time of year you’re taking your road trip, there are a few packing essentials: Sunscreen (yes, even in winter), sun-protective clothing, plenty of drinking water, layers of clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets), and comfortable walking or hiking shoes.

    Inspiration

    Where Is the Best Pie in America?

    Key Lime pie. Boston cream pie. New York cheesecake. We’ve noticed that some of our favorite baked goods share the names of some of our favorite travel destinations. As National Pi Day rolls around (March 14... 3.14, get it?), we figured we’d ask: What’s your favorite slice of pie in the U.S.? PIE + VACATION = HEAVEN One of the joys of being on vacation is saving room and time for a spectacular dessert you've never tried, and a slice of pie just seems to hit the spot whether you’re in the mountains, at the beach, or exploring a big city. As for favorites, I’ll go first. When I take my family on an epic road trip across western Montana, we basically turn handstands over the incredible array of huckleberry pie available just about everywhere. Sure, the huckleberry season is short up there in the Rockies, and grizzly bears do their best to clear out the bushes before we humans can harvest the berries, but I vote for huckleberry pie as my favorite. TRADITIONAL VS. FANCY? When we say the word “pie,” unadorned with an adjective, most of us tend to picture an apple pie, maybe with traditional crust punctured with a fork, or a more ambitious latticework of pie crust. When it comes to naming your favorite pie, some of you fall on the traditional side (my huckleberry pie vote definitely leans toward the traditional), while others may prefer what I think of as a little “fancy”: I’m thinking Key Lime, New York cheesecake (which, let’s be honest, even though it has the word “cake” in its name, is totally a pie), lemon meringue, those pies that take a bit more, let’s call it alchemy in the kitchen. Then, of course, there’s the whole question of whether cobblers and crumbles count? (I tend to think: Why the heck not?) TELL US: WHERE CAN WE GET THE BEST PIE? Finally, because we’re all about travel, we’d like to hear the region where you particularly enjoy eating pie. Upstate New York may have an edge on fresh apple pie, Wisconsin’s Door County sure knows how to do cherry pie, and, of course, the Florida Keys may produce the finest Key Lime pie for obvious reasons. But tell us about the coolest bakeries, the funkiest restaurants, or sweet little shops where you’ve made fabulous pie discoveries. We want to know: Where is the best pie in America? Your answers may appear in an upcoming story on BudgetTravel.com.

    Inspiration

    5 Unforgettable Summer Getaways to Book Now

    Say the word summer. What comes to mind? The chilly Atlantic caressing a New England beach? Pacific waves breaking over the rocks? Kids of all ages skipping stones along a quiet lakeshore? Or maybe you'd prefer to head to the far north to watch glaciers break into pieces, or lounge in a rain-forest resort where you don't have to reach for your wallet for a week? Whatever your taste, we've rounded up five spectacular summer trips you can afford—if you book them now. SEE 16 SUMMER HOTSPOTS FOR FAMILIES! MONTEREY, CA California's Central Coast has been called the most perfect meeting of land and sea on earth. Most visitors see it on their way up or down the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but you can spend a week—or even a lifetime—exploring the cliffs, tide pools, redwood forests, and culture of this unique region. Fly into San Francisco (about $400 to $500 airfare from New York) and head down the coast. See the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, near the top of Monterey Bay, before settling into Monterey. In this historic seaport made world-famous by John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row, you'll find a working fishing wharf that also boasts what may be the best clam chowder on the planet, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (dedicated to the sea life of the Monterey Bay), and a number of sites associated with the early days of California state history. Monterey is a short drive from scene Pacific Grove, chic Carmel, and the mind-blowing cliffs of Big Sur. Stay: Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is surrounded by Monterey Pines and live oaks, just minutes from the action on Fisherman's Wharf and the waterfront. (hiltongarden3.hilton.com, from $144) ALASKA If you prefer stunning natural beauty served with, say, English high tea, an Alaska Inside Passage cruise just might be your dream trip. Princess Cruises will set off from Seattle and make stops in the historic capitol, Juneau, the frontier towns of Skagway and Ketchikan, and explore Glacier Bay National Park, where naturalists will provide color commentary and background as you witness firsthand the sparkling remnants of the last ice age as they grind away—and sometimes break into massive pieces right before your eyes. And if you find yourself itching for civilization, you'll have the chance to quaff a pint or scarf a crumpet in Victoria, British Columbia, before returning to Seattle. (princess.com, seven days from $949) DOOR COUNTY, WI Door County's nickname—the Cape Cod of the Midwest—doesn't really begin to do it justice. This unique Wisconsin destination between Green Bay and Lake Michigan is beyond comparison and has been drawing families, and drawing them back again year after year, for generations. Miles of quiet lakeshore, piles of fresh Bing cherries (Door County is also known as Cherryland, USA), and a thriving art gallery scene make it a magnet for vacationers escaping Chicago and Milwaukee for the summer. (Airfare from New York City to nearby Green Bay, WI, is about $450.) Peninsula State Park offers 3,700 acres of forest, shoreline, and campgrounds, not to mention American Folklore Theatre, which performs original shows in a Broadway-size space among the evergreens. Stay: Lodgings at Pioneer Lane is a handsome inn in Ephraim, offering comfortable rooms and suites. (lodgingatpioneerlane.com, rooms from $80, suites from $109) CAPE ANN, MA For authentic New England without the throngs, Gloucester, MA, a tight-knit fishing community on Cape Ann, just 45 minutes north of Boston, is a good place to start. Expansive beaches, frothy seas, wonderfully old-fashioned Main Streets, historic lighthouses, and some of the freshest locally sourced meals around make this "other cape" a reason to bypass the better known—and infinitely pricier—beach destinations along the Massachusetts coast. Hit Gloucester's Good Harbor Beach, a wide stretch of fine, white sand edged by dunes and a gurgling creek leading into a refreshingly chilly pocket of the Atlantic, and Rocky Neck artists' colony, where you can soak up some of the sumptuous light that has drawn artists including Milton Avery, Edward Hopper, and Winslow Homer. Stay: Blue Shutters Beachside Inn has comfortable rooms with beach views and a welcoming living room with a fireplace that's surprisingly welcome even on summer evenings. (blueshuttersbeachside.com, from $125) COSTA RICA Do you crave privacy and having your every need met in advance? An all-inclusive resort on the beach, surrounded by rain forests and a national park, fits the bill. The low-key Barcelo Langosta Beach Resort, near Tamarindo, Costa Rica, includes one buffet restaurant and one a la carte restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, one bar, a small casino, and an amphitheater with daily entertainment. The rooms have views of either the Pacific Ocean or Las Baulas, an estuary that's part of the national park. Airfare from New York City to San Jose, Costa Rica, is around $530. And that phrase "all-inclusive" really sinks in when you realize that even tipping for the staff is included in the rate—so you may never have to reach for your wallet! (barcelo.com, from $180 per person per night)

    Road Trips

    Budget Travel's Memorial Day Road Trips on AMHQ

    Budget Travel's President and Publisher Elaine Alimonti shared our best-ever last-minute weekend road trips with Sam Champion this morning on the Weather Channel's AMHQ. Watch the segment below, and read on for the details on Elaine's top three picks! New England's "Other" Capes. A short drive from Boston, north of Cape Cod, you'll find incredibly beautiful beaches, parks, and great seafood in Cape Ann, Cape Neddick, and Cape Porpoise, for a fraction of the cost. Door County, Wisconsin. This perfect stretch of lakeshore is a secret to those who live outside the Midwest, but offers a quiet, beautiful getaway to those in the know. Chow down on homemade ice cream and Chicago-style hot dogs while ogling the natural beauty. California's Central Coast. A weekend escape from the San Francisco Bay Area to Monterey, Big Sur, and San Simeon is surprisingly wild, with forests to get lost in, empty beaches to wander, and amazing food around each bend of the Pacific Coast Highway. If these three weekend escapes whet your appetite for the road, read 15 Best Last-Minute Road Trips for more easy getaways.  

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