Door County in northeastern Wisconsin lies on a peninsula jutting out into Lake Michigan near the Canadian border. Known as “the Cape Cod of the Midwest,” this beautiful area is a popular destination due to its magnificent scenery, hospitable people, and wealth of recreational attractions. Activities accessible near many Door County vacation rentals include kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, and sightseeing. Here are some of the top things to do in Door County.
1. Door County Kayak Tours
The coastal waters around Door County are littered with shipwrecks, and a number of them are clearly visible in the clear waters just off the shore. Door County Kayak Tours offers guided excursions on special clear-bottom kayaks to view some of the shipwrecks in the North Bay. The trip also includes a visit to the North Shore State Natural Area, which is full of birds and other wildlife. Another tour explores the caves, crevices, and rock falls around Cave Point while an expert guide explains the geological history of the Niagara Escarpment.
2. Orchard Country
Since the 1800s, Door County has been renowned for its orchards of succulent cherries and apples as well as its vineyards of grapes for fine wines, and a visit to Lautenbach’s Orchard Country in Fish Creek allows you to sample the excellence firsthand. Take a winery tour and enjoy a wine and specialty food tasting. Head out into the orchards with a pail and pick your own cherries and apples. Join the staff for special events such as the Winter Wine and Cherry Fest, the Summer Harvest Fest, and the Fall Harvest Fest. In winter, the orchard offers horse-drawn sleigh rides through the glistening snowy vineyards and orchards.
3. Charter Fishing
The waters of Lake Michigan provide excellent fishing opportunities, and Door County is perfectly positioned to take advantage of them. King Fisher Charters out of Gills Rock offers exciting group or private sport fishing excursions aboard a comfortable 30-foot cruiser. The company provides all the gear and tackle so you can focus on angling for rainbow trout, brown trout, king salmon, and Coho salmon.
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4. Cherry Train Island Tour
Washington Island is the largest of the islands off the tip of Door County. A ride aboard the Washington Island Ferry Line takes you across the shipwreck-strewn passage once known as Death’s Door to the island. The Cherry Train is a brightly painted open-air tram that leaves from the island ferry dock and takes you on a tour that covers the island’s main attractions. These include the downtown area, the historic church, the art and nature center, the farm museum, and a popular beach. The tour guide stops at several places along the way so you can get out and look around.
5. Door County Maritime Museum
The fascinating Door County Maritime Museum on the waterfront at Sturgeon’s Bay has numerous galleries that highlight local maritime history. For instance, the Sentinels of the Shore Exhibit focuses on the lighthouses in the area and has a full-sized lighthouse lantern for your close-up inspection. The Horton Gallery is a replica of a 1907 steamship wheelhouse. Other galleries house historical maps and photographs, model ships, and an interesting history of seagoing dogs. Tour the 149-foot John Purves, a restored Great Lakes tugboat, and inspect a 41-foot Coast Guard utility craft. The museum also hosts a wooden boatbuilding class for beginning and experienced woodworkers.
6. Kurtz Corral Horseback Riding
Kurtz Corral in the town of Jacksonport offers year-round horseback riding fun. Rides along beautiful woodland trails with frequent sightings of birds and other wildlife vary according to ability for beginning, intermediate, and advanced riders. The Wine Tour Ride takes you through vineyards and farm country for wine tasting. For children too young for trail rides, the safe, gentle Arena Ride allows them an introduction to horseback riding.
7. Lakeshore Adventures Zip Lines
Thrilling Lakeshore Adventures Zip Line Tours take place just north of Baileys Harbor on a 20-acre adventure course. The tour begins at the top of a 35-foot tower with a panoramic view of the countryside, and then you launch off into the forest canopy beneath you. After the first zip line, you launch twice more from sites on massive white pine trees. The course culminates with a dual racing zip line that you can take at high speed with a friend.
8. Cana Island Light House
Door County hosts numerous lighthouses, and one of the most unique and popular is the Cana Island Light House on the east side of the peninsula. To reach the island that the lighthouse stands on, you walk across a dry stretch of lake bed. You can tour the lighthouse and keeper’s quarters and climb 97 steps to the top of the tower, where on the outside deck you have a majestic panoramic view of the eastern Door County coastline and Lake Michigan.
9. Scenic Air Tour
Grizzly Scenic Air Tours out of Sturgeon Bay offers you the opportunity to take in the magnificent scenery of Door County from the cockpit of a small plane. Tour packages vary from 15 minute flights to flights of 70 minutes. From high above the peninsula you can clearly see the coastline, shipwrecks in the clear shallow waters, the lighthouses, the towns, and the orchards. If there’s a particular area you want to see, the pilot is happy to accommodate you.
10. Open Door Bird Sanctuary
The Open Door Bird Sanctuary near Jacksonport is a 34-acre facility that houses birds of prey that cannot be released into the wild. These include red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and other species. The sanctuary is open to the public for touring the exhibits of birds, watching scheduled programs, and enjoying the natural beauty along the walking trails.
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