Positioned on Wisconsin’s northeastern peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan, Door County offers a coastal vibe in the heartland. Visitors can stroll by the charming shops, revel in the area’s natural beauty, and take to the waters surrounding the peninsula. Book a stay at one of numerous cozy Door County vacation rentals today. Check out exciting kid-friendly activities to make your Door County family getaway unforgettable.

1. Check out Lighthouses

It’s far from the ocean, but Door County boasts many lighthouses along the shores of Lake Michigan. The beacons from these lighthouses guided sailors to the shores in the 19th century. Cana Island Lighthouse is a popular attraction with visitors. It requires a bit of a trek to get there, but you can go inside the keeper’s house, oil house, and the tower. Other popular lighthouses include Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light, and Pottawatomie Lighthouse.

2. Take a Boat Ride

A number of operators run cruises and boat rides departing from various points along the peninsula. The Chicago Fireboat Cruise departing from Sturgeon Bay is a popular option for kids. The bright red boat attracts attention from young passengers, and its previous use as a fireboat for the city of Chicago makes the boat even more interesting. The trip lasts about 1.5 hours, so make sure your young kids can handle the trip.

3. Ride Horses

Horseback riding is a popular mode of transportation for seeing different parts of the Door County countryside. Several different stables offer guided horseback rides along trails that weave through beautiful natural scenery. These trips are fun for school-age kids and teens who can handle riding a horse for an extended period.

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4. Ride the Trolley

If you’re looking for a unique way to see the area, don’t miss out on Door County Trolleys. The themed trolleys hint to a bygone era and add a whimsical touch to your transportation of choice. Tour options suitable for kids include a narrated scenic tour, ghost tour, and lighthouse tour. If your vacation rental is near Egg Harbor, you’re close to the depot for the trolley service.

5. Visit the Maritime Museum

Learn about the area’s maritime history at the Door County Maritime Museum. Dedicated to the role of fishermen, captains, and lighthouse keepers, this museum gives kids of all ages a look at model ships, exhibits on how lighthouses work, and many interactive displays. Kids pretend to steer an old steamship in another interactive exhibit. Take the guided tour of the museum’s tugboat to learn about its role on the water. If your child isn’t already a fan of ships and boats, this stop is sure to stir up a love of all things maritime.

6. Play on the Beach

With 53 beaches along the shores of the Door County peninsula, this area offers plenty of options when you want to enjoy sand and surf. Waterfront Park in Sister Bay boasts the largest public beach in the area. The pebble beach at Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island gives your kids a different perspective. Make sure your kids don’t sneak any of the rocks as souvenirs, as it’s illegal to take them with you. Nicolet Beach in Peninsula State Park offers a playground if your kids get bored. The beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park is another popular option. No matter where you enjoy the beach, your warm vacation rental shower is a welcome sight after a day in the sand and water.

7. Enjoy Farm Life

Plum Loco Animal Farm gives your kids a farm experience during your vacation. Visit Animal Acres, where ponies, miniature donkeys, goats, sheep, pot-bellied pigs, chickens, and other farm animals live. Kids can pet and feed the animals during the visit, which is something kids of all ages enjoy. The Play Farm area is a fun place for younger kids to play in a kid-sized village with a general store, diner, vet clinic, and farm. Door County also features a large number of orchards where you can pretend to be a farmer and gather cherries, apples, and other in-season fruit. Pick extra fruit so you can make a delicious dessert in your vacation rental kitchen.

8. Enjoy Amusement Activities

Egg Harbor Fun Park lets kids enjoy a variety of amusement-style activities. Play a round of mini golf, or challenge your kids to a go-kart race. The arcade offers games and entertainment for all ages. Bounce houses are also popular with young kids. Older kids can take a swing at the batting cages.

9. Hike or Bike

Multiple paths and trails scattered throughout the peninsula get you closer to nature, whether your family prefers to hike or bike. Trails vary in difficulty, so choose an option that matches your kids’ abilities in both length and terrain. Whitefish Dunes State Park features hiking trails and boardwalks to guide you around wetlands, sand beaches, rocky shores, and dunes. Other areas with hiking trails include The Ridges Sanctuary, Peninsula State Park, and Cave Point County Park. If you prefer to bike, look for trails designated as biking trails. It’s easier to stick to flat trails if you have young kids with you. Opt for a vacation rental with a garage to store your bikes easily during your trip, or rent bikes for all members of the family once you arrive.

10. Go Kayaking

Kayak rentals abound on this Wisconsin peninsula. Get a look at the shoreline from the waters of Lake Michigan with your older kids or inland areas on one of five lakes in Door County. Rent a kayak to do your own thing, or join a kayak tour for a guided trip. Stand-up paddleboarding is also an option in some areas.

11. Go Fishing

The sheer amount of water surrounding Door County makes fishing a natural activity choice. You have plenty of options for fishing from the shore, or take a boat out into the water to expand your fishing options. If you’re lucky, you can catch your dinner on your fishing trip so you can cook up your catch in your vacation rental kitchen.

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