I can’t believe it took me so long to visit Door County. After living in Chicago for 7 years, I finally made the quick drive north to Wisconsin to spend a long weekend. If you’re looking for things to do in Door County, you’ve come to the right spot.
Getting to Door County is an easy drive if you’re coming from any surrounding Midwest city like Minneapolis, Chicago or Milwaukee. It provided a great place to get away for a long weekend. There are plenty of things to in Door County so you’ll be sure to find something for you!
1. Rent a condo in one of the lake towns
Before I jump into telling you about fun things to do in Door County, you’ll want to plan where you stay. Traveling this summer has been a little different due to COVID and we want to take the right precautions and be safe. We decided the best thing to do was rent a vacation condo in Egg Harbor that fit all 4 of us in one place. We also knew the rental property would be clean and sanitized when we arrived.
I know everyone has their own preference on what type of accommodation they prefer during these times, so you choose what works best for your group! There are plenty of Airbnb’s and hotels in the area as well. What I love about Door County is that all the adorable lake towns are right in a row along highway 42. It doesn’t take long to bounce between areas when you’re out for the day.
2. Go to Cave Point County Park for sunset
This was my favorite stop of the weekend. I’m a sucker for a pretty sunset over a never-ending horizon of water. If this sounds like your thing, you need to stop at Cave Point County Park. These gorgeous limestone cliffs hover over Lake Michigan and provide the perfect place to watch the sun go down.
We arrived around 8pm which left us just enough time to shoot content before it got dark out. We went on a Thursday night and were surprised to see we were only one of two groups visiting at this time. I’m guessing it becomes busier on the weekends. You don’t want to miss these orange and pink skies over Lake Michigan. Since it’s a County Park, it’s free to enter which is even better.
3. Take the ferry to Washington Island
One of the main reasons we went to Door County was to visit Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm. You can read more about the farm in the next paragraph down but to get to the lavender farm we had to take the ferry to Washington Island. The ferry costs $27 for an automobile and then $14 per person in the car round trip. It sounds pricey but it’s worth it since there are multiple places to visit on the island.
Tickets can be purchased on-site and are first come first serve. We attempted to take the first ferry of the morning on Friday and despite arriving 15 minutes early, the line was already so long that we had to wait for the second departure. Luckily it departs every 30-45 minutes in each direction. You can check out the schedule here.
4. Visit the Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm
Disclaimer: This farm is open between May and September (give or take depending on weather) and the lavender is in peak bloom towards the end of July. This was the first lavender farm I’ve ever been to and was blown away at how pretty the plants are. The farm opens at 10am and by 10:30am the place was completely full. Since the first ferry of the day leaves the mainland at 9am, I suggest taking the first ferry over and being at the farm right when they open.
There’s also a gift shop on the property so you can take some treats home. The shop has many items to choose from. We took home some soap, CBD gummies and bath bombs. They also have a café bar that sells drinks, snacks and ice cream – of course some are lavender flavored. If you’re looking for a more interactive experience, they offer U-pick (weather pending) where you pay $12 to clip a small bundle of lavender. You’ll get to take your bundle home and it also makes for a great photo prop for the day!
5. Check out the local chapels
I’ll admit I’ve never been one for checking out churches in the past. However, as I was looking for things to do in the area, I came across two beautiful chapels that I knew I had to visit. They had the same look and feel as each other but one was significantly bigger. I saw so many pretty photos online of people holding wedding ceremonies here or just shooting bridal photos. They were stunning!
The smaller chapel, Boynton Chapel, is on the mainland and right on Lawrence University’s campus. The larger church is called Washington Island Stavkirke and is located on… you guessed it… Washington Island.
6. Stroll along Lake Michigan outside Hardy Gallery
Hardy Gallery is in the town of Ephraim and is situated right on the water. It’s a non-profit art gallery that brings in almost 15,000 people annually. The morning we visited was very windy and after a full night of rain. The water levels were so high that the ground around the gallery was beginning to flood. The gallery itself was also sand bagged to prevent flooding inside. It still made for a great place to stop and take photos.
7. Eat at one of many delicious restaurants
My travels often center around the different restaurants in the area I want to try. I’m a huge foodie and work full time in the food industry, so I love dining out and trying new cuisines. Some of my favorites from the weekend were Wild Tomato for brick oven pizza and Chives for an upscale, all-American dinner.
Honorable mentions also go to these two adorable breakfast spots which were perfect for our busy itinerary. The Kitschinn is a super cute, health-focused smoothie spot. This place was recommended to us by our server at Wild Tomato. In addition to smoothies, they sell pressed juices, vegan baked goods and homemade kombucha on tap. We also grabbed a quick morning pastry at Analog Ice Cream & Coffee in Sister Bay.
8. Skip rocks at Schoolhouse Beach
This is another stop you can make while on Washington Island. Schoolhouse Beach is along the north shore of the Island, only 2 miles away from the lavender farm. What’s so unique about this spot is the beach is made up of smooth limestone rocks. As the crystal-clear water from Lake Michigan comes up to the shore, you can see directly to the bottom of the lake for at least the first few feet in the water.
We arrived here on a Saturday afternoon and the beach was totally packed. There were groups of people grilling out and laying out the entire way up and down the beach. We managed to squeeze into the very East end of the beach to snap a couple of quick photos.
9. Look out for cool road-side attractions
Ok, so this is not an “official” place to visit in Door County but rather are some cool spots we saw along the side of the road. Like I said before, all the beach towns line Lake Michigan along highway 42. We stayed in Egg Harbor and drove up through Fish Creek, Ephraim and Sister Bay at least once per day. During this 17-mile stretch, we spotted a few fun places on the side of the road to stop and take photos at.
The first was this old school Chevy pickup truck that had flowers pouring out of the bed of the truck. Since we had taken so many photos with lavender the day before, we knew we had to stop and switch it up with some new flowers. The second place we spotted was a parking lot filled with at least a dozen trolleys. This is Door County Trolley and they have trolleys you can rent out for parties, birthday’s and other celebrations. We thought it made an adorable photo op!
10. Stop in Green Bay & Milwaukee on the way out of town
Chances are you drove to Door Country from a nearby city. If you did, you may be wondering if it’s worth stopping in Green Bay. I’ll be honest, I was not impressed by Green Bay. I’m sure this city is a whole other world on NFL Sunday’s, but it seemed like a ghost town when we drove through. It was nice to drive by Lambeau Field but as a Detroit native, I don’t care much for the packers 😊
I did find a recommendation to stop at Fonferek Falls just outside of downtown. While the waterfall itself didn’t blow me away (the water stream was weak, perhaps due to the season), it did make for a nice, leisurely pit-stop before hitting the road back to Chicago. Plus, the photo I took wound up being one of my favs from the weekend, so it was worth it to me!
We also stopped in Milwaukee for food on the drive back. While we were downtown, we swung by this adorable pink house for a quick photo. The building is actually a nail salon and reminded me of my childhood Barbie dream house. So cute!
I hope this helps give you an idea of fun things to do in Door County on your next trip! If you’re driving or flying through Chicago on your way, be sure to check out my guide to Insta-worthy places in Chicago here! Have you been to Door County or are you going soon and have other places to share? Leave them in the comments below!