For those looking for a getaway that is Midwest Nice, head to Door County, Wisconsin. Located on the Door Peninsula, it juts out into Lake Michigan, marrying maritime adventure with quaint towns, packed with cheese and cherry goodness. Land and lake activities keep travelers busy though Door County is rich in agritourism from cider apples to lavender to local seafood. The weather in Door County is often cooler than the mainland with lots of pleasant, sunny days. So summer is the ideal time to explore. In fact, Door County has been a top summer holiday for generations. Here’s the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
Top Things to do in Door County Wiconsin with Kids
Visit a State Park
Take a Hike
Ride a Bike
See a Summer Show
Kayak on the Lake
- Learn about its Wildlife
See a Lighthouse
Take a Trolley
Sample some Cheese Curds
Eat some local White Fish
See the Roof Climbing Goats
Sag a piece of Cherry Pie
Peninsula State Park
With over 3,700 acres to explore along the shores of Green Bay, it’s the third largest state park in Wisconsin. With lots of activites inside the park, it is one of the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
Peninsula State Park offers top biking trails and the 9.6-mile Sunset Bike Route is a relatively level, shaded gravel path, great for school-age kids. Also Peninsula State Park offers 16 miles of off road bike trails.
Hiking in Peninsula State Park
Hiking is another popular activity and find 20 miles of hiking trails in the park.
- White Cedar Nature Trail—A .5-mile easy loop
- Minnehaha Trail—A .7-mile easy trail
- Sentinel Trail—A 2.0-mile easy loop
- Trail Tramper’s Delight Trail—A .5-mile trail
- Hemlock Trail—A 1.8-mile moderate trail
- Lone Pine Trail—A .5-mile moderate trail
- Nicolet Bay Trail—A 2.2-mile moderate trail
- Skyline Trail—A 3.0-mile loop moderate trail
- Eagle Trail—A 2.0-mile difficult loop
The 60-foot tall Eagle Tower is an accessible tower (850 feet long) with an ADA ramp to an overlook. See for miles over Green Bay on a clear day and there’s even interpretive signs describing the view along with historic ship wrecks. Eagle Tower is 253 feet above the water below and there’s a staircase to get to the base of the tower.
Nicolette Beach offers a swimming area (no lifeguard on-duty) along with kayak rentals. In fact, Peninsula State Park boasts 9 miles of shoreline.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse is a 1868 lighthouse that still guides boats through the Strawberry Chanel. Tours available in advance. The White Cedar Nature Center offers seasonal programming for kids. Peninsula State Park offers an 18-hole golf course along with a 6-hole learning course.
Picnic tables are available at Fish Creek, Weborg Point, Nelson Point, Nicolet Beach and Pines Area, and Eagle Terrace. Peninsula State Park offers five campgrounds with 468 camp sites. Some campgrounds offers sites with electricity, showers along with flush toilets.
Located at 9462 Shore Rd. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Daily admission is $13 per out-of-state vehicle.
Edge of the Park Bike Rentals
Steps from the entrance of the Sunset Bike Route, the Edge of the Park Rentals can set you up for the afternoon. It offers bikes in several sizes, a helmet along with bike trailers and even tandem bikes.
Located 4025 Evergreen Rd. in Fish Creek. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the season. Rates start from $10 a hour. E-bikes available.
Northern Sky Theater’s Summer Show
See a professionally produced and performed live theater production in the woods of Peninsula State Park from mid-June until the end of August. With a seasonal production, each show focuses on Door County and is suitable for families with catchy songs and bright costuming. Since the shows are family-friendly, it is one of the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
Located at 10169 Shore Dr. Performances are Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. Tickets start at $25 a seat and reservable online.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
With 867 acres, Whitefish Dunes State Park is known for its sand dunes and its stretch of white sand beach along Lake Michigan. Most summer visitors come for the soft, white sand that is reached by a trail with three different stairs down to the beach. It is one of the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
In addition to the beach, visitors will find over 14 miles of hiking trails. With interpretive signs, hiking at Whitefish Dunes State Park is a great activity for most, as hiking trails are mostly under 2 miles. For ease, most hiking trails are labeled by color, like red, green and yellow. Find a picnic area close to the parking lot with views of Lake Michigan.
The sand dunes are another feature unique to the Whitefish Dunes State Park and the highest sand dunes in Wisconsin. The largest dune is named Old Baldy and stands 93 feet tall. Take the Red Trail to reach it and see views of Lake Michigan from its observation tower.
Unlike other dunes along Lake Michigan, the dunes at Whitefish Dunes State Park are off-limits for climbing or sliding. To learn more about the sand dunes, walk through an interpretive area, located in the visitor center near the first parking lot.
Note: No lifeguard on duty and part of the beach is known to have rip currents. No boat launch at the park. Dogs are welcome. This is a day-use park so no camping.
Located at 3275 Clarks Lake Rd. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Daily admission is $11 per vehicle.
Newport State Park
Near Europe Lake and Rowley’s Bay in Door County, explore more than 2,300 acres of protected wilderness (Wisconsin’s only protected wilderness park) along the shores of Lake Michigan. Newport State Park features several hiking trails from one-mile trails to the 7-mile Europe Bay Trail Loop. Newport State Park is a Dark Skies Park, certified by the International Dark Sky Association.
Find the picnic area near the parking lots. Newport State Park has 17 hike-in camp sites with limited amenities.
Newport State Park is located at 475 County Rd NP in Ellison Bay. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Daily admission is $11 per vehicle.
Potawatoni State Park
Along the lakeshore of Sturgeon Bay on the Green Bay side of Door County, Potawtoni is over 1,200 acres and named after the original people that lived in the area. Visitors can rent kayaks or canoes inside Potawatoni State Park and a boat launch is available at Sawyer Harbor. Though the park doesn’t offer a sand beach.
Potawatoni State Park is the home of the eastern trailhead of the 1,000-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail and find over 2 miles of the trail inside the park. The Ancient Shore Trail is a .5-mile trail with interpretive signs that starts at the nature center and great for families.
For those wanting to camp, find 123 sites, some with electricity. The campground features a bathhouse and a dump station.
Located at 3740 Park Dr. in Sturgeon Bay. Open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Daily admission is $11 per vehicle.
Cave Point County Park
With limestone and dolomite rock ledges, the lakeshore is the show at the Cave Point County Park. The best way to see the ledges and its inlets and caves is on the water.
Cave Point County Park offers picnic areas, restrooms and a .5-mile hiking trail. It’s located at 5360 Schauer Rd, and open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Kayaking to Cave Point County Park
I recommend a guided tour and I look a tandem kayak, great for families that are able to pair an adult with a kid. In two hours, I glided along the rocky shore to Cave Point County Park with Door County Kayak Tours.
Passing a handful of vacation homes along the way, I saw the rocky inlets and small beaches. The screams of kids jumping into the water will compete with the sound of the waves. The water is clear and crisp with an inviting green hue.
Door County Kayak Tours is located at 6329 Wisconsin 57 in Jacksonport. Open daily through the season from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with tours and rental equipment. Tours are $69 per person and include a shuttle ride to-and-from the park.
The Ridges Sanctuary
Protecting over 1,600 acres, The Ridges Sanctuary was Wisconsin’s first land trust and a National Natural Landmark. Within its boundaries, find 30 ridges and swales that shows the movement of Lake Michigan over the years. The Ridges Sanctuary is the most ecologically diverse land in Wisconsin and offers a diverse collection of 500 different plants (some rare and endangered) along with being an important bird area.
Walk through the Cook-Albert Fuller Visitor Center before hiking along the boardwalk. Another must-see at The Ridges Sanctuary is the Bailey’s Harbor Range Lights, used to guide boats into Bailey’s Harbor.
Located at 8166 Wisconsin 57 in Baileys Harbor. Open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adults enter for $5 and kids under 18 are free.
Ellison Bluff State Natural Area
Door County’s peninsula is part of the Niagara escarpment, part of the rock formation that arches from Wisconsin to New York and Canada’s Ontario. At Ellison Bluff State Natural Area, visitors can see the bluffs with layers of sedimentary rock. The area is 170 acres in size and mostly an undeveloped park.
The Ellison Bluff State Natural Area offers an observation deck and some hiking trails. It is reached by Highway 42 off of Ellison Bluff Park Road. No charge to enter and open from dawn to dusk.
Open Door Bird Sanctuary
Learn about several species of birds-of-prey in a 34-acre outdoor facility housing birds unable to return to the wild. The handlers do an excellent job at explaining each bird, from a Peregrine Falcon to several different owls along with a Merlin and a Kestral. Most birds live in large outdoor enclosures. With its educational programming, Open Door Bird Santuary is one of the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
Located at 4114 County Rd. I in Sturgeon Bay. Open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from mid-June until Labor Day or visit any time via private tour. Adult admission is $10 and kids 5 to 12 are $7 with those 4 and younger entering for free.
Cana Island Lighthouse
Accessed via a stone causeway, the Cana Island Lighthouse was built in 1869. It is one of the more photographed lighthouses in Door County on an island close to Spike Horn Bay. Visitors can tour the lighthouse, up 97 steps. In addition to the Cana Island Lighthouse, the property includes an oil house, a barn and privy along with an Interpretive Center.
Located at 8800 East Cana Island Rd. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 1 until October 31. Adult admission is $12 and $10 for kids (5 – 17).
Old Bailey’s Harbor Lighthouse
Now privately owned, the 1852 lighthouse service from only a few years before it was replaced by the Bailey’s Harbor Range Lights. Best viewed from the water, the lighthouse features a unique bird cage lantern room.
Door County Maritime Museum
Learn about the maritime history of Door County from the ship captains to the craftsmen building and maintaining the Great Lake’s vessels. In addition to the sea-faring characters, the Door County Maritime Museum walks visitors through the Tug John Purves along with detailed exhibit about the lighthouses on Door Peninsula.
The Door County Maritime Museum operates the Cana Island Lighthouse along with an outpost, Death’s Door Maritime Museum at Gills Rock.
Located at 120 N. Madison Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April to December (4 p.m. January to March). Adult admission is $15 and $7 for kids 5 to 17 and those 4 and younger are free.
Door County Trolley
Departing from Egg Harbor, Door County Trolleys offers sightseeing tours in its vintage-inspired trolleys. With 16 different tours in-which to choose, find family tours to ghost tours to light house tours and more. The family tour is just 30 minutes long so it is one of the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
Located at 8030 Wisconsin Highway 42 in Egg Harbor. Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer season with speciality tours in fall, spring and winter. Tickets start at $12.95 for the family ride.
Door County offers an ideal location for growing several crops, like tart cherries and apples. For those who would like to pick-your-own, the Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Wine and Market offers both cherry and apple picking.
After blossom season (usually May) cherries ripen in late July or early August. For as little as $5, grab a mini-bucket and pick tart cherries. Kids won’t want to miss the Cherry Pit Spit to see if they can beat the record.
Apple picking season is later in fall from mid-September until early October. Lautenbach’s Orchard Country grows popular varieties like Honeycrisp, Gala and Macintosh. Also find a market with your favorite Door County products.
Located at 9197 State Highway 42 in Fish Creek. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).
Skyway Drive-In Theater
Take the family to a throw back from 1950 while visiting Door County. The Skyway Drive-In shows double features and includes the original snack bar.
Located at 3475 State Highway 42 in Fish Creek. Gates open at 7:45 p.m. on show nights.
Door County Farmers Markets
A farmers market offers lots to see and taste, even for families on a getaway. Door County offers farmers markets several days a week. Running from May until October, find markets across the Door Peninsula.
Jacksonport in Lakeside Park—Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Fish Creek at the Settlement Shops—Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Egg Harbor at Hatch Distilling Company—Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Ephaim–Monday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Sister Bay at Corner of the Past Museum—Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Sturgeon Bay at Market Square—Saturday 8 a.m. to noon
Baileys Harbor at Baileys Harbor Town Hall—Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The best way to see Door County’s beautiful lakeshore is from the water. As a bonus, cruisers will see the lighthouses. Take a scenic cruise of Green Bay or Lake Michigan, especially nice in the evening for sunset.
Bailey’s Harbor and Sister Bay both offer commercial scenic cruises from its harbor.
Best Places to Eat in Door County with Kids
Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor
Enjoy an ice cream treat made the old-fashioned way, at a soda fountain built in 1906. With a menu with malts, shakes, sundaes and even phosphates ( a throw-back drink similar to an Italian soda), it’s a family tradition for some. Its food menu includes burgers, sandwiches, dogs and more—most served in red baskets.
Located at 9990 Water St. South in Ephraim. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. from mid-May to mid-October.
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant
Any first time trip to Door County, you’ll want to see the goats of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. That’s right, on the sod grass roof of its traditional Swedish log cabin building, goats gaze happily for the majority of the day. If anyone who knows goats, they love to climb and munch so they are living their best lives in Door County. This in one of the top things to do in Door County Wisconsin with kids.
After taking in the goats, head inside for one of the must eats of Door County. Celebrate the best meal of the day by ordering the house speciality, the Swedish pancakes. They are the go-to item on the menu, paired with whip cream and Door County cherries, it’s big enough to share for a pair of little kids (or Mom and a kiddo). The Swedish meatballs are another must and served with lingonberries.
Located at 10698 N Bay Shore Dr. in Sister Bay. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Rowley’s Bay Resort
For those travelers looking for some creature comforts in the wilderness, Rowley’s Bay Resort offers lodging and dining, next to Rowley’s Bay at the northern end of Door County. Its Grandma’s Swedish Bakery is home to cinnamon rolls and pecan rolls the size of doll’s head, using old family recipes.
Located at 1041 County Rd ZZ. Bakery is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily (closed on Wednesday) during the summer season.
Scaturo’s Baking Company and Café
If your group needs brunch or some yummy baked goods, head to Scaturo’s. As a family-owned bakery and restaurant, it’s a locals favorite. Grab a table for traditional breakfast items, like omelettes featuring Wisconsin-made cheese. For afternoon snacking, peruse the bakery case, find amazing cookies, like the Nutella Stuffed Cookie sprinkled with salt. Scaturo’s sells fresh bread, great for picnics.
Scaturo’s Baking Company and Café is located at 19 Green Bay Rd. in Sturgeon Bay. Open daily at 5 a.m. and open through lunch.
Mezzanine Door County
Mezzanine offers a rooftop patio that perfect for dinner and a view. Start dinner with signature cocktails like Door County Cherry Mule or the Spanish Gin and Tonic. Then relax and graze off a charcuterie board featuring Wisconsin cheese and sausage or the house breaded cheese curds. It’s a getaway on the water, so the pan-fried whitefish with zesty slaw seems fitting for Door County.
Don’t let cherry pie pass you by. It’s a not-to-be-missed indulgence with tender pastry and tart cherries served with fresh whip cream.
Mezzanine is located at 7821 Horseshoe Bay Rd. Open Tuesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the summer season. Separate breakfast and lunch menu also served during the day.
Renard’s Artisan Cheese
Cheese will make any trip to Door County better. The oldest cheese shop in Door County is Renard’s Artisan Cheese with three generations of cheese makers. The go-to item is the Cherry Cheddar cheese though find lots of flavors and ages of cheese in its shop. I brought my cheese back in my checked luggage with no issues.
For lunch, head to its deli, Melt Bistro, for salads, sandwiches and pizza.
Located at 2189 County Rd. in Sturgeon Bay. Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
This article was created after a hosted trip to Door County, Wisconsin.
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