Door County Wisconsin's Premier Vacation Guide

Town Series

Jump on over to Jacksonport

By Donna Marie Pocius
Special to DoorCountyNavigator.com

 

From pristine natural settings to unique shops and historical sites along the Lake Michigan shoreline, Jacksonport unveils a calmer side of the Door Peninsula to visitors and residents.

Find the town by traveling north on Hwy. 57 from Sturgeon Bay. The center of most attractions is Cty. Rd. V and Hwy 57.

Natural Areasjacksonport_1

At this intersection lies Lakeside Park, site of town-sponsored special events and a great place to enjoy a view of Lake Michigan away from the hustle and bustle.

“They sit at the park. They like it here. It is not so crowded,” says Sue Jarosh, Jacksonsport spokesperson and member of the Jacksonport Historical Society. “There is always someone on the park swing. They love to sit and look at the water. It draws people.”

Also drawing people to the Jacksonsport area are Whitefish Dunes State Park and its neighbor Cave Point Park. Take Hwy. 57 about half a mile south of the town to Cave Point Dr. Travel on this meandering scenic tree-lined drive for about five miles to Cave Point Park’s entrance.

Cave Point affords visitors a close up view of Peninsula cliffs and crashing Lake Michigan water. There’s a nearby parking lot, picnic tables, grills and rest rooms for visitors’ convenience.

jackson_outside_1And for those who want to lace up hiking boots, take a dip in the lake, or strap on cross country skies, White Fish Dunes – one of five state parks on the Peninsula—offers 14 l/2 miles of trails, scenic sand dune areas and a lovely lakeside locale.

The park was established 36 years ago to protect its fragile sand dunes, which cover about 600 acres of the 867 acre park. The park sits on Lake Michigan, borders Clark Lake, has a wetland area and a class A trout stream. “For a small park, we have a lot of different habitats,” says Carolyn Rock, natural resource educator.

jackson_outside_2View the park’s sand dunes by hiking the red trail, a 2.8 mile hike that takes visitors to “Old Baldy,” which, at 93 feet above the lake level, is the tallest dune in the park. The heavily forested 1.8 mile green trail is a great place to see deer and the great horned owl, Rock says.

The yellow trail, recommended by Rock to those who want a diverse hiking experience, branches off the green for a 4.2 mile trip, affording the hiker with changes in environment. “There are birch, pine and beech nut trees, a little bit of hills and a little bit of adventure. It provides for excitement,” she says.

And the park’s 2 1/2 mile white trail runs through a flat forested environment. The park’s updated its hiking signage in 2003, enhancing directions for visitors.

White Fish Dunes’ Brachiopod trail is named for the geological history of the park, offering visitors a self-guided tour of seven different park habitats. “I encourage people with children to go on this trail. It’s only a mile and one half long,” says Rock.

Shopping Pleasures

And the people of Jacksonsport also encourage visitors to partake in unique shops galleries and restaurants dotting Hwy. 57.

Antique collectors should not miss LaMere House Antiques, Port Peddler Antiques & Collectibles and the Collectors Antiques—all on Hwy. 57.

Jarosh has welcomed visitors to her shop, Jacksonport Craft Cottage, 6275 Hwy. 57, for 20 years. Housed in a recently refurbished 1860s log home, the shop features work from 60 artists. But it’s known for its collection of Amish quilts and art depicting the Peninsula’s lighthouses. The quilts, made by Wisconsin and Lancaster, Penn. artists, come in double, queen and king sizes and are found in the shop’s quilt room.

There’s even a throw-- designed by Linda Denissen, a Sturgeon Bay artist depicting lighthouses--pottery in the shape of lighthouses and lighthouse pins. Each pin comes with a brief lighthouse history, written by Jarosh, a former teacher. “I love history. I think it’s important,” she says.

See Historical Sites

And history buffs will not be disappointed in learning the roots of Jacksonsport, an area where farming, lumbering and commercial fishing thrived before tourism commenced in the 1920s.

jacksonport_2Don’t miss a stop at the root cellar, a sort of underground refrigerator, located in the Erskine rest area on the southwest corner of Hwy 57 and Cty. Rd. V. This was the site for the Eureka House – an early hotel and post office in Jacksonport. Recently restored, the root cellar kept vegetables, cheese and milk cold for the hotel.

The Jacksonsport Historical Society plans to build a museum in the Jacksonport area, offering tourists an overview of the town’s families and their livelihoods and contributions to the area.

jacksonport_3Just south of the root cellar on Hwy. 57 is the Town Hall Bakery, formerly used as, well, the village hall. “People just love the bakery. The whole feel of the town is in that building.” Jarosh says.

Jarosh’s log home and shop was the former residence of one of Jacksonport’s early settlers – the Bagnall family. John and Eliza Rutherford Bagnall lived there, and many other family members settled on a road later named for them. Bagnall Rd. runs west and is located just south of Jacksonport. John Bagnall lived from 1839 through1897 and became a “timber cruiser,” hiring employees to help him remove timber.

More information on many other early Jacksonport families is available in “Jacksonport through the Generations, Volume One,” a publication of the Jacksonsport Historical Society, available for $15 at Jacksonport Craft Cottage.

jacksonport_churchOther historical sites include Jacksonport’s churches – St. Michael’s Church, completed in 1878, Hwy. 57; United Methodist Church, built in early 1890s, Cave Point Dr.; and Episcopal Church, built in the mid 1880s, Cty. Rd. V.

Always a party

But Jacksonport is also known for throwing a great party. The town hosts a variety of events throughout the year that serve up entertainment, art and those good old-fashioned brats from Jacksonport’s Bley’s Grocery. Here’s a look at the annual line-up:

Polar Bear Swim
Noon Jan. 1
Lakeside Park Beach, Hwy. 57

Shepherd’s Market
Third weekend of May
Whitefish Bay Farm, 3831 Clark Lake Rd. (Cty. Rd. WD)
Near Jacksonsport

Maifest
Memorial Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday)
Lakeside Park, Hwy. 57

Art on the Quiet Side
On/around the July 4th holiday
Lakeside Park, Hwy. 57

Cherry Fest
First Saturday in August
Lakeside Park, Hwy. 57

If you only have a day, make the jump to Jacksonport

Here’s what you can see and do in a day in Jacksonport:

  • Enjoy breakfast at the Square Rigger or Town Hall Bakery.
  • Head out to White Fish Dunes for a hike, and drive through Cave Point to enjoy the scenery.
  • Stop for lunch at Mike’s Port Pub & Grill.
  • Visit nearby family haunts like Dairy View Country Store, Herb’s Horses, Kurtz Corral, Plum Loco Animal Farm before heading back to town before the shops close.
  • Dine at Sweet Lou’s, or enjoy dinner theater at nearby Mr. G’s Supper Club.
  • Watch the stars over the lake from Lakeside Park before heading to one of the many welcoming hotels in town.

Editor’s Note: Head to JJ's of Jacksonport for lunch or dinner - and tell them DoorCountyNavigator.com sent you!

  •  

Click here for DoorCountyNavigator’s full Calendar of Events!

 

Sturgeon Bay

There was a time when folks would drive past Sturgeon Bay and even Egg Harbor to get to “Door County!” Things are different now, as Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay have been woven into the fabric of Door County over the years. More than even, Sturgeon Bay, with it’s resurgence a number of years ago in restoring its historic downtown, is a destination of Door County travelers. By far, Door County’s largest town (about 9,500+), it remains a warm and friendly respite.

sturg_inside_2Incorporated in 1883, Sturgeon Bay is situated on both sides of the bridge, spanning the waters of Sturgeon Bay, the town offers both beautiful vistas from many waterfront locations, boating, fishing, and wonderful places to stay.

What’s in Sturgeon Bay? From live theater, to fine arts galleries, to wonderful and unique shops, coffee houses, dining of ever kind from casual to fine – Sturgeon Bay has a lot to offer. And Sturgeon Bay has not only some of the finest resorts and B&Bs in Door County, but also some of the finest in the Midwest.

We have strolled down historic Third Avenue in downtown Sturgeon Bay many, many times. It is loaded with shops and galleries and restaurants. Some of our favorites are a great cup of java at Kick Coffee, great gifts and unusual items at The Dancing Bear, and gourmet caramel corn and fudge (made rightsturg_inside_1 in the shop) at Copper Kettle Confectionary. It is charming, delightful and downright fun. Younkers department store always has a great selection of items at reasonable prices for men, women and kids too! Festivals, museums and more are waiting for you. Dine at the Inn at Cedar Crossing restaurant for a wonderful lunch, and even stay at the inn! Third Avenue is cool.

Sturgeon Bay has just about anything you might be looking for from resorts and B&Bs to boat launch facilities and marinas – all waiting for you! With 250 miles of coastline, Door County has a wealth or maritime history- and The Door County Maritime Museum is just the place to discover the depth of this history. All ages will delight in this wonderful museum, which covers topics from shipbuilding to shipwrecks. Another delightful museum, the Door County Historical Museum (18 N 4th Avenue), displays artifacts and historical items from Door County’s past. This one was rated the “Best Small museum in the Midwest” by a major city newspaper, The Chicago Tribune – it’s a real find!

sturg_inside_3Art museums like Miller Art Museum and The Fairfield Public Gallery offer wonderful glimpses of art, from local works to art from around the world. Galleries, like AMO Gallery and Framery, offer the works of many great artists, limited edition prints, and more.

If golfing is your pleasure, choose from the challenging Cherry Hills Golf Course, or Idlewild, or an easier but still challenging par three course, 27 Pines. We have golfed Cherry Hills and can attest to the great challenges that await you there – for any skill golfer.

Traveling with kids? Try some of the Sturgeon Bay resorts like Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort, Bridgeport Waterfront Resort which offer swimming pools, cookouts and other things of interest. The Farm, a very cool farm-like environment where kids of all ages can see farm animals from horses to goats in a natural surrounding – you can even get milk bottles and feed the hungry little goats. From cows to kittens, it’s fun for all. And don’t forget Dairy View Country Store, where kids of all ages can learn about the farm, eat homemade ice cream in the dairy shop and see all sorts of cool things – like a 17 acre corn maze (August thru November)! Also, you can step right into a 1950’s diner at Perry’s Cherry Diner on Michigan Street – malts, shakes, great sandwiches, cherry colas and more!

The Door Peninsula School of Music is also located here, right at 306 S Third Avenue (Suite E). They have a program called Kindermusik for newborns to 4 years old, and they offer summer camps too. Interested in Barbie dolls? Well, you can visit the Collector Showcase at 3910 Hwy 42/57 and see about 1,000 Barbies from older to newer, and even a whole bunch of antique cars. Of course, there is a gift shop that sells Barbies!

sturg_inside_4Stroll down Third Avenue and find wonderful clothing at Wilkins and Olander, or check out the department store of Younkers – lots of fun kids clothes.

Take a look at historic Jefferson Street as well, where old homes have been transformed into antique shops, gift stores and more. Find a Yield House store and other home accessory shops all along this charming street with cobblestone crosswalks.

Go sailing or fishing at Sturgeon Bay’s many charter fishing and sailing spots. Check our Water Activities section for more info. Lots of folks come to Sturgeon Bay to fish from perch to bass and walleye on the bayside, to lake trout and salmon on the lakeside. It’s a fisherman’s paradise! Hauling a boat with you? Launch it at Sawyer Park, Sunset Park or even dock it for a couple of hours at these parks. Want to rent a boat? Check out the marinas at Snug Harbor Resort and Leathem Smith!

Potawatomi State Park offers special programs in the summer too. Check them out!

Go visit the Sturgeon Bay Canal Station lights, first operated on May 15 1882!

Take some cool tours from kayak tours (at Door County Bicycle Works) to a tour of Door County by air (Wings Over Door County) – all available in Sturgeon Bay!

And on a rainy day, head to the Sturgeon Bay Cinemas – 6 screens await you with first run movies. See our Movies section for all the details!

Head over to the Third Avenue Playhouse for a live theater performance. Or take a dive up Bay Shore Road (north) – it is beautiful, and you will pass some of the best resorts and B&Bs in Door County!

And if you are interested in real estate, there are some excellent opportunities for you in Sturgeon Bay! Call Coldwell Banker at 920-743-8881 , or Bety Tipler of Century 21 Action Group at 920-743-7327 . These professionals will find what you need! Read our reviews of these real estate folks!

All Over Sturgeon Bay

And to show you how much time we have spent in Sturgeon Bay because we think this is a great town, here are some of the reviews of places we have toured in Sturgeon Bay!

B&Bs
Reynolds House
Chanticleer Guest House
White Lace Inn

Resorts
Bay Shore Inn - Trusted Review
Bridgeport Waterfront Resort - Trusted Review & Video!
Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort - Trusted Review & Video

And there are a lot more! Visit our Sturgeon Bay Inns and Places to Stay Reviews Page!

Shops and Other Activities!
Dancing Bear Home Collection
Door County Candy
Wilkins & Olander
Door County Traders - Trusted Review and Video! 

So stay in Sturgeon Bay and discover a whole new Door County! Not only is there a lot to do in Sturgeon Bay, it’s only a 15 minute or so ride to Egg Harbor, where you can head further north to reach the rest of Door County’s charming towns.

For additional information, visit www.SturgeonBay.net – be sure to cross-reference listings there with our exclusive, in-person and independent reviews on our site.

For Sturgeon Bay Fishing Information, please check
www.sturgeonbaywaters.com/

Sturgeon Bay Harbor Guide

Stay in the bay, Sturgeon Bay!

 

Sister Bay – the hub of the Door Peninsula

By Donna Marie Pocius
Special to DoorCountyNavigator.com

 

With abundant hotels and restaurants, unique galleries and proximity to key attractions, it’s easy to understand why visitors and residents call Sister Bay the northern hub of the Door Peninsula.

The heart of the village sits alongside the waters of Green Bay, where Hwy. 57 ends and intersects with Hwy. 42.

Convenient location

Sister Bay’s central location—just 12 miles north of Fish Creek, about 10 miles west of Baileys Harbor and 10 miles south of the Washington Island ferry depot – makes it a convenient base for families and couples to explore the entire Peninsula.

“We are really centrally located for what you want to see in Door County, just miles from neighboring towns and minutes away from Peninsula State Park (in Fish Creek),” says Terry Zielke, president, Sister Bay Advancement Association.

Sites to seesis_1

But you may find plenty to do right in Sister Bay. Plan to stop at the Sister Bay Information Center, 416 Gateway Drive. There, Nita Gros, who has held her greeter position for four years, provides a wealth of information on the village or can help you make a hotel reservation when you arrive on a whim.

She says the most common question is, “What do we do if it rains?”

“I advise going shopping or to a restaurant, or to Sturgeon Bay for a movie. You can always get a book. We have a very nice library,” she says of the Village’s new library on Mill Rd. “We help with hotel reservations here – I know who is full or has an opening.”

sis_2Publications about hotels, bed and breakfast inns, galleries, shops, historical sites and Peninsula-wide arts venues decorate the Information Center, which is an attraction itself. Housed in a former one-room schoolhouse, the center shows what education was like in northern Door County during the mid-1800s.

The schoolhouse, built in 1866, remained open until 1881, when a larger school replaced it. Walls, made from logs, are original. The floor and ceiling were replaced after area residents moved the schoolhouse in 1978 from its original location on Hill Rd.

Continue your journey into Sister Bay’s past with a visit to the Old Anderson House Museum, located on the south edge of the village on Hwy. 57 and Fieldcrest Rd. Staffed by volunteers of the Sister Bay Historical Society, the Museum is open weekends and holidays mid-May through Mid-October. There’s no admission charge, but a donation is accepted.

This former home of Alex and Emma Anderson, who moved to Sister Bay from Marinette in 1895, was restored from 1994 through 1997 by Sister Bay residents. Now, it showcases furnishings and memorabilia of life and times in northern Door County more than 100 years ago.

While you are there, members of the Historical Society will proudly share their plans for further development of this site, where the village acquired 6.4 acres of adjoining property in 1999.

Four vintage buildings—a granary, machine shed, barn and migrant worker cabin--are being restored (Corner of the Past). Step over to the machine shed to view old photographs showing early settlers and merchants, a destructive fire of 1912, the steamships at Roeser Dock and the early logging and ice industries.

Zielke, who grew up in Sister Bay, tells his own stories about the past. When the logging industry was bullish in Sister Bay, he recalls jumping off the logs—stacked 40 feet high on the dock—and into the water.

“That was great fun,” he says. “And Bunda’s right here was a big city department store. Husby’s (Husby’s Food and Spirits) is now a bar and serves food, but Emma Husby herself used to serve ice-cream there. It was real special.”

Special shopping

And many find shopping and dining special in Sister Bay today. Shops are located along Hwy. 42 or Bay Shore Drive in the heart of the village. Discover other galleries on rural roads or Hwy. 57. Shopping complexes include the Cedar Shops, Country Walk Shops and the Walkway Shops.

Do the beachsis_3

And no trip to Sister Bay is complete without a swim in Village Park beach. The beach’s lifeguard services make it a popular place to bring children.

Throughout summer, blues, jazz, ragtime, swing, country, Cajun and other musicians entertain the crowds who gather at the Beach Park Pavilion 3 p.m. Wednesdays for Concerts in the Park.

Nearby, the Sister Bay Marina shows off its recent improvements –new break walls, additional slips, showers and rest room facilities. There are 100 slips here and 34 are available for transient boaters.

Always a Party

The Marina also is the site of the annual Marina Fest, held each year on the Saturday before Labor Day. Water ski show, live entertainment, a book sale benefiting the library, crafts exhibition, food and fireworks make the one-day fest an increasingly popular attraction.

Shortly afterward is Sister Bay Fall Festival, held each October during the weekend following Columbus Day. The highlight of the festival is the annual ping pong ball drop 2 p.m. Sunday, when 5,000 balls—offering discounts and prizes from area merchants-- are dropped from a helicopter onto a crowd gathered on Bay Shore Drive, which is closed for the entire three-day festival.

Other Fall Fest activities include arts and crafts fair, fireworks, parade, fall classic run and walk, soap box derby, classic auto show and teen dance.

sis_4Sister Bay celebrates the holidays with Capture the Spirit the first Saturday in December and kicks off the summer vacation season with children’s activities during a mid-May Blossom Fest.

And now there are about 5 outdoor bars, some with music in peak season, throughout downtown Sister Bay - party on!

If you only have a day in Sister Bay

But if you only have a day, here’s what you can see and do in Sister Bay:

  • Stop by the Visitor Information Center, housed in an old one-room schoolhouse.
  • On a summer day, swim at Sister Bay Village Park beach.
  • Here during winter? Head to the village’s new sports complex on Woodcrest Rd. and skate on the separate hockey and free style outdoor skating rinks.
  • Visit the Old Anderson House Museum and neighboring sis_5attractions to reminisce about yesteryear in Sister Bay.
  • Enjoy unique shopping on Bay Shore Drive or in nearby outlying areas.
  • Have dinner at a restaurant and watch the sunset from your table.

To learn more
Call the Sister Bay Village Information Center, 920-854-2812 , open May 1 through Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. Or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Donna Marie Pocius is an Egg Harbor, Wisconsin-based freelance writer and regular contributor to DoorCountyNavigator.com

Editor’s Note:
Please check out the following Sister Bay businesses, which we have reviewed on our site – so you can get all the information you need about Sister Bay!

Places to Stay

Resorts and Inns
Country House Resort

Scandinavian Lodge
Coachlite Inn
Little Sister Resort
Nordic Lodge
Birchwood Lodge
Open Hearth Lodge
Churchill Inn
Inn at Little Sister Hill

B&Bs
Church Hill Inn

Places to Dine
Fred & Fuzzy’s Waterfront Bar & Grill

Sister Bay Bowl
The Waterfront
Door County Ice Cream Factory & Sandwich Shoppe
JJ's On the Bay/La Puerta

Go Sailing!
Sail Door County
Shoreline Charters - Scenic Cruises & Boat Rides
Sister Bay Boat Rentals


 

Ephraim

More than picture perfect, Ephraim enchants and excites travelers

By Donna Marie Pocius
Special to DoorCountyNavigator.com

 

ephriam_1Ephraim just seems to have it all going on in Door County.

From its pretty-in-white Eagle Harbor setting to renowned events like Fyr Bal, which celebrates Scandinavian heritage, Ephraim invites you to stay a while.

Along the Green Bay waters and inland, you can rest in picturesque B&B inns and hotels with all the frills. Within walking distance of most accommodations, shops and galleries are set in century-old barns, log homes and vintage houses.

Ephraim also beckons you to natural attractions, historical sites and the arts. The village has its own wetlands preserve, historical buildings open for tours and the Francis Hardy Center for the Arts on the Anderson Dock--a national landmark.

“Ephraim has a lot to offer—from history to the most waterfront,” says Debbie Krause, owner of Bay Breeze Resort in Ephraim.

So let’s take a tour of Ephraim and see what all the fuss is about.

Festival celebrates heritage

“Of all the villages (in Door County), Ephraim is definitely one that appreciates ethnic heritage,” says Sally Jacobson, director/curator of the Ephraim Historical Foundation. “We want to celebrate the history of people who settled before us.”

Ephraim’s annual Fyr Bal, held in concert with the summer solstice, salutes the beginning of summer as well as heritage. Locals and visitors gather around nearly a dozen bonfires on the beach to symbolically burn the winter witch.

The 41-year-old festival honors a chieftain, who sails into Eagle Harbor before lighting the first bonfire. Locals vote for the chieftain--a citizen who has served the village’s business, arts or education in some way.

In addition to preserving customs like honoring a chieftain, Ephraim has maintained historical buildings including a Moravian parsonage and one-room schoolhouses.

The Ephraim Historical Foundation unveiled in 2005 the historic Iverson House. This is an 1853 log and frame Moravian parsonage—the oldest frame house in Door County, according to the Door County Historical Society.

“It is built in the typical Norwegian fashion with rooms for animals underneath the house—very unique in Wisconsin,” Jacobson says.

Guided tours of the Iverson House are available. Two old schoolhouses in Ephraim are also open to the public.

The 1880 Pioneer Schoolhouse, 9998 Moravia St., was built at a cost of $658 and stayed open until 1948. Today tourists can see a recitation on the blackboard, vintage books and more.

Jacobson, who grew up in Ephraim, fondly remembers attending the 1948 Ephraim Village School (now the Village Hall), where classes for up to 60 children at eight grade levels took place in one room with one teacher.

“It was a good way of learning things. Classes were grouped together, and there were kids doing more advanced work. So I was being exposed to something else going on and getting a peek-see at what I will be learning in the future. That was the benefit of the one-room schoolhouse,” she said.

Unique shopsephriam_2

Ephraim shops also provide their own kind of history lessons, while offering one-of-a-kind home accents and art. For example, an 1886 dairy barn has been re-purposed as City Farmer, a home and garden shop and interior design studio.

Original wooden shiplap-style walls provide a natural division for the store’s furnishings lines. The concrete floors are painted red and speckled with yellow, black and white.

“Drywall has not been used in the barn’s refurbishment,” said Celeste Wegman, owner and interior designer. “The store exemplifies what you can do with an old Wisconsin barn—people can shop and work here.”

Another unique shopping destination and historical attraction is Newport House Gallery, open for more than 20 years, and showcasing antiques and folk art in a log building.

Natural wetlands

Just south of the village’s Eagle Harbor and shopping area, the Ephraim Wetlands Preserve invites you to change your pace. Access the area from Hwy. 42 May through October. As you head south from town, turn left or east when you see the Ephraim Wetlands Preserve sign.

Here, you can take a leisurely stroll through a natural swamp and nourish your soul while learning about plants and animals that call wetlands home. Seven acres of wetlands have been preserved through efforts of the Village of Ephraim. On two trails with man-made bridges you can hike one-third of a mile through the area.

ephriam_3Wetlands include swamps, marshes, bogs, flood plains, seeps and wet meadows. “This is a swamp area, left in its natural state. What it feels like, what it smells like—a typical Door County wetland swamp,” said Paul Burton, village president.

You’ll see about a 60 different types of wildflowers including large yellow lady-slipper, hound’s tongue, marsh marigold and starflower.

Don’t miss the dragon flies. There are a few species zipping around, but the Hine’s emerald dragonfly with green eyes is the one to watch. It’s the only dragonfly on the Federal List of Endangered Species, and the world’s largest breeding population exists in Door County.

“You always hope you may catch a glimpse of this dragonfly. They are buzzing around,” Burton promised. “It is just good for the soul to be at one with nature, to experience a wetland in this area. It is very relaxing and a way to gain access to nature right off Highway 42.”

Set sail

Finally, for a panoramic perspective, get off the highway and set sail from Eagle Harbor. While cruising by the picturesque Ephraim skyline and Peninsula State Park on a catamaran built by the Chicago Sea Scouts in 1960, hear Captain Tom Schroeder tell tales of the sea.

“I like to talk about the different wrecks. But the main idea is to be out on the water,” Schroeder, of Bella Sailing Cruises, says. “Get off the bus, get off the highway and get on the water. That is why you came to Door County.”

To learn more about places to stay and dine in Ephraim, visit our places to stay and dine links. For details about Ephraim tours and attractions, visit www.ephraim-doorcounty.com

Donna Marie Pocius is a full-time Egg Harbor-based freelance writer, who writes about travel, decorating and the arts. 

Editor’s Notes:
Ephraim is so picturesque – we love it! Check out these great places to stay, and places to dine and shop while vacationing in Ephraim! You can even find some real estate here!

B&Bs
Eagle Harbor Inn
Village Green Lodge

Inns and Resorts
Bay Breeze Resort
Ephraim Guest House
Ephraim Shores Motel & Restaurant
Village Green Lodge
Harbor View Resort
High Point Inn
Pioneer Acre Cottages
Somerset Inn & Suites

Restaurants!
Second Story Restaurant
Wilson’s Restaurant - Video too!
Chef’s Hat

SHOPS!
Get something for your pet!  At Pet Expressions - and please tell them that DoorCountyNavigator.com sent you!

 

Egg Harbor

In a similar way, there was a time when folks heading up to Door County would not only pass through Sturgeon Bay (see our Sturgeon Bay Town Series piece), but would also zip through Egg Harbor to get to points further north. Not any more! Over the last 15 years or so, Egg Harbor has also become a destination ­ and for lots of reasons.

This is a quaint, little town with a lot to offer in terms of a large selection of places to stay, from B&Bs to resorts, some of our favorite restaurants, and a variety of shops including books shops, a Christmas shop, home accents and small furniture pieces, antiques, art work, teddy bears, fudge and more! And the best grocery store in Door County is right here too.

With a permanent population of about 250, it’s a small community in the off-season, but a now popular destination for those seeking out Door County charm year round. It is called Egg Harbor because of an egg fight that took place in June 1825 among a group of traders coming ashore in small boats! Yes ­ history suggests that this actually happened, and the shore was littered with egg shells, and so, the morning following, it was called Egg Harbor!

What You Can Do In Egg Harbor
Egg Harbor has some of the best places to watch sunsets, dine, stay, eat doughnuts, and have a nice drink with your friends. And there are some wonderful shops, from antiques to stickers from kids, from Christmas to clothing, from eclectic to just about anything!

Starting at the south end of Egg Harbor , you will find several antique “malls,” buildings that house any number of booths with antiques, collectibles, architectural pieces from fireplace mantels to stone accents and more. You can find things like original tickets to the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, to mission furniture, Thomas Edison scrolls for his photograph invention, antique jewelry, collectible Christmas ornaments from the 1950’s and before, old toys, depression glass, lamps, and just about everything imaginable!

These shops are fun, packed, and offer you a selection like no other place in Door County ! And they are easy to get to, easy to find, and easy to find something there to spend your money on!

The Bay Trading Company
7376 Hwy 42
Egg Harbor (South of Downtown)

920-868-2648

Olde Orchard Antique Mall (our favorite)

7381 Hwy 42
Egg Harbor
(about 1 mi South of Downtown)

920-868-3685

Peninsula Antique Center
7150 Hwy 42
Egg Harbor
(South of Downtown)

920-868-3360

And speaking of antiques, you will find even more on your way into downtown Egg Harbor and in downtown Egg Harbor itself. Again, south of the malls, you will find a wonderful B&B that also houses an antique shop filled with primitives. Look for a barn on the east side of the road, with a silo. Look for the Cornerstone Suites signs and:

Cornerstone Antiques
6960 Hwy 42 
Egg Harbor
888-495-3005 

920-868-3005

In downtown Egg Harbor, you will find CJ’s Antiques, The Perfect Touch and Shades of the Past. For antiques, it’s hard to beat Egg Harbor!

Main Street
Main Street in Egg Harbor offers you what we think is the finest grocery store north of Sturgeon Bay, the Main Street Market. Sturgeon Bay has the super-stores, like Pick-n-Save, but Main Street Market is a beautiful, comprehensive shop run by wonderful people. You can find a huge selection of your favorites, and home made deli offerings like German potato salad, cole slaws and more. And they have a very large selection of imported and domestic beers, wines, and spirits. You can even rent DVDs here! This is our favorite grocery store in Door County! Don’t miss it. And on the way in, you can pick up the local free Resorter Reporter, real estate guide and other free local publications that might help you find some interesting things to do while you’re here!

The Main Street Shops are housed in two buildings ­ great for rainy day shopping ­ and offer a very nice bookstore, card and sticker shop, t-shirt and sweatshirt shop (Harbor Wear ­ one of the best!), candy shop, Christmas shop, unique clothing shops for men and women, and even a stained glass shop. There’s plenty right here!

There is Double Delites on Main Street serving up authentic gelato ice cream and gourmet popcorn and other treats, and Gomy's Goodies across the road serving some of the best fudge you will ever eat - all homemade! Ice cream too. They also have a cute shop attached to the fudge store with Life is Good(tm) clothing and lots more.

Behind the back nearby, you will find Door County Nature Works, a unique shop filled with wonderful home accents, some furniture, and accessories. And the greatest shop in Egg Harbor , the Cupola House, is right nearby! This historic building, built in 1871 by Levi Thorp, houses wonderful antiques, estate jewelry, original artwork and prints, and an eclectic selection of everything from Beanies to home accents. Say Hi to Gloria who owns and runs this magnificent shop! We have purchased many things here, and have loved every one! Don’t miss this shop!
And check out Harbor View Park ­ a terrific little park where you can hear concerts in the park on Thursdays in the summers. Check our Calendar of Events for dates!

And check out Harbor View Park ­ a terrific little park where you can hear concerts in the park on Thursdays in the summers, and see the spectacular new marina just below. Check our Calendar of Events for dates!

So from sidewalk sales, to festivals, to fun in the park ­ find it here in Egg Harbor!

Where Can You Stay in Egg Harbor?
Wow ­ there is a huge selection of magnificent places to stay to meet every budget and every desire, from resorts to lodges to B&Bs!
We have personally reviewed many places in Egg Harbor for you. You will find just about anything you could be looking for in Egg Harbor. Here are some of the places in Egg Harbor that we have toured, reviewed, and met with the owners or managers. So click the links below and read our reviews!

B&Bs
Cornerstone Suites  - Video!

Resorts
Alpine Resort
Newport Resort
The Landmark Resort
The Shallows Resort

Other Accommodations
The Ashbrooke
Egg Harbor Lodge  - Video too!
Door County Bluff House
Door County Cottages - Video too!
Lull-Abi Inn - Video too!
Rustic Tmbers Campgrounds
The Cape Code Motel

Find Real Estate
Coldwell Banker - The Real Estate Group Inc.

Check out any of these places and you’ll be happy! Tell them, please, that you found them on DoorCountyNavigator.com!

What Can You Do in Egg Harbor?

Egg Harbor offers some of the best golf and other activities too. If you are into golfing, some of the best courses are right here in Egg Harbor. Alpine Golf Course and The Orchards are top notch!

Alpine Golf Course, which we love, now offers 36 holes, and hosts one of the most spectacular views of any hole in door County, the Blue Nine. From that tee, you are in paradise (until you hit the ball ­ tough hole to play!). The Orchards is supposed to be a championship course ­- we have heard lots of good things about it, but have not yet played it.

Putting the clubs down, if you are into music, then Egg Harbor is the home of one of the greatest music values and experiences in Door County: The Birch Creek Music Performance Center. A unique blend of school and performing arts shop, Birch Creek gathers young students from throughout the Midwest (mostly) and offers them an opportunity to learn with the masters.

And, from about the third week in June through August, they offer performances several times a week in the old barn which is on the grounds. Prior to the start of a performance, stroll the grounds, have a cup of coffee, listen to a warm up group in the outdoor gazebo and enjoy! An experience that you must not miss! From swing, to Caribbean steel drums to classical ­ check out Birch Creek!

Dining and Bars
From quick sandwiches at the Cupola Deli to full dinners at Casey’s, Trio, The Hoff at Alpine Resort, THe Rusty Tractor -  you can find it all in Egg Harbor. We have reviewed many of the restaurants in Egg Harbor, so click on the links below to check them out.

Breakfast (lunch and Dinner)
The Bistro Bar & Grill
Hof Restaurant at Alpine 
Bistro Bar & Grille - Video!

Dinner
Casey's BBQ & Smokehouse
Hof Restaurant at Alpine
Trio
Galileo's Italian Food - Video!
Bistro Bar & Grille - Video!
Shipwrecked

Lunch
Shipwrecked

Bars
Casey's BBQ & Smokehouse
Shipwrecked

And when you are into the evening sunset hours, catch a hand-crafted beer at Shipwrecked on their outdoor patio in the center of town. Then, head down to the Egg HHarbor Marina to watch a glorious sunset!

Egg Harbor is a convenient spot as your base to see all of Door County. Only 6 miles from Fish Creek, you can easily head south to see all of what Sturgeon Bay also has to offer. Come on up to Door County, and come on up to Egg Harbor for a great Door County experience!

BaileysHarbor

small town feel with lots to do
By Donna Marie Pocius

 

When you want to experience a small town feeling and enjoy easy access to Door County’s historical and natural attractions, plan a visit to Baileys Harbor.

Situated on the Lake Michigan side of the Door Peninsula, Baileys Harbor welcomes tourists at its downtown bed and breakfasts inns and hotels, restaurants and shops. Just a few miles away are the historical Cana Island Lighthouse and Boynton Chapel. And outdoor enthusiasts find Baileys Harbor the perfect place for a biking, hiking, windsurfing and charter fishing.

“Someone once compared us to a Norman Rockwell painting. This is a village people enjoy,” said Bryan Nelson, innkeeper, Blacksmith Inn, Baileys Harbor and member of the Baileys Harbor Community Association. “They get a small town feeling here they won’t get in a lot of places. It is a real strong community. A real working town. Everyone is pretty together in this little town.”

The public marina is an example of an attraction that pulls Baileys Harbor together. Opened in the spring of 2000, the marina offers four lighted ramps, full marina service, showers and other amenities. Located on Hwy. 57, it is considered the town’s focal point, especially on the Fourth of July when bands play there and thousands gather to pay tribute to America’s independence.

“Well, for one thing, it is part of the town square. It has an observation deck—it is the heart of town, and it feels like that,” Nelson said.

Just across from the marina is the town hall at 2392 Cty. Rd. F. The building houses Baileys Harbor’s Visitor Information Center, administrative offices and the Door County Library (Baileys Harbor branch). Staffed during the summer, the visitor center is a place to pick up maps, brochures and tips on what to do in and around Baileys Harbor.

“I advise them to leave their car here and walk to the Catholic Church (St Mary of the Lake); you can take a leisurely stroll and cover all the shops and everything here in the downtown,” said Ron Holden, information center staff.

And when tourists want to venture out of downtown Baileys Harbor, Holden recommends historical sites such as the 135-year-old Cana Island Lighthouse, Boynton Chapel and the Range Lights.

Appreciate history
The most visited site in Baileys Harbor is the Cana Island Lighthouse, an active navigational aid, located only six miles out of town. The grounds are maintained by the Door County Maritime Museum and the Lighthouse Preservation Society under a lease with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Find the lighthouse by driving north on Hwy. 57 to Cty. Rd. Q. Turn right on Q, and proceed to Cana Island Dr. Turn right, park on the mainland and walk the 500 foot rock walkway to the island.

Cana Island’s light tower and keeper’s house were constructed of Cream City brick in 1869. After storms weathered the tower to the point of being irreparable, it was encased in steel plates in 1902 with the area between the old brick tower and the plates filled with concrete. Since then, regular whitewashing gives Cana Island Lighthouse its distinctive look, according to the Maritime Museum.

“There are very few working lighthouses on the Great Lakes,” said Brain Kelsey, executive director, Door County Maritime Museum. “People know about shopping and nature, but it also is good to get a historical perspective of Door County.”

Continue a historical whirlwind tour of Baileys Harbor by heading south on Hwy. 57 until you reach Boynton Lane. Take this gravel road east through the grounds of Bjorklunden.

Deep in the woods on this 405-acre estate, where Lawrence University, Appleton, offers educational programs, stands the 15th-century Norwegian style Boynton Chapel. Tours of the chapel, led by articulate university students, run regularly from 1 p.m. through 4 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays mid-June through end of August. Cost is $3.

You’ll hear the story of the late Winifred and Donald Boynton, who handcrafted the chapel from 1930 through 1947 on their estate. They adorned the intimate chapel, which seats about 20, with their art—41 frescoes and ornately carved furnishings and wood trim.

“The chapel is all about love, peace and faith,” said Marge Meyers Graham of Northfield, Ill. and the Boyntons’ granddaughter.

Visitors may also appreciate history during a visit to the Range Lights structures that stand at their original locations in the Ridges Sanctuary, 8288 Cty. Rd. Q, Baileys Harbor. Built in 1869, these lights guided ships safely into the shallow waters of Baileys Harbor.

Baileys Harbor: hike it, bike it, surf it
And while visiting the Range Lights, spend time hiking around the Ridges Sanctuary, a 1,300–acre nonprofit nature preserve offering five miles of trails.

Follow hiking trails that cross the crests of old sand dunes. Between the dunes are shallow wetlands called swales.

The Ridges Development Director Linda Shealey advises visitors to keep their eyes peeled for wildflowers, especially 25 native orchids blooming at various times of the spring and summer. Also growing here are more than a dozen plants listed on the Wisconsin Threatened and Endangered Species List.

Trails are open from sunrise to sunset year-round. A donation is requested.

Baileys Harbor lakeside location also makes it a destination for charter fishing and other water sports including windsurfing. “People enjoy swimming here, and we have a lot of windsurfing here. Windsurfers say it is one of the better areas,” said Jane Pluff, who helps visitors during the fall and winter at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall office.

Bikers also find Baileys Harbor’s location a convenient base for Peninsula rides.

Bikers ride north on Hwy. 57 to Cty. Rd. Q and proceed to Woodcrest and Old Stage Rd, networking with trails throughout the County.

“Or they take Cty. Rd. F (west) over to Fish Creek and go to Peninsula State Park for a day. We really appeal to nature lovers, and a lot see us as a biking destination. They say this is the place to base biking from in Door County,” Nelson said.

Always a party
And Baileys Harbor is also the place to chill at a festival. The town’s signature event is the July 4th Celebration. Most activities take place on the town hall lawn across the street from the marina on one day only. After the parade at 10 a.m., walk through the outdoor art show, eat brats or try Mexican food benefiting the Hispanic Resource Center.

At the art show, find Peninsula artists along with people throughout the country displaying furniture, paintings, pottery, fiber art, jewelry, soap and more. Also, shops along Hwy. 57 are open, selling antiques, clothing, furniture, ice cream and moccasins.

Baileys Harbor pays tribute to America’s independence with fireworks over Lake Michigan beginning at dusk.

“July fourth is the one day of the year when we are not so quiet,” Nelson said. “Autumn Fest (held the third Saturday of September) doesn’t have the press of people July fourth has.”

Autumn Fest includes an antique car show, more arts and crafts, entertainment and food. “Cars are brought in by owners from all over and parked by the Fire Station,” Holden said. “Fall is just beautiful here.”

Baileys Harbor in a day
But if you only have a day to spend in Baileys Harbor, include these activities on your itinerary:

  • Head to the Visitor Information Center, 2392 Cty. Rd. F. Pick up some brochures, maps, and then walk the shops on and along Hwy. 57--the downtown area.
  • Return to your car at the center and take a drive north out of town to the Ridges Sanctuary. Hike the area and see the Range Lights buildings
  • Visit nearby Cana Island Lighthouse, located on an island actually accessible by foot--just six miles out of town.
  • Return to downtown for dinner in one of Baileys Harbor many fine restaurants—many overlook the lake.
  • Enjoy a performance of Door Shakespeare on the grounds of Bjorklunden and stroll by the Boynton Chapel during intermission.

To learn more
For more information, call the Baileys Harbor Business Association, 920/839-2366 or visit baileysharbor.com

Donna Marie Pocius is a full-time freelance writer and a frequent contributor to DoorCountyNavigator.com

Editor’s Note: When in Baileys Harbor, check out these great places to stay, dine and have fun!

B&Bs (Read our Reviews)
The Blacksmith Inn on the Shore

Other Inns, Resorts and Motels (Read our Reviews)
Beach Front Inn at Baileys Harbor
Gordon Lodge - Trusted Review 
Journey's End Motel & Cabins - Trusted Review & Video!
Kangaroo Lake Resort

Baileys Sunset Motel & Cottages

For Dining try:
Harbor Fish Market & Grille (lunch and dinner)
Top Deck Restaurant at Gordon Lodge
PC Junction (lunch and dinner) - Video too!

Go Fish Creeking
By Donna Marie Pocius
Special to DoorCountyNavigator.com

 

While Fish Creek, in many ways, seems like a place where time has stood still, most visitors are not able to stop moving.

After all, this popular Door Peninsula waterfront destination offers historical sites, unique shopping, proximity to some of the Peninsula's most popular arts venues as well as a location convenient to natural Peninsula attractions.

"It's a unique place, a place where time has stood still. There are no shopping malls, not even a Starbucks. That is a big draw for people-that this is the way a village used to look without all the brands we see every day," says Christine Falck-Pedersen, innkeeper, Beach House (vacation apartments) in downtown Fish Creek, and member of the Gibraltar Historical Association.

Old-fashioned welcome

The charm commences with the drive into Fish Creek, part of Gibraltar township. From Sturgeon Bay, take Hwy. 42 north about 20 miles. As you drive down a bluff and enter Fish Creek, enjoy the view of three vintage buildings that were converted into shops called Fish Creek General Store (since 1896) and On Deck Clothing Co., formerly the Lundberg store (circa 1881).

The building that today houses Hide Side Corner Store was also a general store, built by the LePere family.

"Fish Creek was a big shipping port, and everything was clustered around the dock area. We had just three to four different stores in those days," explains Falck-Pedersen. Lumbering and farming were the occupations of most early settlers.

Across the street from these buildings--on the corner of Main St. and Hwy. 42 is the historic Noble House, built in 1875 by Alexander Noble, former town chair, postmaster and blacksmith. The two-story white frame house with black shutters was purchased and refurbished with more than $300,000 of funds raised by the Gibraltar Historical Association. The house joined the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

"It is completely furnished in the Victorian tradition-1875 to 1900 is the period we restored the house to. A lot of furniture was there. And we purchased everything appropriate and right for the house," explains Eunice Rutherford, president Gibraltar Historical Association.

The Noble House is open for tours on Fridays through Sundays mid-May until first week of June; beginning the second week of June, hours are Tuesday through Sunday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., when the last tour departs. Cost is $3 per adult, and $1 for children age 10 and under.

On your tour, don't miss the post office boxes. Since Noble was the postmaster, he conveniently kept the boxes in his private home.

"That was very common then, and you probably only got mail once a week," Rutherford says.

On the lower level are a parlor, guest bedroom (actually now a rest room for tourists) and kitchen. Look closely at the unique construction of the kitchen's maple floor, Rutherford advises.

"The kitchen is interesting. It is very small. And the kitchen flooring is interesting--not like any other flooring. It started in the center and worked its way out."

Fish Creek also is home to the main entrance to Peninsula State Park. Here, another historic site, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, hosts tours during summer and fall. The lighthouse was built in 1858 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Learn about other historical buildings during walking tours on 2 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. Fridays, beginning the last Tuesday of June and running through September (Tuesdays only beginning the day after Labor Day). There is no charge although donations to the Gibraltar Historical Association are accepted for the more than one hour tours that leave from the Old Gibraltar Town Hall (since 1880), 4176 Maple St. at Spruce.

See the homes of Fish Creek settlers as well as historic inns like the White Gull Inn and Thorp House Inn. Also, walk by the site of an old casino, the historic Church of the Atonement, Fish Creek's first general stores, Noble House, Clark Park and more vintage buildings.

Walk and shop

In addition to being a feast for history buffs, Fish Creek is a shopper's dream. That's because unique galleries, boutiques, home furnishings stores and more are housed in charming vintage buildings within walking distance to each other.

Many shops line Main Street, side streets and are located in an area called Founder's Square. Still other boutiques are conveniently clustered at Top of the Hill Shops, about half a mile north of the Fish Creek Information Center--also a good stop for visitors at 4097 Hwy. 42--and the Settlement Shops, about two miles south of Main Street, on the east side of Hwy. 42.

"We have an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants," said Karl Stubenvoll, president, Fish Creek Civic Association, and owner, Gallery of Gold. "They are easy to walk. You can walk from one end to another with only one re-parking (at Top of the Hill Shops or Settlement Shops)," he says.

"What is cute about Fish Creek is that it is like a little village where you can walk up and down and all about. There are areas and pockets that you can walk into. It is laid out more like a village," adds Falck-Pedersen.

The natural way

And visitors can also walk more than 20 miles of trails with varying degrees of difficulty in Peninsula State Park, actually the second oldest state park in Wisconsin and the largest on the Peninsula with 3,776 acres. The park features an 18-hole championship golf course, bicycle trails, ski and snowmobile trails, beaches and campsites.

For a brief respite closer to town, stop by Fish Creek Park, located just north of the Fish Creek Information Center. This new park provides benches for enjoying views of meadows and woods and a mile of trails.

"Not too many people realize that there are trails there. It is worthwhile to see everything this park offers," says Stubenvoll.

But many do know about Fish Creek Beach, located just south of the Information Center on the bay side, of course.

Always a party

And when the water freezes over, Fish Creek serves up zany cold weather activities at its annual Fish Creek Winter Games, held the first weekend in February on the ice.

Visitors and locals compete in weird games like the bicycle toss event, cherry pit spit contest and bed races on ice. How do they get ideas for these wild events?

"We hear about things from other areas. I suggested the bed race game from my college days. We take bed frames, make ski bases. A couple people pull one person in the bed. You go a certain distance on the ice and come back," says Stubenvoll. "There are an awful lot of locals and tourists who sign up to do these events."

Look on the ice for the Winter Games big heated tent--the place to buy something to eat or drink and play carnival-style games, benefiting Peninsula nonprofit organizations.

Fish Creek also annually hosts Old Peninsula Days in mid-July and the In-Out Sale on the first Saturday in October.

And hear free concerts Tuesday afternoons mid-June through mid mid-August at Clark Park.

If you only have a day

But if you only have a day to spend in Fish Creek, try this diverse sampling.

  • Be ready to browse boutiques at Founder's Square, on Main Street, in the Top of the Hill Shops and Settlement Shops when they open at 10 a.m.

  • Have lunch at a Main Street restaurant.

  • Then walk off your meal on a trail like Eagle Trail at Peninsula State Park.

  • While at the park, include a stop at the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.

  • Return to town for a tour of the historic Noble House or a historic walking tour.

  • Enjoy a fish boil or dinner by candlelight.

  • See a star perform at the Door Community Auditorium or take in a performance at Peninsula Players or American Folklore Theater-all are conveniently located in Fish Creek.

To learn more

For more information, call the Fish Creek Civic Association, 920/868-2316, or visit www.fishcreek.info!

Donna Marie Pocius is a freelance writer, based in Egg Harbor, Wisc., and a frequent contributor to DoorCountyNavigator.com

Editor's Note: While in Fish Creek, try one of these wonderful places to stay and dine! Shop and have fun! We have reviewed them all - so Read our Reviews, and enjoy the uniqueness of Fish Creek! Also see our Calendar of Events!

Great Places to Stay
The White Gull Inn (Inn and Restaurant)
Thorp House Inn (B&B) Video too!
Beach House Vacation Apartments
The Cookery Lodging
A Peninsula Park View
Homestead Suites
Main Street Motel
By The Bay Motel
The Hilltop Inn
Parkwood Lodge
Settlement Courtyard Inn

Dine!
Alexander’s
Arroyo Bay Grill (video too)
Cooper's Corners
Pelletier's
White Gull Inn
Julie's
The Cookery
Gibraltar Grill - Great Video!
Mailbu Moos - Video too!

Shop at some of the best shops in Door County!
Wilkins & Olander
On Deck Clothing Company
Hide Side Corner Store - Video!