Jump on over to Jacksonport
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.
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.
And 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.
View 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.
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.
Don’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.
Just 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.
Other 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
Third weekend of May
Whitefish Bay Farm, 3831 Clark Lake Rd. (Cty. Rd. WD)
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
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!