When Tom’s family initially decided to book a summer trip to Door County, Wisconsin, we weren’t so sure about it. Wisconsin? What on earth will we do there?
Come to find out, Door County is a very popular destination for travelers. As we talked to other van life couples, we realized that many had been there or planned to stop there at some point along their travels. And a simple Google search will show you why – it is absolutely gorgeous there!
We stayed in an Airbnb log cabin rental with Tom’s family for a week in Sturgeon Bay. The cabin was big enough to comfortably fit 12 people and 3 dogs (not such an easy task)! We enjoyed having fires each night under the stars, watching the sunset while fishing on the dock (even though we did not catch anything), and kayaking on the water. When we weren’t hanging out at the cabin, we took day trips to explore the Door County area.
Whether you are planning a trip to Door County in your van or vacationing here with your family, we have compiled some of our favorite spots that we recommend checking out:
1. Peninsula State Park
From campgrounds, hiking trails, and beaches, Peninsula State Park has so much to offer! We wish we could have spent even more time here. As of July 2023, the daily admission for an out-of-state vehicle was $11, while an in-state vehicle was $8 ($3 if over 65). While in the park, here are a few spots we enjoyed visiting:
Looking for an easy walk with incredible views? Eagle Tower is a 60-foot high observation deck that sits 253 feet above Green Bay. To get to the top, you can either take an 850-foot canopy scenic walk up the ramp (which is what we chose to do), or climb 100 steps to the top. There have been 3 different versions of Eagle Tower, with this most recent one having opened in 2021. We enjoyed the scenic walk up the tower as well as the breathtaking views of Green Bay at the top!
If you’re looking for a place to cool down and dip your toes in the water, look no further than Nicolet Beach. There is a swimming area (no lifeguard on duty) and plenty of sand for lounging and building sand castles. We also enjoyed searching for shells and rocks along the shore. There is a snack bar and gift shop at the beach as well as bathrooms, showers, and rinse-off stations.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
Check out a historic place by visiting Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, which was built in 1868 and still operates today! We enjoyed exploring the lighthouse from the outside. There is also a tour of the inside that requires a fee ($5 per person as of July 2023), but we decided to forego the tour this time.
2. Sister Bay’s Pebble Beach
Did you know that Sister Bay’s Pebble Beach is thought to be one of only five sandless beaches in the world? We had no idea, either! We really enjoyed stopping here for a bit to let our niece and nephews play in the water while admiring all of the smooth, soft limestone pebbles around us. However, you cannot take a pebble to-go with you (unless you want to pay the hefty price). Since Sister Bay is trying to preserve the beach for future generations to enjoy, there is a $300 fine for removing a pebble. There is limited parking, but we had no problem finding two parking spots on a weekday afternoon.
3. Anderson Dock
This is a fun, quick stop to grab a photo and leave your mark in Door County. At Anderson Dock, there is a warehouse where graffiti is permissible and celebrated! Boaters have signed the names of their boats along with the year that they docked. Visitors are also welcome to add their name in paint to the warehouse. Just no carving or spray paint!
4. Door County Brewing Co
On a rainy day, we desparately needed something fun to do. Thankfully, our nephew found the perfect place for the family to visit on TikTok! He wanted to go to Door County Brewing Co after seeing a video of their infamous nachos – and they did not disappoint! These are not your typical nachos, though – the base is kettle chips piled with BBQ beans, chicken, and mac n’ cheese. We also enjoyed the giant pretzels, and their root beer was especially delicious! There is plenty of seating both inside and outside.
For a couple of other ideas of things to do in Door County, we also enjoyed a breakfast one morning at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, as well as walking around a bit afterwards to check out some of the nearby shops. Another night, we went to a cajun shrimp boil at Kettle Black, which was a fun and tasty experience. They also offer fish boils as well.
Have you traveled to Door County, Wisconsin? If so, let us know in the comments what we need to add to our list for the next time we visit.