We all dream of wild safaris, exotic beaches to play Cast Away on, and Parisian love affairs with baguettes. But don't neglect those lesser cliched adventures in your own backyard. North America has plenty to offer.
I love Wisconsin. I was born in Madison, and grew up between wherever my mom and I happened to live and Door County in the peninsula. I love cheese, brats, a good Friday night fish fry, and I will always be at least a little pleased when the Packers win.
I've been visiting my dad, Fuzzy, in Door County, Wisconsin on and off since my parents separated. It's one of two places I've ever felt homesick for. Cambridge, Ontario is the other one. Maybe I'll write about that some other day.
It's where my parents got married, where I learned to sail, and where my dad very unhelpfully "taught" me to ride a bike. It's where I learned to ask for "squeaky" cheese, where I watched my dad very nearly sever his finger, and where I can't make a quick stop at the grocery store without running into at least one person telling me they remember me as a baby.
My dad introduced me to boats at an early age. I remember going to work with him and spending the day at the marina where he had a docking job, eating lunch at the Patio Motel (deep fried cheese curds, anyone?), and gawking like a tourist at the goats on the roof of Al Johnson's Swedish restaurant.
My dad loves boats. Fun fact: as we speak I have reason to believe he's run off to Mexico to do a boat delivery without telling anyone. More on that tomorrow, when I'll tell you a little bit about my sailing career and how much it's fuelled a life of travel for me (and how you can get in on that good stuff, too).
For a few years now, I've been spending at least part of my summer months sailing in Door County. This year, I'm bringing Rick. I can't wait to show him all my favourite spots and convert him into an official Cheesehead. In my impatience, I figured I could share my love, recommendations, and excitement for Door County here on The Spirited Sloth!
Here's Why You Should Add Door County To Your Bucket List
1. It's beautiful.
From the little towns to the tip of Peninsula State Park and Washington Island, Door County is a gorgeous area. In summer it's green, with rocky shores, and deep blue waters. In the fall, people flock to see the amazing fall colour-changes. Door County is quiet, slow-paced, friendly, and only overpopulated by deer. You'll find a lot of friendly older ladies in cat sweaters, a lot of easy, breezy, beautiful hiking trails, and plenty winding roads definitely worth getting lost down.
2. It's quaint little towns will make you feel like you're in a 50's ice cream shoppe.
Sister Bay is my personal favourite, but you have several little towns to choose from (and I recommend exploring more than one)! Take a drive through all the country roads, and then explore the little towns on foot. From Sturgeon Bay to Gill's Rock, you've got quite a few places to stop (make sure to detour to some wineries and cherry carts) on your way up the peninsula. Favourites of mine include Sister Bay, Fish Creek, Ephraim, Egg Harbour, and Bailey's Harbour.
Sister Bay has declared itself "the town with the goats", since hiring a new PR lady, so you'll see goat signs and goat cutouts and goats everywhere when you're there!
3. The people are super friendly.
You will make friends. The bartenders in Door County are the closest I've seen to the ones in movies, endlessly wiping down the quiet bar and acting as your personal therapist. Your waitress will buy you a shot, that cherry farmer will give you endless samples of fresh pie, and the girls at the Creamery will let you play with the baby goats.
4. There's a lot to do
You won't run out of things to do here before you run out of time. Families, couples, and retirees love it here. Don't worry, couples and retirees, there's plenty to do far away from the families. There are galleries, wineries, cheeseries (I know it's not a word), orchards, tours, concerts, fish fries, supper clubs, festivals, fairs, and events all. the. time. This brings me to my next point...
5. Awesome water activities
The Bay of Green in the Lake of Michigan (Green Bay on Lake Michigan) is an ideal spot for water activities of all kinds. From sailing to stand up paddle boarding to jumping off the Ellison Bay Bluffs and being shocked by the cold. You can easily rent anything under the sun to put on the water in Door County. There are great kayak rental companies that will guide you around shipwrecks or let you explore the bluffs on your own. Take a pontoon out for day of bobbing along the lake, drink in hand, get on the water taxi for a lighthouse tour, or, if you're lucky, come sailing on a tall ship and hang out with us!
6. You can indulge in deep fried cheese and be active enough to not feel bad about it!
I seriously encourage you to indulge in the glory that is deep fried cheese. Actually, take full advantage of Wisconsin cheese, in general. Nowhere else in the world have I been able to ask "is it squeaky" when buying cheese without getting funny looks. Don't forget about burgers and brats, fish fries (every Friday night, everywhere), and ice cream. I eat more deliciously terrible food in Wisconsin than anywhere else (and more of it!) and yet I'm so active when I'm there that I don't feel or see any negative consequences! If you're there for a short visit, it might be time for a dietary "cheat week".
7. The Bars and Restaurants
My favourite memories of Door County include hanging out at my favourite bars and restaurants with my friends, coworkers, family, and bartenders (most people there fit under more than one category - Funny story; my dad dated his cousin before finding out she was his cousin). You'll always find people you know, people that are excited to see you, and people that you'll probably have to avoid eye contact with when you see them at the Piggly Wiggly the next day.
There you have it!
Here are a few more little tips - things I'll want to do/get/see as soon as I arrive in May.
-Play a round of pool at the Mink River Basin in Ellison Bay
-Go for ice cream at the Door County Ice Cream in Sister Bay
-Have a night out at Husby's and The Bowl (toss your dollars on the ceiling at Husby's and become friends with Eddie the friendliest bartender in the world at The Bowl)
-Spend a day outside, hiking in Peninsula State Park. Top it off with a margarita at Fred & Fuzzy's (different Fuzzy).
-Get a burger at Grasse's Grill in Sister Bay (the one with spinach and artichoke is the best burger I've ever had. Hands down, no nonsense, go get one).
-Breakfast. I don't care where. Wisconsin knows breakfast. Your hash browns will be grated (take a hint, Canada) and crispy, your sausage will be greasy and golden, and everything will be cheesy.
-Stop by one of the likely fairs and festivals (almost every weekend during the summer and fall) and get some Door County Kettle Corn from Fuzzy.
Thanks for reading! I hope you make it to Door County!
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