Door County, Wisconsin: A Hidden Gem for Family Fun

Visit Door County on your next family trip, a hidden gem filled with family-friendly attractions. For things to do with kids in Door County, go to

If Door County, Wisconsin, is not on your travel radar yet — perhaps it should be! A genuine hidden gem for family fun, especially during the summer months, there are outdoor adventures waiting to be had around every corner.

Located on a peninsula on the eastern coast of Wisconsin, Door County is bordered by Lake Michigan and Green Bay Lake. With the exception of Washington Island, which is reachable by ferry, the entire county can be driven in a few hours.

How to Get to Door County

Fly into either Green Bay-Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB) or General Mitchell International Airport (MKE) and rent a car from Alamo. The Door County border is just an hour drive from Green Bay and a 2-1/2-hour drive from Milwaukee.

Where to Stay in Door County

Because Door County is easily drivable, consider booking accommodations in one location and heading out on day trips to the surrounding towns. Sturgeon Bay makes a great “home base,” with a variety of shopping and dining options and easy access to both Highways 42 and 57. These two scenic roads connect almost all of Door County.

Bridgeport Resort is an excellent choice for families as it features one, two and three-bedroom suites.

Bridgeport Resort Bridgeport Resort

What to Do in Door County

Door County is one of those destinations that must be seen to be believed. There are 300 miles of pristine shoreline to explore, along with numerous county and state parks. Vacations to Door County provide families a great opportunity to relax and focus on the outdoors, nature and uninterrupted time together.

The Farm The Farm

Here are a few not-to-be-missed activities in Door County:

Hiking at Cave Point County Park

For breathtaking scenery, visit Cave Point County Park in Sturgeon Bay. A system of underground caves makes the coastline simply breathtaking, especially when the waves crash into the limestone cliffs. Pack a picnic and hike through the woods, making stops along the rocky shoreline.  Each area along the water offers a different view.

Tip: Wear comfortable hiking shoes or sneakers (no flip-flops!)

Cave Point County Park Cave Point County Park

Spend a Day at the Beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park

Adjacent to Cave Point County Park is Whitefish Dunes State Park. Although close in proximity, the parks feature very different terrain. Whitefish Dunes is perfect for a family beach day on Lake Michigan as facilities, including restrooms, nature center and picnic areas, are accessible. Current vehicle admission fees: $8/day for vehicles with Wisconsin license plates; $11/day for vehicles with out-of-state plates.

This park also features the largest sand dunes in Wisconsin. Kayak tours provide a unique perspective of the surrounding caves and bluffs.

Whitefish Dunes State Park Whitefish Dunes State Park

Take the Ferry to Washington Island

The only area that isn’t accessible by car in Door County is Washington Island. Take the Washington Ferry Line (vehicles permitted) from the Northport Pier in Ellison Bay. Schoolhouse Beach and the Washington Island Stave Church are two must-sees on the island.

Schoolhouse Beach is one of only five beaches in the world that has smooth limestone pebbles instead of sand. These tiny treasures are smooth due to glacial polish over thousands of years.

Tip: Don’t be tempted to take any of the rocks for souvenirs; there’s a $250 fine for removal!

The Washington Island Stave Church is a replica of the iconic wooden stave church in Borgund, Norway. It was built in 1991 to honor and preserve and the area’s Scandinavian heritage.

Where to Eat in Door County

Door County Fish Boil

No visit to Door County is complete without partaking in a traditional Door County fish boil! Dining options throughout Door County provide this unique and fun experience, but one of the most popular eateries with nightly service is Pelletier's Restaurant in Fish Creek. The standard fish boil includes boiled whitefish, baby red potatoes, sweet onions with melted butter, coleslaw, Bavarian dark rye bread and a slice of cherry pie.

Fish Boil Meal at Pelletier’s Restaurant in Fish Creek Fish Boil Meal at Pelletier’s Restaurant in Fish Creek
Fish Boil at Pelletier’s Restaurant in Fish Creek Fish Boil at Pelletier’s Restaurant in Fish Creek

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay offers another unique Door County dining experience. This family dining hotspot literally can’t be missed, as live goats graze on its grassy rooftop.

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant

Wilson’s Restaurant

A Door County landmark since 1906, Wilson’s Restaurant is located in Ephraim along Highway 42 and is a fun place to stop for a quick bite to eat or a hand-dipped cone.

Wilson’s Restaurant Wilson’s Restaurant
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Planning a Door County family vacation?

Rent a car at Green Bay Airport!

Stefanie Fauquet

About the Author

Stefanie Fauquet is the founder of, where she blogs about her favorite subjects: food, travel and life adventures. She lives in the Tampa Bay area with her husband and 12-year-old daughter.