Fall is the ultimate time to visit Door County, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin might be an unlikely fall getaway destination to most, but you might be surprised just how beautiful it can be. A few weeks ago, we celebrated our 1 year anniversary. The hubby surprised me with a kid-free weekend trip to Door County.
If you’ve never been to Door County, I assure you, it’s worth the trip. It is literally the worst kept secret, but luckily, it hasn’t lost it’s charm.
Let me start by telling you how I first showed my husband where exactly Door County is. He was standing next to me and I held out my left hand. I told him to pretend my hand was the state of Wisconsin. I pressed my 4 fingers together and had my thumb out at an angle. He gives me a weird look but says “Ohhhkayy”. I wiggle my thumb and say “here’s door county.”
It really is literally the entire area on the east side of the state that juts out into Lake Michigan. (If you’re interested, you can check out an interactive map here.) About 2-2 1/2 hours from Milwaukee taking the freeway. Unless there’s a Packers game at Lambeau… Then plan on 5 hours, or the scenic route up 42 (which I highly recommend even without traffic.)
A beautiful setting, lovely shops and the waterfront make Door County an almost magical place.
When you enter Door County, you’ll know. It will creep up on you, and then be there all at once. On your drive up, you’ll see a winery here and there, maybe Grandma Tommy’s (I’m still confused on that name.) and a handful of farmers markets. As you continue along 42, you see more and more of the charm that Door County has to offer. The roadside produce, the little shops, the waterfront; it makes it almost a magical place.
The real beauty of Door County is the lack of chain… anything. The ONLY chain store they have in the entire area is Shopko. Everything else is mom and pop shops and many of the restaurants and shops were once homes that have been transformed.
Still need more reasons to visit this fall? Check these out:
Something you may not know, even if you’ve traveled to the area before, is that Door County is home to 5 state parks. Yep, five! That is A LOT of park in a very small area.
Peninsula State Park
Peninsula State Park is the one that everyone knows about. It’s right off of 42, which means you can get to it just by taking the one main road through Door County. There’s camping, beautiful lookouts, lighthouses and a tower to climb to see breathtaking views. You can even rent bicycles just outside the entrance.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
This is one park that you need to visit if you want to spot some wildlife. You can get to it from 57 and comes complete with pathways through dunes, forests and wetlands. It also has a nature center.
Newport State Park
Over 2300 acres, the Newport State Park offers camping, miles of shoreline, hiking trails and off-road biking.
Potawatomi State Park
The Potawatomi State Park offers swimming, hiking, hunting and more for the active couple or family.
Rock Island State Park
We saved the best for last. Rock Island State Park is located on Washington Island. You can only get there by ferry. The island is primitive yet and offers a true escape for your getaway. The state park offers swimming, hiking trails, and gorgeous views.