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Door County

"The Cape Cod of the Midwest" mixes scenic beauty with great food, arts and fishing on a Lake Michigan

Surrounded by Lake Michigan and featuring five state parks, 11 historic lighthouses and 300 miles of shoreline, the 70-mile long Door County peninsula combines pristine scenery with acclaimed performing arts, renowned galleries and shops, and pampering accommodations.

Door County is a bucolic peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan in the northeast corner of Wisconsin. One of the top leisure travel destinations in America, Door County is known for its natural beauty, artistic offerings, outdoor recreation and local cuisine and offers scenic seaside experiences in the heart of the Midwest.

Door County is a romantic and family vacation destination filled with fall colors, waterside dining, relaxing views, tours, trails and beautiful Lake Michigan—not to mention a variety of unique events including apple picking, antique shopping, performing arts, fish boils and recreational activities.

A look at the Door County map shows how its pristine Wisconsin shoreline makes for perfect fishing spots. During spring, bubbling streams and rushing tributaries host great shoals of northern pike, king and Chinook salmon, and whopping walleye as they traverse the Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay waterways to spawn. Lake Michigan outposts like Southern Door, Jacksonport, Baileys Harbor and Rowleys Bay shelter brown trout, smallmouth bass, crappie and perch that feast on a variety of near-shore grass bed inhabitants—while further offshore, king and Chinook salmon, as well as the legendary whitefish, reign.

With such natural diversity, it's no wonder that fishing enthusiasts of all ages, skill levels and techniques find Door County a dream destination. In fact, one can find fishing taking place practically anywhere on the peninsula and surrounding islands, whether it's trolling from a johnboat, casting from a kayak or dropping a line off a pier. And, for those along for the ride but not the fishing, there's great boating, hiking, biking, shopping, dining, arts and entertainment too.

With the convenience of 30 boat access sites, 20 charter fishing operations, 10 boat rental companies and dozens of camping options, just one Door County fishing excursion will have you hooked.

All year long you can enjoy a famous Door County fish boil at any number of local communities to share in this legendary local culinary experience. The region's coveted whitefish is boiled in a pot with potatoes, onions and seasoning and served with plenty of salt, butter, parsley and lemon. It's a true Door County delight! Just remember to save room for some of the famous cherry pie.

The annual Baileys Harbor Brown Trout Tournament happens in April and is considered by many locals as the unofficial start of spring. Participants explore the many protected harbors and inlets of the area on foot or by boat for a chance to win cash prizes for the top 60 heaviest fish. It's great fun for the entire family.

Fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend in June. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species. So, pack up the family or call your friends and head to the water.

The annual K/D Salmon Tournament is in July. Participating ports include Sturgeon Bay, Baileys Harbor, Washington Island, Algoma and Kewaunee. More than $40,000 in cash and prizes is awarded.

Additional visitor opportunities include traveling the Door County Wine Trail to sample selections from seven local wineries; sampling "Made in Door County" products such as locally caught smoked fish or products made of locally grown cherries and apples at over 30 local markets and specialty food stores; attending a cooking class; or picking your own pail of crunchy apples at a local orchard.

Door County is increasingly becoming well known for its culinary delights. A culinary tour map, featuring a number of self-guided tours, is available.

Door County is among the top cherry producing regions in the country with more than 2,000 acres of cherry orchards. The cherry trees normally bloom in mid- to late May with cherries ready for picking in mid-July to early August.

Fortunately for cherry lovers, even when this season's last fresh cherry has been picked there will still be many different cherry products available for sale as local markets have diversified their inventory to offer things such as cherry salsa, cherry jam, cherry pie filling and dried cherries throughout the year.

The deliciousness of Door County isn't just limited to taste; the other four senses can also get in on the fun. Award-winning professional theater, more than 100 studios and art galleries and live music opportunities provide visual and auditory refreshment. The pleasant aromas of freshly baked goodies wafting from area bakeries or the memorable fragrance of fall treats served up at community harvest festivals keep the sense of smell smiling. While the feel of a cool fall breeze off the lake or the crunch of leaves underfoot on an afternoon hike ensures inclusion for the sense of touch, too.

Founded in 1851, Door County is nicknamed Death's Door, the aptly named water passage that lies off the tip of the peninsula where the waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay converge. Death's Door is the English translation of Porte Des Morts, the name given to this treacherous water passage by early French explorers based on Native American stories they heard and their own perilous experiences. Given the right (or wrong) conditions, navigation in this narrow stretch of water can be tricky thanks to the clashing lake and bay currents.

The area understandably has a rich maritime heritage and there are several hundred 18th-, 19th- and early-20th-century shipwrecks along Door County's 300 miles of coastline, some of which are part of the Wisconsin Maritime Trail system. Trail kiosks are located along shorelines throughout the county.

Eleven historic lighthouses dot the peninsula's shores, one of the largest concentrations of lighthouses for any county in the United States. Three of them are open for tours.

For More Information:
Door County Visitor Bureau

Wisconsin Department of Tourism