Lighthouses of Door County

Photo credit: Bill Beattie

The waters of Lake Michigan and Green Bay create more than 250 miles of shoreline, and 10 lighthouses dot the coastline.

Door County was the first part of Wisconsin seen by a European, and in time, it became the maritime commerce center of the area. But much of the coastline is rocky and presented ship captains with challenges, and  lighthouses became increasingly important.

Door County has more lighthouses than any other county in the United States. Today, visitors can tour the
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park. The other lighthouses can be viewed from the ground or from the water during a boat tour.

Fans will surely want to participate in the Door County Lighthouse Walk each year in May.

Door County, Wisconsin  

Photo Credit: Bill Beattie

Getting Around
Most visitors drive to and around Door County. Sturgeon Bay, gateway to the peninsula, is about 150 miles north of Milwaukee and about 44 miles northeast of Green Bay. The nearest major airport is in Green Bay, and local airports support small aircraft. Ferries carry vehicles and passengers between Gills Rock and Washington Island; for a longer trip, take the car ferry between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Click here for more transportation information.

When to Go
The “Cape Cod of the Midwest” offers sights and activities year-round; temperatures are moderated by Lake Michigan. Winter offers peace and quiet, with plenty of hiking or cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, sleigh-riding, and snowshoeing. Spring -- illustrated by acres of fruit trees in bloom -- brings hiking, golf, horseback riding, and bicycling. Summer is ideal for more of the same, plus sailing, fishing and swimming, while fall is famous for brilliant foliage. Crowds and traffic tend to peak on summer and fall weekends, so visit midweek if possible.

Sights & Activities
Outdoor activities:
 Five state parks in the county (more than any other county in Wisconsin) offer fishing, hiking, biking, and camping. Boating is a big activity here, and many people boat from town to town along Green Bay. Door County is a "golfer's vacation dream," with 11 courses to challenge you. Cherry orchards let guests pick their own or purchase from farmer's markets and produce stands mid-July through August. The county produced about 6.6 million pounds of the fruit in 2005. Apple orchards provide Delicious, Cortland, Jonathan, Ginger Gold, Empire and Honeycrisp varieties in the fall.

Food and shopping: Don't miss the famous fish boils! Many restaurants perform the tradition of boiling whitefish over a roaring flame, including the well-known White Gull Inn. Visitors will want to watch the grand finale, when the cook pours kerosene on the fire so the pot boils over. Another interesting attraction-and-dining-activity is at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant, where goats munch on the grass roof. The meatballs are good, but the wait can be long. The delicious food of the area will give you enough energy for an afternoon of shopping. Craftsmen in local artist colonies create unique goods and jewelry. Wineries offer up gift baskets and wines. No matter what town you visit, you'll find distinctive gifts and handcrafted items.

Museums: Bjorklunden's Boynton Chapel is crafted in ancient Norwegian style and ornately decorated with hand carved woodwork and 41 hand painted murals. Art museums include The Miller Art Museum, and the Fairfield Center for Contemporary Art; many museums and historical sites celebrate the lighthouses of the area.

For more information, visit the Door County Chamber of Commerce, Door County Online and Door County Navigator

White Lace Inn, Sturgeon Bay, WI

B&Bs and Inns
The inns included below start with Green Bay (gateway to Door County) in the south and extend to Gills Rock, at the northern tip of the peninsula.

Green Bay
Whether business or pleasure brings you to Green Bay, you’ll enjoy an international experience at the Astor House, where caring innkeeper Greg Robinson has named and decorated each guest room in the style of his favorite destinations.

Sturgeon Bay
Set in the orchards a half-mile from town is the Chanticleer Guest House, with handsome accommodations in the main house, renovated barn, and cabins.

Spacious, uncluttered suites; the privacy of a breakfast delivered to your door; and a central in-town location are among the attractions of the Colonial Gardens B&B.

The historic Inn at Cedar Crossing is located right in the heart of the village, with an excellent restaurant and pub on the ground floor, a peaceful gathering room, and nine appealing guest rooms on the floor above.

A Queen Anne Victorian home, the Reynolds Mansion has beautiful oak woodwork throughout the B&B and four guest rooms named for Door County apples.

A dramatically painted Victorian home, the Scofield House has handsome antique furnishings throughout. For special occasions, splurge on the third-floor suite, called the “room at the top.”

Egg Harbor
Discover the lighthouses of Door County and stay in the Door County Lighthouse Inn, built to look like one, too.

Baileys Harbor
Overlooking Lake Michigan on the “quiet side” of Door County, the Blacksmith Inn offers guest rooms strikingly decorated with rustic elegance. Explore the peaceful surroundings via kayak or tandem bike, or hike the nearby wildlife sanctuary.

Fish Creek
One of Door County’s most charming villages, Fish Creek is home to several delightful inns. Thorp House has a quiet hillside setting just a block from the main street. Guest rooms in the main house are ideal for a romantic getaway, while the seven cottages are ideal for families.

The White Gull Inn is an inviting full-service country inn, with a cozy bar, popular restaurant, and famous fish boils, and appealing guest rooms, suites, and cottages.

With both traditional inn rooms and larger suites, the Eagle Harbor Inn is great for any getaway, but is especially well suited for meetings, weddings and family reunions.

The impeccably renovated Hillside Inn offers luxurious accommodations with unparalleled views of Lake Michigan’s Green Bay and the gracious hospitality of owners Clare and James Webb.

Gills Rock
The century-old Harbor House Inn offers a variety guest rooms in new and historic buildings, with a casual continental breakfast served in the spacious common area.  A special treat is the well-equipped lighthouse suite.

More Door County inns 

If you see this button on an inn's listing, click it to book your room directly from!

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