A Perfect Day Trip to Door County, Wisconsin

By: Andy Merkel + Save to a List

A full day of adventure awaits just a three hour drive from Milwaukee!

Door County, WI is the perfect getaway for anyone in Wisconsin. This story will try to help you fit in (almost) everything that Door County has to offer in one day to ensure you've had enough by nightfall! 

If interested in this first stop, you will need to leave when it is still dark out! Start your day early and get to Cave Point County Park for sunrise! There is no admission fee at the county parks here, however there are fees at the state parks. 

There will be plenty of photographers and avid sunrise enthusiasts here, so you will (most likely) not be alone. Do not let this deter you from coming though! This park is big enough to be shared by hundreds of people if needed. 

As you wander around the park in the morning, you can keep walking along the shoreline and join up with the clearly marked Whitefish Dunes State Park trail along the lake! This park is full of more shoreline rocky formations that will give you a fix for adventure during the morning! Depending on the time of year, you could hike and enjoy both of these parks and be back in your car before 8:00 or 9:00 AM! 

After you leave Cave Point and Whitefish Dunes, use your state park pass to drive 20 minutes over to Peninsula State Park on the other side of the peninsula! If there is one state park in Wisconsin that is best seen by bicycle, this is the one! The Sunset Bike Trail is a 9.6 mile must-do for all intermediate cyclists! There are two places right by the entrance to the park where you can rent bikes for $8-10/hour (as of 2018) and you could most likely see the entire park by bike within 2 hours if you are ambitious! 

You will eventually find yourself on top of Sven's Bluff, the highest point in the park! You may need to walk your bike up to the top as it is a steep uphill climb! 

If you feel the need for more adventure, you can rent canoes, paddle boards, or kayaks at the Nicolet Bay Beach.

After you have had your fix for adventure, drive into Fish Creek and check out the touristy settlement "town" of Founder's Square for shopping, snacks, and coffee! 

After you leave Fish Creek, drive up to Sister Bay (about 15 minutes north) and have lunch at Al Johnson's where their claim to fame are the dozens of goats on their roof! 

As you continue to drive around Door County, keep heading north until you reach the town of Gills Rock. Eventually you will start to see signs for Washington Island, and here is where you can find the "classic" view of Door County right on Hwy 42.

After you've hit the top of the peninsula, start heading back to the town of Ephraim and explore Historic Anderson Dock. 

It is most likely dinner time by now, stop in at Wilson's for some old-fashioned hamburgers, malts, and ice cream!

Either before or after you eat, watching sunset is a must from the shorelines of Ephraim! 

Flashback to 2016: There used to be a great tower on the sunset bike trail in Peninsula State Park for viewing sunset, however they closed it down for safety/construction purposes, here is the view from the tower from a few years ago! Rumor has it, they are working to rebuild it (as of early 2018).

If you plan to stay into the night and get back home after midnight, Newport State Park was recently declared Wisconsin's first International Dark Sky Park

There you have it! A perfect day spent up on the Door County Peninsula! No matter where you go, what you do, or who you go with, you will have a wonderful time! 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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