Winter Escape to Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula

3-Day Itinerary

Choose from outdoor winter activities or an art.sip.savor tour in a winter escape to Door Peninsula.

Day 1

Check in to Landmark Resort, an award-winning, all-suites vacation destination.

Dinner at Sister Bay Bowl–an authentic, family-owned Wisconsin supper club just like the ones that were so popular in the 1950s and 60s. In 1950 the Willems family started welcoming visitors to the Sister Bay Hotel. In 1958, Earl and Rita tore down the dance hall (a Saturday night hot spot for locals) and built a six-lane bowling alley. Six years later, they opened the supper club. The Willems family still operates the Sister Bay Bowl today and a third generation is enjoying the great food that has made “the Bowl” a favorite dining destination. Try the local cheese curds and a classic old-fashioned cocktail!

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Sister Bay Bowl/Facebook

Day 2

Warm up for the day’s activities at Door County Coffee & Tea Company—a favorite for locals and visitors. Enjoy a gourmet, made from scratch breakfast and attend “Coffee College” at Door County’s premier coffee roaster, roasting coffee in small batches to exacting specifications—be sure to try (and take home!) delicious flavors like Cherry Crème, Raspberry Butter Crunch and Caramel Pecan Scones or for the coffee die-hards try the bold and delicious Premiere Select, Intense Dark or Elite Espresso.

Morning Option 1: (Outdoors)

Ice fishing in Door County was once a necessity, but now it’s a favorite winter pastime in a place considered one of the top ice fishing destinations in the country. Anglers flock here looking for whitefish, trophy walleye, northern, and trout. When the deep freeze comes to the Door, many locals get excited for the ice that will soon form, counting the days until it will be thick enough to move their shanties out to the fishing hole. With the ice comes the sudden addition of dozens of tiny shanty towns that pop up on iced over bays and inland lakes. For visitors, it’s now easier than ever before to get a taste of this tradition. Fishing charter companies now offer ice fishing tours with guides who show you the tricks of the trade to catch trophy walleye or whitefish. These guides set you up with bait, gear, the latest fishing technology, shanties, and best of all, their years of expertise earned over the fishing hole. Meet Captain JJ Malvitz and try your hand at ice fishing for whitefish, northern pike and walleye.

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JJs Guide Service/Facebook

Morning Option 2 (Art.Sip.Savor)

Named Wisconsin’s friendliest small town, Sturgeon Bay ‘s downtown waterfront is full of charming stops. Warm up by the fire at the Popelka Trenchard Glass Fine Art Gallery & Studio, a fine art glass gallery and working studio of nationally known glass artists, Jeremy Popelka and Stephanie Trenchard, to see the age-old techniques of a master glassblower.

Then, check out the Door County Maritime Museum. Located on the working waterfront, focusing on Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding and features a working periscope, the pilothouse from the Great Lakes ore carrier, the Elba, a fourth order Fresnel lens crafted in 1880 and more.

Have some old fashioned fun at Door County Candy. Since 1996, owner Terry Ullman has been satisfying visitors’ sweet tooth with his confectionary delights. Their homemade delicacies and fun atmosphere continue to turn regular customers into candy aficionados.

Afternoon Option 1 (Outdoors)

Snowshoe at The Ridges Sanctuary Join a naturalist-guided snowshoe hike to explore the frozen tundra of this 1,600-acre natural preserve-as Wisconsin’s oldest nonprofit nature preserve, a designated State Natural Area, an Audubon Important Bird Area, and National Natural Landmark, the Ridges Sanctuary is home to five miles of rustic trails and bridges.

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The Ridges Sanctuary/Facebook

Afternoon Option 2 (Art.Sip.Savor)

Start at Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Distillery. Door County’s original and largest winery, is housed in the historic Carlsville Schoolhouse and is known for fruit and sweet/semi-sweet wines. Door County Distillery is the first in the area to produce vodka, gin, and fruit-infused vodka and is distilled with the clean, limestone infused waters from the Door Peninsula.

See an exclusive cheese selection impossible to buy anywhere else at Wisconsin Cheese Masters. They offer only the finest products that Master, Artisan and Farmstead cheesemakers in Wisconsin craft.

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Wisconsin Cheese Masters/Facebook

Lastly, be awed at Plum Bottom Pottery. Situated on 20 beautiful acres in the heart of Door County, artist Chad Luberger creates beautifully handcrafted porcelain and stoneware. Be inspired as Chad walks us through his process with a throwing demonstration.

Evening

Experience the White Gull Inn Fish Boil—established in 1896, the White Gull Inn is a Door County original providing accommodations with character and unforgettable dining to generations of visitors to the Door Peninsula. Enjoy an authentic Fish Boil dinner, a dining experience found only in Door County, featuring freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish caught by local fishermen and cooked outside over an open fire, just as it was 100 years ago by the Scandinavian settlers of the Peninsula. The fish boil tradition began as an economical way to feed large, hungry groups of lumberjacks and fishermen. Churches picked up the tradition to raise money, and people from all over would come to taste the local fish, potatoes, and Door County cherry pie. Eventually, area restaurants followed and the Door County Fish Boil became a “not to be missed” event.

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White Gull Inn/Facebook

Day 3

Morning Option 1 (Outdoors)

Experience Peninsula State Park—established in 1909, this 3,776-acre state park has rocky bluffs that ascend more than 150 feet and is considered Wisconsin’s most complete park. Marvel at the winter landscape via cross country skis, snowshoes or fat tire bikes from Nor Door Sport & Cyclery. The park features more than 16 miles of groomed, double-tracked ski trails and four miles of snowshoe and hiking trails. Then, be awed by nature as you feed the Chickadees at the White Cedar Nature Center.

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Friends of Peninsula State Park/Facebook

Morning Option 2 (Art.Sip.Savor)

First stop at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market. The Door County Montmorency cherry is freshly picked and packaged during summer harvest with the morning dew still present. The rest end up in bottles of satisfying, fruity wine such as “Cherry Blossom,” freshly baked cherry pies, freshly pressed jugs of tart cherry juice, plump dried cherries and rows of scrumptious cherry jams and pie fillings.

Explore on your own in Fish Creek, boasting a historic main street with boutiques, galleries, and eateries. Then, tour the Guenzel Art Gallery at Peninsula School of Art, featuring educationally-themed exhibitions of master artists’ works, and colorful outdoor sculptures grace the gardens. For over 50 years, the 10-acre Peninsula School of Art campus been a destination and a welcoming community for art makers and art enthusiasts.

Lastly, soothe your winter ailments at Island Lavender in Ephraim. The shop features bath salts, soaps, scrubs, body lotions, and aromatherapy, in addition to culinary products like lavender syrups, jellies, and spices. The lavender is sustainably grown on nearby Washington Island without chemicals or pesticides and is harvested in late summer. These carefully grown lavender buds are then artfully distilled into lavender oil to make over 160 products.

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Island Lavender/Facebook

Afternoon Option 1 (Outdoors)

Snowshoe tour at Whitefish Dunes State Park, the highest sand dunes in Wisconsin and home to eight significant Native American villages from 100 BC to the late 1800s. Stop at Cave Point County Park to see the picturesque limestone sea caves—the result of Lake Michigan’s relentless pounding against the limestone bluffs.

Afternoon Option 2 (Art.Sip.Savor)

Start the afternoon at Fine Line Designs Gallery in Ephraim, featuring original paintings, sculpture, custom wood furnishings, along with stone, metal, wood and glass sculpture and fiber art deep in color and texture.

Then, warm up with a flight of beer at Bier Zot! This European gastropub located in the heart of Sister Bay has 11 carefully curated drafts, 1 cask and nearly 100 bottles pair with a European-inspired menu to create the ultimate haven for food and beer lovers alike.

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Bier Zot Beer Cafe/Facebook

Finally, head north to Ellison Bay and meet Mary Ellen Sisulak at Turtle Ridge Gallery to see her work with signature leather handbags and accessories, elegant wearable art and unique home decor that are produced in the studio and shown with jewelry and wood by selected artists.

For some of the most breathtaking fall views of Door County, pay a visit to Ellison Bluff County Park—stroll along the wooden walkway that leads you to the edge of a sheer 100-foot limestone bluff. Reflect on the beauty and relax to the sound of the rolling Lake Michigan waves in this photographer’s paradise.

Late Afternoon

Wind down along the “quiet side” (AKA, the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula) for a cold one at Door County Brewing Company in Bailey’s Harbor—a family-owned craft brewery established in 2012. They source as many ingredients as possible from Door County and Wisconsin to produce beers based on local resources, local influences, and local heritage. Beers are inspired by the surrounding; friends, families, landscape. Promising to create only the best tasting, thought-provoking, carefully sourced, eco-conscience beers. Sample the Polka King Porter, Little Sister Witbier and the Farm House Ale!

Evening

Cheese tasting at Door Artisan Cheese Company— the newest cheese maker in Door County showcases the craft of cheesemaking from the milk vat to the cheese case. Mike Brennenstuhl had a vision – creating a special place that celebrates Wisconsin cheesemaking expertise and taking it to a new level with a chance to see cheese making in action while enjoying specialty cheeses, regional and international wine, and fine dining. Then, enjoy dinner at Glacier Ledge with an exceptional small plates menu incorporating many cheese masterpieces.

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Door Artisan Cheese Company/Facebook

View Jill’s summer itinerary for Door County here.

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