Door County is a seaside resort in Wisconsin, a state better known for its dairy products and beer. While Door County lacks neither, it also has a good dose of the usual summer attractions: Sun, sand, and sports.
And this means droves of tourists driving up from Chicago, pushing the nightly rates of motels and B&Bs as high as the market will bare. For example, a room at very adequate B&B which runs $145 in the off-season, jumps to $245 during the summer months. That’s a 70% increase!
Granted, the Door Peninsula, which is made up of Door County and parts of two other counties, juts into Lake Michigan and has about 300 miles of amazing coastline so it’s pretty cool. But do I really need to spend upwards of $250 a night just to lay my head down in “The Cape Cod of the Midwest?”
After a week-long trip to the peninsula I can re-affirm that going on vacation doesn’t need to cost a lot of everyday dollars.
We stayed in a fancy pants B&B that cost me $228 for the night. We camped in a state park that cost me $23 a night. And you know which experience was much more fulfilling, fun, and that I told everyone about?
The one where I pitched a tent, hiked on quiet trails, relaxed by a crackling campfire, guzzled cans of PBR, and there was absolutely no Facebook, Twitter, or email. Because vacation is supposed to be about relaxing; a time to refresh and restore ourselves so we’re energized when we return to our hectic everyday lives, and there shouldn’t need to be a high price tag for that.
Where to stay
Thorp House Inn – A solid B&B choice in Fish Creek with an enjoyable (and free) brunch.
Peninsula State Park – Wisconsin’s most popular campground boasting 468 sites and a happening beach.
Rock Island State Park – Take a ferry from the tip of Door County to Washington Island, then another ferry to this remote island. Well worth it for turquoise water and pristine sand beaches. Reserve site #13, it’s awesome.
Holiday Music Motel – A retro motel in Sturgeon Bay with a killer (and free) breakfast.
Where to eat
Wild Tomato – Best pizza on the peninsula. Order The Fun Guy (loaded with mushrooms and garlic cream cheese) and wash it down with a local brew.
Campfire Breakfast Burritos and Banana Boats – Easy and delicious camp recipes.
Husby’s – Good pizza and beer in Sister Bay.
Town Hall Bakery + Cafe – Stumbled upon this gem in Jacksonport serving local, organic food.
What to do
Peninsula State Park Beach – Public beach with expansive views of Lake Michigan.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse + Tower – In Peninsula State Park, both offer bird’s-eye views of Green Bay.
5.2 mile hike around Rock Island – The best way to see Door County.
Rock Island Lighthouse – Tour this structure to experience 1800’s life.