5 Reasons Why The Cape Cod Of The Midwest Should Be Your Next Destination

The famous Cana Island lighthouse located next to lake Michigan in Door County Wisconsin with a drone

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I’m sure you’ve heard of Cape Cod, but did you know the Midwest has its own version of Cape Cod?

Jutting into Lake Michigan, there’s a beautiful peninsula known as Door County, Wisconsin.

I had no idea what to expect before my visit to Door County in February, but I was blown away by what I found.

The famous Cana Island lighthouse located next to lake Michigan in Door County Wisconsin with a drone

Let me tell you, if you’ve never been, you’re missing out.

Here are 5 reasons why you should visit the Cape Cod of the Midwest:

Food, Food, and More Food

Trust me when I say you’ll want to visit Door County for the food alone (not to mention all the other incredible reasons that I’ll list later).

There are almost too many amazing foodie spots to mention, but I’ll do my best to highlight some of my favs.

First of all, we need to address the obvious Wisconsin favorite — THE CHEESE. So many CHEESES!

Some of my top recommended must-try cheeses come from Renard’s Artisan Cheese.

Do NOT leave Door County unless you’ve tried Renard’s hoop cheddar and they’re squeaky fresh cheese curds (in case you didn’t already know ­— the squeakier the cheese curd, the fresher it is!).

We tried A LOT of cheese curds while in Door County, and these were definitely my favorite.

Food in Door County, Wisconsin
Macaroni & Cheese at Renards

Now let’s talk about Wisconsin’s other famous food product — cherries!

I may be in the minority here, but prior to my Door County trip, I didn’t know that Wisconsin was also famous for their amazing cherries.

There are so many ways to eat cherries in Door County, but I had two personal favorites that you should definitely try.

One of my personal favorites was the freeze-dried Montmorency Cherries that Destination Door County gifted me.

I wasn’t expecting to like them even more than the chocolate-covered cherries, but I did! If you like tart cherries, these were the perfect level of tartness.

My second favorite way to eat cherries while in Door County was, of course, in pie form. White Gull Inn had one of the top cherry pies of my entire trip.

Cherry Pie at White Gull Inn
Cherry Pie at White Gull Inn

We went to White Gull Inn for their traditional Fish Boil. The tradition of the Door County Fish Boil has been around for about 100 years. This was one of the coolest things we witnessed and should be added to your “must-do” list of things to do in Door County.

There were so many amazing restaurants to choose from, but I’m going to pick two more to highlight for you.

If you want incredibly delicious, fresh, and colorful food with an amazing atmosphere, then you need to go to Sip.

Food at Sip in Door County, Wisconsin
Lunch at Sip

When I tell you this was my favorite meal of my entire trip, I’m not lying to you. Please go to Sip.

They have a super cute store upstairs, and everything in the restaurant is also for sale — I actually bought the drinking glasses they served our water in!

For those of you who love pizza as much as I do (a little too much), you need to go to Sonny’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria.

I ate so much pizza and pasta here that I must have gained approximately 5 pounds, but it was worth every bite.

After you indulge in the cheesy, carby goodness then you can head downstairs and grab a pint of craft beer at Bridge Up Brewing Company.

Charming Local Stays

White Lace Inn, Door County, Wisconsin
White Lace Inn

Now that I’ve finished talking your ear off about the amazing food in Door County, I’m going to mention my favorite part of the entire trip.

The super cute Victorian-style inns sprinkled all over Door County.

I stayed in White Lace Inn and I never wanted to leave.

White Lace Inn actually has four different Victorian-style homes that are all connected by beautiful gardens.

Before I talk about the room I stayed in, I must bring up food one more time. Breakfast is served every morning in the Main House.

Breakfast at White Lace Inn
Breakfast at White Lace Inn

One of the most popular dishes that they serve is their stuffed French Toast.

I’m not kidding when I say I would come back to stay here just for the stuffed French Toast.

In all seriousness, though, I would absolutely live in the suite I had at White Lace Inn.

I stayed in the Victorian Suite of the Washburn House, and I’ve never felt more at home. The suite was filled with beautiful antique furniture and a two-sided fireplace.

There was a separate sitting room and a beautifully large bathroom complete with a whirlpool bathtub.

I could have spent my entire trip in that room, and I wouldn’t have been mad about it.

The great thing about Door County is that it has so many beautiful Inns and Bed & Breakfasts up and down the entire peninsula.

The Pembrooke Inn B&B was another beautiful Victorian Inn located in Sturgeon Bay, but there were some really picturesque inns in Fish Creek, which was probably my favorite little town we visited in Door County.

Arts And Culture

One of the things that surprised me most was the beautiful artsy culture filling the heart of Door County.

My favorite example of this was the Popelka Trenchard Glass Fine Art Gallery & Studio.

The artwork displayed in the gallery was simply one-of-a-kind. However, the coolest part of visiting the gallery was the glass-blowing demonstration.

The owners were incredibly kind and informative. Watching them work so flawlessly in sync together was a form of art in and of itself.

Their glassblowing technique was mesmerizing; I could have watched them for hours on end.

Popelka Trenchard Glass Fine Art Gallery & Studio
Popelka Trenchard Glass Fine Art Gallery & Studio

 Another hidden artsy gem within Door County is the Miller Art Museum.

The museum’s curator had an incredible way of choosing pieces that provoked strong emotions from its viewers.

The thought and intentionality behind the displays were clearly visible. I was deeply moved by the artists’ work displayed in the museum.

Nature

Cave Point County Park
Cave Point County Park

If you love being surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, then you’re in luck because Door County is in no short supply.

From beautiful nature preserves to stunning beaches, you won’t be disappointed at Door County’s endless beauty.

One of the best ways to get out and see Door County’s nature up close and personal is by e-biking with Door County Kayak Tours.

Our tour guide was super nice! She took us to Cave Point County Park for a stunning view of the limestone sea caves and dramatic icicles hanging along the cliff edges.

Group in Door County Wisconsin on an eBike Tour
Group eBike Tour in Door County, Wisconsin

After taking in Cave Point, we took a short ride over to Whitefish Dunes State Park to soak up the sun on its beautiful beach.

Just kidding, there was still ice on the shore, but we soaked up as much sun as we could through our endless amounts of layers.

Even though summertime is way better for swimming and sunbathing at the Whitefish Dunes, it was serenely peaceful to have the beach to ourselves in the winter.

No matter what season, you can absolutely still enjoy it, and the views are worth it!

Another place for a stunning view is in Peninsula State Park at its Eagle Tower.

The tower isn’t always open in the winter, but it was unseasonably warm while I was there, and we were lucky enough to head to the top to look over the ice-covered Lake Michigan.

View From Peninsula State Park at Eagle Tower
View From Eagle Tower in Peninsula State Park

That’s a view I won’t soon forget, and I can’t recommend it enough. Peninsula State Park also has plenty of beautiful but easy hikes that people of all fitness levels can enjoy.

The Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve is another peaceful and easy hike that shows the impressive rock bluff of the Niagara Escarpment.

This is the perfect hike for just about any fitness level. 

Out of all the nature-filled excursions we took, there was one that stood out among the rest.

The Open Door Bird Sanctuary was hands-down one of my favorite activities of the entire trip.

I didn’t know what to expect going into it, but I was blown away with how much I loved every aspect of the sanctuary.

Oslo The Snowy Owl at The Open Door Bird Sanctuary
Oslo The Snowy Owl at The Open Door Bird Sanctuary

We were immediately greeted by Oslo, a Snowy Owl, who was breathtakingly beautiful, and I just wanted to hang out with him for the entire time.

Little did I know, there were even more incredible birds waiting for us!

They have about 20 permanent bird residents, including a Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a Red-tailed Hawk, and one of my favorites Twig, a tiny Screech Owl.

Trust me when I say that this is a must-do in Door County.

I never would have expected to love it as much as I did, and I would love to go back!

History

Founder's Square, Fish Creek, Wisconsin
The Thorp Cabin in Founder’s Square, Fish Creek, Wisconsin

There is so much history throughout Door County.

I already mentioned the beautiful Victorian inns, most of which date back to the 1800s.

In my favorite little town, Fish Creek, there’s a section called Founder’s Square where you can find the tiny Thorp Cabin. The cabin was built by the founder of Fish Creek in 1849 and is still standing in the middle of the town today.

One of my favorite bits of history that we were able to explore was the Door County Maritime Museum.

Door County Maritime Museum
Door County Maritime Museum

The museum is built into a tower overlooking the beautiful waterfront, and each floor of the museum tells a different portion of Door County’s history.

My favorite parts were learning about the early American Indians in the area and how massive ships were built in the bay and transported all the way from Lake Michigan to the ocean.

This was definitely another must-do to add to your list of places to visit in Door County.

**Travel Off Path was a guest of Door County, who helped with the creation of this itinerary by hosting some of our accommodations and attractions. Our opinions, recommendations, and suggestions remain our own.**

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


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