Door County is perhaps Wisconsin’s most touted and adored vacation destination – and it’s not without good reason. The shops, the shoreline, the sunsets… there’s a whole lot to love. Our crew gets giddy every time we get word of a new Door County episode, and there might be some minor squabbling over who gets to call Door County their “office” for parts of the year. While you really can’t go wrong with a visit to any part of the Peninsula, there are two bay-side communities that are among the first you’ll pass through as you make your way north on Highway 42. The first: Sturgeon Bay.
Sturgeon Bay is often referred to as the “gateway” to the area, in part due to its geography, but it also marks the point in the trip where you really feel like you’ve arrived in Door County. Of Door County’s more than 300 miles of shoreline, Sturgeon Bay has one-third of it between the Bay of Green Bay, the Bay of Sturgeon Bay, the ship canal, and Lake Michigan. Large ships, sprawling bridges and gorgeous lighthouses make up the city’s iconic landscape.
In downtown Sturgeon Bay you’ll find a selection of shops, galleries, restaurants and breweries that could keep you occupied for days. One place we discovered on our most recent trip is Cherry Lanes Arcade Bar. With a bowling alley and tons of arcade games, it’s the perfect place to bring the family for some old-fashioned Wisconsin fun… and have an Old Fashioned while you’re at it! There’s also the Holiday Music Motel, which in addition to being a place to stay, features live music, collaborative songwriting retreats and a radio station that exclusively broadcasts the music created within its walls. (Only in Door County, right?!)
Another fantastic lodging option in Sturgeon Bay is the Lodge at Leathem Smith, one of Door County’s most historic resorts. In addition to being a premier wedding and event venue, the Lodge hosts the Wounded Heroes event every year. During this time, veterans are invited to stay at the resort and go on fishing excursions with local guides and anglers. It’s an incredible way they’re giving back to those who’ve given us so much.
Continuing north on Highway 42 from Sturgeon Bay will eventually take you to the Village of Egg Harbor. The allure and charm of this community is so strong that it’s near impossible to drive through it without stopping to explore. You’ll find no shortage of shops, galleries, restaurants and breweries, and the beautiful water views are unparalleled.
Egg Harbor is also known for throwing an amazing shindig. On any given night you might be treated to the sounds of a summer concert, downtown, or at the Peg Eagan Performing Arts Center. There’s also a slew of special events like their annual Pumpkin Patch Festival in the fall.
If you’d like to make Egg Harbor your Door County home base, there’s no better place to stay than the Landmark Resort. Located on the Niagra Escarpment, the Landmark is essentially its own little village, with hiking trails, a pool, playground, tennis courts and a full-service restaurant. Many families make the Landmark Resort part of their Door County tradition; returning year after year, and introducing new generations to the beauty and magic of Door County.