By Lynn Armitage
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Perhaps it’s redundant to talk about the quiet side of Door County, when this “Cape Cod of the Midwest”—with its 34 named outlying islands and 300 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan—embodies the very peaceful seclusion that so many vacationers are seeking. But let’s give a big, loud shout-out anyway to these specific destinations on Wisconsin's Door Peninsula that offer a relaxing and inviting respite:
Whitefish Dunes State Park – Sturgeon Bay
This day park offers 14.5 miles of hiking trails and the tallest sand dunes in the whole state, including a 93-foot-high dune known among the locals as Old Baldy. Just follow the boardwalk.
Clark and Kangaroo lakes – Jacksonport and Baileys Harbor
As lakes go, these are two of the best-kept secrets in Door County. At crystal-clear Clark Lake, just south of Jacksonport, you’ll find a public beach and two boat launches. This 865-acre lake is 25 feet at its deepest point, and is a perfect spot to fish for bass, panfish, trout and walleye.
Kangaroo Lake is a shallow, 12-foot lake near Baileys Harbor, and a popular fishing hole, so bring your favorite lures. Also, enjoy a quiet meal and a selection of 30 different bottled beers on the patio of Coyote Roadhouse, a cozy eatery overlooking Kangaroo Lake.
Cana Island Lighthouse – Baileys Harbor
More than 140 years old, this popular lighthouse just north of Baileys Harbor was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Climb the 97 steps of the spiral staircase to the gallery deck to take in the peaceful, expansive view of Lake Michigan and the Door Peninsula.
The Ridges Sanctuary – Baileys Harbor
Like a little piece of heaven, this National Natural Landmark, made up of forests and wetlands, is home to vast amounts of flora and fauna, including 25 species of orchids, more than 60 different types of birds and the endangered Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly.
Explore miles of hiking trails year-round—even on snowshoes. And a visit to this sanctuary wouldn’t be complete without seeing the historic and rare two-structure lighthouse system known as Baileys Harbor Range Lights.
Newport State Park – Ellison Bay
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, you’ll want to make the trek up to the tip of the Door Peninsula to this special place—the only designated wilderness park in Wisconsin’s park system. Explore hiking and biking trails galore, or do a little camping and fishing along 11 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
What could be more relaxing than sipping good wine? Between Lake Michigan and the waters of Green Bay, you’ll find eight wineries that have joined forces to form this unique experience for tourists. Make a toast to cherry, apple and other tasty wines that this region is famous for.
Mink River Estuary – Ellison Bay
The best way to explore this freshwater area in northern Door County—considered one of the most pristine estuaries in the U.S.—is by kayak or canoe. You’ll start and end your amazing journey in Rowleys Bay.
Along the way, you’re sure to see many varieties of feathered friends, including bitterns, great blue herons, sandhill cranes and bald eagles. You could even see a painted turtle or two.
If you favor a simple stay in Door County, you'll love these five charming (and cheap!) rental cottages scattered across the Door Peninsula.