Travel Green: A Final Summer Fling in Door County

By Steve Michael
Special to

As August draws to a close, the reality of summer’s end always sets in. (Sure, the calendar tells us summer is in full-swing well into September, but we know better. Once Labor Day hits, summer’s all packed and ready to go.)

So, I knew I had to make the most of the fleeting days of summer and plan the first trip that Maggie and I would take as a couple. I floated a “Door County Getaway” idea past Maggie. She smiled immediately; I must have said something right. She had only been camping in Door County, so she was excited about the full Door County experience.

We planned to take our trip the weekend following Labor Day. Maggie’s only suggestion was hiking at Peninsula State Park. She left the rest of the planning up to me.

I immediately did some online research. There were tons of solid choices in and around Fish Creek, Egg Harbor and Ephraim, but, when I came across one particular B&B, it all came together. Located in Baileys Harbor on Door County’s eastern shoreline, the Blacksmith Inn seemed perfect.

The inn is 20 minutes from Peninsula State Park, where we planned to hike before grabbing a light lunch in Egg Harbor

We left Milwaukee at 4:30 that Friday afternoon and arrived just before the sun had set on the flower gardens that frame the Blacksmith Inn’s two guest houses. We checked in at the Zahn House. Our room was just what you might imagine: wood floor, four-post bed with quilt comforter, antique furniture and stenciled walls.

We woke Saturday and headed to Peninsula State Park for what turned out to be a four-mile hike through woods and along the shoreline.

After a light lunch at Door County’s only Chicago-style hot dog stand, Stillwaters By The Bay, we went back to our room to relax for a few hours before our dinner reservations in Sister Bay.

That’s when I started to notice all the “green.” The extra toilet paper in our bathroom was made of recycled materials. A window sticker said “Travel Green Certified.”

I learned about some other things the Blacksmith Inn does to protect the environment. It uses organic fertilizers and compostable trash bags instead of plastic ones in guestrooms. The Inn also participates in a waterfront restoration project.

It was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon the Travel Green Wisconsin program and to learn that the Blacksmith Inn was one of more than 100 places in Wisconsin trying to preserve the state’s natural beauty.

The next morning, we loaded our wooden breakfast trays with banana muffins and other goodies and made our way to our porch to enjoy our meals and the surroundings.

Several picture windows provided postcard views of Sister Bay’s harbor and served up a perfect sunset. Our meals were as savory as advertised.

Maggie turned to me and said, “Can we do this again next year?”

I’m living proof that you don’t need to be a world-traveler to plan a great getaway. You just need to know where to look. The Blacksmith Inn turned out to be a great choice for romance – and for protecting the environment – in my own backyard.