The Upper Midwest meets Cape Cod at Northern Door County in Wisconsin. Here you'll find charming seaside towns, beaches, historic lighthouses, and seafood restaurants along Wisconsin Highway 57. During the summer months, this peninsula is very popular with the beach crowd, but come winter it welcomes an entirely different class of traveler: the winter adventurer. There are plenty of opportunities for cross-country skiing, chilly beach and cave hikes, and of course, an unforgettable coastal scenic winter drive. Before you hit the road, remember to stop by a local Discount Tire store for a free tire inspection to ensure your tires are up for the adventure.
Start your adventure in the Door County town of Sturgeon Bay. There's a ton to do in this picturesque little village. Warm up with some locally produced wine and other goodies at Simon Creek Vineyards or Door Peninsula Winery; step back in time at the Door County Historical Museum; or cozy up with a pint at the local Starboard Brewing Company.
And, of course, you can't visit without snapping a shot of their iconic Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pierhead Light. The cute red building dates back to the late 19th century and is located on a fully operational U.S. Coast Guard station.
Even though winter isn't the best time to take advantage of the sandy Lake Michigan shore here, there's still plenty to see and do. The 1.5-mile Brachiopod trail shows off some awesome ancient fossils, and other trails allow diagonal skiing and snowshoeing. The nature center here is open all year round as well, so stop in and learn about the flora and fauna found in the park. Plus, the drive out here is stunning, and there are tons of incredible views to be seen.
To experience a winter wonderland, visit Cave Point County Park. The crashing waves and sharp breezes that have formed underwater caves in the limestone cliffs help cover the rocks and trees of the park in glittering ice. Speaking of ice, driving in winter weather doesn't have to be scary-- just make sure you get snow tires on your car, and drive attentively, and driving through the snow should be a breeze. All in all, the snow and ice on the shores of Lake Michigan are quite a sight to behold... especially from atop the cliff. It's almost like standing at the edge of the world!
Treat yourself to a night at the Edgewater Resort. The whirlpool and sauna are great ways to warm up after an afternoon of exploring the outdoor beauty of the region, and the onsite restaurant serves up comforting Door County fish boils with fresh-caught whitefish. Or you can walk into the town of Ephraim and browse the shops and galleries before coming back to your suite to enjoy the jetted tub and fireplace. The location right on the water provides an unforgettable view of the winter sunset, so don't miss out on it.
The first thing you'll notice when you arrive at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik will probably be the sod roof. During the spring and summer, they have goats hanging out up on the roofs, grazing and entertaining tourists. Even though the goats won't be out during the winter, it's worth it to stop in for some grub that really calls to mind Wisconsin's strong Nordic heritage. Sample classic delicacies like Scandinavian breads and cheeses, Swedish pancakes, pickled herring, rice pudding, Swedish meatballs, and, of course, fried cheese curds, before browsing the gift shop. Lingonberry jam, Swedish candies, Dala horses, cook books, clothes, and tons of Scandinavian housewares make great gifts and souvenirs!
The drive through Ellison Bluff State Natural Area is absolutely stunning, and it culminates with a walk out to the observation deck, which is perched right on the edge of a 100-foot cliff overlooking the water. Or, if you're feeling really brave, step out onto the walkway that extends over the cliff's edge... it's an amazing experience, and since there are no tree leaves to obscure the views, one that's worth checking out during the winter.
As Wisconsin's only wilderness-designated state park, you'll find thousands of acres of untouched beauty at Newport State Park. It features 26 miles of cross-country skiing trail, plus some trails for classical and skate skiing and snowshoeing as well. It's right at the tip of Door County, and it really provides a view of just what makes this part of the state so special.
Gills Rock is another town to explore in Door County. Close to the tip of the peninsula, it's home to a rich boating history. In fact, the Washington Island ferry leaves from this settlement to make its way through the lake passage known as "Death's Door,” which is what gave Door Country its name. In the summer, scuba diving to see the many shipwrecks off the coast is a popular pastime, but a visit in the winter will really let you see how harsh the conditions on the lake can be... they don't call it Death's Door for nothing, you know! Soak in the great panoramas of the lake from Gills Rock and delve into the history of the town at the Door County Maritime Museum.
However you like to adventure, Door County is perfect. Its rich history, winter outdoor fun, cozy resorts and B&Bs and belly-warming cuisine provide something for everyone to enjoy. Pack up your skis, snowshoes, winter boots, and warmest coats and get ready for a scenic drive that will really knock your woolen socks off.
Discount Tire—With over 900 neighborhood stores across the nation, no matter where your adventure leads you, Discount Tire is there to help you along the way. Whether you’re passing through Taos or finding yourself in Northern Door, you can count on Discount Tire for friendly, safe service.