Wisconsin September 09, 2018
The Cape Cod Of The Midwest Is Right Here In Wisconsin And It’s Stunning
With more than 300 miles of shoreline on Green Bay and Lake Michigan, a tourist culture that stretches across the state and the country, and a focus on boating and being on the water, it’s no surprise that our very own Door County draws comparisons to that popular getaway out on the east coast, though locals like to say that Cape Cod is the Door County of the northeast. On Friday afternoons, you’ll find a steady stream of folks heading north from the Milwaukee and Chicago areas to spend the weekend relaxing in this charming area.
There are about 10,000 permanent resident in Sturgeon Bay that serve as the anchor for this area that's home to many second residences and vacation homes. The entire peninsula is about 70 miles long and home to about 30,000 permanent residents, but in summer, that number can balloon tenfold.
Though it's most popular in the summer with folks from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota coming to spend the weekend, it's also quite popular in fall, when leaf peepers come to enjoy the fall colors.
There are multiple state and county parks in the area that are the perfect places to explore this region via hiking, kayaking, camping and more.
Though the peninsula itself can get busy at peak times, some of the coolest things about Door County are the islands that extend off the tip into Lake Michigan. Take the ferry to Washington Island and explore via car. Or go further to Rock Island, where no vehicles are allowed and there's a pristine, untouched, wild beauty to explore.
There was a feature on Door County in National Geographic in the 1960s that introduced the charming, quaint area to the rest of the country. That's when the area boomed, with folks from all over buying local houses to use as vacation homes.
There's an artistic flair to some of the towns up here and the brightly decorated main street businesses combined with white clapboard facades along the coast lend to the Cape Cod comparisons. Fish Creek is home to the oldest resident summer company - Peninsula Players - in the country. There's history combined with creativity here that makes it oh so interesting to explore.
Located along the Niagara Escarpment, the soil here is different than anywhere else in the state. The climate is different, as well. That lends itself to lavender farms and orchards, as well as vineyards. Famous Door County cherries, apples for cider, grapes for wine and other products grow and become flavorful here in a way they wouldn't anywhere else.
It's the harbors here that most often draw parallels to New England. Ephraim comes into view slowly, but suddenly there's the church steeple. Then there's the harbor, usually packed with sailboats, and you can understand why people think this place could be New England.
We here in Wisconsin don't think Door County needs to be compared to anything in order to be special. This stunning, charming spot may draw tourists from all over, but there's a reason it's a popular spot for those of us here at home, as well. Go in spring, when everything is just started to reopen and wake up from the winter and you'll find all kinds of locals enjoying the sleepy loveliness.
Cape Cod may be more well-known or iconic to people all across the country, but that's actually ok with us. Door County gets busy enough as it is, so we'll take our slower pace of life with fewer folks. If the rest of the country hasn't yet discovered it, we're quite happy to keep it all to ourselves.
What’s your favorite part of Door County? Let us know in the comments!
When you’re in Door County, you can try to
see the Northern Lights, visit a lavender farm, have dinner watching a stellar sunset and even walk out to an island!