Door County: Cherry Strudel, Shakespeare and Goats on the Roof

Dates visited: July 8- July 16, 2013

Welcome to Door County!
 I fancy myself a fairly smart person. Sure I make a lot of typos and grammatical errors that, I'm sure, have been noted in the reading of these blogs. But still, I did okay in school. So why is it I had no idea that one could drive north through Wisconsin and get to Michigan without leaving the country?

There's an empty chair waiting for you...
For 43 years (okay, maybe 35ish since I didn't learn about geography until I entered school and learned my ABC's) I was under the impression that Michigan was all about the mitten. No one, and I mean no one...not even mean old, never give a student more than a C+ on an essay, Mr. Butler spoke of the apparently top-secret area of the United States called the Upper Peninsula.
A map of Michigan which includes the Upper Peninsula. Near Green Bay, WI you can see Door County.
Since we were in Racine, Wi. visiting family, we talked about how much we were dreading our projected drive through the Chicago area when someone mentioned going the other way (north) so we could see Door County and the U.P. We honestly had no idea what they were referring to...but we were intrigued enough to whip out the old atlas. Lo and behold, it is can get to Michigan from Wisconsin without crossing into Canada or going through Chicago! And changing our plans to explore that area was probably the best decision we've made on the road so far.

Come and sit for a while.
Our first stop (after leaving Racine) was Tranquil Timbers in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Believe it not, you can find Passport America deals in Door County;
With more than 300 miles of spectacular shoreline and five majestic state parks, Door County is a four-season, outdoor recreation and pleasure lover’s dream come true. If you enjoy history, discovery and fun, Door County is home to 11 lighthouses, unique communities, performing arts, entertainment, music, boutiques, galleries and mouth-watering cuisine —
Of course, being an extremely popular summer destination there were some restrictions. We stayed 4 nights at Tranquil Timbers, taking advantage of their 50% off Sun-Thu rate and then moved deeper into Door County to stay at Beantown Campground in the quiet town of Bailey's Harbor.There are several state parks that have RV camping spots but our spur-of-the-moment decision meant they were already booked up.

Our next "RV"??
What can I say about Door County? It is beautiful. And a little expensive. But mostly beautiful. And it's worth it drive around the entire peninsula since each harbor and bay is so unique.

No decision making necessary...just get one of everything! P.S. I will love you forever if you send me one of those strudels.
We had the best cherry-anything from Wood Orchard Market in Egg Harbor and the best espresso at the Red Cup on Washington Island (which requires a ferry ride). Cave Point County Park offered the most impressive hike and sight-seeing while Al Johnson's in Sisters Bay had the best restaurant with goats on the roof  (you can watch the Goat Cam right here).

Um, excuse me but there are some goats eating your roof. Seriously...eating your roof. (Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik)
You know it's good when they serve your beer in pewter.
Door County, which ironically gets it's name from a dangerous ship's passageway early French explorers called Death's Door, is famous for it's cherries and twelve 19th Century light houses. It's known as "the Cape Cod of the Midwest" and for good reason. It's a mecca for artists of all types and is home to The Clearing Folk School which encompasses 125 beautiful and inspiring acres. They host classes and workshops ranging from beginning bonsai to iPhoneography and writer's workshops to wood turning. It's a beautiful place and the staff is very friendly and helpful (one day I plan to attend a weekend retreat...don't tell Clark).

Plant art...
 Other points of interest:

The ferry to Washington Island (we took the Jeep, aka Chuck Norris, NOT the RV). Can you spot Chuck (dark blue with the black soft top)?
The Stavkirke on Washington Island.

Washington Island Stavkirke is modeled after the Borgund Stavkirke constructed in 1150 near Laerdal, Sogn. Much of Washington Island is reflected in this Scandinavian design. 

The interior of the Stavkirke.
Miles of beaches, including the famous SchoolHouse Beach. Let me tell you...although these are lake beaches you're mind will never know. They are vast and beautiful.
Cairns at Cave Point County Park.
Clark at Cave Point.
Early blooms at The Garden Door: Master Garden in Sturgeon Bay.
A fairy garden in The Garden Door (this one is for Ellen of Fat Girl Wearing Thin)
A day on Lake Michigan via a rented pontoon boat and tooled around Baily's Harbor.
Cana Island Lighthouse
Even Cleo enjoyed her time on the boat (mostly by sleeping).
Baileys Harbor Lighthouse, one of the few in the country to retain it's bird-cage lantern.
Close up and personal with the Christina Nilssen ship wreck. It launched in 1871 and wrecked here in 1884. Resting at a depth of only 20 feet you get some pretty good views from the clear water.
For a real history lesson (2.5 million years in the making) take a hike or bike along the Ice Age Trail.
Grab a beer and hang with the locals at Grey Stone Castle and enjoy a prime rib sandwich (says Clark). Oh...and just remember, this is a Wisconsin. They serve regular ol' beer, proudly. This is not a hipster joint.
Speaking of locals...they're very friendly.
Oh, one of the highlights of our week in Door County was seeing a play. Door Shakespeare is a treasure. Located on the grounds of the Bjorklunden it is the perfect place for outdoor theater. Once you park your car you feel like you've been transported back in time with lit walkways through the woods and live string music. It is so well done that even if you aren't a fan of the Bard you'll still likely love the ambiance.

If Door County isn't on your list of places to see, it should be. It truly is full of hidden gems and will always be one of my favorite destinations and I look forward to exploring more of it soon.

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