Introduction to Door County:
A 5-Minute Primer

Welcome to Door County, Wisconsin

We know you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to Great Lakes vacations and midwestern getaways, so take a few minutes to explore this introduction to Door County and learn why the region is one of the top vacation spots in the US for couples, families, solo travelers, and large groups alike.

Want to explore another way? Use the Trip Planner to create a custom itinerary that remembers your top trip ideas.

Just the Facts: Door County Q & A

Where in the world is Door County?

Door County is a region in “the left thumb” of Wisconsin, USA—the small land mass projecting into the water from the east-central side of the state. The county is about a 2.5-hour drive northeast from Milwaukee and a 4.5-hour drive north from Chicago or east from Minneapolis.

How do I visit an entire county?

The short answer is…you don’t! DC is comprised of 2,000+ square miles and more than 19 distinct communities, so your best bet is researching individual towns, choosing 1–3 near each other that suit your getaway style and tastes, and exploring this pocket and its surrounding areas.

How do I get around Door County?

Like many relatively rural areas, Door County lacks public transportation, and its towns are spread out enough that driving between them is a must. So, although you will definitely need a car to get around, the streets and highways will be pleasantly void of buses, high-speed trains, rideshare companies, and taxis.

What’s a peninsula?

A peninsula is a land protrusion almost entirely surrounded by water. In DC’s case, Lake Michigan (east side) and Green Bay (west side) flank three sides; its southern-most base connects to Wisconsin’s mainland. DC also contains Washington Island and Rock Island, both of which are a few miles off the peninsula’s northern shore.

What’s the landscape like?

No, you won’t be climbing any mountains or exploring any deserts here, but our beaches, islands, lakes, forests, woods, meadows, and nature preserves are sure to satisfy your longings to connect with nature. DC boasts five state and 19 county parks, and a lack of light pollution has earned Newport State Park an International Dark Sky Place designation.

What’s the weather like?

Wisconsin has four distinct seasons that more or less create the conditions you’d expect. We won’t pretend the summers can’t be extremely hot or that our winters can’t be brutally cold. They very much can, but those beautiful extremes also result in 3–4 months of perfect beach weather and 2–3 months of stupefyingly gorgeous winter landscapes.

Can I bring my kids? My dog? My iguana?

Absolutely—Door County is a top destination for family trips, and dogs are welcome in many local businesses and public spaces. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a restaurant or attraction that doesn’t cater to kids, but do your research before bringing your pet with you to an establishment.

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Let's Get Acquainted

Let's Get Acquainted

“Door County” refers to a 70-mile long region in Wisconsin, USA that contains 34 named islands and dozens of small cities, towns, and communities, each with its own distinct look and feel. The entire region is located on a peninsula, with the exception of the islands. A “handy” way to remember this is to hold out your left hand—keeping the fingers together—and studying the area between your bottom thumb knuckle and the top of the thumbnail. You betcha: we’re the thumb of the Wisconsin mitten.

Explore Door County Locales

Quiz: Find Your Travel Style

Scroll through this series of images and check the ones that depict the activities and experiences you’re interested in. Then, we’ll help identify your top trip styles and provide you with the activities, businesses, and attractions you’ll like the most.

Door County’s People, Places, & Things

Get to know the region on a deeper level by exploring its history, natural landscape, and most iconic sites.

A (Very) Brief Overview
of Local Maritime History

Door County is defined by its proximity to Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. These waterways are why many nomadic settlers would camp here, and they’re how the earliest permanent settlers got around and sustained life. Residents have worked as fishermen, mariners, and shipbuilders, and others worked as loggers and farmers, relying on ships to transport their wares. In the 20th century, Door County’s shipyards were producing as many as five ships a day to keep up with the military’s demand for large boats and other sea vessels.

A Quick Foray into
the Nature of Door County

From a 93-foot sand dune and the jagged walls of Cave Point to The Ridges Sanctuary and the lavender fields of Washington Island, Door County is a lesser-known treasure trove of ecological wonders. Nature and its endless splendors are woven into both town and city design as well as daily life, as evidenced by passionate locals who operate nature-based businesses, artists constantly inspired by the landscape, and those who’ve chosen to make their homes among pines and rivers and wide-open spaces.

A Tiny Taste of Iconic Door County

If you want to see into the heart of any culture, start by looking at its cuisine. The menus, recipe books, and dinner tables of Door County are likely to contain cherries, lakefish, meat, cheese, and Scandinavian and Western-European dishes. But food is just one avenue for understanding a culture. Visitors can also look to the roadside Belgian chapels, British-Victorian homes, Swedish-influenced Stavkirke and Björklunden chapels, and Viking-inspired Thordarson boathouse to get a feel for the people who settled Door County and made it what it is today.

The 7 Must-Instagrams of Door County