Wisconsin’s Door County: Where and When to Go

An abandoned campground at Potawatomi State Park in Wisconsin.
An abandoned campground at Potawatomi State Park in Wisconsin. Photo © Rick Techlin, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.
Wisconsin's Door County travel maps by region.
Wisconsin’s Door County by region.

Planning a trip to Door County? Here’s a helpful guide to the best places to check out and the best times of year to visit.

Door County

Door County’s most popular draw is the magnificent scenery along its nearly 300 miles of Great Lakes coastline, and the big three beautiful state parks—Potawatomi, Peninsula, and Newport. Bike, hike, boat, or fish, and visit the country’s largest concentration of lighthouses. Several of the Door’s villages are delightfully quaint. Find a historic hotel, a plush B&B, or a rustic cabin, and for sustenance, organic locally grown beef or, for traditionalists, a fish boil. For the more intrepid, off the northern tip of the county is time-locked Washington Island, and beyond that, another jewel in Rock Island State Park, the most superb camping spot in Wisconsin.

East-Central Waters

These waters truly made the state, welcoming legions of immigrants and floating timber for paper mills of the Fox Cities, dominated by Lake Winnebago. To the west are picturesque resort lands as well as the wild and wonderful Wolf River. The heart and soul of the region is the football mecca Green Bay and Lambeau Field, home of the Packers football team.

Wisconsin Gateways

This gateway region welcomes many travelers coming from Chicago. Milwaukee has a fabulous art museum, Miller Beer, Harley-Davidson, and one of the best summer festivals in the country, Summerfest. Extraordinary museums and parks await in Kenosha and Racine, the latter also home to architecture by Badger State native Frank Lloyd Wright. Hop on the smaller highways to discover the Lake Geneva area and an essential historical museum, Watertown’s Octagon House.

When to Go

The droves of travelers begin arriving in early-mid-May to see the blossoms; then from Memorial Day to Labor Day there are likely so many visitors here that the bedrock sinks an inch or two. Another friendly invasion takes place at the end of September through the middle of October—leaf peepers love the Door. Remember that prices rise dramatically during these peak seasons. A nice time to visit is in September, just after Labor Day. The weather is beautiful, there are few other visitors, and prices as well as insect numbers are lower. Some find winter lovely and enjoy skiing or snowshoeing in the empty parks; others find it too cold and annoying that half the county’s businesses have closed for the season. The least desirable season is March, when a visit is ill advised; it’s cold, windy, cloudy, and muddy.

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