Escape to an autumn adventure in Wisconsin’s Door County

Art Weber

        Wisconsin’s Door County is a special land of many faces.
        It’s a peninsula bounded on three sides by water – Green Bay on the west, Lake Michigan on the east, and topped by a dangerous ship’s passage known as Death’s Door where the bottom is littered with a still uncounted number of shipwrecks. It’s the watery grave for many frontier French fur traders and Native Americans.
        The west shore is a series of heights, dramatic headlands overlooking deep waters and protecting one harbor and harbor town after another – Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Sister Bay, Ephraim, Ellison and Gill’s Rock, to name some. It is the exposed ragged edge of the Niagara Escarpment, which falls off steeply into deep clear waters.
        The land, bristling with a mixed forest dominated by sugar maples and cedars, tilts downward to the eastern shore in a series of ridges and troughs to a shoreline of gentler character. Bays are typically shallow, a gentle transition to the deep waters of Lake Michigan. Towns, like those on the west shore, are full of character and, refreshingly, full of home-grown accommodations and dining opportunities.
        The eastern shore may not be as showy topographically as the west, but it’s very special in its own right. A legion of natural areas and parks has been set aside up and down the Door coast, protecting special habitats that are a treasure trove to nature enthusiasts. Standing out among these protected areas is the 1,600-acre Ridges Sanctuary State Natural Area on the outskirts of Bailey’s Harbor. The species there are incredibly diverse. The stars of the show are a host of rare orchids and other wildflowers. 
        The faces of the people of Door County are often Scandinavian – especially Swedish, with a healthy mix of Danish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Finn – spiced with German, Flemish and others. Washington Island, located a short ferry ride across Death’s Door, is home to one of the largest Icelandic settlements outside of Iceland.
        “Bet you can’t tell I’m Swedish,” said an impishly grinning Dale Seaquist, fourth-generation patriarch of Seaquist Orchards. With more than 1,000 acres of fruit trees, they are Wisconsin’s biggest producer of tart cherries.
        Seaquist delights in regaling visitors with his family’s story, as well as the little-known trials and tribulations of fruit production, all told in his quiet comforting Swedish accent.
        That’s the way of the Door.
        Special Ed, who guides Door County Trolley Tours including “The Trolley of the Doomed,” plays the haunting roles with engagingly humorous aplomb. Kristen Peil and Caleb Whitney, co-owners of the superb accommodations at Bailey Harbor Schoolhouse Inn, regale overnighters with stories of their community and the school.
        Matthew Peterson shares his heritage and showmanship in the must-do Scandinavian fish “Boil Overs” at Pelletier’s Restaurant in Fish Creek. Ditto for Sarah Martin, who manages Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor; Blake and Lauren Schar, owners of Fireside Restaurant and Jewel Ouradnik, owner of Rowley’s Bay Resort.
        In Door County, the people are as special as the place.
        For more information, visit Door County Visitor’s Bureau at You’ll love it if you get the chance to share a great laugh and conversation with another special person of the Door, bureau director Jon Jarosh.              Be sure to ask him about the fabulous fall colors and where to find the tortured turns of the “Windy (think winding) Road.”


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association