Camping WI State Parks: Door County

We just brought home our camper from storage so camping trips are fresh on my mind.  I usually start thinking about where we are going in January.  Most people, I think, start the year before, lol. Well, when taking a poll of where the kids might want to go, it seems Door County comes up a lot. Door County is the term we use for the whole area in that county because it is a small peninsula out in Lake Michigan.  It is the typical seaside-type area of fishing, swimming and all things outdoors with 300 miles of shoreline.  It is the closest we have to the ocean around here.

Peninsula State Park Bluff in WI

Peninsula State Park, WI

We have checked into several different camp grounds but we like one the best in Sturgeon Bay.  It has a quaint, out-of-the-way feel to it with a pretty wooded area, which is what we like.  We always go in the summer. This particular campground backs up to the Potawatomi State Park.  Right by the camp site we always book there is a bike trail leading into the state park (in the shade!).   There are tons of trees which only let in a sparkle of sunlight here and there.  Beautiful.  The girls love to go fishing here.  It is their favorite place.  I always wondered what they would do if they actually caught a monster fish?  lol.  Also, a cool thing, is the fact that Bald Eagles have been spotted here more and more.  In fact, right over the little island in the picture, you can usually see them diving for fish.  One female Bald Eagle had a nest right by this little island and while the kids fished, I got a couple of pictures of her.

island right off the boat launch

Island right off the boat launch, Potawatomi State Park

 Anyway, there are 5+ state parks on this peninsula.  Each one is more beautiful than the last and all drive-able in one day, if need be.  The hiking trails are quite astounding too.  We tend to take the medium trails because we bring the kids and dog with too.  They all love the hiking trails.  We are usually pretty tired when we get done, but we like the kids to go to bed a little on the early side while camping.  Wink wink.  These little fishing towns are pretty neat.  They are little artisan-types with Fish Creek being our favorite.  It has a cool little pizza place called the Wild Tomato.  Look at that crazy tomato face.  The owner grows some of his own herbs and veggies for the pizzas!  This is truly great pizza (coming from a Chicago girl).  The wood fire crust is over the top with an ice cold beer. We can’t wait.

Wild Tomato Pizza, Fish Creek

Wild Tomato Wood Fired Pizza

All these little towns have something special about them.  There is also a ton to do on the inside of the peninsula.  They actually have a Hands On Art Studio where you can weld your own metal sculpture or create your own stained glass window.  We are doing this when we go.  I am trying the welding.  I would like to create some garden art.  The biggest thing Door County is known for, is the cherries.  We pick up a few jars on the way out of town to make cherry pie when we get a little home sick for Door County.

Another cool thing is PC Junction in Bailey’s Harbor.  It is a concoction of pizza place, ice cream parlor, train depot, sports bar and outdoor pedal cart trail thingy???  It’s a fun place. We usually grab a beer and the kids get ice cream and pedal their little legs off all around the place while we just sit under the apple trees and relax!  I swear, every time we go here, we have to beg the kids to leave.  There is a large maze cut through these pine trees and everyone can just grab a pedal cart and go zooming through them.  They have a huge pig in the middle of the trees in a pen.  Odd place but very “must see.”

PC Junction, Bailey's Harbor

PC Junction, Bailey’s Harbor

Door County also offers fun for our furry friend, Buddy.  He loves to swim and fetch in the water. We found Whitefish Dunes to offer a great beach.  It is a little hike to get to the water, but then everyone is ready to swim!  It is shallow for quite a ways out, which is nice for a great game of fetch.  The dog is pretty exhausted at the end of this week.  He sleeps for  a good 3 days after coming home from Door County.  The first time we made the trip, we thought he got sick from something he was so wiped out! lol.  Vacations are really great for pets too, if you can swing it.

whitefish Dunes Dog Beach

Whitefish Dunes Dog Beach

Another adventure is lighthouses.  There are 11 lighthouses and some can be toured.  The kids really get into comparing them. One year, we did a lighthouse hop and searched for all of them in one week.  That was pretty crazy but we kind of made a scavenger hunt out of it.  Eagle Bluff Lighthouse had a tour and the lighthouse was set up like it used to look.  Neat.

Cana Island, Door County, WI

Cana Island Lighthouse, 1869

We love the quirky things that just seem to be all over the area.  The people are always friendly in a small fishing-village way.  Quaint with a lot of adventure.  It seems every time we get ready to leave Door County, we find other things we did not know about or experience.  It is best to get out and talk to the locals, because those are the people who will help you experience the best things or secretive places.  I am glad we can do these things with our kids because I know they are memories we will never forget and well, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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