Spend an Indulgent Weekend in Door County

Spend an Indulgent Weekend in Door County
White Gull Inn’s cherry-stuffed French toast features the best of Door County.

One of the most exciting, and sometimes frustrating, aspects of travel is how a trip rarely goes as planned. Eager to show beautiful Door County to my husband, I set up a springtime visit. My vision: mild weather, flowers budding and strolls by the water. Reality: unseasonably frigid temps and snow on the ground in late April.

While we bundled up for an exploration of Peninsula State Park and a lovely hike past a lighthouse and to the beach at the Ridges Sanctuary, the crummy weather served as a good excuse to indulge in indoor pursuits—namely, eating and drinking our way across the Door Peninsula.

We began with dinner. One of a surprisingly few waterfront restaurants in the area, Harbor Fish Market & Grille in Baileys Harbor offers a casual bar up front and an airy dining room in back. Local artwork hangs alongside windows overlooking the harbor, a calm cove of Lake Michigan where much of the fish on the menu is caught. The food is delicious and the staff so welcoming, you might want to return. We did—for a breakfast of cherry mimosas, lobster and veggie omelets and gorgeous views of the sun rising above the harbor.

Speaking of breakfast, White Gull Inn in Fish Creek is almost a requisite visit while in Door County. Warm and cozy, it boasts a reputation as hearty as its food, which includes everything from cherry-stuffed French toast to eggs and hash browns to cherry coffee cake. Note that Peninsula State Park is nearby if you want to work off some of the calories after breakfast. 

Also close by is Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza and Grille. This small, family-run pizzeria is charming and cheerful, with specialty pies ranging from the Green and Gold, topped with Wisconsin cheese curds, to the Fun Guy, with five types of sautéed mushrooms and a garlic cream sauce. Salads are creative and tasty, and the bread basket appetizer is a carb-lover’s dream, packed with five different types of bread and three dipping sauces. We dug in, rationalizing that the feast would serve as a base for wine, liquor and beer sampling.

Down the peninsula in Carlsville are Door County Distillery and Door Peninsula Winery. The modern distillery specializes in small batches produced on-site; belly up to the rounded bar to try its vodkas, gins and fruit-infused spirits. Just steps away, the winery offers more than forty types of vino, many of them sweet and fruit-tinged.

North in Egg Harbor, Harbor Ridge Winery is an especially fun stop for wine sampling. Friendly staff lead tastings to a backdrop of walls lined with witty signs, gift items and bottles with cheeky names. If you’re hungry, there’s a cheese shop around back.

Also in town, Shipwrecked Brewery is a great spot to grab a beer and some pub grub. Five “anchor” brews (including Captain’s Copper, Peninsula Porter and
a cherry wheat) are served year-round, while rotating seasonal beers (like IPAs, brown ales, a summer wheat and a milk stout) round out the menu. Over a paddle of samplers so we could taste everything on tap, we toasted the good fortune of our trip’s bad weather.

Katie Vaughn  is managing editor of Madison Magazine.