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Best Things to Do in Door County with Kids During the Summer

Door County Wisconsin is one of those picture perfect destinations you have to experience once in your lifetime. Mom and pop shops, endless photo opportunities, and outdoor adventures for all ages, make it the quintessential family getaway any time of year. We took a recent trip to this northern Wisconsin peninsula and discovered we could cover a lot during a weekend in Door County, but next time we definitely plan on taking our time and exploring more. These are our favorite things to do in Door County with kids during the summer.

If you're looking for an idyllic family getaway, look no further than Door County, Wisconsin. With fresh fruit picking, outdoor adventures, and fabulous dining options, it's the perfect getaway. Here are our recommendations for the best things to do in Door County with kids. - Kids Are A Trip

Best Things to Do in Door County with Kids

Door County is an easy drive from both Milwaukee and Chicago, so if you find yourself in these Midwest cities, be sure to make time for a side trip to Door County. It’s worth the drive!

1. Explore the small towns of Door County Peninsula

There are a countless number of small, charming towns dotting the peninsula from Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek to Gills Rock at the northern tip.

Each town is unique in its own way, with specialty restaurants, farmers markets, and attractions, but they all offer Midwestern hospitality at its finest. Explore one, explore them all, you won’t be disappointed by what you find.

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Every town has something special to offer.

2. Visit The Farm

Just outside Sturgeon Bay is a hands-on experience the kids will love, The Farm! Kids can feed milk to goats, watch chicks hatching, or give corn to the cows. It’s perfect for all ages.

There’s more than just animals and a farm tour. There are beautiful gardens on site and it is the perfect way to teach kids about agriculture in a fun and natural setting.

3. Take a day trip to Washington Island

Washington Island is an idyllic place, a quick 30 minute ferry ride from the northern tip of Door County. Hop on the ferry at Northport Pier (you can park your car and walk on, or just drive your car onto the ferry, we recommend the latter), and head to the island for a day of fun.

Be sure to pack swimsuits, water shoes, and beach towels, because there’s an awesome beach on the island. The ferry runs about every 45 minutes during the season, and the last one returns around 7 in the evening. You can check the Washington Island ferry schedule here.

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The ferry to Washington Island is half the fun!

Upon arriving, head to Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm, for a scene that’s straight out of France. During the summer, lavender blooms span as far as the eye can see, and kids and adults alike can take part in cutting their own lavender to bring home.

There’s also a bistro and store on site, so if lavender is your thing, be sure to make a stop. Working in the lavender field is sure to work up an appetite, so head to one of the restaurants in town – Fiddlers Green, Jackson Harbor Soup & Sandwiches, and Island Cafe and Bread Company are all good choices.

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Make sure to let the kids cut their own bundle of lavender!

After lunch, head to Schoolhouse Beach, one of the best beaches in Wisconsin. This beach has no sand, only limestone rocks, and some of the clearest water we have ever seen! Schoolhouse Beach is a one-of-a-kind place, as there are only four other beaches like it in the world.

Kids will love skipping and stacking stones, swimming out to the pontoon and jumping from it, or simply splashing in the water. It’s the perfect beach for families.

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Schoolhouse Beach has some of the clearest water you will ever see!

Before heading back to the ferry, stop for a cup of coffee at Red Cup Coffee House and peek into Fair Isle Books next door, grab a book for the ferry ride back, or at the very least say hello to the sweet dog who greets visitors.

4. Go zip lining in Baileys Harbor

There are plenty of outdoor adventures in Door County, but why not head up into the trees? We took a fun tour with Lakeshore Adventures that took us soaring over pine trees, ponds, and across a 150’ long suspension bridge. The kids’ favorite part was the dual zip line where they raced one another for a photo finish. Such a fun way to see this area from a different view.

5. Take everyone hiking in The Ridges Sanctuary

Right down the road from zip lining on the edge of Baileys Harbor, is The Ridges Sanctuary, a nature preserve created over 80 years ago to protect the ecosystem of this area. Start in the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center and learn about the scope of the sanctuary and local plant and animal life.

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Then head out to the Hidden Brook Boardwalk, a third of a mile completely accessible trail showcasing the flora and fauna of the area. Don’t miss the range lights built in 1869 to help guide ships to safety. If you want to explore more, there are multiple hikes available with our without a guided tour. The Ridges is open year round, so if you go in winter, be sure to bring your snowshoes!

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Peaceful and educational!

6. Ride the tractor or walk across the water to Cana Island lighthouse

Yes, you read this right, there are two ways to reach the lighthouse on Cana Island. One way is to walk across the causeway (highly recommend water shoes for this), the other is to ride a tractor to the other side. We opted to ride on the way over, but my youngest insisted on walking on the way back (show-off).

The Cana Island Lighthouse is over 140 years old and stands 89 feet tall, overlooking the 8 acre Cana Island. Be sure to climb the tower’s 97 steps for beautiful views of the island and surrounding area. It’s stunning! (If you want to check out the rest of Door County’s lighthouses, click here).

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Walk or ride, you decide.

7. Pick cherries at Door County’s orchards

Wherever you go on the peninsula, you are sure to see pick your own orchards. Agriculture is big business in Door County. During the summer, cherry orchards will be plentiful, and in the fall, it will be apple picking time.

We stopped at Lautenbach Orchard and grabbed two small buckets to fill. The cherries were much sweeter and softer than our typical grocery store cherries, and the kids couldn’t get enough. We ended up heading inside to buy cherry jam and cherry pie filling to last us for months to come!

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We love everything cherry!

8. Treat the family to a movie at the drive-in

One of the highlights of our visit was loading the car with pillows and blankets and heading to the local drive-in, Skyway Drive-In Theatre. This seemed to be quite popular with other families as well who showed up for the double feature.

It was such a fun way to spend the evening. They even had a retro snack bar, with reasonable prices and the kids would play between the films. Don’t forget the bug spray though, those critters will come in the car and eat you up!

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9. Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay

One of the unexpected surprises on our visit was the Door County Maritime Museum. Located in the heart of Sturgeon Bay, the museum takes a look at the history of this Midwestern ship canal.

There was an interesting exhibit about the area’s involvement during World War II, and the kids were fascinated by the Shipwrecks of Door County exhibit. This area was very interactive, and it was interesting to learn about the numerous wrecks and recoveries in this area.

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10. Outdoor adventure in Door County

We ran out of time to try everything, but the kids are already asking to return so they can try fishing, kayaking, miniature golf, and SUPing. These are only some of the adventures they can’t wait to have on our next trip.

Where to Eat in Door County with kids

Rowley’s Bay Fish Boil

It’s impossible to visit Door County and not partake in a fish boil. A fish boil is a tradition made popular by the Scandinavians who settled this area of Wisconsin. A large cauldron of salt water is filled with local whitefish, potatoes, and onions and brought to a boil over an outdoor flame.

At Rowley’s Bay Restaurant, a story about the history of the fish boil and local area accompany the food preparation. The event culminates in kerosene being thrown on the fire, causing the water to “boil over” the sides in an explosive display.

Afterwards, all the guests head inside the restaurant for a fantastic buffet meal which includes soup, salad, multiple side dishes, and of course the whitefish and potatoes! Be sure to try the baked goods for dessert, they are beyond delicious!

Scaturo’s Baking Co & Cafe

This café in Sturgeon Bay is perfect for a quick, delicious meal or homemade baked goods to go. My boys loved the cherry hot cakes.

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Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor

Wilson’s has been located in Ephraim in 1906 and draws a crowd all hours of the day. The ice cream is delicious and the burgers and sandwiches are quite filling. Grab a bite on the patio and then take a stroll along the water to walk off some of those calories!

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Harbor Fish Market & Grille

Harbor Fish Market has a beautiful setting in Baileys Harbor, right on the water. Don’t miss the lobster roll or Harbor chowder.

Malibu Moo’s Frozen Griddle

This cute little ice cream shop is located at the marina in Fish Creek and makes delicious ice cream with mix ins. You choose the ice cream and the toppings and they make it right in front of you. They were really good with my son’s nut allergies and went in the back room to prepare his ice cream separate from the others.

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant

It’s not often one has the opportunity to eat at a restaurant where goats graze on a grass covered roof, but that is possible here. Don’t miss the Swedish pancakes and be sure to stay awhile and enjoy the ambience of the outdoor patio.

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Yes, those are real goats on the roof!

Where to Stay in Door County with kids

Bridgeport Resort

This resort is perfect for families who want space to spread out. Located in Sturgeon Bay, Bridgeport Resort is a bit south of most of the Door County attractions, but it’s easy to reach everything on the peninsula within an hour. The property has one, two, and three bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchens, dining rooms, living areas, and wi fi.

There’s a huge indoor swimming pool/splash park, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and games/DVDs to borrow. It’s also within walking distance to several restaurants, stores, and attractions.

Check out Bridgeport Resort here!

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We loved relaxing on the swings outside our room at Bridgeport Resort in Sturgeon Bay.

The Shallows

Located in Egg Harbor, this beach side resort is perfect for families. Guests can use the kayaks or canoes to explore the water or enjoy a leisurely bike ride into town.

Check rates at the Shallows Resort here!

White Gull Inn

The White Gull Inn includes breakfast with all bookings, which is worth it just for their cherry stuffed French toast. Children age twelve and over are welcome in the Main Lodge and all ages are welcome in the cottages on the property.

Find the perfect room at White Gull Inn here!

Another option is to stay in a vacation rental in Door County. Everyone can spread out and enjoy the trip!

Looking for other places to visit in Wisconsin? Don’t miss these other Midwest road trip ideas!

Travel Tips
Book Your Flights
You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.

If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.

Book Your Accommodation

We regularly use Hotels.com and Expedia.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.

If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.

Book Your Transportation

For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service.

Book Your Tours and Travel Photos

We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages.

If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Tiqets is another place to purchase tickets for attractions.

Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours.

One of our favorite things to do annually is take photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threat or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master to find the best policy for your group.