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Door County Visitor Bureau

The best things to do in Door County in the fall

There’s a good reason why Wisconsin’s peninsula is a popular destination in the autumn

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There are many areas throughout Wisconsin that have a quintessentially “Midwestern” feel to them—think of the ocean-like shores of Lake Michigan, the craggy otherworldliness of the Apostle Islands, and the beautiful nature in Door County. The latter, which at times can feel and appear more like an East Coast destination than a peninsula in the heart of Wisconsin, proudly boasts a nautical legacy, hip art galleries, and great restaurants.

Hordes of Chicagoans spend time in Door County during the summer months. The droves of tourists armed with swimsuits and sunblock are proof of this. But as Wisconsinites will attest, the best time to visit the peninsula is during the fall when it’s awash in bright foliage and the buzz of traffic is replaced by the lush sounds of the natural environment. An ideal fall trip to Door County includes a mix of seasonal standards and under-the-radar endeavors.

Located less than a four-hour drive from Chicago, Door County makes for a lovely September or October getaway, providing an opportunity to cross things off on your fall bucket list.

Note: The map items are listed in geographic order from the southern most points to northern destinations.

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Blow some glass

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Mix brainpower with play and participate in one of the many classes offered in Door County. If you’ve always wanted to learn the art of glassblowing then you’ll want to check out Popelka Trenchard Glass in Sturgeon Bay. The attraction offers a two-hour class which teaches the basics of glassblowing. Otherwise, book a retreat at The Clearing, a fairly magical place in Ellison Bay that features various types of classes (writing, watercolors, weaving, just to name a few).

Door County Visitor Bureau

Revel in fall coffee flavors

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It’s officially PSL season. In Door County, it’s best to forgo the chain coffeehouses and opt for a local favorite. Door County Coffee & Tea Company in Sturgeon Bay features a fireplace, baked treats, and more than enough coziness to go around. This beloved shop has fall flavors that go beyond pumpkin, although they do have that as well. How about Cranberry Orange Muffin? Or try Door County Maple.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Voyage through a corn maze

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Visiting a corn maze is an unwritten requirement for anyone who makes a trip to Wisconsin during the autumn. Dairy View Country Store in Sturgeon Bay has one of the best around, and each year, the nearly 30-acre maze features a theme. This year’s “Proud to be American” theme features a topsy-turvy corn maze map of the United States.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Feast on farm-fresh eats

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There are farmers markets all over Door County, including ones in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek. No matter where you’re staying, there will likely be a market within a reasonable driving distance. Pumpkins, squashes, apple butters are on hand at these markets. Take home fall fixings to make your own farm-to-table meal.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Brave a ghost tour

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With Halloween right around the corner, it’s good timing to sign up for a ghost tour during your visit to Door County. The Door County Trolley company in Egg Harbor takes passengers on a two-hour tour of the peninsula’s shadowy areas. Hear the stories of haunted local sights and shipwrecks.

Check out an artisan cheese shop

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How can anyone go to Wisconsin and not indulge in some cheese? Door Artisan Cheese Company in Egg Harbor is more than a step above your customary fried cheese curds and creates dairy masterpieces in cow, goat, and sheep milk selections.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Sample seasonal menus

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You’ll find locally-sourced, seasonal menus at many Door County restaurants, including Baileys Harbor’s Chives, where you can order hearty, perfect-for-fall eats like house-made grilled sausage and wild mushroom pappardelle. Trixie’s in Ephraim also serves up in-season offerings such as the homemade burrata.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Explore the peninsula by kayak

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Many kayakers come to Door County for the stunning views and caves to explore. It’s also a great way to take in the fall colors, especially during a Fall Colors Tour put on by Door County Kayak Tours. This jaunt covers the Whitefish Dunes and goes to Jamaica Bay, so named for the vibrant fall colors seen there.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Catch a live production

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The Peninsula Players Theatre is a Door County treasure. World-class actors put on impressive productions on an outdoor stage, and in the fall, there’s a heated floor for chilly evenings. Seeing a performance in the midst of Door County’s beautiful surroundings can’t be beat.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Gather around a fish boil fire

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A fish boil is a Door County tradition with Scandinavian roots. Boiling fish in large vats over an open flame is how fisherman have been cooking their catch for centuries. And on the Door County peninsula, whitefish from Lake Michigan is what you’re likely to find at fish boils. The “boil over,” when kerosene causes the pot quite literally boil over, creates giant flames that can warm up the coldest fall nights. Excellent fish boils can be found at White Gull Inn and Pelletier’s Restaurant & Fish Boil, both located in Fish Creek.

Visit orchards with a twist

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There is no shortage of orchards in the area, but there are a couple that have more to offer than apple picking. Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market in Fish Creek is just that—an orchard and winery in one. Stop by to pick some apples, then head inside for wine tasting. Or visit Edgewood Orchard Galleries, also located in Fish Creek, to see the work from local artists showcased in a stone fruit barn built in 1918 and surrounded by trees.

Door County Visitor Bureau

See the bright autumn colors in state parks

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Door County is often considered by visitors to be one of the best places in the country to see fall colors. Typically, the colorful autumn leaves peak in late September, but the spectacle is worth visiting throughout the fall. See the leaves in their fall glory on foot or by bike at Peninsula State Park or Whitefish Dunes State Park. Both have unbeatable water views.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Try new beers

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In addition to cheese, beer is also an essential during any trip up into Wisconsin. Bier Zot in Sister Bay has a dizzying selection of brews—including varieties from the Midwest, Germany, and England. It’s all there. In the fall, they’ve even been known to have a sweet potato beer on tap.

Sleep in a yurt

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In Door County, there’s also the glamping route where you can leave your tent and sleeping bag at home. At Wagon Trail Campground in Ellison Bay, yurts are available to rent through mid-October. In your circular home-away-from-home, you’ll have the basics—a bed, insulation, Douglas Fir lattice walls, and plenty of charm for those Instagram photos.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Sip some cider

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If you’re looking for a truly traditional fall beverage, you can’t go wrong with Wisconsin cider. You can find the hard variety at Island Orchard Cider in Ellison Bay. Otherwise, there’s Island Orchard nearby on Washington Island. Go to their cider house to taste crisp craft concoctions, like pear or oak aged apple cider.

Blow some glass

Door County Visitor Bureau

Mix brainpower with play and participate in one of the many classes offered in Door County. If you’ve always wanted to learn the art of glassblowing then you’ll want to check out Popelka Trenchard Glass in Sturgeon Bay. The attraction offers a two-hour class which teaches the basics of glassblowing. Otherwise, book a retreat at The Clearing, a fairly magical place in Ellison Bay that features various types of classes (writing, watercolors, weaving, just to name a few).

Door County Visitor Bureau

Revel in fall coffee flavors

Door County Visitor Bureau

It’s officially PSL season. In Door County, it’s best to forgo the chain coffeehouses and opt for a local favorite. Door County Coffee & Tea Company in Sturgeon Bay features a fireplace, baked treats, and more than enough coziness to go around. This beloved shop has fall flavors that go beyond pumpkin, although they do have that as well. How about Cranberry Orange Muffin? Or try Door County Maple.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Voyage through a corn maze

Door County Visitor Bureau

Visiting a corn maze is an unwritten requirement for anyone who makes a trip to Wisconsin during the autumn. Dairy View Country Store in Sturgeon Bay has one of the best around, and each year, the nearly 30-acre maze features a theme. This year’s “Proud to be American” theme features a topsy-turvy corn maze map of the United States.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Feast on farm-fresh eats

Door County Visitor Bureau

There are farmers markets all over Door County, including ones in Egg Harbor and Fish Creek. No matter where you’re staying, there will likely be a market within a reasonable driving distance. Pumpkins, squashes, apple butters are on hand at these markets. Take home fall fixings to make your own farm-to-table meal.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Brave a ghost tour

With Halloween right around the corner, it’s good timing to sign up for a ghost tour during your visit to Door County. The Door County Trolley company in Egg Harbor takes passengers on a two-hour tour of the peninsula’s shadowy areas. Hear the stories of haunted local sights and shipwrecks.

Check out an artisan cheese shop

Door County Visitor Bureau

How can anyone go to Wisconsin and not indulge in some cheese? Door Artisan Cheese Company in Egg Harbor is more than a step above your customary fried cheese curds and creates dairy masterpieces in cow, goat, and sheep milk selections.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Sample seasonal menus

Door County Visitor Bureau

You’ll find locally-sourced, seasonal menus at many Door County restaurants, including Baileys Harbor’s Chives, where you can order hearty, perfect-for-fall eats like house-made grilled sausage and wild mushroom pappardelle. Trixie’s in Ephraim also serves up in-season offerings such as the homemade burrata.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Explore the peninsula by kayak

Door County Visitor Bureau

Many kayakers come to Door County for the stunning views and caves to explore. It’s also a great way to take in the fall colors, especially during a Fall Colors Tour put on by Door County Kayak Tours. This jaunt covers the Whitefish Dunes and goes to Jamaica Bay, so named for the vibrant fall colors seen there.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Catch a live production

Door County Visitor Bureau

The Peninsula Players Theatre is a Door County treasure. World-class actors put on impressive productions on an outdoor stage, and in the fall, there’s a heated floor for chilly evenings. Seeing a performance in the midst of Door County’s beautiful surroundings can’t be beat.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Gather around a fish boil fire

A fish boil is a Door County tradition with Scandinavian roots. Boiling fish in large vats over an open flame is how fisherman have been cooking their catch for centuries. And on the Door County peninsula, whitefish from Lake Michigan is what you’re likely to find at fish boils. The “boil over,” when kerosene causes the pot quite literally boil over, creates giant flames that can warm up the coldest fall nights. Excellent fish boils can be found at White Gull Inn and Pelletier’s Restaurant & Fish Boil, both located in Fish Creek.

Visit orchards with a twist

Door County Visitor Bureau

There is no shortage of orchards in the area, but there are a couple that have more to offer than apple picking. Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market in Fish Creek is just that—an orchard and winery in one. Stop by to pick some apples, then head inside for wine tasting. Or visit Edgewood Orchard Galleries, also located in Fish Creek, to see the work from local artists showcased in a stone fruit barn built in 1918 and surrounded by trees.

Door County Visitor Bureau

See the bright autumn colors in state parks

Door County Visitor Bureau

Door County is often considered by visitors to be one of the best places in the country to see fall colors. Typically, the colorful autumn leaves peak in late September, but the spectacle is worth visiting throughout the fall. See the leaves in their fall glory on foot or by bike at Peninsula State Park or Whitefish Dunes State Park. Both have unbeatable water views.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Try new beers

In addition to cheese, beer is also an essential during any trip up into Wisconsin. Bier Zot in Sister Bay has a dizzying selection of brews—including varieties from the Midwest, Germany, and England. It’s all there. In the fall, they’ve even been known to have a sweet potato beer on tap.

Sleep in a yurt

Door County Visitor Bureau

In Door County, there’s also the glamping route where you can leave your tent and sleeping bag at home. At Wagon Trail Campground in Ellison Bay, yurts are available to rent through mid-October. In your circular home-away-from-home, you’ll have the basics—a bed, insulation, Douglas Fir lattice walls, and plenty of charm for those Instagram photos.

Door County Visitor Bureau

Sip some cider

If you’re looking for a truly traditional fall beverage, you can’t go wrong with Wisconsin cider. You can find the hard variety at Island Orchard Cider in Ellison Bay. Otherwise, there’s Island Orchard nearby on Washington Island. Go to their cider house to taste crisp craft concoctions, like pear or oak aged apple cider.