Found! The Perfect Last-Minute Summer Getaway

Photo: Courtesy of Door County Visitor's Bureau.
Guess what? The ultimate summer getaway from Chicago doesn't involve a plane ride. In fact, when it comes to unplugging for some R&R and good old-fashioned fun, you don’t have to travel any farther than Door County, WI. The landscape is next-level, the people are incredibly nice, and the trip is sure to remind you of classic summer vacays from your childhood — only so much better, now that you're in control of the itinerary. But, because the area is slightly overwhelming in terms of where to stay and what to do, we narrowed down some of our top picks, so you can get busy doing your part: packing.
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Photo: Courtesy of Door County Visitor's Bureau.
Getting There
Located at tip of the Wisconsin peninsula, Door County is 244 miles away from Chicago — approximately 3 hours and 50 minutes of driving. Check out this handy interactive map for directions; it also advises you on current road conditions.

Need a pit stop along the way that’s not a fast-food joint? Recharge your batteries at Apple Holler, an adorable farm, apple orchard, and gift shop. The restaurant on the premises offers a robust menu of eats ranging from sandwiches to salads to full-on hearty meals like prime rib, plus a massive breakfast-and-lunch buffet. Save room, because you’re not going to want to leave without trying one of Holler’s killer homemade pies.
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Photo: Courtesy of Door County Visitor's Bureau.
Where To Stay
Door County starts just north of Algoma; the first major town is Sturgeon Bay, a community of about 9,000 residents. The area is comprised of nine waterfronts, one island, and a handful of small inland villages — which makes choosing a home base tricky, as they all have something special to offer. Luckily, they're also all within a five-to-15 minute drive of each other.

If you're a first-time visitor, consider somewhere in the middle of the 70-mile-long county — like Egg Harbor or Fish Creek on the bay side, or Baileys Harbor or Jacksonport on the lake side. It takes about an hour to drive from Sturgeon Bay up to the tip of the peninsula, where the passenger/vehicle ferry goes over to Washington Island (which is the only island with a year-round population).

Pro tip: Once you arrive in the Door County area, make sure you ease off the gas; the speed limits are lower here. Or, if you don’t want to drive around the entire trip, Door 2 Door Ride is a great shared taxi and bus connector system in Sturgeon Bay and Northern Door County.
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Photo: Courtesy of Door County Visitor's Bureau.
Whether you prefer the amenities of a hotel, bed and breakfast, or inn, the personal touches of a rental property, or the low-key vibe of a campground or log cabin, Door County has lodging to suit all tastes and budgets. A few spots we recommend checking out:

Whistling Swan Inn & Restaurant
This beautiful renovated inn is over 100 years old, but it has all the modern-day conveniences one could possibly want — without losing an ounce of that historic charm. You’ll be within arm's reach of the beaches, Peninsula State Park, and shopping. Good thing you’ll have a complimentary breakfast to fuel you up.

Stone Harbor Resort
This 161-room/suite gem (one of Door County’s newest properties) is located right on Sturgeon Bay’s historic waterfront, so you’re just steps away from aquatic activities of all kinds (not including the outdoor pool), as well as a bevy of shops and amazing golf grounds. Inside, you’ll find perks like a sauna, fitness center, gift shop, gallery, restaurants, and lounges — complete with entertainment.

Park’s Edge Cottages
Positioned on two and a half acres of wooded and lawn grounds, these historic cottages and vacation homes are privately owned and operated, so there are a variety of (recently remodeled) styles to choose from. More importantly, they’re located right on the water, boasting stunning views of Peninsula State Park and Eagle Harbor.
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Photo: Courtesy of Door County Visitor's Bureau.
Where To Eat
It’s impossible to narrow down the vast array of dining options in the entire Door County area, but we can tell you what the specialties are: supper clubs, frozen custard, fish boils, and cherry everything. The fun part is that many of these eateries have a history. You’ll have a hard time choosing where to chow down first. Three options that are quintessential Door County:

Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant
This charming supper club is just steps away from Lake Michigan, which means you’ll definitely have dinner with a view. Specialties include everything from hearty steaks and chops to prime rib to lobster and crab legs, all served old-school style, with soup and a salad bar.

White Gull Inn
Going strong since 1896, Door County’s most historic inn serves up a mean fish boil every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October. Just 20 bucks will get you a plate full of chunked Lake Michigan white fish and small red potatoes, served with fresh coleslaw and a slice of cherry pie for dessert.

Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor
This ridiculously charming Door County landmark has been around since 1906, and not much has changed since. Complete with an old-fashioned soda fountain, ice cream creations as big as your head, and a jukebox cranking out the oldies, this place is the ultimate time warp — in the best way possible.
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Photo: Courtesy of Door County Visitor's Bureau.
What To Do
While there’s something for everyone in Door County, those who enjoy staying active will be especially happy.

Kayaking is one of the most amazing ways to take in the beauty of Door County's 300 miles of shoreline. Whether you’re up for a guided tour or a DIY adventure, options abound. See a list of kayaking outfitters and many other water-based activities here.

With five state parks, 19 county parks, and many other protected sanctuaries and nature preserves, Door County is a hiker’s dream. One of the most popular trails is the two-mile loop Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park, which takes hikers on a waterfront trek along the base of Eagle Bluff for fantastic views of the Niagara Escarpment and associated caves. History buffs will appreciate the Ridges Sanctuary, the oldest private nature preserve in Wisconsin (founded in 1937).

Picking Cherries
Door County is one of the largest producers of tart cherries in the United States. You simply have to take advantage of its bountiful harvest, which is at its prime in late July and early August. There are plenty of places where you can pick your own cherries — or, you can grab a bushel at one of the area’s many farmers’ markets, which also sell cherry products ranging from cheeses to pies to wine and more. Read everything you ever wanted to learn about cherries here.
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