Covered in cherry orchards, surrounded on three sides by big water, home to ten lighthouses, woods, cliffs and sand dunes, Door County is a great place to get outside—and the locals have gone to great lengths to make all of this beauty accessible and enjoyable for families. The orchards, for example, feature not only traditional tours and family pick-your-own times, but also a veritable county fair’s worth of activities. Seaquist Orchards, in addition to their fabulous store (which is filled with cherry pies, 30 different kinds of fudge, an apple tasting depot and more free samples than you’ll ever see at Costco), offers families a three-level straw maze, pedal cars and a track, and the largest rope maze in the Midwest. And Orchard Country Winery and Market features a playground, horse-drawn wagon rides and, during festival times, cherry pit-spitting competitions (if you’re wondering, the record is more than 38 feet). And Orchard Country is conveniently the depot for Door County Trolley, whose fleet of red trolleys take visitors to lighthouses, on seriously spooky nighttime ghost tours, and other scenic adventures.
If you’re feeling like getting back to nature, make sure to visit beautiful Peninsula State Park. Covering 3,776 acres, the park is home to a number of attractions, including the 10-mile Sunset Bike Route, a smooth, well-marked, relatively flat trail that showcases the best of the park (including Eagle Bluff lighthouse, the shoreline and the woods). Bikes are available for rent at Nor Door Sport and Cyclery. (Another option would be to stay at the Peninsula Park-View Resort, a charming motel across the road from the park that offers free bikes, as well as a pool, a cute VHS library and other fun conveniences.) And if you’re looking for a place to swim, head to Nicolet Bay Beach—sheltered from the bigger waves and shallow, the water is warm, calm, clear, and great for kids. If you’re looking for some big surf, a trip to Whitefish Dunes State Park will feel like a visit to the ocean. Or, for a different perspective on the Door, get out onto the water in The Shoreline, a 33-foot boat that offers tours on Green Bay.
And for a real thrill (on a family-friendly scale), try ziplining at Gravity Trails. Open to anyone 8 years or older, the longest zipline here is 200 feet—long enough for a good zip, but manageable for younger kids. And part of the experience is just getting there—getting to the first platform involves a ride through the woods on a low-rider bike and a short trip up the side of a climbing wall.
—Tim Johnson, CF’s contributing editor