**please note this trip was quite a while ago, but it was unfinished so here we are.**
The best part of passing out early on vacation is getting an early start the next day. I had a lot of exploring left to do, and I wanted to drive through Door County, making stops at all the places that had been recommended to me or that I had noted for myself to check out.
The Holiday Music Motel had a continental breakfast set up in their little diner nook on the first floor, so I helped myself to some muffins and coffee. The whole hotel had a fun retro look, and I very much enjoyed sitting at the singular table in the kitchen and watching people filter in and out to grab coffee and baked goods.
Once I had my fill, I headed over to Potawatomi State Park for a brisk morning hike. I bought the out of state pass for $11 so that I could go back to Whitefish Dunes later that day too. The ranger that sold it to me recommended the Ice Age Hike, so that’s where I started.
The path ran right along the shore, halfway between the lake and the road. The majority of the lake over here was frozen over still, but the sun warmed me as I walked. Because it was still early, I didn’t run into anyone on the trail. It was so peaceful. The views of the lake popped up intermittently between the trees, creating a very picturesque scene.
After walking a ways down the path, little yellow markers led me up stone stairs to the road. The path picked up on the other side, but the terrain was very different. There were no more pine trees, just birch and ash trees that were still barren from the winter. I was planning on hiking to the old fire tower, but only got fifteen minutes into the hike before I lost my nerve. The forest was deserted and I couldn’t get the Blair With Project out of my head! There was also a bird whose call sounded like a crazy woman laughing, and that was the final straw. I hightailed it out of there and went back the way I came. Much better. I got back to the car and drove past the boat launch just to take in the view before continuing my Door County road trip towards Bailey’s Harbor.
Once there, I stopped at Cornerstone Pub for lunch, where I was one of the only patrons, so I chose a table with a view of the water. I ordered a solidly Wisconsin meal of cheese curds, seafood chowder and a New Glarus Moon Man – it was super heavy, but also super worth it.
My next stop was Island Orchard Cider in Ellison Bay, but I made a quick detour to the Ridges Sanctuary to see the view I had from the restaurant up close.
The cider house was on my list of Door County must-sees, and I was so glad I stopped in. It was very cute and the cider was delicious. I tried the tasting portions of the Lavender, Pear, Cherry, and Brut Ciders and sat outside to enjoy them. The Cherry and Lavender were the best, so I bought a large bottle of each to take home with me!
After making my cider purchase, I jumped back in the car and moved towards the Ellison Bluff Overlook. I had to turn off the main road onto a dirt one to get there, fearing for my rental car as I hit multiple potholes on the way. The view that awaited me once I parked and walked down a set of wooden stairs though was one for the books. It was the kind of view that might make you cry.. or puke.. or do whatever you had to do to not move from that spot. The small wooden path jutted out from the bluff and looked over Lake Michigan, lined on one side with pine trees and limestone cliffs.
The gradient in the water moved from a brilliant emerald green to the deepest blue; it was stunning. I didn’t want to leave that view, but I still had more to see. So I tore myself away and took the very scenic drive to Fish Creek, a town of many cute shops and restaurants.
I needed a new book for the rest of my trip, so I stopped into the Peninsula Bookman. The store was chock-full of new and used books, which made it very fun to browse through. After searching for twenty minutes or so, I landed on “The Lord of the Flies”, which I’d never read before. I walked around Fish Creek a bit, but a lot of the stores weren’t quite open for the season yet, so I made my way back toward Sturgeon Bay.
I wanted one more hike at Whitefish Dunes before dinner, and decided to walk the other way around the lake from the day before. This trail kept near to the lake, but the dunes hid most of the view. A ways down, I came to a board walk that lead to a beautiful view of the lake.
There was quite a bit of snow on this trail, which made it extra adventurous in my mind. I decided to take the trail up to “Old Baldy”, the tallest dune in the park that boasted a GREAT view from it’s observation deck. It was a long hike, and there was nobody else on the trail. All I could hear were the waves on the other side of the dunes and the occasional crow. It was actually really peaceful. Until I finally made it to Old Baldy and it was CLOSED.
I was so frustrated by this sign that I marched myself right passed it and up to the observation deck anyways. I wish I could say the view was worth it.
On the way back down, the light was perfectly golden and it made the forest around me look so dang pretty. The smell of the pine trees was almost enough to make me pack my bags and move up North. All of my senses were content with the rest of the hike.
By the time I made it back to the car, I was very happy with my day but also pretty exhausted. I went back to the hotel to freshen up and then went to The Inn at Cedar Crossing for dinner. It was mediocre in service and cuisine, but I did enjoy the wine and reading my new book. Despite the so-so end to my trip, Door County was everything I wanted and more. The hiking, ciders, and cheese curds were enough to make me wish I was a permanent resident. I can’t wait to make the drive up again!
Have you explored Door County? Which Door County town is your favorite to stay in?