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The Short Version: Wisconsin’s Door County includes 19 communities on a peninsula that juts out between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Its neighborly atmosphere, extensive beaches, and natural beauty attract millions of visitors hoping to get away from it all on a family-friendly vacation. Couples love to come to Door County to celebrate life’s milestones and recharge their batteries at a scenic destination. Door County has many fine dining locales, budget-friendly performances, and outdoorsy excursions to make a visit here well worth your while. To help couples put together a romantic itinerary in Door County, we’ve compiled some of the region’s best places to take a date and create a special moment.
Just north of Milwaukee, Door County is one of Wisconsin’s cherished vacation destinations, attracting over 2 million visitors a year. The tranquil county is on a narrow peninsula that borders Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and it includes 19 diverse communities and over 300 miles of shoreline.
Jen Rogers, who works at the Door County Visitor Bureau, told us the area’s scenic beaches are perfect for couples taking wedding photos, going on a honeymoon, or planning a weekend getaway. You can enjoy a respite from your daily routine by visiting the peninsula’s cherry orchards, waterfront restaurants, vineyards, lakes, and other must-see destinations throughout the area.
“Whatever community you visit in Door County, you will always find great hospitality and picturesque views,” Jen said. “Many people come to Door County to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. People here tend to slow down and appreciate the little things like a beautiful sunset.”
I don’t know about you, but when I’m going on a date, I’m looking to enjoy the finer things in life. I want fine dining. I want soft music. And I most definitely want wine. All that spells romance to me, and many folks agree. Door County got its reputation as a romantic destination, in part, because it offers delicious locally sourced wines in many beautiful vineyards dotting the area. In 2017, CNN named Door County as one of the top 11 hidden-gem wine regions in the country.
“We’re known for wine!” Jen told us. “With eight wineries on the Door County wine trail, couples can enjoy a day of leisurely wine tasting.”
The Door Peninsula Winery, located on Sturgeon Bay, offers a number of unique and indulgent wines, including a chocolate-covered cherry wine that’s to die for. You can sample up to seven wines for free, and then buy a bottle of your favorite to split with your date.
“Our stop here was a highlight of our weekend,” wrote Deb Jarvis in a Google review. “We are far from wine experts, but we surely enjoyed our visit!”
Door County also has plenty of fine dining options where wine and conversation flows freely. Juniper’s Gin Joint on Fish Creek, for instance, provides an elegant atmosphere ideal for daters in search of American cuisine.
Really want to pamper yourselves? Then you can take a winter sleigh ride or stay at a quaint cottage in a lakeside town. Jen told us many of Door County’s lodging establishments offer discounted wintertime packages which combine luxurious accommodations with special treats, including sleigh rides, massages, and complimentary wines.
Winter is Door County’s tourism off-season, so it’s a fantastic time for couples to visit and find an escape from the daily grind. As Jen said, “With less visitors in the winter, couples can feel like they have the peninsula to themselves.”
Getting out with your date in the fresh air can be a rejuvenating way to add some romance to your days. A lot of outdoorsy couples bond when out on hiking trails or boating adventures, and Door County has plenty of opportunities to explore the wilderness.
“If you and your date love the outdoors, Door County is the place to visit,” Jen told us. “Door County offers 300 miles of shoreline and endless outdoor activities.”
You can start out your morning together by renting a kayak for two and taking a scenic tour of Lake Michigan. Then you can have a picnic lunch on the shore before taking a leisurely hike through one of the county’s five state parks.
If you really want to wow your date and create a special moment, Sunset Park is a fantastic place to close out your evening. You can share a few glasses of wine as you observe the gorgeous sunsets for which the park is named. The park is in he heart of Fish Creek, so you can walk to a family-owned restaurant if you want to linger together after the sun has set.
Door County is also known for its lively cherry-picking season in the summertime (July through August). Many orchards let visitors pick their own cherries, filling buckets upon buckets with juicy red fruits. This would make for a fun date activity and give you and your sweetie something sweet to munch on throughout your trip.
For couples who love the water, Door County’s shoreline can help you embark on a romantic voyage. You can board the Washington Island ferry for a daytime island adventure trip to Rock Island, Washington Island, and other unspoiled destinations. Jen told us, “You can rent scooters and explore the island, smell the intoxicating smell of lavender fields, and taste locally caught fish for lunch.”
From the beaches to the bluffs, the natural beauty of the peninsula makes Door County a cherished wedding destination for couples across the state. You can say your I dos as the sun sets over the bay, and then retreat to a cozy bed and breakfast to spend your honeymoon in a peaceful setting.
Door County often hosts nightly entertainment across the peninsula in the summer, and you can look at the Visitor Bureau’s calendar for live theater shows and musical performances. Just filter your search by arts and culture or music to find a show that’ll have you and your date laughing and applauding for hours.
In the summer months, Door Shakespeare puts on thoughtful renditions of classic works by the Bard and other talented playwrights. Or, if you’re not so into sonnets and soliloquies, Door County’s free outdoor concerts take place throughout the week all year round and offer couples a wonderful way to get out in the fresh air, sway to the music, and make a lasting memory together. Sometimes the concert also comes with an outdoor movie screening, so you might want to bring a couple lawn chairs and stick around for a while.
Jen told us Door County’s many festivals and events are terrific opportunities for visitors to explore the culture and flavor of the community. “Couples can spend the day listening to live music, sampling local cuisine, and finding home-made goods,” she said. “Door County also offers a great drive-in movie theater for a nostalgic date night!”
The popular Skyway Drive-in is a local favorite during the summer months. You and your date can share popcorn, pizza, candy, soda, or novelty ice cream treats while watching a classic flick from the privacy of your car.
“As Door County continues to grow, it still boasts the small community feel,” said Jen. “With very few chain stores and restaurants on the peninsula, Door County offers something that you will not find in a bigger city.” It’s no wonder so many couples and families choose Door County as their favorite vacation spot, returning year after year.
In Door County, couples can enjoy many different sights and sounds as they tour the peninsula. From cherry-picking in the summertime to sleigh rides in the wintertime, the area has a lot to offer visitors and residents looking to make a memory with someone special.
Whether you’re on your honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary, Door County provides a romantic and peaceful backdrop so you can take the time to appreciate your significant other and grow closer together. To learn more about the quiet community and plan your Door County vacation, visit DoorCounty.com.
“No matter the season, Door County is a romantic place to visit,” Jen said. “It offers such natural beauty. With great wineries and miles of shoreline, it’s hard to not find romance here.”
Photos credits: The Door County Visitor Bureau