15 Best Spots To Eat And Drink In Door County, Wisconsin

Looking at a map of Wisconsin, Door County is the thumb that extends into Lake Michigan with Green Bay tucked into the crook. The peninsula is treasured for miles of freshwater coastline and an extensive park system, and this is one of the most incredible places to visit in the Midwest U.S. Though people have been drawn to Door County for vacations since the 1800s, a 1969 spread in National Geographic Magazine called "Wisconsin's Door Peninsula: A Kingdom So Delicious" showed the world this enclave of artisans, nature lovers, and tradesmen — and it continues to attract people from around the world to its cool waters, peaceful forests, and charming hospitality.

Door County is a community of several small towns (including one on an island) that boasts a maritime influence brought to the U.S. by Scandinavian and Icelandic settlers. There's a connection to the land and lake, with strong agricultural and fishing traditions. A farm-to-table, forest-to-table, and lake-to-table mentality draws chefs and purveyors to take care of the environment and provide residents and visitors with some of the most delicious options in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Here are some of the highlights.

Go to a fish boil at White Gull Inn

White Gull Inn is a can't-miss spot in Door County. This property in Fish Creek dates back to the 1800s and the current owners have been welcoming guests since the early 1970s. Many families, couples, and travelers have annual memories of sitting on the back patio when the flames rear up, the pivotal moment in a Door County fish boil.

The tradition starts when local fishermen bring in the catch of Lake Michigan whitefish for delivery to restaurants such as White Gull Inn. The boil master builds a fire on the patio, and as guests trickle in and grab a drink from the bar cart, the excitement builds. The pot boils and salt and potatoes go in, followed by the prepared whitefish. Just before the meal is ready, the boil master tosses kerosene on the fire, initiating a boil over that indicates that it's almost time to eat. Guests are led to tables inside the White Gull Inn and servers bring plates filled with fish and potatoes, served with coleslaw, bread, and an indulgent teapot of melted butter. The final treat is a slice of Door County cherry pie with ice cream.

Sample everything cherry at Seaquist Orchards

When people drive down Highway 42 north of Sister Bay, one of the main thoroughfares through Door County, it's hard to pass by Seaquist Orchards without making a stop. In a large, welcoming building surrounded by orchards and a charming play area for the kids, visitors find a treasure zone of locally grown and processed farm products.

Of course, the star of the show is everything cherry. Seaquist Orchards is home to around 1,000 acres of tart cherries and more than 50 acres of apples and sweet cherries. According to the proprietors, the farm produces about six million pounds of cherries in a typical year. This means that the retail shop has plenty of freshly baked cherry pies, jars of tempting cherry salsa, bottles of flavorful cherry syrup (which we tried, and loved!), and plenty more mouth-watering items. There's always something to sample, and guests also discover a selection of farm and cherry-themed gifts. And a bonus tip: Try the apple cider donuts — not cherry, but still delicious.

Sip a Vacationland IPA at Door County Brewing Company

When Shipwrecked in Egg Harbor opened in the late 1990s, it was the first microbrewery on the peninsula. Fans love to stop in and grab a burger and brew and watch the action coming in from the harbor. These days, beer lovers have more than one option for local taps, and one of the most inviting is Door County Brewing Company in Baileys Harbor.

Walk or drive through town — once considered to be "the quiet side" of the peninsula — and it's hard to miss the action at Door County Brewing Company. People linger on the big, welcoming front porch and live music is advertised on the shingle hanging outside. Inside, fans can enjoy seasonal favorite craft beers as well as the classics, including Vacationland IPA which features a sketch of the county on the can and is made in honor of Door County. Next to the taproom, visitors can grab a bite to eat at the newly introduced DCBC Eats.

Experience 60 different wines and ciders at Door Peninsula Winery

Further south on Highway 42 in Carlsville, close to the county's major town of Sturgeon Bay, wine enthusiasts flock to Door Peninsula Winery. It's been a part of the local fabric since 1974, producing alcoholic beverages from both local and U.S. fruit. Door County's climate isn't friendly to vineyards, so fruit wines are the bread and butter of the industry.

Tastings are free, which is generous considering that there are dozens of options to try. There's also an extensive retail area for guests to shop for bottles to bring back home or to their vacation lodging. Save the tour for a rainy day — it's an interesting inside activity that happens several times daily for a nominal fee. Children are welcome and it covers not only the winery but also Door County Distillery which is housed in the same facility. There's even a Wine Garden during the May-to-October season, where guests can enjoy wine flights and even bring pets. Don't miss the Heritage Cider, which is made from apples native to Door County, and was our choice for a souvenir bottle.

Hit the dog-friendly patio at Island Orchard Cider

Around 700 people live on Washington Island, which is reached by ferry or boat from the peninsula's mainland. It's also home to the orchard element of Island Orchard Cider. The orchard is planted with dwarf apple trees destined for cider (also: pears and hazelnuts) and the proprietors Bob and Yannique Purman say that the terroir of Washington Island supports similar cultivars as those in Normandy, France.

The fruit is picked by hand and brought by ferry back to the cidery in Ellison Bay. To experience Island Orchard Cider products, guests hang out at the taproom and outdoor patio to enjoy flights, snacks, and glass pours. Recently, the team earned several medals from the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition — one of the winners is Apple Lavender Cider, which also has dried culinary lavender buds harvested from Fragrant Isle, a farm that's also on Washington Island.

Watch the sunset from a landmark at Wilson's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor

Ask anyone who's ever been to Door County, and the sunset view over Green Bay in the town of Ephraim will be remembered as a highlight. While some people watch from historic Anderson Dock, and others watch from the village's waterfront path, the best way to settle in for the natural show is with a root beer float, ice cream cone, or burger from Wilson's Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor.

For over 100 years, Wilson's has been a cultural Door County landmark. Find the red and white striped awnings and you're at the right place. People gather at the door to take a number and head to the counter to order from one of the most classic ice cream shops in Door County history. Insiders know that you can also grab a table in the dining room (often more quickly than managing the crowd at the door) or get a patio seat. Everything is first-come-first-serve, but the waiting atmosphere is quite festive and an easy way to meet other vacationers from around the country and world.

Try the raw honey barrel bourbon at Hatch Distilling Co.

Over in Egg Harbor, guests have a spot to grab a cocktail, sit outside, and take in the Door County vibe. Hatch Distilling Co. was conceived by founder Chris Roedl to build a connection between local agriculture and the many people from around the world who visit the peninsula. The lubrication for this experience: distilled spirits crafted from raw Wisconsin honey.

The ingredients used to make these spirits never leave the Egg Harbor community until enthusiasts bring bottles home with them. Around 10 million honey bees are kept year-round on properties throughout Door County, and their honey is used to make vodka, gin, and limoncello. As for the whiskey, the fourth generation team at 3H Farms, Bud and Bryan Haberli, cultivate the heirloom grain for the distillery's whiskey program. Third-generation grower Paul Roberto grows and presses the cider apples, which make a three-minute journey from the farm to the distillery after harvest. It's all local at Hatch Distilling Co.

Find local treasures at Washington Island Farmer's Market

A trip to Washington Island takes a bit of planning, but it's worth it. And upon arrival, the local farmer's market is a way to experience island-grown and island-made produce, baked goods, honey, and handmade art and jewelry.

Held each Saturday from mid-June through the end of October, the market is hosted by Gathering Ground, a 40-acre working and teaching farm and conservation center. While there's a long history of agriculture on the island, it's not the most hospitable spot thanks to harsh winters and rocky, shallow soils. The earliest inhabitants, the Potawatomi tribe, grew vegetables, tobacco, and sunflowers. After they were displaced from the island and moved to reservations in Kansas and Oklahoma, Icelandic settlers moved in and brought their farming traditions of cherries, potatoes, and apples. Gathering Ground works to educate people, sustain traditions, and conserve the environment of Washington Island.

Grab some Lake Michigan whitefish at Harbor Market Fish & Grill

Harbor Fish Market & Grille is housed in a historical building dating back to 1908, which opened as this restaurant in the late 1990s. It's a fixture in Baileys Harbor, with a welcoming front porch and charming, swinging sign.

Guests can sit in the festive dining room inside or grab a table outside, with waterfront seating and a view of the boiling pot. And in this case, it's not for fish but for lobster, a unique three-course meal centered around a two-pound Maine lobster (and includes lobster bisque!). Menu specials will also feature Lake Michigan whitefish from neighboring Baileys Harbor Fish Company, caught in the lake or Green Bay by the local commercial fishing fleet. During our visit, there were options for both grilled and blackened whitefish served with seasonal veggies and a twice-baked potato. The restaurant also has a global wine list and cocktail menu, so grab a glass and walk down to the water while waiting for the food to be served.

Treat yourself at Door County Confectionery

A sweet part of the peninsula for over 50 years, there are four Door County Confectionery locations: Ephraim, Fish Creek, Sister Bay, and Sturgeon Bay. With a playful red and white sign, each is filled with so many choices, from freshly made chocolates to nostalgic candies to handmade fudge in several flavors. It can be hard to choose, but we are always pulled towards the decorative bathtub filled with salt water taffy.

Sold by the pound, there are 20 flavors of whipped nougat taffy (Neapolitan is a particular favorite!). According to Brittanica, salt water taffy doesn't include ocean salt water, but rather salt and water, plus sugar, corn syrup, butter, cornstarch, flavoring, and coloring. The day we visited the Sturgeon Bay location, two confectioners were making caramels and offered a sample — it was delicious, but the taffy still got our attention the most.

Grab a latte and play a game at The Gnoshery and Gnome Games

We stopped into The Gnoshery in Sturgeon Bay for an afternoon coffee on a rainy, August weekday. Though the morning caffeine rush was over and the evening game rush hadn't started, the shop was filled with happy people choosing and playing games at the tables scattered throughout.

The back part of the room — the tabletop games area — has thousands of options to buy and play in the shop or to take home, according to the website. The staff not only helped us choose from a hefty range of syrups for our latte but also stepped out from behind the counter to talk about the Warhammer 40,000 selection with us. There are also special gaming events, with an up-to-date calendar available here. The menu includes more than coffee, with a selection of sandwiches and breakfast options available throughout the day.

Get an omelet wrap to-go from Good Eggs

The cozy little shack that houses Good Eggs, along the coastal zone where Highway 42 meets Brookside Lane in Ephraim, always catches our eye. That's thanks to the surfboards and cheerful, sunny sign (it's also right next to Door County Confectionery's Ephraim location).

Order an omelet wrap, baked goods, or a smoothie to go and bring it out and about to start an action-filled Door County day. The limited edition parfaits and banana nut muffins are sweet options, but of course, anything with an egg is iconic! Good Eggs is a project started by friends Joel Breme and the late Fred Alley, to fill a need for an affordable and quick breakfast spot in Door County and it's now part of the fabric of the community of Ephraim. Like many establishments in Door County, it's only open May through October, so make this a summer vacation stop.

Take in the scene at Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant

Al Johnson's is the restaurant with goats on the roof — a steadfast icon and fixture in Sister Bay. But this Green Bay-side community has grown in recent years, with an extensive waterfront park and beach, new lodging choices, and more options to eat and drink. That includes significant expansion on Al Johnson's block.

Besides The Butik, where guests can browse traditional Scandinavian goods, there's also Skål, a new retail store. But between the restaurant and the store, visitors can enjoy what's perhaps the most exciting spot to be on a sunny summer day in Sister Bay: Stabbur beer garden. There are bags, there's food, there's live music, and there are plenty of appealing drink offerings that guests can sip at tables scattered on the lawn or under the pergola at the beer garden. Try the Wisconsin Gin & Tonic made with Wisconsin's Fieldnotes Gin and Seaquist Orchards' tart cherry juice for a cool local twist on a classic.

Enjoy natural wine at Trixie's

Trixie's, tucked on Pioneer Lane not far from the water (and Wilson's!), is one of the first establishments in Door County to pay close attention to natural wine. The food menu is dedicated to local products when possible, and the wine list is tuned to low intervention, organic, and biodynamic practitioners. The menu also notes if the wine is made by a woman, from a family-owned winery, or was hand-harvested.

By the glass and by the bottle options are available, and while we were in town in August the staff was just coming off of a few days' break — signifying care for the team's work-life balance. Though the menu is likely to change, gems such as Olivier Gessler Cotes de Gascogne's white blend (in conversion to organic farming) and Domaine Claudie Jobard Rully's "La Chaume" were two women-led wine projects on the list. Kathy Corison's Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was another super gem that has us excited about the options at Trixie's.

Get the cheese curds and a cocktail at Chive's Food Truck

Chive's Restaurant Door County, along Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor, is an elevated fine dining choice on the peninsula. Owned by JR Schoenfeld and led by Chef Brady Miner and Certified Sommelier, Sara Newcomer, this is one of the best spots to take a date in Door County. With gorgeous edible flowers in the street-level landscaping, the idea of fine food calls to anyone strolling by.

But right next door, arranged on a hill with scattered seating and a fun vibe, is one of our favorite casual spots to take in a Wisconsin classic: fried cheese curds. Chive's Food Truck and bar are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and all summer long, families sit on the picnic tables and enjoy snacks from the big red truck. Order the cheese curds half-and-half style with a serving of fries.