As I wrote on Tuesday, we spent the first half of our 4th of July weekend in Milwaukee. The second half was spent in Door County. If you imagine the state of Wisconsin as a left-handed mitten – Door County would be the thumb.
We left Milwaukee on Interstate 43 and then cut over to Route 42 just north of Manitowoc. I recommend staying on 42 on your drive into Door County … it first follows right along Lake Michigan before switching over to the bay side. The views are picture postcard spectacular. On the way back, catch Route 57 out of Sturgeon Bay so you can head down to Green Bay and pay homage to the Packers.
With 300+ miles of shoreline, Door County is known as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. A summer tourist explosion increases the local population from 28,000 to 250,000. What are they doing? Hiking, camping, swimming, and fishing. And … gasp … the water is clear and blue!
The peninsula is dotted with spiffy clean, quaint shore towns with names like Algoma, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim and Sister Bay. Many displayed their community pride with 4th of July celebrations, complete with street-blocking parades, that harkened back to much simpler times.
At the end of Door County, you can take a car ferry to Washington Island (we got the RV safely aboard – see below) and a passenger-only ferry after that will take you to Rock Island, a state park.
Door County also prides itself on its cherry orchards and has a history of cherry growing that dates back to the 1800s. And those cherries have to be made into something – freshly made jams, jellies, tarts, and pies are for sale along countless roadside stands and stores.
What We Did
Just outside of Milwaukee, we stopped in Cedarburg. I can best describe this town as a smaller version of St. Charles, MO. There were many Main Street stores and boutiques selling wares of various sorts. Eateries and cafes with pet friendly outdoor seating were in abundance. And the Stonewall Pub allowed dogs inside! There was definitely a down-home feeling to this place that made our brief visit worthwhile.
Our run of good weather followed us onto the peninsula. We spent most of the time driving the RV along Route 42 from one town to another taking in the views … it’s just one of the things we like to do. And just to be clear, Door County could be an easy going day trip if you wanted it to be.
Shortly after Amy told me that Door County was known for its cherries, one of our first stops was Sweetie Pies in Fish Creek. This place serves up all sorts of pies, crust cookies, and handmade chocolates. And the outdoor patio is pet friendly. Here we are with our “mini” cherry pie (we don’t work off enough calories driving an RV to merit a whole pie!).
Route 42 ends at the ferry to Washington Island. If you don’t take the ferry, get out of the car and stretch your legs on the pet friendly shell-strewn beach.
The 30-minute ferry ride to Washington Island was a hoot. The round trip fare for a car, driver, and passenger is $48. Our oversized vehicle cost us $79.
The island is small – only 35 square miles – and it’s truly a place to get away from it all. The scenery is beautiful and calming – and every public access beach is pet friendly except for Schoolhouse Beach.
Where We Stayed
On our first night, we stayed in Algoma at the Big Lake Campground. While the facility met minimum standards, the great feature was the large community park along Lake Michigan that was just a couple of hundred yards past the campground.
The second night stay was complete serendipity. We had no set plans and no reservations. But when we got to the end of the peninsula we saw the ferry to Washington Island. Before long, we had a choice spot at the Washington Island Camping Retreat. Life is good!
We saw many signs for community “fish boils” that we’d like to try. The standard recipe calls for cooking potatoes, onions, and locally caught whitefish in a large pot over a wood fire. Then add kerosene to the fire, which creates a flame up and causes the water to boil over. Serve with melted butter. The meal is traditionally followed by cherry pie. Mmmmm!
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