7. Washington Island
So many Indians had fallen victim to the turbulent currents between the tip of the peninsula and Washington Island that the Indians called it “place of death.” On hearing this some 300 years ago, French explorers dubbed the strait Porte des Morts (loosely translated as Death’s Door), from which Door County derives its name. Visitors can safely traverse these same waters on a brisk ferry ride to Washington Island. Once there, you’ll find the oldest Icelandic settlement in America. With more than 100 miles of roadways, the island is ideal for biking. At Jackson Harbor you can take another ferry (no cars allowed) to Rock Island State Park, the site of Potowatomi Lighthouse—the first one built on Lake Michigan.
8. Newport State Park
Back on the mainland, this 2,400-acre park was once the site of a logging village and is now a semi-wilderness containing several forest, wetland, and meadow commu-nities and 11 miles of shoreline. Though nature has certainly reclaimed the land, traces of Newport’s early days can still be seen amid the ruins of old loggers’ cabins. Adjoining the park is Europe Lake, a spot so serene that it’s hard to believe it lies only a few miles from the spirited surf of Lake Michigan.
As you approach Ephraim’s white steeples and white picket fences, you quickly discern that this is a place of elegant simplicity, a town that reflects the purity and plainness of its Moravian founders. When they arrived at this lovely site in 1853, they called it Ephraim, a Hebrew word meaning “the fruitful land.” Their spirit lives on in the Moravian church, which contains a pulpit handcrafted by the first pastor. Nestled along the shore of Eagle Harbor, Ephraim hosts a festive regatta every July.
10. Peninsula State Park
Stop at Peninsula State Park for a glimpse of what the north woods looked like before Door County was settled. Grayish-white cliffs, deep green forests, beige beaches, and the bright blue waters of Green Bay combine to form an ageless portrait of nature’s splendor. With three-quarters of its 3,800 acres unspoiled by man, the park is the largest in Wisconsin. Stupendous views can be seen along Shore Road and Skyline Road, and from Eagle Tower and Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. Continuing south on Rte. 42, visit Fish Creek, a lively vacation village. From Egg Harbor, take Road G into Road B to enjoy a relaxing tour of Green Bay’s coast along quiet country byways.
Looping back through Sturgeon Bay and continuing south, the drive passes through Algoma. The town has a scenic walkway along the Ahnapee River that affords views of boats, old fishing shanties, and the Algoma lighthouse.
12. Point Beach State Forest
As its name implies, the 2,800 acres at Point Beach State Forest encompass the best of both worlds: in addition to a sunny lakefront beach, the preserve includes a shady northern pine forest. Bulging out into Lake Michigan, Point Beach features some six miles of sandy shore, as well as nature trails, picnic areas, and outdoor beauty at its best.