Bachelorette Weekend? Count me in!
Logan and I were about to get married, so a weekend getaway with my closest friend (and Maid of Honor) seemed like the perfect way to celebrate the end of single life. Erika, my dearest friend since the age of five, has been my long time travel companion and currently lives in Chicago. We haven’t lived within driving distance of one another for many years, so my moving to St. Paul has opened up a whole host of opportunities for us to meet up more often. Our goal for this particular three day weekend was to find a budget-friendly, relaxing destination that was a mostly equidistant drive for both of us. That leaves the great state of Wisconsin. I was told that Door County was a favorite Midwestern destination and Erika had been there before for business and gave a great endorsement.
If you’re unfamiliar with Door County, it’s “the thumb of the Wisconsin mitten” between Green Bay and Lake Michigan on the Northeastern side of the state. It has been described as the Cape Cod of Wisconsin, and though I’ve never been to Cape Cod, I suspect it’s a fair comparison – relatively speaking, of course. Quirky historic harbor towns and state parks line the shore of the peninsula. Sailboats, wineries, antique shops, cherry and apple orchards are all plentiful and enticing. We visited in mid-September, so we were just a tad early for fall colors, but make no mistake, Door County in full-blown autumn is sure to be spectacular.
Erika found us an amazing vacation rental that was walking distance from the main drag in Sturgeon Bay. We drove up on a Friday afternoon and went prepared with provisions: crackers, cheese dip, Erika’s classy wine contribution, my signature boxed swill, and a delectable chocolate dessert that traveled all the way from Chicago to promptly hit the floor in a heartbreaking explosion of stickiness. Once we recovered from that tragedy, we were definitely in need of dinner.
I hate beets. I just do. I’ve had them canned, pickled, roasted, and I’m just not a fan. That being said, the Root Veggie Burger at Root Bistro & Wine Bar in Sturgeon Bay might just be the Beet Ambassador that the world needs. It was hands down the best vegetarian burger I have ever had. And I don’t mean to qualify that by saying, “it was good for a veggie burger.” No, it was phenomenal by any burger standard. Made from some magical concoction of beets and goat cheese, it had a reddish tint that tricked my mind into believing I was eating a juicy, medium rare beef patty. I’m a pretty big fan of meat and, I swear, I would eat this burger any day of the week. We also enjoyed the crispy, yet simultaneously creamy, fried avocado tacos as an appetizer. Erika chose a beautiful bottle of wine and we sat back and enjoyed live jazz by a local musician. After all that, I’m gonna be honest and say that dessert got a little hazy… But I have vague recollections of a super-decadent, flourless chocolate torte of some kind. With great service in an intimate setting, a robust wine selection, and live acoustic music, Root Bistro & Wine Bar is a must visit in Sturgeon Bay.
On Saturday morning, we found 5 & J Coffee House only a few blocks from our rental. Offering tasty breakfast foods and excellent coffee, their whimsical llama themed decor is sure to make you laugh. Order at the counter and choose a seat outside in the charming garden for a laid back al fresco experience. We liked it so much we went twice during our stay!
Although we visited Sturgeon Bay during Harvest Fest, which is a local artisan street fair, we opted to get out of town and explore more of Door County instead.
We headed north on State Highway 42 and stopped by Door Peninsula Winery & Distillery for a quick sampling. It was a very impressive facility, but unfortunately, everyone in northern Wisconsin must have had the same idea. The Saturday crowds weren’t exactly conducive to savoring and comparing the local wines and whiskeys, so we didn’t linger. Here’s my condescendingly obvious tip: visiting on a weekday would probably yield a more relaxing experience.
So we forged on…
It’s not often that you see a life-size knight in shining armor atop a rearing steed on the side of the road, but continue north on State Highway 42 past the town of Fish Creek and you will.
The English Inn Supper Club caught our eyes so completely that Erika slammed on the breaks and turned the car around. As a British literature and history loving Anglophile, it was totally my kind of place! (The combination of medieval decor and fine dining is seriously cool.) We were quite literally the only people there but our server was kind and gracious. We chose to sit outside on the gorgeous patio complete with koi pond and fire features. We weren’t particularly hungry but thought we’d order a ‘light’ snack of cheese curds and a crisp, white wine.
Now, cheese curds always sound appealing, but the reality for me is always somewhat disappointing. And unfortunately, this time was no different. There’s nothing quite like deep fried cheese and alcohol in the hot summer sun. We both felt – let’s use the word ‘oogy’ – for hours afterward. But don’t let our mistake dissuade you from trying this awesome place. I would definitely go back and ideally make a wiser menu choice. The ambiance alone is worth the stop.
Next up the highway was the picturesque town of Ephraim (pronounced EE-frum) where we enjoyed some beach time and checked out the Anderson Store Museum. The beautiful shoreline and historical buildings make this town a photographer’s dream.
On the outskirts of Sister Bay, Erika challenged me (as she has before) to a game of mini golf. Since I have a mild pirate fetish, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf was the perfect setting for the battle. In a stunning upset, I prevailed by a mere two strokes, which I can honestly say is not typical.
Inside the town of Sister Bay, I insisted that we walk by Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik to see the famed goats that graze atop the sod covered roof during the summer months… but apparently, no one told the goats. And although according to my research we were there in goat season, unfortunately, not a goat in sight. At that point, the wine, cheese, heat, and disappointing lack of goats all took their toll. It was late afternoon and all steam and motivation had worn off, so we began the journey back to Sturgeon Bay.
Taking State Highway 57 south, we arrived at Cave Point State Park just in time to enjoy the last moments of sunset and take a few twilight photos before the mosquitoes came out in droves. And I mean droves. One minute we were laughing and taking selfies, the next we were running for our lives from swarms of those thirsty sons’o’bitches. The park is gorgeous and beautiful photo ops are mere steps from the parking lot. I highly recommend checking it out, just bring the bug spray!
On Sunday morning, we took a harbor tour on the Tug Boat John Purves which docks at the Door County Maritime Museum. It was a lovely family-run tour on a restored historic tug boat. While the 40 minute tour offered narration regarding local geography and history, Erika and I were satisfied to simply chat and soak up the sun on the relaxing ride. Insider tip: don’t waste your money on the mimosas.
From there, we said our goodbyes and began the journey back to our respective cities.
In a nutshell, Door County is clean, beautiful, laid back, and family friendly. However, there is a noticeable lack of diversity and people between the ages of 15 and 50. In fact, the only time we saw others in our age group was while playing mini golf. If you’re seeking fast-paced action, a rowdy nightlife, or even spicy ethnic food, you might be disappointed. You’re more likely to find raucous groups of recent retirees who have enjoyed a bit too much cherry wine.
Now that being said, I will definitely return, and each time I hope to experience something new. We had a lovely weekend, stayed mostly on budget, and experienced a good sampling of what Door County has to offer. Next time, I might choose to stay in Ephraim or Sister Bay, if only to get a slightly different local experience and of course try new food. I would definitely like to go all the way up north and take the ferry to Washington Island and to check out more of the state parks on the peninsula. Door County boasts beautiful views, great food, and was an excellent destination for a stress-free, three day celebration with my best partner in crime. Stay tuned for more adventures with Britt and Erika!
Disclaimer: All opinions are entirely our own, and exactly that – opinions. We are not sponsored and have not been compensated in any way for a favorable review.