Tuesday, August 9, 2011

5 things I love about Door County

Door County is the peninsula in Northeastern Wisconsin.  The first time I visited Door County was with my parents as a fairly new teenager.   We went with another family and had a great time.  We only stayed a few days.

A few years ago I was trying to figure out where I could find a decent vacation spot that isn’t crowded or over commercialized and has reasonable prices as well.

So I found the place:  Door County, specifically Gills Rock….as north as we can go in Door County.  We went and it was better than I remembered.

Why?  Here are 5 reasons why

1.    The sunsets

Without question the best sunsets around here.  I am somewhat obsessed with sunsets because when I was a child in Budapest, my dad had a great job that included the perk of Summers at Lake Balaton in the company’s resort.  Beautiful sunsets were part of those summers.  Since then, I never really got to enjoy it.  Milwaukee/Shorewood is on the West side of Lake Michigan….so no sunsets.  I guess I’m just not  a sunrise person.  Sunsets are moodier and are more introspective for me.  Of course I’m not a morning person anyways.  The  sunsets are the best.  Each town has its feel – each town has  a different view and sound. 

2.    The sense of another era

Walking to the Gallery/CoffeeShop

I feel like I’m in an older America during good times
Absence of franchises beyond  Sturgeon bay.  No McDonald’s, No Applebee’s and this leads to the next reason.

3.    Great food


Where else can you find goats on a roof?  Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant (Sister Bay) is an old fashioned Swedish restaurant (as the name suggests).  Iced tea tastes so much better out of pewter mugs and so does lingonberry sauce.  Swedish meatball breakfast special is a favorite.  And this year my son ate there multiple times.  We had an excellent waitress (they all dress in Dirndl dresses) who suggested that he could have a hamburger prepared on a different area of the kitchen.  Although they use peanut oil, he ate there safely two different times and LOVED it.  Another restaurant, Shipwrecked (Egg Harbor) also was able to meet our needs.  Pulled pork with tropical coleslaw (coconut milk); I don’t even like coleslaw and this was delicious.  For us, there was delicious Cherry Wheat ale. Al Capone used to hide here.
When it’s warm, you can sit outside and enjoy.  Gills Rock has The Shoreline, which has amazing sunsets also.

Charlie’s Smokehouse has the best-smoked whitefish I ever had (and Jordan can have it too).  A walk from our cottage, it’s an event to walk down, buy some fish and go back and eat in the beautiful surrounding.

When we don’t eat out, we make dinner.  Now one could complain that why cook when on vacation.  When you have a child with food allergies, it’s bound to happen.  And grilling with the lake as your view (we stayed in a great cottage) is not something to complain about.  Making  omelets as you’re watching the lake through the windows…..not that hard.

4.    Boating

I don’t own a boat, but when we are there I rent a speed boat several times.  Not the cheapest activity but still cheaper than buying a boat.  We have fun, speed and beauty. This boat is from Sister Bay Marina.

5.    As close as I get to relaxing

I don’t like to be on a schedule when on vacation.  And that’s exactly what I get when in Gills Rock…no schedules.  Other than making it on time to places before they close is all that’s expected.  Everything is an event and everything is laid back.  Consequently people are nice and not crabby.

Typically, we start the morning at Gallery Ten in Gills Rock; a mere walk from the cottage.  So it’s a great walk, coffee, and wifi.  The gallery has beautiful things and the building is even unique.  The mugs are unique pottery ones …which is another favorite….I love the pottery that is inspired by nature…..not overly processed or finished.

Each town has its own flavor: Egg Harbor and Fish Creek are a bit busier (not busy-it’s all relative), Ephraim and Sister Bay become more laid back (we spend a lot of time in Sister Bay).  Gills Rock is the most laid back and least busy. Nature and sunsets at their purest.

Maybe I need to return this fall, until then I will just be nostalgic. But I also need to add “5 more reasons why I love Door County.”  I was going through some photos for this blog entry and I realized that 5 reasons are not enough. The whole trip starts with a stop at the winery, to be included in next 5.

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