One has but to take in a spectacular sunrise over Lake Michigan to get a glimpse of why Door County is such a popular destination and beloved by those who actually live there. This small peninsula juts out of mainland Wisconsin, separating Green Bay from the vast expanse of Lake Michigan which sparkles off on the distant horizon. Bright fields and serene forests make way for scalloped coves and rocky promontories, guarded by a stately lighthouse.
Long a favored retreat for artists, the peninsula today is a thriving cultural hot-spot, shored up by fine art galleries and museums. Try your hand at capturing Door County in watercolor, helped along by art lessons in Fish Creek or Ephraim. Enjoy an afternoon ramble around to see the sights in Fish Creek before heading north (with a half-day's stop in Peninsula State Park for hiking trails, a lighthouse and an 18-hole golf course) to visit Ephraim's old schoolhouse, Moravian Church and quaint historic buildings. If ever you lack inspiration or run short of things to do in these charming little sister villages, head for the wilderness trails winding through Newport State Park or do some wandering along the sandy paths in Whitefish Dunes State Park.
Hop the boat from Gills Rock or Northport over to Washington Island, leaving time for a visit to the local Maritime Museum and a leisurely bike ride along island routes before sailing on to the comparatively remote Rock Island. A popular destination with hikers and campers, a good chunk of this stretch of dry land is state park turf. And a fine slice it is, too. When you're ready for a break from trail-time, check out intriguing historic sights like the modern Viking Hall, built by one-time island owner Chester H. Thordarson.
In terms of water-based activity, there's no shortage. The only thing that might hold paddlers back are the waves on Lake Michigan. This is also a great spot to refresh your scuba diving skills, descending to the depths around Gills Rock to hunt for the mossy bones of shipwrecks galore. With plenty of trophy fish to be had it should come as no surprise that charter fishing is a big deal here, and any village worth it's salt with a decent harbor can get you out on the water.