Aug 30, 2010

Door County, Wisconsin is the Cape Cod of the Midwest

It is my impression that when New Yorkers think of places to go during the summer their thoughts turn to destinations in the New England area thus missing out on all the wonderful places to enjoy in the Midwest. Door County is that pinkie-like peninsula that sticks out into Lake Michigan. We have been to Door County twice. The first time was in the late fall when it was very quiet and many of the places had closed for the season. This time we visited in early summer when everything was open and the difference is amazing. Actually we usually prefer places in the off-season but Door County does not feel crowded even in high season and there are many wonderful things to do.

We stayed at the secluded Gustave’s Getaway Cabin located in the middle of the peninsula with easy access to all the attractions. Built in 1887 it was once the family’s homestead but has been remodeled to include all the modern conveniences. Even the family cast iron cook stove now has glass top cooking burners.

During the day we explored the area’s parks with beautiful beaches, great biking trails, and historic lighthouses. Whitefish Dunes State Park along with a beautiful beach and small museum has a Native American display of pre-contact wigwams. The area had eight Native American villages dating from 100 BC until the 1800s. At the nearby Cave Point County Park I had to resist the urge to jump in and explore the caves along the water’s edge. Oh, to be a kid again.

One morning we had breakfast at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek. If you watch the “America’s Best Breakfast” challenge you may recall that it won with their Cherry Cream Cheese stuffed French Toast with real maple syrup. Truly to die for! I am sure they took the calories out first! We toured the Noble House, Fish Creek’s oldest frame house dating from 1875. Later we rode the narrated Trolley Tour that stopped at the limestone bluffs for a view of Green Bay and the islands. Our boat tour on the “Shoreline” made me hanker for a summer home on a lake – any lake.

There is something to please everyone. John went to the Door County Marine Museum where he learned more about the area’s shipbuilding history, watched a video called “Job Well Done,” and got a view of Sturgeon Bay through a sub’s working periscope. Meanwhile I spent time shopping at some of the galleries and visited the Peninsula Art School. I am always amazed at people’s creativity. One artist, Erika Simmons, created a portrait of Jimi Hendrix out of audio tapes and one of Audrey Hepburn out of movie film.

John and I love theatrical performances and Door County has presentations every night of the week. The Peninsula Players Theatre in Fish Creek is America’s oldest professional resident summer theatre. We laughed during “Heroes,” a comedy about three dotty old men in a veteran’s hospital plotting break out. At the American Folklore Theatre we loved “Cheeseheads the Musical.” It was great fun as the workers in a cheese factory think about what they will do with their lotto winnings. It was laced with Wisconsin humor much to the great delight of Wisconsin residents who rose up and cheered at one point. Made me want to move to Wisconsin!