Door County

Life Is a Bowl of Cherries—and a Fish Boil

Water, water, everywhere—a good 300 miles of it, lapping three sides of the peninsula of Door County, Wisconsin. This 70-mile spit of land is a thumbs-up to the North, dividing Green Bay from Lake Michigan. Some 18 miles wide at its base, the Door tapers to a mere sliver at the tip, where one can splash simultaneously in the Bay and Lake.

The ominous Death’s Door (Port des Morts) describes the once-lethal strait between Door County and Washington Island, now technology-tamed as the chief navigational passage between the two bodies of water.

Door County’s 19 municipalities boast miles of waterfront and vacationable acres. The athletically intrepid can tandem-skydive, a terrific view at 25 mph freefall, I’m assured—<>. Or get right down in the water—

Orchard Country Winery & Market; Fish Boil at White Gull Inn. Photos Courtesy of County Visitor Bureau

Those less eager to wrestle with the elements have myriad other activities, including orgies of antiquing and gallery foraging.

Door County Maritime Museum’s new exhibit is Haunted Lighthouses of the Great Lakes—<www.dcmm,org>.

Northcote Clock and Stein Shop features German imports, while Peninsula Bookman, with 14,000-plus new, used, and rare books, specializes in regional material.

Try cooking classes at the Savory Spoon—<>.

Tour the Door on a trolley—<>. Choose from Lighthouse, Narrated Scenic, Premier Wine, Ghost, or Haunted Trolley Pub Crawl.

Rather do it yourself? Rent a bike or moped at Edge of Park in Fish Creek—<>. From 7-speed beach cruisers to 24-speed mountain vehicles to children’s covered carts, you’ll find a pedal-powered one for you.

A golfer’s Nirvana, 11 different courses—9 to 36 holes—range Door County, from the southern base up over Death’s Door to Washington Island.

Door County Peninsula’s five wineries combine locally-grown grapes with premium Napa Valley fruits for a delightfully unique result.

Door Peninsula Winery is the county’s original and Wisconsin’s largest winery—<>.

Simon Creek Vineyard—<www.simoncreekvine>—and Stone’s Throw Winery (just 2,500 miles from Napa Valley, it’s quick to point out)—<>—both welcome visitors, and offer tastings of their produce.

Wine turns one’s thoughts to food, and Door County abounds with fine restaurants.

Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor, a landmark since 1906, has an old-fashioned soda fountain, home-brewed draft root beer, and jukeboxes—<>.

Door County, one of the top five cherry-producing regions in the country, is known worldwide for that fruit, as well as freshly-caught Lake Michigan whitefish.

Cherry DeLite—<>—specializes in all things cerise: juices, syrups, cherry mustard, salsa, and beyond.

Satisfy a craving for both cherries and whitefish at a traditional Fish Boil, a staple at many restaurants. The finale of this lumberjack and fisherman’s tradition is the “boil over,” a huge fireball boiling off any fish oils or other items that may have accumulated in the pot. The boil is topped off unfailingly with a huge slice of cherry pie.

While dozens of fine accommodations are available, two are of particular interests to GLBT visitors.

High-school sweethearts Steve and Sue Sherman met when they were 16, “although,” they admit, “it took us more than 20 years before we could fulfill our dream of living in Door County. We are now in our 15th year as owners/innkeepers at the Village Green Lodge.”

This establishment in Ephraim caters to adults only (no children under 16)—which, the owners explain, “makes for a peaceful, relaxing getaway for our guests. Some of our very best customers are gay, and they have been coming for years.”

While the 17-room lodge is run as a bed-and-breakfast, the Shermans emphasize that it has “the privacy of a small hotel—all the rooms have private entrances and private bathrooms.”

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Privacy is definitely the keyword at Sturgeon Bay’s gay-owned and -operated Chanticleer Guest House—

As owners Bryon Groesch and Darrin Day found, “Most of our guests come from urban areas, and have stressful jobs, as well as stressful lives. We promote the fact that we provide a romantic setting where couples can relax, and reconnect with each other.

“Many people have the idea that you have to mingle with other couples at a bed-and-breakfast. We serve breakfast to each suite and cabin, and respect people’s privacy. If couples want to socialize, they are welcome to, but we try to provide an atmosphere where couples can hide away and not be bothered.

“Our clientele is mostly straight, but we at the Chanticleer take great pride in making our GLBT guests feel comfortable and welcome.”

Check out for a visitor’s guide, fact sheets, and videos.

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