ENHANCING YOUR BJÖRKLUNDEN “VACATION WITH A FOCUS”: EXPLORE DOOR COUNTY
If you’re considering a Björklunden summer seminar or have already arrived, you may want to know what else there is to do in Door County, Wisconsin. You’ll enjoy the serenity of Björklunden’s 425 acres but may wish to go farther afield.
Here, we provide a small sampling of the many things to do in the area.
It all starts with water. Door County is a peninsula, surrounded by the bay of Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan to the east. The strait known as “Porte des Morts” - Death’s Door, from which the county derives its name - brings them together at the north end.
Kayak and paddleboard rentals can be found up and down the peninsula. In various towns, you can join a cruise or fishing charter boat.
Several beaches to hang out at are located on both sides of the peninsula. Good examples are the sand beaches at Whitefish Dunes State Park, south of Björklunden on the Lake Michigan side, and Frank E. Murphy County Park, just south of Egg Harbor on the bay side.
A spectacular and rugged view of the Lake Michigan shoreline is found at Cave Point County Park, tucked into the middle of Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park.
Take the ferry at the tip of the peninsula to Washington Island, originally settled by Icelanders. If you wish, you can get on another ferry there to currently uninhabited Rock Island; it allows foot traffic only.
Lighthouses were a necessary part of navigation around Door County for years, of course, and the county has 11 of them!
Get out in nature. Besides its many water attractions, the peninsula boasts four “mainland” state parks, all with places to bike (several places in the county rent bikes), hike, or just drive around – and more. We touched on the beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park above. Up near Ellison Bay, you’ll find Newport State Park, also on Lake Michigan, and Wisconsin’s only wilderness-designated state park. It’s excellent for hiking and also has a pleasant beach. Peninsula State Park, Wisconsin’s third largest state park and one of its oldest, “has it all” It’s on the bay side and includes, among other things, many hiking and biking trails, a beach, and a much-loved 18-hole golf course.
Besides the state parks, several of the county parks are worth a visit. We also recommend two other natural areas just a little north of Björklunden. At the Ridges Sanctuary, you’ll see a pattern of ridges and swales created by the movement of Lake Michigan over the last 1,400 years and enjoy rare plants, butterflies, dragonflies and other life in the most biologically diverse ecosystem in Wisconsin. At Toft Point State Natural Area, you can enjoy walking to the lake through boreal forest and meadow, imagining life as it was lived there decades ago by the Toft family of Baileys Harbor.
Golfers have many opportunities. The county has several courses. Maxwelton Braes borders Björklunden. And many have fallen in love with playing at Peninsula State Park Golf Course.
Love art? If so, you’ve joined those who, for decades, have made Door County a thriving artists’ and art appreciators’ community. From Sturgeon Bay up into Gills Rock, you’ll find numerous galleries featuring painting, pottery, fabric arts, glass, and more for you to look at and purchase.
Music abounds. You may be lucky enough to be in Door County and enjoy classical music during the Midsummer Music festival or late summer’s Peninsula Music Festival, both featuring world-renowned musicians. You can find jazz, Caribbean, and more at Birch Creek, which doubles as a school for young musicians and a performance venue. It’s between Baileys Harbor and Egg Harbor. In the heart of Fish Creek, you’ll find the Door Community Auditorium. Go online to check out the summer’s lineup; in the past, performing artists have included such luminaries as Joan Baez, Vince Gill, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, and Brandi Carlile.
And there’s theater. For several weeks during the summer, you need not stray far for Shakespeare under the stars; the home of Door County Shakespeare is on the Björklunden grounds. Also under the stars – in this case, at Peninsula State Park - you can enjoy original musical-comedy brought to you by Northern Sky Theater. Along the bay shore, between Fish Creek and Egg Harbor, is Peninsula Players Theater, America’s oldest summer resident theater. The Players typically stage five plays during the warm weather season, including comedies, mysteries, and musicals. In Sturgeon Bay you’ll find excellent productions at the Third Avenue Playhouse, or “TAP.”
We can’t omit shopping, or food and beverages. If you enjoy boutique shopping and just prowling around, Door County is paradise. Ditto for eating and drinking, ranging from fine dining to classic Wisconsin bars to bad-for-you-but-oh-so-good “vacation treats.” Don’t miss having an ice cream cone or sundae at iconic Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor in picturesque Ephraim. Fun fact: You won’t find a McDonalds, Burger King, or similar franchise fast-food place north of Sturgeon Bay. Almost every eating and drinking establishment is independently owned and operated by Door County residents.
For more comprehensive information on all that Door County has to offer, check out the Door County Visitor Bureau’s website at doorcounty.com. Björklunden staff also are happy to assist you with plans.