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Ephraim, Wisconsin

Further North in Door County, Wisconsin

getaway-chicago logo For the Getaway Guys, Wisconsin’s Door County is about nature and tranquility.  When last seen, the Guys were exploring from Sturgeon Bay to Fish Creek to Bailey’s Harbor and back to Sturgeon Bay. This time, they investigated from Ephraim to Sister Bay to Ellison Bay to Newport State Park and places in between.  Their primary route going northward was WI 42, and for their return they hugged back roads.

To get to Ephraim, they went through tiny Juddville, where they hung a left on Peninsula Players Road to check out the Peninsula Players Theater complex (  According to the Players brochure, it’s the oldest professional resident group in the U.S.  Back on 42 again, the Guys next visited Peninsula State Park (telephone 920-868-3258), sandwiched between Fish Creek and Ephraim, where hiking, camping and biking are de rigueur.  After a strenuous hike and getting slightly lost, the Guys moved on to their first objective, Ephraim, but not before passing Peninsula State Park Golf Course where they exchanged sardonic observations and personal preferences. Alan thinks golf is frustrating, but OK.  Neil thinks it’s just plain silly.

doorII1The quaintest community in Door County, Ephraim (1853), is the most preservation-minded as well – and to good effect.  Hugging Eagle Harbor, this Moravian-Norwegian village is the only “dry” place in Wisconsin, and its sobriety is evident in its commitment to keeping development in a proper perspective.  Whether by design or happenstance, this place looks like an authentic 19th century (without hokum) town.  It’s a busy place during the summer and fall, and WI 42 is often congested.  But, a visit or stay is rewarding and an absolute must stop is Wilson’s Ice Cream emporium.  Despite his waistline worries, even Alan had some!

Next destination up 42 is Sister Bay, with its goats-on-the-roof.  For the uninitiated, this can be a close encounter of the third kind.  Traffic, already a little snarled, has been known to come to a complete halt when the resident goats are dining a la roof at Johnson’s. Kids of all ages dig the showmanship.

In Ellison Bay, the Guys checked out The Pioneer Store.  Part grocery, general and hardware store, it’s a neat place for a soda or a pair of shoe laces.  A stone’s throw away, they stopped in Wm. Caxton, Ltd., a fabulous place for out-of-print books.  They then proceeded up Garrett Bay Road to Door Bluff Headlands County Park with its rugged hiking and climbing potential.  Alan, the woodsy-librarian type, couldn’t decide which he liked best, Caxton or Headlands. Neil thought it a draw.doorII2

More of a fork in the road than a town, Gills Rock is a portal leading to Washington Island and/or isolated Newport State Park (telephone 920-854-2500). Neil and Alan chose Newport with its 2,400 acres of wilderness hiking, swimming, back-packing, and camping.  Not coming prepared for the latter three, they decided to hike the labyrinthine trails for several hours.  Unlike Peninsula and Headlands, the terrain is comparatively flat, but all require bug spray!  Every Door visitor has a favorite lighthouse and Neil’s is Cana Island.  So, using a trustworthy map the Guys navigated south along County and Township roads after leaving Newport.  Along these back roads some of the best that Door County has to offer in pristine landscape can be seen; a leisurely pace, with frequent stops to absorb the vistas, is highly recommended.  Getting to Cana is one matter, getting on it another – a routine familiar to airport denizens.  REMOVE SHOES (or get wet).  On the subject of lighthouses, the Peninsula is loaded with  lighthouse paintings for sale. Alan generally liked some; Neil generally disliked all.

At the height of the season (June, July, August), accommodations for a long weekend or a vacation may be hard to find, so book early. doorII3For nourishment, from one end of the County to the other, there is something called a fish boil; lots to eat and fun.  Fine or elegant dining (generally speaking) isn’t a Door staple. There are many nice eateries, but if all else fails do what the locals do: go to a supper club.  Relax!  Door County is about relaxing and kicking back.

For trivia nuts: south of Kangaroo Lake, on WI 57 in Meridian County Park, a plaque proclaims this spot to be midway between the North Pole and the Equator. A Kodak moment for sure.

A random sampling of possible lodging:

Gordon Lodge           Alpine Resort
Glidden Lodge          White Gull Inn
Eagle Harbor Inn         Blacksmith Inn
Whitefish Bay Farm

June 2007

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