The onset of winter in Door County is an exciting time for many. Memories of pond hockey, ice fishing, and sledding fill one's mind in anticipation of the county’s longest season. However, these fond memories quickly fade as temperatures plummet, road conditions deteriorate, and shortened daylight hours wean away free time. So, how can you make the most of winter in Door County?
Take a hike. Literally. Door County has countless public trails accessible across the county. From the scenic hardwood bluffs of Potawatomi State Park to the frozen shores of Kangaroo Lake, there are endless options where you can make the most of the winter’s daylight hours. On windy days, seek out trails that are confined to wooded areas such as Door County Land Trust’s Lautenbach Woods Nature Preserve. One of my favorite hikes is on the trails of Whitefish Dunes State Park. This hike can take you to the top of “Old Baldy” sand dune staggering 93 feet above the surface of Lake Michigan below. From this vantage point, you can see both Lake Michigan and Clark Lake. After descending from the peak, you can make your way to the shores of Lake Michigan, through the woods to Clark Lake, or to the bank of Whitefish Bay Creek. The rolling sand dunes, well-maintained trails, and access to waterfront views, make this a favorite hike. With so many hiking options, I’d recommend exploring many different trails to find your favorite.
Wet a line. If you weren't already aware, Door County is home to one of the best fisheries in the Midwest. The species diversity, accessibility, and opportunity for a large catch make trying your luck all the more appealing. Some of the most popular species targeted in the winter include whitefish, perch, and walleye. Tried and true spots include Sawyer Harbor, Sand Bay, and the Mink River. Make sure to obtain up-to-date ice conditions for the area you’re looking to fish, avoid ice fishing alone, and consider safety precautions such as inflatable bibs. Visit WI DNR for more information about ice fishing.
Find a winter sport. Although beach volleyball, tennis, and baseball might be out of the question, winter offers many sporting opportunities. From groomed cross-country ski trails to weekly pick-up basketball games, Door County delivers when it comes to staying active throughout the winter. Don’t own skis or snowshoes? Crossroads at Big Creek in Sturgeon Bay offers free rentals when conditions permit. Visit Crossroads at Big Creek for more information on the Ski-for-Free program. Weekly pick-up basketball games are hosted in the Sturgeon Bay High School gym on Wednesday nights at 5:15 pm. This weekly activity has been coined “Bummy Ball,” named after Sturgeon Bay High School’s retired gym teacher Randy Bumgardner who often supervises the games. Are you looking for a more adrenaline-evoking option? Fat tire biking and winter surfing have grown in popularity in recent years. Even with shortened days and lower temperatures, there are so many ways to stay active during the winter.
Support local restaurants. Go visit the local restaurants that stay open during the winter. The “slow season” is a great time to get to know staff members, find your favorite dishes, and not worry about waiting lists or crowded restaurants. Some of my favorite restaurants during the dark months include Friday night Fish Fry's at The Hitching Post Bar & Grill, Saturday Prime Rib at Donny’s Glidden Lodge, and Sunday Family Style Chicken at The Mill Supper Club. It’s hard to beat a well-prepared meal as the winter wind blowing outside seems to push summer further away.
Although Door County is much different during its winter months, the soul of the county never freezes. Warmth can be found during long walks, while enjoying warm meals, and in the cheerful faces of friends and family.
No matter what you decide to do this winter in Door County, stay warm by layering with our Death's Door Graphic Hoodie. This unisex, medium weight hoodie has a fit and feel that's just right during the winter months. The hoodie has a very soft inside fleece material of 80% ring-spun cotton and 20% polyester. Its exterior is 100% soft cotton, with dyed-to-match metal tipped drawcords. This hoodie is preshrunk, and runs about one size smaller than listed (order one size larger than what you would normally wear).