Day 3 and 4:
On the last day in Door County, we began with an outside patio breakfast feasting on cherry stuffed pancakes and French toast, hosted by The White Gull Inn, a year round lodging establishment since 1896. The fluffy pancakes and French toast paired very well with the tart cherries. I kept eyeing my fellow journalist’s oatmeal, which consisted of fluffy, baked oats smothered with bright, red cherries.
After breakfast, we met the makers and bakers of everything you can possibly think of involving cherries. Door County is famed for its cherries, which has been central to its way of life since the late 1800s. Local orchards and farms open up their fields in late summer for cherry picking excursions, while also offering year-round markets, roadside stands, and country stores selling fresh cherry jams, pies, wines and ciders.
The highlight of the day for me was the cherry picking of tart Montmorency cherries at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country. It was very delightful picking ruby, red cherries from the tree branches in the warm sun. (When I returned home, I baked a delicious cherry crumble with my picked cherries). While there, I also learned how cherries are harvested from the orchard trees and then used to make products, baked goods, ciders and wines. The grand finale was a wine and cider tasting on their back patio adjacent to the orchard’s winery and cider mill.
The marvelous day continued with a narrative boat cruise hosted by Fish Creek Scenic Boat Tours. We traveled through the shores of Green Bay towards Peninsula State Park, which is the site for the famous 145 year-old Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.
Lunch that day was an enjoyable meal and experience at Wilson’s Diner, a Door County landmark casual diner since 1906, well known for their homemade ice cream, huge sundaes, floats and milkshakes. I sampled delicious fries, cheese curds, a veggie wrap and a special, rare treat: a huge root beer float. The inside of Wilson’s is just as fun at the outdoor patio: reminiscent of olden day diners, complete with a jukebox.
Right after lunch, we headed over for beer samplings at Egg Harbor’s One Barrel Brewing. The brewery’s original location hails from Madison, Wisconsin. The Door County location is brand new and offers a gorgeous new taproom and an expansive multi-tiered beer garden. Sampling different, delicious beers made for a wonderful, laid back afternoon. It was enjoyable to be hosted through the beer tasting by owner and president, Peter Gentry, who was welcoming, smiling and very knowledgeable about his beers and the brewing process. I especially loved sampling brews that were not on the current menu! On the way out, I took home two of my favorite samplings: Influencer India Pale Ale (West Coast IPA) and the refreshingly summer Rose Hard Cider (semi-sweet).
I was eager after the beer excursion to sneak in some local Door County hiking at Cave Point County Park, which boasts some of the most iconic and picturesque natural landscape in the area. You can explore the park on foot or book a kayaking trip (which I sadly ran out of time to experience). Though the trail was short, I highly enjoyed my hiking trail path, where I had access to view gorgeous carved rocks and limestone cave entrances along the blue and green waters of Lake Michigan.
The last meal of the trip was dinner at The Cookery Restaurant and Wine Bar, a family owned restaurant establishment since 1977. The Cookery highlights local ingredients with dishes such as its famous whitefish chowder, cherry apple salad and hand-breaded lake perch. Highlights of the meal for me included crispy cheese curds with ranch dipping sauce, savory eggplant fries, the colorful gluten-free grain bowl (seasonal vegetables sauteed with asian peanut sauce over a wild, brown and red wehani rice blend topped with crushed peanuts and house pickled carrots and onions), sinful sour cream chocolate cake with housemade salted caramel ice cream and a delicious cherry lemonade.
The meal was bittersweet for all of us, as it was our last venture all together during the media tour. Friendships and bonds formed and connections were made during our experiences together in Door County.
The following day, before I started the long drive home to Chicago, I was eager to book one more outdoor Door County adventure: the Mink River Eco Kayak Tour in Rowley’s Bay (Ellison Bay) hosted by the Door Country Adventure Center. I spent a glorious two hours kayaking with a group and an amazing tour guide, Isaac Quinones, along the beautiful and tranquil Mink River. He was cheerful and very knowledgeable about kayaking, Door County, the Mink River itself and its aquatic life. The Mink River is a lovely place on which to kayak, with its clear blue waters and green trees, shrubbery and lily pads and flowers dotting along the river’s edge. This kayak river tour was the perfect ending to my travels in Door County. I am counting the days until next summer when I can return for new adventures to experience!
Photos: Jennifer Lunz unless otherwise noted.
For more information on vacationing in Door County, please visit the website.
Click on the links below to get more information about the Door County hosts: