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Planning Your Year-End Get-A-Way Weekend in Door County
By Steve Allen - Sponsored by Lakeshore Motorsports LLC
Nov 9, 2011 - 9:00:00 AM
Chanticleer Guest House
Chanticleer Guest House, just north of Sturgeon Bay.
Door County enters its quiet period by November, but that means there's some very happy and satisfying times just waiting for you during your upcoming get-a-way weekend on the Peninsula. Just think, no traffic, no waiting anywhere, relaxed local folks to chat with, and most of all, quiet and relaxing ambiance.
But you need to make a plan so that you don't waste your valuable time driving to places that are already closed for the winter. What I'll describe below is a little adventure to establishments that are indeed open for business in the month of December. That's what we mean by year-end, at least in this case. You probably need a little break before the Holidays of Christmas and New Years, and Door County beckons. Weekends are likely your best bet, since many of the places we recommend here are open only on weekends. It's no easy task to list all of their hours, but suffice it to say that if your plan takes you there between mid-morning and not-too-late-afternoon, you're in luck. Of course, the lodging and eating places have longer hours than the retailers, but you knew that.
Double Delites in downtown Egg Harbor. This Pumpkin Patch Festival display took first place this year.
There are so many great opportunities for this excursion, but I'm going to be quite specific with some rock solid recommendations based on either personal experience or that of other trusted advisors. Next time I'll choose some entirely different ones which are just as appealing. This exercise is probably best described as "You really can't go wrong if you follow this plan!"
Julie with her gelato!
So you're coming into Sturgeon Bay on Friday evening and heading for your warm bed. That's going to be at Chanticleer Guest House, just north of town on County Highway HH. Here you'll find gracious hosts who will bring a delicious hot breakfast to your room in the morning. This Bed & Breakfast is secluded and quiet. It's located on a picturesque farm with walking trails and a cute gazebo. Rest well, Saturday will be relaxed but busy ... fun busy!
After that delightful breakfast, head out towards Egg Harbor. Why take Highway 42 when you can drive the scenic route. Head west toward the bay on Dunn Road and take County B along the shoreline up to Murphy Park, where you'll pick up County G, Horseshoe Bay Road. After a leisurely drive, you'll arrive at the southwest end of Egg Harbor.
Egg Harbor was a drive through village many years ago, unless you needed gas or an adult beverage at Casey's. But now it is teeming with upscale shops, excellent eateries, and two of the finest groceries on the Peninsula. You're going to stop now at Julie and Jeff Perley's Double Delites, right smack dab downtown, across from Harbor View Park on Route 42. Even though it's morning, anytime is a good time for gelato, and Julie's genuine Italian recipe and ingredients will
Cottage Row Framing & Gallery
have you wishing you had a store like this back home. Jeff's popcorn is a hybrid variety and is hard to beat. We love the plain popcorn, but there are myriad flavors, including traditional favorites such as caramel and cheddar cheese. Take a few bags home. Read more about this store in our feature story here.
Dovetail Gallery is a treasure trove of fine egg art and lots more!
Then head up the road a piece towards the north end of Egg Harbor and look on the left. You'll easily find the Dovetail Gallery. Check out the ram sculpture made out of wire sitting near the road, unless he went to his forever home. Enter a charming place, full of gift ideas or something special for yourself. Kathy and Tom have created not only a store but a mini-museum of egg art and a dinosaur egg fossil. Read our story here. "Infinity", as he was named a few years ago by students, is so many millions of years old it's hard to fathom anything that old. Fantastic! Leave with a little something to give at Christmas and something for yourself.
Now it's time to head towards Fish Creek, continuing on Highway 42. We'll make a stop on the way at Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market. Take a wine tour, then be sure to stop at the Cottage Row Framing & Gallery in the back barn building. Exquisite art by some of Door County's masters are on display and for sale.
You'll know when you arrived in downtown Fish Creek when you come down the hill and see the Hide Side Corner store,
Door County Confectionery
Wilkins & Olander, Fish Creek.
the Noble House, and Cooper's Corner at the intersection. Park and take a stroll around this area. The shops are close together so it's an easy walk. You'll probably want to stop at Door County Confectionery in Founder's Square for a sweet treat to take home with you. Close by is Wilkins & Olander, a shop for the ladies, with fine apparel and the like. Have a browse here if you'd like.
Head out of Fish Creek to continue northward on your adventure. Next is Ephraim. This village is like a picture postcard, so a photo or two is warranted. Pull over near Wilson's, the ice cream place, and see if there's a Kodak moment here. You might want to wander back into the little side streets behind the Ephraim Village Hall and explore the shops.
Anderson House, Ephraim.
Drive out of Ephraim, but before you leave the north edge, stop at the Anderson House. Now here's a long-time favorite of mine. Lots of gift ideas and home decor items. There may be a Charles Peterson print that catches your eye. By the way, these are very fine investments. We have a print called "Towing Through" which we purchased when it came out in 1979. It's not easy to find these older maritime pieces from Mr. Peterson, since most folks hang on to them or pass them along in their families. Wonderful art.
Blue Dolphin House, just north of Ephraim.
After leaving Ephraim, watch the right side of the highway for the Blue Dolphin House sign. It comes up quickly and it's easy to breeze right past, as the store and gardens are hidden by lovely trees. It's worth turning around and making a visit. This store has been a favorite since John and Peg Lowry started it many years ago. As their slogan suggests, this place is the "finer side of wow". You will not be disappointed. What we like the best about this store is that there is always something new and different to see! Need some fancy kitchen stuff? This is the place.
Is it lunch time for you yet? If so, pull over and relax a bit. You might even make it as far as Sister Bay. If so, you are probably going to make a beeline for Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Butik. This is, of course, the very famous "goats-on-the-roof" place, but I doubt those goats will be up there during this year-end visit. Hang out for awhile and enjoy the ambiance. The day isn't done yet!
Nathan Nichols & Company, Baileys Harbor.
Jacksonport Craft Cottage, Jacksonport.
Head over to
the quiet side of the Peninsula via Highway 57. A bit rural, isn't it?
The journey to Baileys Harbor won't take long though. The very quaint little
town of Baileys Harbor has many historic
buildings. Read about them here.
I'm sending you to browse at Nathan Nichols & Company, right
downtown on Route 57. Here you will discover unique elegance in
furniture and furnishings for the home, primarily. Nathan has spent much
of his adult life buying and displaying fine furniture, and his father
and grandfather both built furniture. Take your time.
Now on to Jacksonport, driving south. This is the last stop before heading back to Fish Creek for an early dinner. Right downtown
you'll find the Jacksonport Craft Cottage, a long time favorite of
tourists and locals alike. The showcase items here are the gorgeous
Amish quilts, all hand-made. Each year, owners Sue and Joe Jarosh travel
to Amish country in Pennsylvania to visit some very special families that
produce these quilts for this store. This business also sponsors an annual quilt show
White Gull Inn, Fish Creek.
It's time to head back to Fish Creek for your
special dinner. The tried and true favorite is the White Gull Inn, near
Founder's Square, where you were earlier today. We've had dinner there from time to time for the past thirty years, and the food and service
are consistently excellent. The dining room is brimming with ambiance,
especially this time of year when the fireplace is lit and darkness has
fallen. Splurge and have a complete meal as every course is delectable.
The house dressing is a winner and of course the entrees are delicious
and of generous portions. Desserts? Yes, oh yes.
Time to get back to the Chanticleer now and chill out. Sit by the fire
and chat with the innkeepers or other guests. Then drift off quickly to
sleep. Sunday morning means another to-the-door breakfast delivery, and
then you're off again.
We're going to take a short jaunt
to Carlsville. You have two stops, perhaps more if you'd like to visit a
few of the other stores in this tiny town. They're all close together.
First, stop at Door Peninsula Winery, take a tour, or just shop. It's a
big place now with the 2011 addition ... lots to see and taste!
Door County Coffee & Tea, Carlsville.
Door Peninsula Winery, Carlsville.
Across the highway is Door County Coffee & Tea, where you can get a
most perfect cup of coffee. The bakery items are delicious. A complete
gift shop beckons you, and you'll want to take home some fresh coffee
beans as well. Doug and Vicki Wilson have done a superb job in creating
this now well-known Door County small business. Their coffees are sold
widely in shops, grocery stores, and are often found in area hotel rooms
in little "pillow packs" which are a big hit. Since all the coffee
beans are ground and flavored in a "factory" behind the store, you'll
wake up and smell the coffee as your vehicle approaches the parking lot!
Before heading home, you'll make a stop in downtown Sturgeon Bay. Look for "Untitled" Used & Rare Books, Maps and Ephemera, which is in the heart of downtown Sturgeon Bay at 30 N. 3rd Avenue. Here you'll find thousands of books, most used, some rare, and old-time maps, posters, etc. Fascinating. Proprietor Steven Link has many of his books listed in a database on his computer, so if you ask about a certain book, topic, or author, he might be able to find it quickly.
Steven Link at his "Untitled" Used & Rare Books, Maps and Ephemera in Sturgeon Bay.
As Link tells it, "books are my friends, and I've read avidly since I was a kid." It shows, as he is knowledgable about many topics, a wonderful quality in a bookseller! Read more about this store here.
Wander to neighboring stores, many of which will likely be open on Sunday.
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If you are looking for interesting places to visit and things to do, you're in the right place. This monthly digital magazine features articles that help you get the most out of Wisconsin's magical Door Peninsula. The opinions and recommendations herein are solely those of our contributing writers.