I would like to tell you about a favorite place of mine. This is Door County, Wisconsin, or the "thumb" of Wisconsin.
This small area of countryside (only a few miles wide at all points) is nestled between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. It is a county of apple and cherry orchards, dairy farms, and small villages that are a combination of artist communities, resort marinas and fishing towns.
The villages (populations range from 100 to 700 inhabitants) of Fish Creek, Sister Bay, Ephraim, Bailey's Harbor, Ellison Bay and Gill's Rock have often been compared to Cape Cod and the coastal areas of New England. You can find excellent restaurants, charming and cozy country inns, beautiful scenery, 5 state parks for hiking and camping, cross-country skiing, biking, fishing, art studios & galleries, gift shops, marinas, vacation condos, wildflower sanctuaries, craft schools, and farm markets. What you won't find are lots of tacky tourist attractions or fast food chains since the chamber of commerce won't allow these.
There are two major lighthouses within easy accessibility. Cana Island Light on the Lake Michigan side is a working light and outdoor visitors are welcome. Eagle Light in Peninsula State Park is a historic lighthouse with tours given in summer and fall on the Bay side. There are at least 2 other lighthouses on islands nearby in Lake Michigan that boat tours or charters can get you to.
I try to get a weekend away up here at least once a year. I have camped, stayed in B&Bs, cabins and motels for my lodging. The following inns are highly popular and I have visited some of them and do recommend a stay at any of these. The look of these reminds me of the inn in the Bob Newhart TV show where he was an innkeeper in Vermont. White clapboard 2-3 story country facades with pine floors, rag rugs, quilted beds, fireplace parlors and dining rooms.
Whistling Swan Inn FIsh Creek, WI 414-868-3442
White Gull Inn Fish Creek, WI 414-868-3517
These have the same owners. The White Gull has a full service restaurant which is very popular for its cozy fire-side breakfasts and their fish-boil dinners. Private baths, credit cards, no smoking, some cottages available.
Ephraim Inn Ephraim, WI 414-854-4515
Harbor views, private baths, full breakfast. Ephraim has the prettiest harbor in the county.
Eagle Harbor Inn Ephraim, WI 414-854-2121
Antique-filled inn, private baths, full breakfast
French Country Inn Ephraim, WI 414-854-4001
Call 800-52-RELAX for the very good Door County vacation guide. It lists EVERYTHING to do/see with addresses and phone #. One of the best tourism guides I have ever seen.
Call 414-743-4456 if you want personal assistance/questions
in Ephraim (the prettiest harbor in the county)
French Country Inn 414-854-4001 (7 rooms, private/shared baths, no credit cards, no smoking, no pets, continental+ breakfast)
Ephraim Inn 414-854-4515 (17 rooms, private baths, V/MC, no smoking, no pets, harbor view, full breakfast)
Eagle Harbor Inn 414-854-2121 (9 rooms, private baths, V/MC, no smoking, no pets, lake view, full breakfast)
Hillside Hotel 414-854-2417 (12 rooms, shared baths, credit cards, no smoking, no pets, harbor view, full brkfst)
in Fish Creek (busiest, most touristy village) White Gull Inn 414-868-3517 (18 rooms/cottages, most w/ private baths, credit cards, breakfast is extra, no pets, no smoking, Fish Boils served)
Whistling Swan 414-868-3442 (7 rooms, private baths, continental brkfst, credit cards, no pets, no smoking)
THorp House Inn 414-868-2444 (11 rooms/cottages, private baths, no credit cards, continental+ brkfst, no pets, smoking in cottages only)
in Ellison Bay (tiny, quiet village) Country Woods B&B 414-854-5706 (4 rooms, private baths, no credit cards, no pets, no smoking, full breakfast, woods setting)
Griffin Inn (dont have # at hand yet) (10 rooms, shared baths, full breakfast, wooded setting, no credit cards, no smoking)
on Washington Island (take ferry from Gills Rock) Island House B&B 414-847-2779 (3 rooms, shared baths, full breakfast, farmhouse setting, limited smoking, no pets, away from the crowds)
in Bailey's Harbor (on the Lake Michigan side) Potter's Door Inn 414-839-2003 (3 rooms, 1 private bath, full brkfst, no credit cards, no smoking, no pets)
There are also very nice, antique-filled B&B's in Sturgeon Bay, but that is a "city" and wasn't sure if you were interested in staying there.
Comments: I have stayed at the White Gull in Fish Creek - very much like a New England inn (such as in Bob Newhart's show.) Do try their Fish Boil (best in the county) and their breakfasts get rave reviews (but is extra.) The decor is country, pine floors, rag rugs, small rooms.
I have stayed at the Griffin Inn in Ellison Bay. Lovely owners, very delicious breakfast, but rooms are tiny and the bath is down the hall. Country-style decor, lovely grounds and very quiet.
I have stayed at the Hillside Hotel in Ephraim. Very nice owners (with children) and great breakfast and afternoon snacks. Small, country rooms with bath down hall.
I saw a comment on the Courtyard Settlement Inn on the travel-l list. I have stayed here, but I call this a motel. Albeit a very nice motel with fireplace and kitchenettes, but no personal B&B touch.
Make your reservations as soon as possible, especially if you stay on a weekend. Many of the inns have a 2 night minimum for the summer, be sure to ask. The above inns prices range from $65-125 a night. If you are thinking of Fish Boils do make those reservations when you reserve your lodging as these meals are very popular, especially at the White Gull Inn. It books up months in advance.
The following are my favorite eateries in Door County.
Wilson's (Ephraim) - ice cream parlor on the harborfront. Don't miss this Door County tradition. Great homemade ice cream, very busy in summer, remember to take a number upon entering.
Old Orchard (Ephraim) - on Hwy 42. Very good dinners, fresh veggies, good desserts. Pork tenderloin, chicken dishes, fresh fish. Dinner entrees around $15.
Mission Grill (Sister Bay) - downtown across from the Sister Bay Bowl A bit pricey, but excellently prepared and presented nouvelle cuisine. Entrees around $22.
Al Johnson's (Sister Bay) - downtown Swedish restaurant with waits up to an hour. Put your name in and then sit at the harbor park or look around the nearby shops. Grass topped roof with grazing goats. Swedish specialties like meatballs and Swedish pancakes, ligonberries. Try the fresh lake perch, a favorite of mine here. Complete dinners from $12- 18.
Peltier's (Fish Creek) - near White Gull Inn, good breakfast crepes, quite popular, good value.
White Gull Inn (Fish Creek) - popular for their fireside breakfasts and the evening fish boils (pricey.) Make fish boil reservations now.
Village Inn Cafe (Egg Harbor) - on the main drag, Hwy 42. Good lunch spot for good soups and omelettes.
Common House (Bailey's Harbor) - on Hwy 57 downtown Bailey's. Good food with a not-so-ordinary menu.
Greenwood Supper Club (Fish Creek) - Hwy F a mile outside of town. Popular supper club with prime rib, fresh fish, surf&turf stuff. Normal prices (for Wisconsin.)
And for take-home treats stop at Bea's homemade products in Gill's Rock and load up on her wonderful jams, pickles and pickled veggies. These are quite good!
Woodstock, IL USA