A little-known secret is to visit Door County in the off-season to be able to experience all this place has to offer (minus the crowds, lines, and booked-to-capacity places). Plus, who doesn’t love quiet cozy weekends tucked in at the cabin to get away from it all? So we thought we’d share some of our favorite things to do in Door County in the off-season to help plan your next getaway.
What to do in Door County in the off-season
When Covid hit, our family pulled our kids from school, sold our home, bought our 3rd cabin: Porte Haven, and moved to Door County in the winter months. This time has such a special place in our hearts and the off-season in Door County has actually become one of our favorite times to visit our favorite place. From snuggling up by the fire to game nights at the cabin, movies, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and hiking… we never ran out of things to do.
When is the off-season in Door County?
First, when exactly is the off-season? We call these the “shoulder seasons” and it’s typically after the beautiful fall season through spring before it gets warm enough to enjoy the water. So we’d consider the off-season November – April. Here are some common questions we get about Door County in the off-season and some ideas to inspire your next trip.
Do people visit Door County in the winter?
Absolutely! Some consider this time the best to visit because you don’t have to fight the crowds that the summer months bring, you can actually get a reservation at the most popular restaurants, there’s something so special about getting cozy in a cabin with the beautiful landscape views, and outdoor activities like sledding, snowshoeing and ice fishing will keep you busy!
Where to eat in Door County in the off-season
It’s true many restaurants close in the off-season in Door County so it’s always important to check before heading out to dinner. The good thing is just about every one of our top 10 favorite places to eat in Door County are all open in the winter months. Our top recommendations are Wickman House (because it’s so hard to get a reservation), Al Johnson’s (because they don’t take reservations and the wait can be hours long in the busy season so bypass the wait in winter!) and Chop (because we love the outdoor igloo’s you can eat in!).
What stores are open in Door County in winter?
Just about all the stores are open in the off-season but may have limited hours. Here’s a great resource to see what is open in winter in Door County to check out.
Where to stay in Door County in the winter?
Our vote is one of the top Door County cozy cabins, fireplace and water view is a must!
The sound of crashing waves over Death’s Door while snuggled up by the fire is my absolute favorite place to be. Couple that with the spa bathroom and steam shower and a game room and you’ll really have no reason to ever leave the cabin during winter months if you don’t want to! All the details can be found here.
The Bay on Clark Lake:
Located on one of few inland lakes in Door County, you can enjoy ice fishing or ice skating on the lake right off the shore of the cabin. A pellet stove to warm by and cozy views of the water are the perfect place for your winter getaway. Check out all the details here.
Nothing says cozy winter cabin like an A-frame and this Door County gem is the coziest. Fireplace, stocked with games and a view of Lake Michigan. Close to all that Sister Bay has to offer, you’ll have your oasis while being able to take in all the Door County tourist attractions as well. Currently on a waitlist you can sign up for here.
What to do in winter in Door County?
Here’s a list we created of what to do in Door County in the winter. We can think of about 100 amazing ideas. Here are 10 of our favorites to get you started:
- Feed the chickadees at Peninsula Park
- Sled the #17 fairway of the golf course in Peninsula State Park
- Enjoy Swedish pancakes at Al Johnson’s (minus the long wait!)
- Check out the crashing waves and winter views of Cave Point
- Snowshoe, cross-country ski, or snowmobile in one of the state parks
- Go bowling at Sister Bay Bowl
- Eat dinner in an igloo at Chop
- Get creative at Hands on Art Studio with a unique art project
- Visit a tasting room at Stone’s Throw Winery or Door County Brewing
- Take a stroll on one of the beaches, our favorite:
A winter getaway in Door County, WI
Don’t take our word for it, the Wolbert family stayed at Porte Haven last winter and shared their experience and weekend on their blog. I’ve included a few snippets of their review below and you can read about their entire stay and ideas to steal for your own stay as well.
“This property is one of a kind with so many features that will keep you talking for days. Although Porte Haven is not the rustic cabin stay that we have grown accustom to, it is definitely something we could get used to. This cabin has all the warmth and character of a cabin built in the 1950’s and has all the bells and whistles of the modern era. Really this cabin embodies everything about Door County…culture, the finer living, art, history and NATURE in all her beauty.”
Their travel tip: “When planning a trip to Door County there are SO MANY things to do and see. We suggest you first make a list of the things that you would like to see and do. Then pick what things you might be able to do on your way to your destination and things you might be able to do on your way home. Leaving later in the day we knew the obvious choice for us was to travel HWY 57 there and HWY 47 home based on what we wanted to see. Check out Destination Door County for helpful tools to plan your trip!”
So what do you think? Would you enjoy a trip to Door County in the off-season?