Dave and I recently took Gabi to Door County for 4 days and it was one of the most fun and fulfilling vacations I can remember. For the purposes of blogging to all you amazing peeps, I did tons of research beforehand to try and plan things specifically geared towards toddler travel. I’m normally a very humble person, but I’m not gonna lie, we nailed this one. It was near-perfect.
Traveling with a toddler can be very challenging. Fussiness, exhaustion, hunger, or fixation on a certain activity can throw a wrench in your schedule and make it very hard to stick with an itinerary. But don’t worry, we got you covered. This post will take you through some of the considerations we relied on to plan this trip and how we pulled it off. At the end, I’ll list all the details so you can totally recreate this exact vacation if you want!!
- Location, location, location
There are so many towns in Door County, all offering very unique things to do. No matter which one you pick they are all a short drive from each other about 15-20 minutes. We decided to stay in Fish Creek because it offers great dining/shopping and direct access to Peninsula State Park.
Next, find a hotel within walking-distance from lots of different activities and meals. This allows for easy stroller use and flexibility. Other crucial hotel considerations include a ground floor room (stroller access), crib availability, a pool for daytime fun and an in-room whirlpool if bath-time is an important part of your routine (like it is for Gabi).
We broke our trip up into two hotels, the first one was the AmericInn by Wyndham in Sturgeon Bay. This hotel was next to a Target, had free continental breakfast, was near a hiking trail and a short drive to our first activity in Sturgeon Bay. Our second hotel was Homestead Suites in Fish Creek, our home base as I called it. At the entrance of Fish Creek, this hotel is literally one block from a pizza place, an ice-cream shop, a small beach, a café, a bike rental store and the entrance to the park, which has awesome bike paths.
2. Kid Friendly activities
Gabi loves animals, exploring nature, and swimming. Truly a perfect combo for Door County. Our first stop was a trip to “The Farm”, an amazing place just north of Sturgeon bay where children can feed baby goats with a bottle of milk and small bags of corn. Gabi LOVED it. They had tiny kittens, sheep, cows, pigs and lots of space to run around and play with all of them. It was exciting, hands on, and kid-glorious. Only $8.50 for adults and free for children 2 and under! We planned this activity in the morning, as there is a long drive afterward to get up to the main vacation area. This way Gabi could nap after chasing the animals and be ready for the afternoon.
Before we headed to Fish Creek, we stopped at Cave Point County Park, which has amazing views, hiking trails, kayaking and oh yeah, a cliff to jump off of – you know Dave wouldn’t pass that up. Side note, Gabi was not a big fan of anyone jumping, she thought they were getting hurt!
Gabi loves to swim, so we made sure to give her pool or beach time every day, otherwise she would ask about it non-stop. Pebble beach, near Sister Bay, was amazing – Crystal clear water, smooth round pebbles, and a nice, large shallow area for kids to wade into. Go in the morning to get the best sun (it faces east), calmest water, and to avoid any crowds!
We love going on bike rides and were able to rent some bikes at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery. This bike rental place was next to our hotel and at the entrance of Peninsula State Park; in which you can take a 9.5 mile bike ride in the forest and along the lake shore, stop at a historic lighthouse and let your little one take a nap while riding in the burley. We brought our own helmets, but you can rent those there too. It was $20/hour per bike.
When driving around to the various towns in Door County, we chose eating/stopping spots that had playgrounds. Luckily these aren’t too hard to find. Seaquist Orchards in Sister Bay has a huge playground for kids, and Not-Licked-Yet Frozen Custard has two different play structures so the kiddos can stay occupied while parents wait or shop.
3. Plan for flexibility
We had a very basic strategy for each day. Start early, plan one main activity in the morning to allow for a nice nap and fill all the rest of the time with whatever we wanted! We sort of let Gabi decide what she wanted to do, which worked wonders in keeping her happy and engaged.
Door County sure is a very special place and hidden gem in Wisconsin. Hope to have provided you with some suggestions to consider when visiting Door County.
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Here’s a detailed activity list of our trip and must-eat places:
Day 1 (Thursday)
– The Farm at Sturgeon Bay. We went right when they open – check their new fall hours here
– Cave Point at Sturgeon Bay
Drove through Bailey’s Harbor and Fish Creek
- Lunch at Taco Cerveza in Fish Creek – highly recommend for lunch
- Fish boil dinner at Pelletier’s – fun to watch the fish boil
Day 2 (Friday)
- Breakfast at Al Johnsons – Swedish pancakes were delish and you can watch the goats eat grass on the roof. Tip: very popular spot, get there early enough to avoid waiting in line. The goats come out at 9am
- Explored Sister Bay and Ephraim
- Seaquist Cherry Market – cool playground and great bakery items
- Lavender Wonderland Market – Ephraim
- Lunch at Wilson’s – popular old dinner, burgers were ok – nothing too special
- Dinner at Wild Tomato – HIGHLY recommend. We had their Not so Funghi and Marguerita
- Dessert at Not Licked Yet – Amazing playground! Within walking distance to our hotel
Day 3 (Saturday)
- Breakfast at Julie’s Park Café & Hotel
- Pebble Beach by Little Sister Resort in Sister Bay – this is the spot guys!
- Pool afternoon at the hotel
- Dinner at Harbor Fish Market & Grille – Lobster boil was amazing ($$$)
Day 4 (Sunday)
- Breakfast at Blue Horse Beach Café – This is a must! So good and right in front of a beach in Fish Creek
- Visited Egg Harbor on our way out. Saw more restaurants, breweries and wineries there.