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Explore Door County’s great outdoors on land or water

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    Posted: July 9, 2021

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Getting some fresh air and exploring the outdoors has been at the top of everyone’s list for the last year, but exploring the outdoors is nothing new for Door County visitors and locals alike. Door County offers a lot of outdoor activities on the water, but if you’re looking to stay on dry land, there are plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. And some of those even come with breathtaking views of the water. Here’s a list of our favorite places to explore on land and the easiest ways to get on the water.

Explore on land

To experience the best trails, natural features, and views a stop at a state or county park has to be on your list. Right across the bay of Sturgeon Bay is Potawatomi State Park, featuring several hiking trails that lead you to steep slopes and rugged limestone cliffs right on the water. Potawatomi is also home to the eastern trailhead of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which starts near the site of the old observation tower.

cave point park, beach

Just across the peninsula is Cave Point County Park and Cave Point-Clay Banks State Natural Area. Cave Point features an extensive ridge and carved rock faces that are maybe the most iconic natural landscapes in the entire county. There aren’t many undeveloped areas of Door County, but Kangaroo Lake State Nature Preserve and North Bay State Natural Area are two truly natural areas.

For something even more unique, visit a 5-acre undisturbed bedrock beach on Lake Michigan at Moonlight Bay Bedrock Beach. The main feature of Moonlight Bay, a dolomite bedrock beach, is either covered or exposed depending on the water level of Lake Michigan.

Meridian Park, 92-acres of land between Jacksonsport and Baileys Harbor, has natural trails for hiking and a picnic area. But the coolest part of this county park is the wayside located on the south end of the park. It’s located close to the 45th parallel, which is halfway between the equator and the North Pole.

sturgeon bay lighthouse

To get the best of both worlds…time in the great outdoors and a beautiful view, head to one of the 11 lighthouses in Door County. Many of the Door County lighthouses were built in the 1800s and are must-see attractions boasting beautiful architecture and some of the best views in the county.

If you want to stay close to Bay Shore Inn in Sturgeon Bay, there are three – Sherwood Point Lighthouse, Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pierhead Light, and Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Light. There are four lighthouses located in northern Door County, and four more that are located off the beaten path. Most of the lighthouses have restricted access or are only open during special events, so make sure to plan your visits accordingly.

Explore on water

If getting to see any of the water that surrounds the Door County peninsula from land piqued your interest and you’re wanting to hit the waves yourself, launch a kayak or stand-up paddle board for a leisurely paddle or head out for a fishing adventure.

Bay Shore Inn guests have access to complimentary kayaks, SUPs and paddle boards and from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Our beach is the perfect spot to launch and explore Sturgeon Bay.

If our water vessels aren’t available or you want to launch somewhere else on the peninsula, Bay Shore Outfitters in Sturgeon Bay can get you out on the water. Rentals are available by the hour, day and week, and delivery is available if you want to launch from nearby Sunset Park or one of the other boat launches across the county.

sturgeon bay marina, sailboat

For more action and adventure, book a fishing or boating charter with one of our local businesses. Reel Impressions offers both fishing charters and sunset cruises. Door County Boat Rental has boats for all types of fun and adventure on the water. If you want to book some time on the water, stop by the Bay Shore Inn front desk and we’ll help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

The outdoors are great, but they’re even greater in Door County with opportunities to explore on land or water. When you come to Door County for your outdoor adventure, Bay Shore Inn will be your home base with comfortable suites, some opportunities to get on or in the water, and a centralized location to some of the best exploring locations.