Bay Shore Inn’s Best Kept Secrets of Door County

Where are the hidden gems?
How do the locals spend their free time?
What are the best local restaurants?
Where are the hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pop restaurants locals love?
Where are the best spots to take pictures?
What are the best activities for kids?

These are just some of the questions we get time and time again from guests when they’re checking in or as they’re planning an afternoon in Sturgeon Bay. From local restaurants and shops to best views or spots for outdoor sports and recreation…we have the hidden gems, the local favorites and the small-town secrets.

Where’s the best view?

Door County has scenic roads, walking trails, five state parks, 19 county parks and dozens of nature preserves to explore. So if you’re looking for a good view…you can’t really go wrong. But some of our favorites include Cave Point, Whitefish Dunes, Door Bluff County Park, and the not-so-secret Cana Island Lighthouse.

Cave Point County Park might be one of the most photographed natural landscapes of Door County, but it is lesser known than some other parks in the area. The beautifully carved rocks along Lake Michigan are a sight to see any season of the year. The county park has free admission with access to picnic areas and trails. And it’s just up the beach from Whitefish Dunes State Park.

Whitefish Dunes State Park

Whitefish Dunes State Park is 863 acres of forest and dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan with a full mile of sand beach, two miles of rocky shore to explore, and the highest sand dunes in the state. The state park boasts some of the most expansive views of Lake Michigan in all of Door County.

There might not be another sight that is more quintessentially Door County than Cave Point and Whitefish Dunes, except the Cana Island Lighthouse.

The Cana Island Lighthouse is Door County’s most iconic lighthouse. It has stood watch over the shores of Lake Michigan for more than 150 years. To explore the island and the lighthouse (which is open May through October) you have to cross a causeway that may be covered in water. The Door County Maritime Museum offers complimentary tractor and wagon rides, or you can walk across if you have the right footwear.

For an extra special view…head to Door Bluff Headlands Park. The 155-acre park offers spectacular views of Hedgehog Harbor and Green Bay.

Where is the best spot to hike?

Just like the best views…there are so many hiking options that you can’t go wrong. Two of our favorites are Peninsula State Park and the Door County Land Trust properties. Peninsula State Park isn’t exactly a secret spot, but it’s so big you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself. With 20 miles of hiking trails, Peninsula State Park is a great spot for a short hike or a full day out on the trails.

The Door County Land Trust preserves and  maintains lands that contribute to the scenic beauty and open space of Door County. There are 14 preserves encompassing more than 8,000 acres of fields, forests, farmlands, orchards, wetlands and shoreline to explore.

What are the best local restaurants?

There are so many great local restaurants in and around Sturgeon Bay, but our go-to’s as locals are Scaturo’s Baking Co. and Café and Birmingham’s Bar. Scaturo’s in Sturgeon Bay is just a good smalltown bakery and café. They make amazing breads and all our favorite sweet baked goods. They also serve breakfast and lunch, plus pizza Wednesdays and Thursdays. They’re currently offering take out and curbside service.

Birmingham’s Bar

Birmingham’s Bar is a third-generation family-owned waterfront bar and restaurant. We love them for their homemade food, specialty drinks and friendly staff. Located five miles north of Sturgeon Bay, Birmingham’s is just minutes from the Bay Shore Inn property. Due to current COVID restrictions, we suggest calling to make sure they’ll be open during your visit.

What are the best spots to fish from shore?

The best spots to fish from the shore are at Pinney Park Quarry and the Old Train Bridge. The Quarry is a favorite of local fishing enthusiast to access the waters of Green Bay in pursuit of bass, northern, and perch. The Old Train Bridge in downtown Sturgeon Bay was abandoned in 1968. The embankment was improved for public enjoyment – including fishing – with a grant in 1987.

What are the best kid-friendly activities?

The Farm

Door County is pretty kid-friendly for the most part, but some of the best spots are in or near Sturgeon Bay. Crossroads at Big Creek is a 125-acre preserve that offers educational programs, recreational opportunities and lots of family fun. The Farm, a historic living museum in Sturgeon Bay, is a great family friendly activity to do while visiting Door County. You can visit farm animals in their natural surroundings, bottle feed goat kids, lambs and piglets, milk a goat, and see chicks hatch. Visitors can also see pioneer log buildings, farm tools and implements, and garden and field crops, and enjoy nature trails and exhibits.

PC Junction, a restaurant in Baileys Harbor serving up fun and great food, and Johnson’s Park Mini Golf and Go Karts in Sister Bay are also great local options for some family entertainment.

So now that you know all of the best kept secrets, book your stay at Bay Shore Inn and enjoy Door County like a local!