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5 Tips for a Day on Washington Island

There are a few tips you should know when spending the day on Washington Island, whether you’re riding a bike all day or hitting every tourist destination you can find. I learned the hard way: I went to the island with only a general idea of where I wanted to go, $6 in cash and a full phone battery that died within three hours. It was all doable, but knowing these tips beforehand would have made for a smoother day:

1. Take a sweater or jacket for the ferry ride. It doesn’t matter how warm it is, you will most likely be cold on the ride to and from the island, especially if it’s early in the morning. The wind coming off the water is always colder than you think it will be, even if you were sweating just moments before.

2. Take cash. Maybe I haven’t lived in Door County long enough to know this, or maybe it’s the way it is with island businesses – by choice or necessity – but take cash! Most places where my companion and I stopped were cash-only joints, so $6 just isn’t going to cut it.

3. Take a portable phone charger. Even if you arrive with a full battery, looking up directions for all of your destinations is going to make your phone die quickly. My cell phone carrier could be the culprit, but internet service on the island does tend to be a tad bit unreliable at times. When your phone is constantly trying to get a connection, it drains its battery in the attempt. Save your battery for taking pictures!

4. Have a paper map, and acquainted with it. Learning how to read a map – or dusting off the map-reading skills you used to have before your phone made it so effortless to get around – makes your trip to Washington Island so much easier. It’s hard to get lost if you have a map, can read it, know where you are, know where you want to go, and follow the road signs. It’s like a grid with only about 10 central roads (rounding), and when the main road is actually called Main Road, it’s going to be pretty simple to get around if you have a map.

5. Plan your destinations before you go. Again, to save your phone battery, know which places you’d like to visit before you get there, and then feel confident that your handy-dandy paper map has some key attractions already identified. Then it will be easy to know where to go and in what order. Road signs will help to point you in the right direction, too. By the way, one of those destinations should be Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Pub and Restaurant. Did you even go to Washington Island if you didn’t join Nelsen’s Bitters Club?

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