Winter Goals: 16 Ways to Enjoy Winter in Door County

The holidays have pulled us through December, but spring is nowhere close to the horizon. That puts us at least six weeks away from the almost-always misplaced hopes of an early thaw to keep our spirits up. 

That leaves us with one option: Revel in the heart of winter! For those for whom winter is a slog or a fight, buckle up. You’re here for the duration, so you might as well make the most of it. You’ll be complaining about clogged streets and crowded beaches before you know it, so get out to soak in the silence now. 

Here are 16 ways to enjoy winter on this ice-covered strip of rock. 

1. Take in a winter sunset in full. Not from the car, not with a quick glance. Bundle up, grab some hot chocolate (or your favorite winter warmer) and head to the shoreline to admire the glow that only a winter sunset brings. With less pollution and few dust particles in the air, the colors of the sun are brighter and more intense than during the summer.


Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

2. Get weird at the Fish Creek Winter Festival Feb. 6. Toss a toilet seat, race minnows, dance with the stumpf fiddle. Just normal things people do, right? 

Photo by Len Villano.

3. Sculpt something out of winter. Sturgeon Bay’s Fire & Ice Festival features creations made from ice and snow throughout the city Feb. 18-19. But you don’t have to wait for the pros – spruce up your neighborhood with a massive sculpture of your own! 

4. Lace up your skates at the Teresa K. Hilander Community Ice Rink. Or find out what broomball is all about by putting on a pair of spongy broomball shoes and flailing at a mini soccer ball on the ice. Or, keep it easy by warming up at the fire pit and watching the experts during the Door County Pond Hockey Tournament Feb. 12. 

5. Warm up with a Bayside Coffee. The bartenders may not love you for ordering it, but it’s a great show to make, and even better to drink on a snowy day. 

6. Ski or snowshoe by candlelight. If conditions are good, keep an eye out for candlelight-ski events. Head to Whitefish Dunes on Jan. 29, Newport State Park on Feb. 12 or Crossroads at Big Creek on Feb. 18. 

7. Hunt ice shoves. As the lake thaws in late winter, the sheet of ice covering Green Bay comes hurtling ashore, piling up in dramatic ice mountains. Explore – but be careful – and take your camera.

8. Admire the winter fleet. Each winter, more than a dozen lakers make their way into Sturgeon Bay to lay up for the season. Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding repairs or upgrades them before they return to work on the Great Lakes in March and April. Keep tabs at to find out when you can see these massive engineering marvels arrive and leave through the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. 

9. Roll on fat tires. With wide tires and the right winter gear, a winter ride unveils a new view of trails in Peninsula and Newport State Parks. If you love to ride during the summer, try experiencing the sensation of floating on winter snow. Or for the experienced, throw on a set of studded fat tires to explore the shore or ride over a safely frozen bay. 

Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

10. Crack open a new book, or revisit an old one. Door County Reads features two works by acclaimed Wisconsin author Michael Perry this winter: Population: 485 and Truck: A Love Story. If you know a local volunteer firefighter or first responder, you’ll find a lot of Door County feels in Perry’s memoir about “meeting your neighbors one siren at a time” in a small, western Wisconsin town. 

11. Ski by kite. OK, this one isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t particularly accessible. But putting it on this list means we get to use a cool photo of the ones who do it. So even if you don’t, keep an eye out for the ones who do this winter. Then pull over and take in some free entertainment. 

12. Revel in the morning after. The shoveling may break our backs, but once you get out of the driveway the morning after a big snowstorm, a postcard landscape awaits. One morning it may be hoar frost glistening on branches; another morning, it’s snow sitting heavily on the bows over the trail. 

Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

13. Climb Hill 17 for the thrill of going down. Grease up your sled and fly down the famous hill on the 17th hole of the Peninsula State Park Golf Course. 

14. Find a new trail. Not only are there almost certainly trails you haven’t hiked, but even those you’re familiar with take on a new look come winter. Whether it’s climbing for the view at Door Bluff Headlands or tramping through the woods of Potawatomi State Park, new views are waiting for you. 

Photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

15. Get creative. Check out the cultural and educational resources you’re too busy to explore during the summer. Take a writing class at Write On, Door County. Check out the winter catalog of classes at The Clearing or Peninsula School of Art. Or just learn something new through Door Community Auditorium’s Door County Talks series or the Door County Maritime Museum’s Maritime Speaker Series. 

16. Drive through Ephraim. Just because. It’s 35 mph for only half the year, so don’t miss it!

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