What to do in Door County in the Winter

It's a warm January in Door County, which begs to ask the question:  what do we do here in Door County, Wisconsin all winter?  Expecially if it's un-winterlike weather?  Right now, even though it is nearing the heart of January 2023, there is no ice for ice fishing and there is no snow.  How do we keep from going CRAZY in the off-season if we can't skate, ski, snowmobile or ice fish, among other things?

1.  First and foremost, Sister Bay has a great ice rink that is lovingly maintained by volunteers to allow for ice skating (along with skate rental).  As it's still getting quite cold at night, the ice is holding up nicely for an afternoon or evening skate.  Since it gets dark quite early, it's fun to see the lights come on and watch the skaters, too.  If your crowd gets stir-crazy, bring or rent skates and enjoy some fresh air and exercise.

2.  We explore!  With so little snow and no dangerous ice right now, it's a great time to visit some of our favorite places that get so crowded in the summer, like Peninsula State Park, Whitefish Dunes, Newport State Park and many of the wonderful County and town and village parks.  This is the perfect time for a hike on a day when it's not too windy.  Dress with appropriate shoes and proper layering and enjoy fresh air and solitude.  You may see deer, wild turkeys, winter birds and other hardy souls pass you as you hike the trails or create your own trails.

Hiking Along Lake Michigan in Winter

Lake MIchigan does not freeze in winter, making it a wonderful time to hike along the shore

3.  We enjoy local restaurants.  Yes, many of our favorites are closed for the season (or for a short winter break), but this is the only time of the year that I know I can get into Al Johnson's on a weekday for breakfast with no wait.  Even though there are no goats on the roof at Al Johnson's at this time of the year, our favorite Swedish delicacies await.   Other places that are perfect to visit at this time of the year include SIP (new in Ephraim), the White Gull Inn, Blue Bear Ellison Bay, The Bayside, Harbor Fish Market (now serving brunch) and, on the weekends, Wickman House (until mid-February, then reopening spring).  

4.  We visit!  This is a great time of the year to have coffee with friends at Kick Ash Ellison Bay, Skipstone or Blue Horse Cafe.  It's also a wonderful time to spend a wintery evening outside with friends and family enjoying a bonfire, complete with s'mores and hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine.  You may join a local book club, yoga class or anything else simply to get educated or get fit, but most of all to see your friends and meet new ones.  

What to do in Door County in winter, bonfire

5.  We learn.   From the winter classes at The Clearing in Ellison Bay to weekend art exhibits and the February Short Film Festival, there is something new to take in every week or weekend.  As an example, this winter one could could learn everything from wood carving to wine tasting to watercolors at The Clearing.  These classes fill up very quickly (some are already full) so register now.  This year's Short Film Festival will move its location from Sister Bay to the new Northern Sky Theater in Fish Creek....sample dozens of short films over a special weekend.  

6.  We House Hunt.  Winter is a great time to beat the crowds if you are looking for a Door County property.  The prices don't go down in the winter, but the competition is much less fierce than other times of the year.  You can also visit our website to find the lastest in Door County listings from the comfort of your own home.  We do show property year-round here, and it's also a great time to book a resort weekend to enjoy some down time in between your showings.  Some of our local resorts are so popular that even we "locals" will book an overnight evening to enjoy a "spa night" with our loved ones.  This is definitely something we can't do in the summer!

Door County Resorts with indoor poolsWinter is a fabulous time to enjoy a Door County getaway to a resort with an indoor pool.

What is there to do in Door County in the winter?  There is time to breathe, explore, play, learn, enjoy driving down the Sister Bay hill with NO cars on either side of the street (it's a bit of a surreal experience after the busy season), visit with friends and so much more.  Don't worry, of course it will snow (probably more than we want it to) but enjoy this gentle weather while you can!

What to do in Door County in the Winter

Door County House Hunting in Winter


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All information is deemed reliable as of date of publication and is subject to change without notice.


 Thank you for reading!  MaryKay Shumway, ABR®, CRS®, Realtor® loves to laugh and enjoys working with people that love the Door Peninsula.  She is a full-time real estate Broker, mother of two and a senior Broker Associate at the Kellstrom-Ray Agency, Inc. in beautiful Sister Bay, Wisconsin.  She represents listings throughout the Door County Peninsula and also represents many Buyers that want to purchase the perfect property to make Door County a part of their lives.  CONTACT MARYKAY ABOUT YOUR DOOR COUNTY PROPERTY QUESTIONS TODAY.