Fun Things to Do in Door County Wisconsin in the Winter

There are so many great outdoor adventures to experience in the winter in Door County, Wisconsin.

You’ll find the perfect blend of snow and ice creating a beautiful winter wonderland.

This was my first visit to Wisconsin in the winter months. My previous visit was in the summer to enjoy the Wisconsin Dells.

I’m sharing some of my favorites to try during your next snowcation/winter getaway to the peninsula.

Where is Door County, Wisconsin?

If you are unfamiliar with the area, Door County is a peninsula located about 45 minutes north of Green Bay, Wisconsin.

scenic view of Cave Point County Park in the winter

What is Door County Known For?

Door County is known for its picturesque views of Lake Michigan. You’ll also find cherries, fish boils, year-round outdoor recreation, and charming towns including Sturgeon Bay, Sister Bay, and Baileys Harbor.

If you visit during the winter months you will find plenty of outdoor recreation that is fun for all ages.

Door County offers a range of winter activities for a variety of comfort zones and abilities.

Nedra McDaniel with whitefish from ice fishing

Go Ice Fishing on the Sturgeon Bay

I assumed that ice fishing would be REALLY cold and kind of miserable.

Kind of like the movie Grumpy Old Men… but I still wanted to try it anyway.

ice fishing in Door County

I found the experience to be quite the opposite and really fun! I actually caught a fish, which was perfect for an impatient fisherman.

ride to the ice shanty

Our ice fishing adventure started with Captain JJ Malvitzi, the owner of JJ’s Guide Service.

He drove us in a side-by-side UTV to an ice shanty located about 3 miles out on Sturgeon Bay.

bridge on the ice on Sturgeon Bay

We traveled on 20-inch thick ice and even traveled across a little bridge where there was a crack in the ice.

ice shanty for ice fishing in Door County

I appreciated that our first ice fishing experience was with the pros who knew where to drive and what to look out for along the way.

inside the ice shanty

What Should You Bring for Ice Fishing?

Another perk of ice fishing with a guide is that all you need to do is show up dressed in warm clothes. (I would also bring your phone or a camera.) The rest is taken care of by your ice fishing guide.

Your guides have your bait, fishing gear, and ice shanties, and know the best fishing spots. Captain JJ also provides lunch for his customers.

He demonstrated the tiny movement that we needed to make on the fishing line in our quest to catch a whitefish that day.

Nedra McDaniel ice fishing in Door County

The ice shanty had benches on each side to sit on or store your gear. We kept nice and toasty with the heater inside.

ice shanty on Sturgeon Bay

Ironically, the ice shanty was REALLY warm inside which is why I decided to fish outside.

I packed an extra pair of thick ski gloves and didn’t wear any that day. It was about 27 degrees and thankfully not windy.

Captain JJ Malvitz drilling a hole in the ice

Captain JJ made several other ice fishing holes for our group outside too. I started at a fishing hole and dropped my line about 100 feet to the bottom.

Nedra McDaniel ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay

My Ice Fishing Catch of the Day

I discovered the sweet spot was the second hole about 60 feet to the bottom.

Nedra McDaniel ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay

The fish only gave a slight tug on the line. I almost didn’t notice because it wasn’t as dramatic as my handful of previous fishing experiences.

Captain JJ coached me while I reeled it in and thankfully took care of getting the fish off of the line.

Nedra McDaniel with whitefish from ice fishing

Would I normally kiss a fish?


I got caught up in the moment of my first ice fishing catch and went for it when it was suggested for the photo op.

The whitefish was also put back into the water afterward…but I did enjoy eating a different whitefish at a fish boil that evening.

Nedra McDaniel ice fishing on Sturgeon Bay

….Confession: I might have accidentally dropped him when he squirmed out of my hand. But regardless he did still make it back into the water.

Nedra McDaniel ice fishing in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin

The ice shanties are allowed to stay on the ice until March 15 and the ice is typically ready around the New Year.

If you want to go ice fishing on the weekend I would suggest booking your guide several months in advance. The weekends are very popular for ice fishing, especially for Captain JJ.

Captain JJ Malvitz offers fishing charters for whitefish, northern pike, and walleye.

lighthouse near Sturgeon Bay

On the way back we also stopped to take some pictures of this lighthouse with ice formations along the cliffs.

scenic view in the winter at Peninsula State Park

Explore Peninsula State Park

9462 Shore Rd, Fish Creek, WI

Peninsula State Park is a popular park for activities year-round. In the summer months, there is an 18-hole golf course, a lighthouse, camping, a large beach, bike trails, fishing, and hiking.

In the winter months, you can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, and sledding.

sled riding at Peninsula State Park

You can bring your own sled or rent sledding tubes with Nor Door Sport and Cyclery.

Observation Tower at Peninsula State Park

Be on the lookout for the Eagle Tower, a new 60-foot observation tower with scenic views.

accessible ramp at Peninsula State Park

You can climb the stairs or walk up the 850-ft long accessible ramp.

Eagle Panorama at Peninsula State Park

Make sure that you also stop at Eagle Panorama for another scenic view and selfie station.

kicksledding  with Door County Kick Sled in Peninsula State Park

Try Kicksledding

While we were at Peninsula State Park we demoed a newer winter activity brought to the states from Finland called Kicksledding.

kicksledding  with Door County Kick Sled in Peninsula State Park

What is Kicksledding?

A Kicksled is a small sled with a handlebar and a chair mounted in the front. The kicksled is powered by your kicks.

The best part about kicksledding is that it’s very easy to learn and doesn’t require any special skills.

kicksledding with Door County Kick Sled in Peninsula State Park

You literally just hold on, kick, and ride. We practiced in the parking lot at Peninsula State Park before moving to the trails.

Door County Kick Sled

The kicksled can fold down making it easier to transport in your vehicle.

kicksledding  with Door County Kick Sled in Peninsula State Park

There is a seat on the front of the kicksled that can transport an adult or child. The seat on a kicksled can also be used as a place to hold additional gear or bags.

kicksledding in Door County Wisconsin

You can ride a kicksled on snow or ice. We discovered that we could go even faster on a snow-covered road vs. the trail.

I will say that my calf muscles definitely felt it. It’s recommended to try five kicks with the same leg before switching legs.

 kicksledding with Door County Kick Sled

Ideally, you want your kick to be as long and smooth as possible while holding the handlebars with a light grip.

The sliding is of course the best part so don’t forget to enjoy the ride with both feet on the runners too.

If you encounter a hill, you can kick your way up it on the sled or walk it up.

The kicksled is fun for all ages and provides an opportunity for seniors to be more active during the winter months. They can feel more stable and balanced on the snow with the handlebar on the kicksled.

How much are Kicksleds?

Kicksleds retail for around $325. You can purchase an ELSA Kicksled from Finland online or locally with Door County Kicksled.

cross country skiing at Peninsula State Park in Door County Wisconsin

Go Cross-Country Skiing

There are lots of cross-country trails in Door County.

We skied on the scenic groomed trails through the woods at Peninsula State Park. If you don’t own equipment, cross-country ski rentals and snowshoe rentals are available at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery.

If you are newer to the sport, you’ll find that cross-country skiing can be counterintuitive to downhill skiing.

I’d only tried cross-country skiing twice before in Michigan and one of those times the trail conditions were REALLY icy.

cross country skiing in Peninsula State Park

How Cross-Country Skis Are Different Than Downhill Skis?

Cross-country skis are thinner than downhill skis. The ski boots are more flexible because they only click into the ski at the toe.

cross country skiing at Peninsula State Park

Your back foot can lift off of the cross-country ski to help you get more movement.

For cross-country skiing, your ski poles need to stay to your side and behind you.

cross country skiing at Peninsula State Park in Door County Wisconsin

You also want to stay on the “tracks” on the trail. Cross-country skis don’t have edges like downhill skis which is an adjustment when you go down a small hill.

It’s easy to work up a sweat quickly so dress in layers.

During my previous time cross-country skiing in Michigan, I quickly learned that my hands can get HOT quickly with thick ski gloves.

Nedra McDaniel cross country skiing in Door County Wisconsin

I started without gloves on until I fell. After that, I put on thin running gloves.

The only thing that hurt when I fell was my ego. I’m determined to try cross-country skiing again so that I can do better next time.

fat tire e bike tour to Cave Point County Park in the winter

Take a Fat Tire E-Bike Tour to Cave Point County Park

6329 WI-57, Sturgeon Bay, WI

Cave Point Paddle and Peddle provides riders a scenic fat tire e-bike tour to Cave Point County Park.

The e-bike tour lasts about 2 hours and includes two picturesque stops by Lake Michigan.

e-bike ride with Cave Point Paddle and Peddle

Before you go on the tour, you’ll learn more about the e-bike features and test them out in the driveway and on the main road.

All riders are required to sign a waiver and wear a helmet.

fat tire e- bike ride with Cave Point Paddle and Peddle

How is a Fat Tire Electric Bike Different than a Regular Bike?

With an electric bike, you have additional power that can assist you during your ride. You can choose to use the power as much or as little as you want while you pedal.

The fat tires on the bike also handle snow and non-paved trails with more stability than bikes with thinner tires.

e bike tour in Door County

If you have never ridden an e-bike before, you will love it! I have an e-bike at home that I LOVE.

e-bike ride to Cave Point County Park

Our guide led the way to the County Park and had us stop as a group before the busy intersections.

There were a few roads where we could ride next to each other. Otherwise, we traveled on the e-bikes, single file.

scenic view of Lake Michigan in the winter

When we stopped for a scenic view of Clark Lake, I found it easier to pedal through the thicker snow with a boost of power.

e-bike ride to Cave Point County Park

The highlight of the tour was definitely taking in all of the views at Cave Point County Park.

We were given plenty of time to explore the park before returning back to the rental shop. (More pictures coming below)

The e-bike tour travels around 5 miles roundtrip. I would recommend wearing shoes with a good grip for your time walking in the park.

This is a great tour that allows you to experience Door County in a unique way.

Cave Point County Park in the winter

Enjoy Scenic Views of Lake Michigan at Cave Point County Park

5360 Schauer Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 

Cave Point is a very popular park year-round in Door County for its incredible views of the water.

ice at Cave Point County Park in the winter

Our e-bike tour took us directly to Cave Point. Another option is to drive and hike around the overlooks with limestone cliffs and underwater caves.

Cave Point County Park in the winter

During the winter you’ll be treated to incredible ice formations along the edges of the rocks. The contrast next to shades of turquoise blue water is absolutely stunning.

Cave Point State Park in the winter

There are definitely some really icy spots near the edges so make sure that you have something to hold onto nearby.

ice at Cave Point County Park in the winter

I speak from experience. The “pose” above happened when I squatted down so that the ice formations could be seen behind me.

Thankfully I didn’t slip on the ice very far to the ground or near the edge.

trail at Cave Point State Park

If you come with kids, keep them SUPER close.

It can turn very dangerous quickly if they wander off the trails or get too close to the edge. There were even a few holes in the ground for the sea caves.

Cave Point County Park in the winter

I would also recommend wearing shoes with a good grip and layers because it gets really cold if it’s windy.

Cave Point County Park in Door County

After you visit the popular spot for cliff jumping in the summer, you have the option of going farther to the left or exploring to the right.

ice at Cave Point County Park in the winter

If you are facing the water you’ll want to explore farther to the right for the most dramatic formations.

ice at Cave Point County Park in the winter

Cave Point is definitely a MUST-SEE park when you visit Door County!

scenic hike at The Ridges Sanctuary

Hike The Ridges Sanctuary

8166 WI-57, Baileys Harbor, WI 

The Ridges Sanctuary was Wisconsin’s first land trust and is a natural gem located within the Baileys Harbor community.

Hidden Brook Boardwalk at The Ridges Sanctuary in Wisconsin

Why is it called the Ridges?

The name for the Ridges Sanctuary comes from a series of 30 ridges and swales.

scenic view at The Ridges Sanctuary in Wisconsin

Ridges were formed over 1400 years by the changing movement of water from Lake Michigan.

guided tour at The Ridges Sanctuary in Wisconsin

You can learn more in-depth about the 1600-acre nature preserve with a guided hike from a naturalist.

Our guide Bill was a wealth of information and very passionate about the area.

trails at The Ridges Sanctuary

The Hidden Brook boardwalk makes it easy for wheelchairs and guests of all abilities to access the beauty within the forest.

scenic hike at The Ridges Sanctuary

There are also hiking trails if you want to explore beyond the boardwalk. In the winter, the snow might cover the sand and you can walk around the conifer forest.

scenic view at The Ridges Sanctuary

The Ridges provides protection for the most biologically diverse ecosystem in Wisconsin, including nearly 500 species of plants.

woodpecker holes in a tree at The Ridges Sanctuary holes in a tree at The Ridges Sanctuary

The Ridges are home to over 60 species of breeding birds. There are also 12 threatened or endangered species including the Hine’s Emerald dragonfly.

Check out the impressive holes on the tree above created by a woodpecker that is hard to miss!

The Ridges Sanctuary in Wisconsin

Sign Up for an Educational Program at The Ridges

The Ridges offers lots of educational programming throughout the year for both adults and kids.

The Ridges Sanctuary

If you don’t have time for a guided hike stop inside the educational building to learn more about the area through the exhibits on display.

Baileys Harbor Upper Range Light

Baileys Harbor Range Lights

During our hike, one of the highlights was the Baileys Harbor Range lights built in 1869.

Baileys Harbor Upper Range Light

The Upper Range Light and the Lower Range Light have a straight path between them.

These are the only lighthouses of this type of design that are still functional to aid with navigation.

Baileys Harbor Lower Range Light

The Lighthouses helped keep ships away from the shallow water and the reefs near Baileys Harbor.

The goal for the sailor was to vertically align with the white light from the Upper Range Light, which shone at 39 feet above the water, with the red light from the Lower Range Light, which shone at 22 feet.

You can learn more about the tours offered at The Ridges from their website.

Anderson Dock in Ephraim Wisconsin

Sign Your Name or Enjoy a Photo Op at Anderson Dock

3083 Anderson Ln, Ephraim, WI

Anderson Dock in Ephraim, Wisconsin is a very popular location for pictures year-round.

Anderson Dock in Ephraim Wisconsin

Thousands have left their mark on the outside walls of the colorful structure where The Hardy Gallery has resided since 1961.

Anderson Dock in Ephraim Wisconsin

This is one of the rare structures where you won’t get in trouble for signing your name tastefully. (Just keep your spray paint and carving knife at home.)

Anderson Dock in Ephraim Wisconsin

The tradition started with sailors who signed the walls with their boat name and the year that they docked somewhere between 1910 into the 1950s.

Anderson Dock in Ephraim Wisconsin

The graffiti tradition has continued to live on for generations who visit the area.

Nedra McDaniel at Anderson Dock in Ephraim

If you want to use the building for a photo backdrop I would suggest wearing a bright color to make your photos pop even more.

snowshoeing on the trails at The Rushes

Go Snowshoeing at The Rushes

3014 Rushes Rd, Baileys Harbor, WI 

If you are a guest staying at “The Rushes,” you can enjoy using their snowshoes and cross-country skis for free on their scenic trails.

The Rushes have loaner equipment available for both adult and children’s sizes.

Rushes Wilderness Preserve Trail Map

Most guests borrow the equipment in the morning and return it the following morning so that they can enjoy the trails at their leisure.


Snowshoes are really easy to use. You step into them with your snow boots and secure them with straps around the ankle and in the front.

Rushes Wilderness Preserve Trail in the winter

While you are on the Rushes Wilderness Preserve Trail you want to be mindful of the tracks for cross-country skiers.

Make sure that you snowshoe on the opposite side of the cross-country tracks so that you don’t mess them up with your snowprint.

snowshoeing at The Rushes

I would still recommend wearing snow pants if it’s cold or if the snow is really deep.

Snowshoeing at The Rushes

You can enjoy the trails through the woods or along the water.

snowshoeing at The Rushes

After our snowshoe trek, it was really convenient to be able to walk to my condo.

townhome at The Rushes in Door County

Accommodations at The Rushes

3014 Rushes Road, Baileys Harbor, WI

The Rushes is a great option for families. The condos have a kitchen, a working fireplace in the family room, and two or three-bedroom options.

bedroom at The Rushes in Door County
kitchen in condo at The Rushes in Door County
fireplace in condo at The Rushes in Door County

Each condo comes with a garage, which is even more appreciated if you are visiting in the winter.

In addition to the trails, there is a recreational center with an indoor pool, whirlpool, steam room, exercise room, and lounge.

snowman on the trails at The Rushes

Are You Ready to Plan a Winter Getaway to Door County?

Check out my additional recommendations for great places to eat in Door County.

This was an exploratory trip by Destination Door County. All opinions are my own.

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