The northern part of the Door peninsula is littered with small towns that owe their existence to tourism. All have their unique features, yet, remain close to the same. One of my favorites, the one I romp about today, along with my sisters’ families and my parents, is the quintessential vacation town graced with everything from great food and shops to picturesque nature trails and beaches. I speak of the bay side town of Fish Creek, blessed with all I mentioned and some of the premier attractions in the county.
I received an unexpected text from my sister Laurie, as her life revolves around raising four children in the suburbs of Minneapolis, saying they were taking advantage of a four-day school recess and journeying home to Door County. I say home because my entire childhood was spent in the southern part of the county. Her plans were to travel to the northern portion, the tourist laden portion, and enjoy the sights like any other out-of- town traveler.
Normally, after labor day, Fish Creek and the rest of Door County’s tourist towns, whether on the lake or the bay, are dormant. Driving through said towns in the offseason causes a lonely yearning for summer. However, the peninsula plays host to a team run called the Fall 50 this weekend, an event my Sister Shannon is participating in, and if you add the colors of fall, the towns are booming again.
I meet everyone at a spot known as Wild Tomato, a venue specialized in fire baked pizza enjoyed in an outdoor setting. My sisters risk a rather different pizza with purple cauliflower and feta cheese, as I stick to basics and choose my own toppings. It may be October, but the weather was in the low 70’s, making sitting outdoors and tasting delicious thin crust pizza something to rival any fine dining. Although the restaraunt is limited in size, the rustic appeal and friendly staff make the taste bud gratifying pizza the exclamation point. Of course, having seven children in the party sways the decision on what we will eat. Pizza is a winner anytime, anywhere.
After lunch, we head toward the third largest state park in Wisconsin, which is literally right across the highway, Peninsula State Park. The park showcases everything Door County has to offer, from limestone bluffs to the scenic shoreline of Green Bay. We park at the beach and the crew enjoys a short walk to the boat landing, as the kids pass the time skipping rocks.
From the landing, we can see Islands and peer into the clear water, glimpsing the rocks at the bottom. Small cairns are built on a piece of driftwood, and the trees meld in an array of colors on a distant shoreline. It is a great place for reflection, catching up and just enjoying the day.
After some time, we split up due to a nephew’s prior engagement. Shannon takes most of the kids, all except three-year old lille, back towards the south. My parents decide to return home also, leaving myself, my sister, her husband and lille stranded deep inside the park with no vehicle. I do enjoy a long hike.
We follow a bike trail, whether walking on the paved passage is allowed or not, known as Sunset Trail. The autumn colors, leaf matted forest floors, steep bluffs, outdoor theatre and, of all things, a cemetery leave us charmed and amused.
Peninsula State Park is the second oldest state park in Wisconsin, established after Interstate Park in 1909. As I mentioned, it is also the third largest, having 3,776 acres worth of terrain to bike, hike and camp on. It has been a draw for tourists for more than a century. Honestly, there is no doubt in my mind why it has been a favorite for so long.
Today, as we stroll this enchanting trail, we encounter many cyclists and the glimpse of the fluffy tail of a deer. The park, considering it is time for fall colors, attracts many to enjoy the beauty of its forests and shoreline. I am right along with everyone else, simply content.
Finally, we reach the entrance of the park and return to town. As we do, I pass an old employer, a rental shop I worked at for a few months during the end of a summer, known as Edge of Park. They benefit from the tourists who fancy a bike ride through the park but, naturally, left their bikes at home.
Fish Creek is built along Highway 42 between the popular towns of Egg Harbor and Ephraim. Although the town had its modest roots sewn by fisherman and loggers, by the year 1900 tourism became the area’s primary purpose. It has been known as a tourist town ever since.
There is constant Traffic today and I enjoy the trees that line the streets and the marigolds, among some weeds, between the town walk and the street curb. The shops, bed and breakfasts, taverns and restaurant’s stretch for some distance.
Our last stop is simply for relaxing and photo taking outside Julie’s café. I’ve seen these big chairs before but never have been photographed in one. Laurie is the smart one, as I squint directly into the sun.
Off to my left, We discover the most comfortable Adirondack chairs ever, hard to believe they were made of wood. It is Timely that they are placed conveniently as we leave the park, after such a long hike.
We spend sometime just chilling, as I don’t want leave the comfy grasp of my well contoured chair. However, all good times must eventually end, as this day concludes with me wearing a perma-smile all the way south to Green Bay.
If you have ever thought of Door County as a destination, I seriously suggest any of the spots I’ve mentioned. There was so much more to see in this one little town, we could return another day and have a new and different experience. However, I’m happy with the memories made today.