Although other fare is more expected, it's no less delicious. For example, the Cherry-Stuffed French toast at the White Gull Inn takes cherries, cream cheese and French toast to a new level. This is not a breakfast for the faint of heart. It's a rich, fresh, filling way to start the morning.
Most restaurants have their cherry specialty, whether it be ice cream, pie, or even coffee.
Door County Coffee & Tea Co. roasts their own beans to create rich, dynamic blends, which they also sell online. The cherry creme coffee stands apart from other fruit-flavored brews. The coffee and tea company also has a quaint restaurant that serves soups, sandwiches and other fare featuring fresh ingredients.
Wine is increasingly becoming a feature of Door County. While there, take part in wine tastings at the county's five wineries. Many of the wines are made with local varietals mixed with grapes from other states, and most vintners include fruit wines among their offerings. Harbor Ridge, for example, sells a wine called Cherry Crush, made from cherries, yeast and sugar and aged in a steel vat.
Door Peninsula Winery has branched out. Now, in addition to a tasting room, restaurant and store, the company is producing liquor, including vodka and a gin with strong highlights of locally grown juniper.
With its hundreds of acres of shoreline, Door County is an attractive place for beachgoers, boaters and fishermen. If you've got any water in your veins at all, you'll feel the pull of Lake Michigan.
The lake, like the other Great Lakes that border the U.S. and Canada, is so vast it's more like a freshwater sea, deep and beautiful and dangerous.
The waters off the coast of Door County highlight the dangerous part, at least for inexperienced boaters. A number of islands dot the area in and outside the bay; between them are shoals, some reducing the available draft to a few feet or less.
The trouble is that the bottom of the lake isn't all smooth sand, said Jim Robinson, an avid scuba diver and the captain of a boat called The Shoreline. Jagged rocks can be found below the surface.
Robinson doesn't have much need for concern. Not only is he familiar with the lake's risks, but his boat only draws two feet with a full complement of passengers and crew.
The Shoreline is a 33-foot patrol boat, originally intended for military use. Its cousins saw action in the Vietnam War, where their shallow draft and rigid body made them ideal for river operations. Robinson's boat, however, has never left the Great Lakes.
“It was made for military action,” Robinson's crewman advised the passengers on a trip early last fall. “It has a Kevlar-reinforced hull, something you really need on the Great Lakes.
“You're always at risk of pirates,” he said, joking. “Probably Canadian pirates. But don't worry. This boat is so tough we could run it up onto the beach if we wanted to. ... It's never met a wave it couldn't handle.”
Between them, Robinson and the crewman keep up a steady patter, pointing out the most extravagant homes on the shoreline — the most expensive boat
If you're prone to motion sickness, though, you may be better off checking out the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, which attracts about 20,000 visitors each year.
The museum, just to one side of an impressive drawbridge, contains scale models of Great Lakes boats, a history of Sturgeon Bay shipbuilding, a lighthouse exhibit and antique motors.
A replica ship's bridge faces the water, said Jan Johnson, whose tasks include managing the museum store. “It has some early lifesaving equipment used by the U.S. Lifesaving Service prior to the Coast Guard.”
The jewel of the museum, though, is the John Purves, a refinished and restored 1919 tug boat. Visitors can check out the winch room (in ways the heart of a tug), the engine room and the galley. They can even visit crews' quarters and view the waterfront from the pilot house.
Admission to the museum alone is $6.50. Throw in the tug boat, and it rises to $10.
If you visit the museum on a Saturday, save a little time to visit the farmers market on the other side of the drawbridge. You'll find plenty of cherries, but also handmade summer sausages, sizzling bratwurst, unique cheeses and more.
For more than 76 years, the Peninsula Players have staged plays in Door County. These days, they do it in style.
The Players got their start performing behind a now-defunct motel. Over time, the theater transformed, first moving to a 22-acre parcel of land in Fish Creek that housed the Wildwood Boys Camp, then moving indoors.
At first, that just meant having a length of canvas stretched across a frame, providing a roof of sorts. In 1957, a full-fledged pavilion opened with a solid, permanent roof. No more worries about crowds and performers getting rained on.
Improvements continued over the years. More than a decade ago, a new stage house and audience building were constructed. The walls can be raised to keep things cool in the warmer months or lowered to protect audiences from the elements.
On-site housing is available for performers, and a beer garden sprawls outside, full of rustic furniture and fire pits. (Come early if you want to drink, though; food and beverages are not welcome in the theater itself.)
Nothing about the theater is amateurish. The productions are professional; everyone involved is at the top of their game. Last year's performances included Oscar Wilde's “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Sean Grennan's “Making God Laugh” and “A Few Good Men.”
The season closed with the Wisconsin debut of “God of Carnage,” winner of a Tony Award for Best Play. (The play was released as a movie last year, simply called “Carnage,” starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz and John C. Reilly.)
The new season begins on June 12 with the comedy, “Opus,” and includes productions of “The Nerd,” “Chicago,” “Agatha Christie's Murder on the Nile” and “Lombardi.”
Tickets are available at www.peninsulaplayers.com.
Travel and accommodations provided by Geiger & Associates