How have we missed Door County? In all the years of The Food Channel—since 1988—we haven’t covered the amazing food landscape in the upper Midwest. Until now, when the Door County Visitor’s Bureau convinced us that cherry season was the time to visit.
First a few facts about Door County:
- It is part of the peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan, northeast of Green Bay
- The cherry of choice is primarily the Montmorency tart variety
- There are 2,500 acres of tart cherry orchards, and another 50 acres devoted to sweet cherries, making Door County the fourth largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S.
- The typical harvest, which runs from mid-July to early August, yields 8-15 million pounds of cherries per year
- The average cherry tree contains about 7,000 cherries—enough for about 28 pies
- Apple season runs a close second, with other harvests including pears, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, and maple syrup
All of those cherries show up locally in everything from juice, to chocolate, to cheese, and even cosmetics.
Things you may not know:
- There are 11 lighthouses in Door County, the oldest built in 1836, with four of them open for tours
- There are hundreds of shipwrecks off the shores of Door County, which led to the name for the uppermost point of the peninsula, Death’s Door, and eventually to the name of the county
- During World War II, German POWs came to Door County and were put to work picking cherries; many stayed in the area and made it their home
- The hymn The Old Rugged Cross was first performed in Sturgeon Bay, WI, the County seat of Door County
- Rock Island State Park, reachable by ferry, is just one of many islands in Door County; no vehicles are allowed on Rock Island
- Ephraim, WI is the home of the Anderson Warehouse, where graffiti is encouraged from visitors—the red, painted signed boards have, in the past, been auctioned off for charity
Things to do in Door County
- Take the Sister Bay Scenic Boat Tour, which goes 125 miles along green Bay off Lake Michigan
- Visit any of the many ice cream shops and bakeries—including Wilson’s and Door County Ice Cream Factory & Sandwich Shoppe where you can sample the Death’s Door chocolate or the Door County cherry
- Visit North Water Bakery & Deli for pie or any of their other treats—this is the bakery that supplies some of the other shops, so check it out in person
- Check out the Door County Historical Museum and shops in Sturgeon Bay, and stop at the Inn at Cedar Crossing for their daily special, like the Door County Cherry Sandwich made with ham, cherry compote, cherry sauce and an egg to top it off!
- Drive up the peninsula to Ellison’s Bay and stop at the Death’s Door Maritime Museum on your way to the furthest point
- Stop by Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant to try a bite or just take a photo of the goats on the roof
- Take a culinary cooking class at the Savory Spoon.
Be sure and watch the site in the coming days as we publish more in-depth stories on a varieties of attractions visited in Door County – and see if you aren’t tempted to book your own trip. Cherry season is always the right time to go!
- Baileys Harbor Schoolhouse Inn
- The Savory Spoon/recipes
- Cherry Bounce
- Cherry De-Lite
- Fred & Fuzzy’s
- Lake Michigan Cookbook/recipes
- Lighthouse Mouse
- Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market
- Renard’s Cheese
- Rowleys Bay Resort
- Savory Spoon
- Seaquist Orchids
- Top Deck
- White Cottage Red Door
- White Gull Inn
- Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream
Travel accommodations and tour arrangements in Door County were provided by the Door County Visitors Bureau in conjunction with Geiger & Associates Public Relations.
Photos by Paul K. Logsdon