Visitors Guide

The Door County Peninsula features 250 miles of the most gorgeous shoreline the Midwest has to offer.

With six State Parks, you and your family can enjoy hiking, biking, beaches, lighthouse tours and more! There are concerts, plays and night life to enjoy, as well as the Maritime Museum, golf courses, restaurants and splendid antique shops.

Use as your Door County, WI Visitor's Guide Book for information on local businesses, vacation hot spots, nightlife, shopping, events, community services and much more!

Visit Door County, Wisconsin soon and you'll find there is no place like it!
  • Population, 2010 27,785
  • Households, 2005-2009 13,449
  • Median household income, 2009 $49,114
  • Private nonfarm establishments, 2008 1,321
  • Total number of firms, 2007 4,109
  • Land area, 2000 (square miles) 482.72
  • Persons per square mile, 2010 57.6

Door was created on 1851 from Brown County. The County Seat is Sturgeon Bay. The County was named for the straits between the mainland and Washington Island, locally known as Death's Door, a translation from the French voyageur term, ''La Porte des Morts" (the door of the dead). The origin of this name is traditionary, probably having arisen from the dangerous character of these waters.

Counties adjacent to Door County are Kewaunee County (south). Door County Cities Include Sturgeon Bay. Towns Include Baileys Harbor, Brussels, Clay Banks, Egg Harbor, Forestville, Gardner, Gibraltar, Jacksonport, Liberty Grove, Nasewaupee, Sevastopol, Union, Washington. Villages Include Egg Harbor, Ephraim, Forestville, Sister Bay.


County History

The Door County peninsula has been inhabited for about 11,000 years. Artifacts from an ancient village site at Nicolet Bay Beach have been dated to about 400 BC. This site was occupied by various cultures until about 1300 AD.

The 1700-1800s saw the immigration and settlement of pioneers, mariners, fishermen and farmers. Economic sustenance came from lumbering and tourism.

During the 1800s, various groups of Native Americans occupied the area that would become Door County and its islands. Beginning in mid-century, these Indians, mostly Potawatomi, were removed from the peninsula by the federal government under the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Later, Belgian Walloon people populated a small region in Door County, Wisconsin, owing to fairly large-scale immigration there in the 19th century, as well as to southern Indiana in Perry County.

A Civilian Conservation Corps camp was established at Peninsula State Park during the Great Depression. In the summer of 1945, Fish Creek was the site of a German POW camp. The prisoners did construction projects, cut wood, and picked cherries in Peninsula State Park and the surrounding area. Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was constructed in Peninsula State Park in 1868 on orders from President Andrew Johnson, at a cost of $12,000, and was restored by the Door County Historical Society in 1964, and opened to the public.
Description from John W. Hunt's 1853 Wisconsin Gazetteer: "DOOR, County, is located between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and is bounded on the north and east by the State line of Michigan, on the south by Kewaunee, and on the west by Oconto. It was set off from Brown, February 11, 1851. It then included the present county of Kewaunee, and was attached to Manlitowoc for judicial government. The county seat was established at Gibralter, on Gibralter Bay, heretofore known as Bailey's Harbor, on the west shore of Lake Michigan, in town 30 N., of range 28 E. Door county is for legislative and county purposes, in connection with Brown county. It has several small streams emptying into the Bay and into Lake Superior."

From: Handbook of Wisconsin by S. Silas, 1855
pg. 61-62

The County consists of the narrow strip of land lying between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and a number of Islands off to its northern extremity. It derives its beautiful name from the strait between Plum Island and the main land, called by the original French settlers of Green Bay, "Port du Morts," or "Death's Door."

Sturgeon Bay is a navigable inlet on the eastern bay shore, extending nearly to Lake Michigan, and has almost its entire length sufficient to float the largest class of Lake Vessels. As a harbor it is surpassed by few. A narrow neck of low land, a little over a mile in width separates it from Lake Michigan. A settlement bas been made on this Bay, a saw mill erected, and more than one set of saws run. The principal settlement in the County is on Washington (or Potawotomie) Island, on the nortwestern part, called Washington Harbor. This is represented to be one of the best natural harborbs on the Lake.


The county has a total area of 6,138 square kilometres (2,370 sq mi). 1,250 square kilometres (480 sq mi) of it is land and 4,888 square kilometres (1,887 sq mi) of it (79.63%) is water. The county also has more than 300 miles (480 km) of shoreline, more than any other in the country. This is one of the reasons that locals and tourists alike refer to the area as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. The county covers the majority of the Door Peninsula. With the completion of the Sturgeon Bay Shipping Canal in 1881, the northern half of the peninsula, in actuality, became an island.

Limestone outcroppings, part of the Niagara Escarpment, are visible on both shores of the peninsula, but are larger and more prominent on the Green Bay side. Progressions of dunes have created much of the rest of the shoreline, especially on the easterly side. Flora along the shore provides clear evidence of plant succession. The middle of the peninsula is mostly flat or rolling cultivated land. Soils overlaying the dolomite bedrock are very thin in the northern half of the county; 39% of the County is mapped as having less than three feet to bedrock. Beyond the northern tip of the peninsula, the partially submerged ridge forms a number of islands that stretch to the Garden Peninsula in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The largest of these islands is Washington Island. Most of these islands form the Town of Washington.
Door County is a unique place with tantalizing experiences just waiting for you!
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