BringFido’s Guide to Door County

Posted by Billy Francis

There’s a reason why Wisconsin’s Door County is lovingly referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” With 300 miles of coastline to explore, this pretty peninsula is famous for its fishing (and delicious fish boils) and stunning natural beauty at every turn. Surrounded by Lake Michigan and Green Bay on three sides, the region also offers plenty of activities for water-loving pups to enjoy. From Fish Creek to Baileys Harbor, it’s time to take your canine on a coastal crawl around delightful Door County.

Things to Do

Northern Sky Theater presents, "Hello, Doggy!" Photo by Northern Sky Theater

If you’re looking for a peaceful vacation with your pup, Door County’s natural beauty and inviting waters are sure to leave you both in awe. Raise the Curtain!

Catch a Show With Fido

Featured in the 2021 edition of the Ruff Guide to the United States, Door County’s Northern Sky Theater is happy to let music go to the dogs! All summer long, the professional nonprofit theater company performs a variety of Wisconsin-centric, family-friendly musicals in the outdoor amphitheater at Peninsula State Park in Fish Creek. Your pup is welcome to take in one of the shows, which are offered nightly (except Sundays) from mid-June through August. Dogs aren’t allowed to sing along with the show, so guests with pets are simply asked to find a spot for Spot at the back of the amphitheater (in case you need to make a quick exit). Bring a picnic to enjoy during the show, or purchase snacks and beverages at the concession stand. Average temperatures can dip into the 50s at night, so wear layers and bring a blanket for your pooch.

Hit the Road, Pup

Drive along 66 miles of this picturesque peninsula on the Door County Coastal Byway, which achieved National Scenic Byway status in 2021. Hop on the spectacular road just north of Sturgeon Bay and drive up Highway 57 to Northport and Gills Rock. Enjoy views of the water along the way and get a feel for Door County’s natural beauty. When you reach the top of the peninsula, cruise down the opposite side on State Highway 42 through pretty coastal towns like Baileys Harbor and Jacksonport.

“I’m stick-ing with you!” Photo by @thedriftlessdog

Discover a Dog Beach

Sturgeon Bay, in the center of the Door Peninsula, offers an array of activities on and around Lake Michigan for humans and canines alike. Bring Fido to the designated dog beach at Whitefish Dunes State Park and enjoy a beautiful, shaded .75-mile hike to the beach. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day exploring the park, letting your dog dig in the sand and splash in the turquoise water. Bring your hiking gear along, as many trails throughout the park allow four-legged hikers. If you want to explore the water, grab Fido’s doggy life jacket and make a reservation with Cave Point Paddle and Pedal for a kayak adventure around one of Door County’s most iconic sections of coastline, Cave Point County Park.

"Wine" Down at the Farm

Door County’s lakeside weather conditions and nutrient-rich soil are ideal for growing fruit. At its height in 1958, the region produced 95 percent of the United States’ tart cherries. Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market is keeping the tradition and heritage alive. Bring your leashed pooch along with you to explore this beautiful farm and wander the rows of blossoming cherry and apple trees.

Off-Leash Fun in Kaukauna

Kaukauna Dog Park has everything you need for an off-leash adventure with your best friend. One of the jewel’s in Fox County’s crown, it offers 13 acres of countryside to explore. The park is divided into three sections, including a small dog area, a large fenced space for bigger dogs and a completely fenced pond for water dogs. Dry off on the walking trail that loops around the pond and crosses over two bridges constructed by local Boy Scout groups.

See the Bright Lights

Door County boasts 11 beautiful historic lighthouses. One of the most unique and scenic of all is Cana Island Lighthouse, first lit in 1870. Surrounded by Lake Michigan on three sides off the coast of Baileys Harbor, you and your pooch can walk along the sand to see it, or rent a kayak from Door County Kayak Tours and paddle across. Don’t forget to bring your own doggy life jacket.

A “Furry” Ride to Washington Island

Washington Island Ferry has been traveling 5 miles to and from Washington Island since 1940. Departing from Northport Pier at the end of Highway 42, the historic route passes Plum, Pilot and Detroit Islands along the way. Dogs are welcome on the ferry as long as they are leashed or kept in the car. Adult tickets are $14, and pets ride for free. When you reach the 35-square mile island, take a walk along the sand at Percy Johnson County Park and visit Washington Island Stavkirke. This Church of Staves was built by local craftsmen in 1992 based on drawings of one built in Borgund, Norway in 1150 AD.

Places to Stay

“I adore Door County.” Photo by @pom_sauvage

Whether your Labrador loves lounging at a resort or camping on the coast, Door County always delivers a splendid stay.

Paddle With Your Pug

Swim with Fido in Sturgeon Bay or lounge in the sun while he digs his paws in the sand at Beach Harbor Resort. Dogs can also join you on one of the resort’s kayaks or stand up paddleboards. When you’re hungry, dine on the patio of the resort restaurant. Then wind down the evening around the fire pit overlooking Sturgeon Bay. Beach Harbor Resort welcomes dogs of any size for an additional fee of $10 per pet, per night.

Hang Out in a Historic Home

Havngård House is a piece of history in Baileys Harbor. Take your pooch on a tour of local lighthouses, then wander downtown and swing by Door County Brewing Co. Taproom and Music Hall for an evening of entertainment in the beer garden. The sound of last call doesn’t have to mean an end to all the fun. Back at your home away from home, strum a few tunes for Fido by the fire pit. Dogs of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $30 per pet, per stay.

Privacy on the Peninsula

Situated among 27 wooded acres with 1,100 feet of private shoreline, Country House Resort is a peaceful place to stay with your best friend. Well-behaved dogs are invited to join Riley, the Corgi Canine Concierge, for a tour of his manor. Explore nature trails along the private shoreline away from the “ruff raff,” play on the open grassy space by the entrance, and wash sandy paws at the outside dog wash area. Country House Resort welcomes two dogs up to 80lbs for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night.

“Can I help you?” Photo by Facebook.com/openhearthlodge

Stay With Bae in Sister Bay

Open Hearth Lodge provides an entire building for pets and their owners. Your pooch is the guest of honor at this awesome Sister Bay spot, receiving a gift bag full of goodies at check-in that includes a tennis ball, bowl and treats. When the sun sets, gather around the fire pit with your pack. Open Hearth Lodge welcomes dogs of any size for an additional fee of $15 per pet, per night.

Pitch Up With Your Pup

After an evening show at the outdoor amphitheater in the park, wander back to one of five camping areas at Peninsula State Park Campground. At sunrise, cook up a hearty breakfast on the camping stove and stride out for a day exploring 20 miles of trails that meander around bluffs bordering a cobblestone shore. All sites in the campgrounds are within a five-minute walk of the lake. Peninsula State Park Campground welcomes dogs of any size for no additional fee.

Enjoy Eagle Harbor Views

Located just a short drive from Peninsula State Park, Edgewater Resort is nestled on a private shoreline overlooking Wisconsin’s beautiful Eagle Harbor. During your stay, be sure to catch a flick at nearby Skyway Drive-In Movie, a historic hangout that’s been screening movies since 1950. Edgewater Resort welcomes three dogs of any size for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night.

Humming Along

Hummingbird Cottage is the ideal place to enjoy the annual hummingbird migration from the first week of May through summer and fall. Pull out your binoculars and hangout on the Adirondacks overlooking Lake Michigan, swing in the hammock and listen to birds singing all around, and take a late-night stroll with your bird-watching buddy along the private pebbly beach. Hosts provide an extra dog sheet to cover the bed and a canoe to adventure around the shallow waters of the lake with your pooch. Dogs of any size are welcome for no additional fee.

Dog-Friendly Restaurants

Best patio ever! Photo by @greatdaneduo

Door County dining is not to be sniffed at. Bring your hungry hound along with you to sample the freshest catch, locally made wine, and fantastic frozen custard.

Food With a View

Whether you’re staying at the adjacent Beach Harbor Resort or elsewhere in Door County, Waterfront Mary’s Bar and Grill is worth visiting with your best bud. Dig into salmon or a salad while overlooking Sturgeon Bay, then stretch Fido’s legs with a walk on the restaurant's grassy lawn.

A Place to Melt Fido’s Heart

Established in 1982, Not Licked Yet is a frozen custard shop with some seriously scrumptious snacks on offer. Check out their Facebook page for the flavor of the day, and don’t forget to order Fido his own puppy cone.

Get Lured In

LURE Restaurant will pull you and your pup in for an evening of fine dining in Sister Bay. This high-end eatery serves up locally sourced fish and sustainable seafood that you can wash down with a handcrafted cocktail. Fido is welcome to join you at one of their pet-friendly outdoor tables overlooking the garden’s main feature, a waterfall.

“Merlot at your service!” Photo by Facebook.com/StonesThrowWine/

"Wine" Down on the Farm

Door County is casually making a name for itself among wine connoisseurs, and Stone’s Throw Winery is one reason why. Sample wine made from California grapes in the one-barrel-at-a-time way, and introduce your pooch to the aptly named winery pup, Merlot.

A Mouthwatering Throwback

Albatross Drive-In is a blast from the past. Washington Island doesn’t offer too many food options, but this casual ice cream shop and grill is one of its standouts. Open from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day, Albatross offers hot dogs, burgers and more to fuel your exploration of the island. If he asks nicely, your pooch can enjoy a pup cup, too.

Yo, Ho, Hound (and a Bottle of Rum)

Island Fever Rum Bar & Grill serves up a variety of crafted cocktails and an extensive food menu that includes seafood, American classics and Mexican dishes. Dogs are welcome to dine on the patio under the shade of an umbrella and give their server a slobbery kiss.

First-Class Food

Located at Edgewater Resort, the Old Post Office Restaurant invites guests to bring Fido to their nightly Fish Boil (reservations required). Serving up fish caught fresh from Lake Michigan, this local favorite is generally considered the best fish boil in Door County. Dine with your dog on the patio and find out what all the fuss is about.

Have you and your pooch visited Door County? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

BringFido is committed to providing authentic dog-friendly content that our readers will love. We may at times receive compensation from our partners or use affiliate links to promote products and services featured on our blog. Banner photo by Michael Cox on Unsplash.