Dog friendly vacation in the Midwest: Door County, WI
Traveling with my Mini Doodle to Door County Wisconsin
Have you ever traveled with your dog? Our family (Mom, Dad, and four boys) recently took our Mini Goldendoodle on her first dog friendly vacation to Door County, Wisconsin.
After being cooped up for months because of the quarantine, we were ready to get away. We didn’t want to travel too far, so being from the suburbs of Chicago, we chose to drive up North about 4-5 hours to Door County. It was the perfect escape!
Before this trip, we had never traveled with our pup before, so we didn’t know what to expect. After doing a bit of research on the area, we noticed that many restaurants and lodging were pet friendly, so this gave us high expectations. Boy, were we pleasantly surprised!
Millie had the time of her life! She had more excitement in those four days than she had ever had before. Although when at home our dog receives plenty of attention from family and friends, enjoys many walks and goes on car rides, it doesn’t compare to how much fun she had on this vacation!
There are so many different places to see and visit in Door County. Below you will find the highlights among our experiences on our trip with our dog to Door County, WI.
Our first stop was in Sturgeon Bay at Kurtz Corral, Door County’s premier year-round riding stable. This destination was a great place to visit on the way up the Peninsula, as it is the first city you pass through. We had fun taking an hour stroll on horseback with an adorable Husky leading the way!
Obviously, Millie could not go horseback riding during our ride, so my husband and youngest child, who wasn’t ready to horseback ride just yet, hung out with her at the stable. During this time, Millie happily played with the three farm dogs and enjoyed observing all of the horses and farm surroundings.
Cave Point County Park
Our next stop was Cave Point County Park. Although this is not a national or state park, it is a FREE, unforgettable experience! The views are spectacular and provided a beautiful backdrop for breathtaking photographs.
Millie loved walking the rocky trails and dipping her nose into the clear blue waters. We were in awe at how clean, clear, and aqua blue the water is!
Keep in mind, if you have young children, keep a close eye on them as there are countless limestone cliffs.
The Blue Ox
After we settled into our dog-friendly cottage in Bailey’s Harbor, we went out for dinner at The Blue Ox Bar & Grill.
The cheeseburgers were so juicy and delicious! We enjoyed the outdoor seating area that also included a game of bags for our kids to play while waiting for our food. The staff was excellent and even brought over a water bowl for our pup.
I highly recommend this fun and rustic place.
The graphic designer in me appreciated the unique name and logo of this business. Their storefront is very welcoming, showcasing a cute yellow and black color scheme with plenty of outdoor seating to accommodate any pets.
I also enjoyed being able to snap this charming photo of Millie sitting in their entryway. The best part is their prices are very reasonable.
Edge of Park
If you enjoy bike riding, this Door County adventure is an experience you won’t want to miss! We rented bikes from Edge of Park Bicycle & Moped Rental. They even offer a dog cart that you can use to cart your dog behind you!
We rode along Sunset Bike Trail in Peninsula State Park. It took us about an hour to ride to Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and back, which was about 6 miles. There are even tiny beaches along the way where you can stop and enjoy the view. These rest stops along the path are a great place for riders to catch their breath and relax. My kids enjoyed skipping the limestone rocks into the water during these breaks.
This dog friendly vacation spot was the highlight of my trip!
We visited more than half of all the little towns in Door County, and Fish Creek seemed to be the liveliest. This town is Northern Door County’s hub for shopping and recreation. It’s also a hot spot for boaters who can easily walk from the marina to shopping and dining.
There are beautiful plants and flowers on every corner and every storefront, making this town such an enjoyable place to walk around. Millie met many dog friends while walking the streets of Fish Creek.
Off-Leash Dog Parks in Door County
There are five dog parks in Door County:
- Shiloh Road Bark Par, Sturgeon Bay
- Sister Bay Dog Park, Sister Bay
- Harbor Hounds Dog Park, Egg Harbor
- Captain Bailey’s Dog Park, Baileys Harbor
- Gills Rock Coffee Shop & Dog Park, Gills Rock
We took Millie to the Captain Bailey’s Dog Park, where she played with two Golden Retrievers and two little black Scottish Terriers.
Surprisingly, she didn’t run around like crazy like she does when I take her dog parks around our home, most likely because she had already been getting plenty of exercise and excitement from hiking and touring the towns. Though it was nice to let her roam off-leash for a bit while we chatted with some fellow dog owners.
Wild Pizza Works
Our second night, we drove to Egg Harbor—which is only about 15 minutes away from Baileys Harbor. The short distances between each town are one of the main advantages of Door County. It is so convenient to be able to effortlessly drive from one place to the next on the peaceful, scenic roads.
When we arrived in this quaint little town, we saw a good crowd of people sitting outside of One Barrel Brewing Company and Wild Pizza Works (these establishments are connected). Because it looked like a happenin' place to be, we decided to stop and check it out.
Once again, dog water bowls were out for pets! The tables and chairs outside are protected by sun shade canopy awnings, which helps keep your spot nice and cool while you eat. We decided to order some pizza and let me tell you it was phenomenal! The crust was light and airy with a perfect crunch.
We also noticed the logo in their sign had the same tomato illustration as the logo in the Wild Tomato restaurants that we saw in Fish Creek and Sister Bay. We asked the worker if these different establishments were the same company and she said Yes, but Wild Pizza Works sells personal pan pizzas, whereas Wild Tomato offers full-sized pizzas.
So, if you come across any of these pizza places, I would suggest checking them out—and they are all dog-friendly!
While visiting Door County, consider taking the Washington Island Ferry Line to Washington Island for the day. Pets are allowed on the ferry free of charge. Our Mini Goldendoodle enjoyed the breeze during each 30-minute boat ride back and forth.
A neat part of this experience is that you can drive your car onto the ferry and take it to the island with you if you choose—which I would recommend so you can drive all around and visit different landmarks.
After arriving on the island, we enjoyed visiting Schoolhouse Beach which features white, polished limestone rocks. Although dogs are not allowed on the beach, they can stay by the picnic tables in the beautiful wooded area right next to the beach.
We also hiked to the lookout tower, which is unfortunately closed down now, but was still a fun hike in the woods.
Stavkirke is a Stave Church located on the island, built like the ones in Norway. This spectacular architecture is definitely a sight to see!
Our dog’s favorite part was the Farm Museum! She enjoyed talking with the goats, cows, and chickens while getting her picture taken by all the rustic barns and houses. This is a great place for kids to run around and explore.
These places were just a few of the may destinations Washington Island has to offer. This day was one of the best days of our trip!
Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor
Located in Ephraim since 1906, Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor is a popular destination for all Door County visitors. The ice cream is delicious and the servings are HUGE!! You most certainly get your money’s worth, that’s for sure. Just be prepared to come with a large appetite and room in your belly. 🙂
Unfortunately, this place is not dog-friendly. However, don’t let that stop you! The way to solve this problem is to place your order “to go” and walk across the street to the picnic tables located right next to the bay. It was enjoyable being able to eat sitting adjacent to the water.
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik
You mustn’t go to Door County without checking out Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant located in Sister Bay. This family-owned restaurant has actual real goats grazing on top of the grass roof!
The owner and staff are so welcoming, and they have a massive outdoor area with tables and chairs that also dog-friendly! Millie met a friendly Standard Goldendoodle puppy while visiting here.
Peninsula State Park
You can't go on a dog friendly vacation in Door County without taking at least one hike with your pooch! Be sure to carve out time for a hike inside Peninsula State Park. We walked along the popular Eagle Trail. Make sure you have good walking shoes because there are many exposed roots and rocks along the way.
Also, remember to put on insect repellent to keep the mosquitoes away! Our dog, Millie, loved this hike in the woods just as much as we did.
Sonny’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria
Last but not least, on our way out of Door County, we stopped in Sturgeon’s Bay and enjoyed a nice dinner at Sonny’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria. Once again, dog friendly with outdoor seating right on the water! Our waitress brought out a water bowl for Millie as we enjoyed the delicious food and impeccable service.
I love this adorable photo of Millie by the restaurant’s awesome bar decor. This stop was a great way to end our dog friendly vacation!
All in all, if you are looking for a pet-friendly getaway, I highly recommend Door County, Wisconsin for your next vacation!
For additional ideas, visit Door County Mom’s blog to discover even more pet-friendly places to go to in Door County.
With so many charming towns to visit and outdoor activities to explore, it really is a nature lover’s dream. We are so happy with our first experience in traveling with our dog to Door County that we are already looking forward to our next trip!
I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about what you can do with your dog in Door County. Now go take your dog friendly vacation!