Summary: Sturgeon Bay, located in Door County, Wisconsin, is a hidden gem filled with attractions that are perfect for any traveler. From lighthouses to maritime museums, this charming town on the shores of Lake Michigan offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff or an outdoor enthusiast, Sturgeon Bay has plenty to keep you entertained.
1. Rich History
Sturgeon Bay’s rich history dates back to the mid-1800s when it was a major center for shipbuilding and repairs. Today, visitors can explore that history at the Door County Maritime Museum. Here, you’ll find exhibits on lighthouses, shipwrecks, and the area’s commercial fishing industry. You can also climb to the top of the museum’s tower for a breathtaking view of the bay.
Sturgeon Bay is also home to the Sherwood Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1883 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can take a guided tour of the lighthouse and learn about its important role in guiding ships safely through the dangerous waters of Lake Michigan.
If you prefer art to history, the Miller Art Museum is a must-visit attraction. This small, but impressive gallery features works by regional and national artists, as well as a permanent collection of modernist paintings and sculptures.
2. Outdoor Activities
With the breathtaking natural beauty of Door County, it’s no surprise that outdoor activities are a popular draw for visitors to Sturgeon Bay. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing in the nearby state parks, including Whitefish Dunes State Park, Peninsula State Park, and Newport State Park.
In the winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular activities in the Sturgeon Bay area. The Door County Silent Sports Alliance maintains many groomed trails for these activities.
If you prefer something a little more leisurely, take a scenic boat tour of the bay or rent a kayak and paddle your way through the picturesque waters of Lake Michigan.
3. Food and Drink
Foodies will love the dining options in Sturgeon Bay. From seafood to burgers, there is something for every craving. You can grab a quick bite at one of the town’s many food trucks or enjoy a more upscale meal at one of the fine dining establishments.
Wine lovers should make sure to stop at von Stiehl Winery, Wisconsin’s oldest licensed winery. They offer tastings, tours, and a beautiful outdoor patio overlooking the bay.
For beer lovers, Door County Brewing Co. and Starboard Brewing Company both offer local brews and a laid-back atmosphere that’s perfect for relaxing with friends or family.
4. Shopping and Entertainment
Sturgeon Bay’s charming downtown area is home to dozens of locally owned shops and galleries, offering everything from handmade pottery to artisanal cheese. You can also catch a movie at the vintage-style Sturgeon Bay Cinema, which shows first-run films in a nostalgic setting.
Live music is also a popular attraction in Sturgeon Bay, with weekly performances at venues like the Holiday Music Motel and Third Avenue Playhouse.
If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to stop by the Firefighter’s Museum, which offers hands-on exhibits and an opportunity to climb aboard vintage fire trucks.
5. Festivals and Events
Throughout the year, Sturgeon Bay hosts a variety of festivals and events that showcase the town’s unique character. In the summer, you can attend the Steel Bridge Songfest, a music festival that celebrates the history of Sturgeon Bay’s iconic Michigan Street Bridge.
In the fall, the Harvest Festival brings together food, music, and family-friendly activities like a corn maze and pumpkin painting. And in the winter, the town hosts the annual Fire and Ice Festival, with ice sculptures, live music, and s’mores around a bonfire.
No matter when you visit, there is always something exciting happening in Sturgeon Bay.
Sturgeon Bay is a hidden gem in Door County, Wisconsin, offering something for everyone. With rich history, outdoor activities, delicious food and drink, shopping and entertainment, and festivals and events throughout the year, it’s no wonder that visitors keep coming back to this charming town on the shores of Lake Michigan. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly adventure, Sturgeon Bay is the perfect destination.