- Where to Go
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- A Perfect Week in Door County
- Wisconsin for Recreationists
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- Say Cheese!
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- A Wisconsin Family Road Trip
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There’s something of a contrived (officially, “revitalized”) feel to Egg Harbor, back on WI 42. A couple of structures smacking of the early days are now redone with fresh facades. But there’s more than a little new development, including an ersatz-Victorian strip mall that could have been plunked down in any city suburb or fringe sprawl in America.
This isn’t to denigrate the lovely village at all, built on a rise overlooking one of the most accessible and well-protected harbors along either coast. The harbor had long been in use by the Winnebago before military materiel and trade ships necessarily anchored here—the only safe spot between Fish Creek and Little Sturgeon Bay. In the 1850s, Jacob and Levi Thorp, two brothers of the founder of Fish Creek, collaborated to build a pier to allow transport of local cordwood. By the 1890s, a rivalry with Fish Creek was born.
Oh, and that name. It doesn’t stem from any ovoid land configuration but from a legendary 1825 battle between vacationing rich folk. While rowing to shore in longboats, boredom apparently got the best of the well-to-do, who started winging picnic-packed eggs back and forth. When the shells settled, a name was born. And they do celebrate this with occasional staged—and eminently delightful—egg throws, whether individuals or locally sponsored. (Yes, they do call the place—get ready to groan—an “eggscape.”)
Sights and Activities
As you wind off WI 42 and down the hillside, your first sight is probably the most picturesque village park in the county, this one with a small strand of smooth-stoned and sand beach. There are free concerts Thursdays and Sundays in summer—lovely! Farther south a couple of miles you’ll find an even better view of Horseshoe Bay and another very sandy beach at Frank E. Murphy County Park.
Just east of town a quaint, aged dairy barn now houses the Birch Creek Music Center (Hwy. E, 920/868-3763, www.birchcreek.org). Acoustics are extraordinary, considering the moo-cows who once lived here. Evening concerts by budding students and national names in the big barn are regularly scheduled (generally mid-July-Labor Day) and are something of an institution in the area—the big band series is particularly popular. Percussion performances are the specialty.
Sight of sights and a landmark for denizens of the Door is the Gothic revival Cupola House (7836 WI 42, 920/868-3941), a massive building constructed in 1871 by Levi Thorp as local cordwood made him among the wealthiest men in the county. During the summer, resident artists at the Birch Creek Center give performances at the house; the mansion houses an assortment of shops and boutiques.
Ultra-premium wines (through micro-vinification, their word, not mine) are at Stone’s Throw Winery (3382 Hwy. E, 920/839-9660), in a cool old barn.
The local library has a small visitors information center (920/868-3717, www.eggharbordoorcounty.org).
The cheapest accommodations to be found in Egg Harbor will run you $90 or more, including the Lullabi Inn (7928 Egg Harbor Rd./WI 42, 920/868-3135, www.lullabi inn.com, $89–199) on the north end of town, the cheapest available, but you can expect a welcoming atmosphere despite the low bucks. Stay in small but clean value doubles, or upgrade through an array of larger rooms and apartments.
One of the largest resort complexes in the entire county, in fact Door County’s largest resort, Landmark Resort and Conference Center (7643 Hillside Rd., 920/868-3205 or 800/273-7877, www.thelandmarkresort.com, $125–400) has myriad condo options, but all proffer spectacular views. You’ll need both hands to count the swimming pools, another two for the tennis courts. There’s also an excellent restaurant. It’s easy to find this one—you can’t miss it.
You’ll find award-winning rooms at Ashbrooke Suites (7942 Egg Harbor Rd., 920/868-3113, www.ashbrooke.net, $154–249), with one- and two-bedroom suites done up in a French country atmosphere. It’s just up the road from the Lullabi Inn.
Nonresort options abound in town. Try Woldt’s Intown Farmette (7960 Church St., 608/873-8884, www.richwoldt.com, $125 daily, $500 weekly). This two-story cottage is adjacent to a reconstructed Dutch colonial barn and windmill. Turn east on Highway E, then a quick north jaunt onto Church Street.
Or, coming into town on WI 42, turn east onto Highway T for one mile to The Cottage Retreat (4355 Hwy. T, 920/743-4420, www.cottageretreat.com, $100–485 daily, $450– 2,300 weekly). It has a reconstructed main cottage, lovingly put together from collected fieldstone. In fact, this place was green before green was in—built into earthen berms with southern glassed exposure, two of the main retreats are as cozy as can be. The sun-soaked two-bedroom cottage can sleep six and offers a combined kitchen/dining room/living area and a boardwalk to a Finnish wood sauna.
All of the following are right on the main drag.
The early meal (and lunch) of choice is at the longstanding Village Café (7918 WI 42, 920/868-3342, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. daily) at the north end of town, a from-scratch place where you might find a vegan burger chicken fried steak tarted up Door County style with cherries and pecans.
Shipwreck’s (7791 Egg Harbor Rd., 920/868-2767) has good pub grub but is really known as the county’s only microwbrewery (watch ’em brew as you quaff and you must try the Cherry Wheat Ales). Al Capone supposedly loved to hang with the lumberjacks here and used the subterranean caverns to beat a retreat.
The restaurant for gourmands in town, however, is Trio (4655 Hwy. E, 920/868-2092, dinner daily till 9 p.m. Memorial Day weekend–late Oct., $11–18), an eclectic and ambitious Italian and country French eatery serving fantastic antipasti and entrées. No bones about it, this place gets raves from visitors for its Italian and French dishes. It’s subdued in a lovely setting, yet kids are welcome and the staff have always been much praised. It’s very well-done, and has been for many years now.
The Log Den (6626 WI 42, 920/868-3888, lunch and dinner daily, brunch Sun., $8–25), just south of Egg Harbor on WI 42, is a 10,000-square-foot place that actually feels less immense than that. The name is no misnomer, with wood everywhere, much of it ornately—at times cheekily—carved into a menagerie of anthropomorphism (I love sitting by the large lolling black bear). The menu runs from great—and moderately priced—burgers and sandwiches to ahi tuna, bluepoint oysters, and prime rib. The families that run the place have been along these shores and in these woods for more than a century and really give you an introduction to the place. And it’s one of the most fun places to watch a Packers game, as well!
Then again, Casey’s Smokehouse & BBQ (7855 WI 42, 920/868-3038, from 11 a.m. daily) is just about the perfect place to gorge on brisket or ribs after a long day of paddling or pedaling.
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition