Hold your left hand up for a moment, palm out. The thumb is, as the Depression-era WPA Wisconsin guidebook put it, “the spout, as it were, of the Wisconsin teakettle.” That’s the Door Peninsula. Early French inhabitants called the watery cul-de-sac formed by the peninsula La Baye (later, La Baye Verde, and finally, Green Bay).
“Cape Cod of the Midwest” and other silly likenings (I’ve even heard “California of the North,” and that really gets me going) are the rule here. Incessant comparisons to Yankee seaside villages don’t wholly miss the mark, though in spots the area smacks just as much of chilled, stony Norwegian fjords. Bays in all the colors of an artist’s palette are surrounded by variegated shoreline—250 miles (more than any other U.S. county) alternately rocky beach, craggy bluff, blossom-choked orchard, bucolic heath, and meadow.
Door County’s established parkland acreage—county, state, and municipal—is staggering, considering its size. Generation upon generation of shipbuilders, fishers, and farmers benefited from the magical microclimate here, and there’s a predisposition within the populace not to get worked up about much.