The kids are officially on summer vacation. Like most kids, they will spend their summer playing outside, bargaining for screen time, traveling, and bickering over whose turn it is to clean the toothpaste out of the sink. This past week was a flurry of Clay being TDY, field days, last minute projects, and evening baseball and softball games, and my own work commitments. Thankfully our low-key Memorial Day Weekend in Door County, Wisconsin ensured that we were prepared to take on the week and kick-off summer with some (chilly) family-focused time before the PCS craziness sets in.
We rented a dog-friendly cabin in Door County, Wisconsin via VBRO for three nights that was right on Sawyer Harbor in Sturgeon Bay. We left immediately after school on Friday afternoon and arrived at the cabin well before the sun set.
We camped in Door County last year, which we enjoyed but the campground wasn’t near as remote as we preferred so we opted for a cabin this time around. This particular cabin wasn’t remote (it was located within a cluster of cabins) but when inside the cabin, we didn’t hear anything besides the lake water rolling into shore.
Door County is often referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest because of the coastal towns, sandy beaches, and cherry and apple orchards. The area itself refers to the peninsula, which is the easternmost county in Wisconsin, that jets out into Lake Michigan like a proper pinky while sipping tea. I am admittedly biased towards the Michigan side of Lake Michigan and personally believe that Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan is one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Door County is directly across from the Leelanau Peninsula, so it’s not surprising that Door County reminds me of my beloved northern Michigan.
The cabin was rustic but offered a full kitchen, fireplace, two bedrooms, and a bathroom with a clawfoot tub. It had the gorgeously distinct smell that only wood-lined cabin can have and even had a moose head over the walkway between the living room and kitchen. The weather wasn’t the greatest when we were there (so cold and windy!) so we didn’t take advantage of the rowboats and other water-based craft available for use with the cabin.
We drove to Whitefish Dunes State Park again this year to hike and let Teddy Girl run in the water. There are multiple trails and beaches with the last one being dog-friendly. We hiked a few miles and climbed the stairs to the top of ‘Old Baldy’, which is the tallest dune in the park. It is only 93 feet but you can see both Lake Michigan and Clark Lake from the observation platform.
The same day we ate a late lunch/early dinner at Kitty O’Reilly’s, an Irish Pub in the historic area of Sturgeon Bay. We love the atmosphere but all of us agreed that the meals we ordered were underwhelming. At least the draft beer and fried cheese curds were really good! My ‘local’ favorite is Moon Man by New Glarus Brewing, a coastal pale ale that was perfect for kicking off summer.
We purposely chose not to have an action-packed weekend. We tend to want to do ALL THE THINGS when we travel so lounging around a cabin building puzzles, watching movies, and reading by the water is quite outside the norm for us.
The quietness was much needed and we thoroughly enjoyed disconnecting from work, school, and sports schedules for the long weekend. And the fresh cherry pie from Grandma Tommy’s made the weekend that much sweeter.
I grew up going to a family cottage in Glen Arbor, Michigan every summer (we would drive from Phoenix, Arizona to northern Michigan). The woods, lake, and coastal Great Lakes vibe was so different than our everyday life in the desert and to this day, I think that a cottage in the woods is one of the best smells around.
The cottage even had a vintage View Master, which I had to explain how to use to the kids.
On the day we left, Clay and I drank our coffee in the screened in porch as the kids played around and scrolled through cabin listings on Zillow because that’s what couples our age do for a good time these days. Time will tell if we end up with our own cottage in the woods someday but in the meantime, we’re happy to rent them for long weekends away.
On our way back home, we stopped in Milwaukee for lunch at a dog-friendly restaurant, Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery. We all agreed that it was our best meal of the weekend – totally worth stopping at if you find yourself in Milwaukee. As our time rapidly winds down at Fort Sheridan, we’re thankful we had the opportunity to experience Door County again before we leave for Pennsylvania.