Saturday, our second day in Door County, we woke up early, with a mission: get in to the White Gull Inn, to taste what Good Morning America called the best breakfast in America (which I, despite many pilgrimages to its town, Fish Creek, had never been to). The restaurant was constantly, we’d heard, packed. Luckily, traveling with two proved to be an advantage. We only waited a half hour, while others coming in after us had an hour’s wait ahead of them or more.
Door County is known for its plentiful cherry harvests, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the best breakfast in the country is Door County Stuffed French Toast.
The menu reads:
Door County Cherry Stuffed French Toast: Two golden brown slices of egg bread, with pockets of Wisconsin cream cheese and Door County cherries, served with real maple syrup. (Featured as Winner of the Best Breakfast in America Challenge on Good Morning America)
We both made it through three-fourths of our decadent meal before we were rendered too full to move.
(A side note: the Inn itself is beautiful: white and cottage-y, and the rooms look so cozy you wouldn’t leave the inn during your trip if you stayed there. We made a note to stay there sometime.)
Then we headed off to see Peninsula State Park, consistently named one of the best state parks in the state. I had been before, but not my boyfriend. So, we set out to do all the must-dos. In a day.
Peninsula State Park is beautiful, and shows off Wisconsin’s rustic beauty in its forests, beaches, bluffs, and nature. If you go one place to see authentic, unsettled Wisconsin, go here.
Once inside the park, we stopped at the lighthouse, then climbed the Eagle Tower, which stands some 75 feet tall on one of the higher bluffs in the park. You can see about four islands from the top, several marinas, and even Michigan on a clear day.
Next we hiked the Eagle trail, which begins near the tower. It’s only a two-mile hike, but it’s my favorite trail in the park. It heads down steep hills then winds along the lake alongside towering bluffs. One of the draws of the bluffs is the caves they form in certain places. All are mossy and a bit creepy, but fun to explore. (Note: if caves scare you, never ever watch The Descent). We skipped rocks along the path and then moved on.
At Nicolet Bay (named after the first explorer to arrive in what now is Door County: Jean Nicolet), we rented kayaks and explored the shore to the north, where you can see the bluffs from another angle. From a kayak they look even more immense. You also start to notice they actually lean over the top of the path we walked.
But then the storm hit. As we drove, a cloud that looked like a forming tornado appeared behind us—black. And the winds hit some 60 mph. Needless to say, an outdoor dinner was out of the question. On our way back, not only did we see incredible lightening, but also fallen power lines (and a resulting detour).
We ended up dining at The Cookery, a restaurant in Fish Creek that has been there for ages, but had just been remodeled. Luckily, their food was delicious (especially my halibut), and it actually cleared up, allowing us to explore Fish Creek.
Fish Creek is the epicenter of Door County. It has the most shopping and the largest downtown. It also has a few beautiful marinas. One of my favorite places to stop there is the Fish Creek market, where they sell all sorts of Door County specialty products: jams, wines, and more.
One thing we had to see was the fish boil going on at Pelletiers, where they specialize in fish boils, a Door County tradition. According to Pelletiers:
“The settlers of the last century came to this wilderness to seek their fortunes in the heavily timbered forests and bountiful waters of the Door peninsula. Out of their resourcefulness and spirit of cooperation, the Fish Boil evolved, and the fishermen and farmers provided sustenance for groups of hungry lumbermen and settlers.”
I still haven’t brought myself to taste fish from a fish boil (served at high temperatures, fueled by kerosene, and served with onions and potatoes), but they’re always fun to see.
After picking up some fudge at The Fudge House for the evening, we headed back to little Egg Harbor to look around, then retired for the evening at our chic little golf chalet.
Next: In which we explore the peninsula in 5-minute spurts, ride in the bed of a farmer’s pick-up truck, and find every restaurant between Door County and home closed.