If you and your family are looking to get away for fun and a change of pace, then Door County is an easy option! With its nautical themes and small-town charm, the Door Peninsula offers a true vacation feel. While you’re in the area, we highly recommend spending a day at Peninsula State Park (or better yet, setting up camp!). One of Wisconsin’s premier state parks, Peninsula has a lot to offer: great hiking/biking trails, breathtaking views of Green Bay, incredible accessible options such as Eagle Tower, and a unbeatable beach. Plus, it’s a great place to stay to enjoy all that Door County has to offer at a fraction of the price, away from the more touristy areas and with great family camping memories. We’ve rounded up the best of the best here to make your trip to Peninsula State Park a big success.
PeOverview of ninsula state park:
- Vehicle entry price: With a WI license plate, you can purchase a day pass for $8 or an annual pass for all Wisconsin state parks for $28. Stop at the park office.
- Pets: Pets on a leash are allowed in the park.
- Camping: Yes, five campgrounds with 468 family pitches
- Story: The Peninsula State Park land was first purchased in 1909 after being inhabited for centuries by native tribes and the area’s first European settlers. Since then, constant work to improve and expand the park’s offer has been underway. Peninsula State Park is considered Wisconsin’s most comprehensive state park due to its countless amenities and varied recreational opportunities.
- Before you leave: Be sure to participate in the 2022 Wisconsin State Parks Challenge and introduce your kids to the Wisconsin Explorer Program so you can earn prizes and crests while exploring nature together!
Recreation at Peninsula State Park
Beach & Swimming
Nicolet Beach is a wonderful family beach to enjoy sand games, swimming in peaceful waters and sunbathing! There are showers here and a concession stand too. You can also rent kayaks and other watercraft while you are here. Be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
Peek into Door County’s nautical history at the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse located here in Peninsula State Park. This 1868 lighthouse is still used to guide ships through the narrow Strawberry Channel. Today you can tour the lighthouse and experience what life was like as a lighthouse keeper for $5/person and children under 5 are FREE.
One of Door County’s biggest attractions, Eagle Tower, accessible by stairs or a newly opened 850-foot accessible canopy walk, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and water, Ephraim Village and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! This tower was first built in the 1900s as a fire watchtower, and it has been rebuilt a few times since. The canopy walk is well fenced and provides rest stops for little walkers. It is also ideal for stroller rides. If you have particularly adventurous toddlers, consider carrying a backpack for peace of mind. You don’t want to miss this if you’re at Peninsula State Park!
Hiking trails and cycle paths
Peninsula State Park is a spectacular park for hiking and biking! Families can pedal along the Sunset Bike Trail, a ten-mile route through the northern forest framed by Sven’s Bluff. Another favorite is Eagle Trail, which offers individuals an up-close and personal view of the Niagara Escarpment. With a total of 20 miles of hiking trails there is plenty to explore. The White Cedar Nature Trail, a shorter half-mile loop, is a great choice for families with young children. The difficulty of the hike of each trail is well documented, so you can choose the right challenge for your group.
Boating and fishing
The piers at Webborg and Nicolet Bay are excellent fishing spots. Don’t have your own equipment? You can actually buy basic fishing gear for free at the park office!
Peninsula State Park is a favorite spot for paddle of any kind! The Tennison Bay boat launch provides a peaceful spot for kayaks. You can also access Horseshoe Island, part of the national park, from Nicolet Bay! It’s only accessible by boat, and if you decide to make the trip there, you can enjoy hiking along the rustic 1-mile Engelmar Trail that circles the circumference of the island during your stay.
Peninsula State Park undoubtedly offers the ultimate family camping experience! With 468 sites to choose from and five distinct family campgrounds, you’re sure to find the perfect one for your family. Remember to book your camp site well in advance, as they fill up quite quickly. Before you go, make sure you’re camping ready with our camping tips and kid-friendly recipes in your arsenal!
White Cedar Nature Center
The ultimate state park nature center is right here at Peninsula State Park! Come check out the White Cedar Nature Center for a variety of nature-themed activities suitable for kids and events. They offer hiking, nature crafts, and outdoor workshops, to name a few. While there, sign up for their Like to Hike challenge which promotes healthy and sustainable recreation through quiet sports (paddling, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, biking, etc.). Complete five or more activities in your Activity Log and you can purchase a $3 pin to commemorate your efforts!
Northern Sky Theater
Peninsula State Park has its own lineup of professional actors and musicians who provide family entertainment at Northern Sky Theater throughout the summer months!
- Camping: Winter camping is permitted at Tennison Bay Campground by reservation. Nearby electricity and water are also available.
- Cross-country skiing: There are 16 miles of traditional cross-country skiing and 6 miles of skate skiing available to park visitors when conditions permit.
- Sled : Tobogganing is available and fairway number 17 at the park’s golf course is a perfect spot! Toboggans prohibited.
- Snowshoeing: There are 6 miles of ungroomed snowshoe/hiking trails in some of the more peaceful areas of the park for use during the winter months.
Other fun and delicious stops in the Fish Creek area
- Not yet licked4054 Main Street, Fish Creek
- Incredible custard, a soft playground, and just outside the state park. This one is a Door County favorite and well worth splurging on while you’re here!
- Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor9990 Water St S, Ephraim
- Think soda fountain and old-fashioned frozen specialties! Located in the heart of Ephraim across from the picturesque marina.
- Al Johnson’s Swedish and butik restaurant, 10698 N Bay Shore Drive, Sister Bay
- You haven’t experienced Door County unless you’ve spotted the goats on the grassy rooftops here! Also check out their Butik for incredibly cute Nordic themed gifts.
- Seaquist Orchards Farm Market11482 WI-42, Sister Bay
- The Daddy of Door County Roadside Farmers Markets! An incredible selection of all things Cherry (samples too!), Fudge, and their playground, maze, and go-kart track are by far the best FREE fun around.
Check out Door County’s other amazing state parks including Potawatomi State Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Newport State Park while you’re in the area!
And, if we’ve managed to whet your appetite for even more Wisconsin outdoor adventures, check out our big roundup of 26 great Wisconsin state parks just two hours or less from Appleton.!