If you and your family are looking to get away for some fun and a refreshing change of pace, then Door County is an easy option! With its nautical themes and loads of small-town charm, the Door peninsula offers a bonafide vacation feeling. While you’re in the area, we highly recommend you spend a day at Peninsula State Park (or better yet, set up camp!).
One of Wisconsin’s premiere state parks, Peninsula has so much to offer: excellent hiking/biking trails, breathtaking views of Green Bay, amazing accessible options such as the Eagle Tower, and a beach experience you simply can’t beat. Plus, this is a great place to stay to enjoy all that Door County offers at a fraction of the price, away from the more touristy areas, and with some great family camping memories to boot. We’ve gathered the best of the best right here to make your trip to Peninsula State Park a great success.
Peninsula State Park At-A-Glance:
- Travel Specs: 1 hour, 34 minutes | 87 miles, Door County
- Address: 9426 Shore Road, Fish Creek
- Hours: Open 6am – 11pm year-round
- Vehicle Admission Pricing: With a WI license plate, you can purchase a daily pass for $8 or an annual pass to all of Wisconsin’s state parks for $28. Stop in at the park office.
- Pets: Leashed pets are allowed in the park.
- Camping: Yes, five campgrounds with 468 family sites
- History: The land for Peninsula State Park was first purchased in 1909 after centuries of being inhabited by native tribes and early European settlers in the area. Steady work to improve and expand the park’s offerings has been ongoing ever since. Peninsula State Park is considered Wisconsin’s most complete state park due to its countless amenities and opportunities for varied recreation.
- Before you go: Make sure to join the 2022 Wisconsin State Parks Challenge and get your kids started with the Wisconsin Explorer’s Program so that you can earn prizes and patches while you explore nature together!
Recreation at Peninsula State Park
Beach & Swimming
Nicolet Beach is a wonderful, family-friendly beach to enjoy some sand play, swimming in peaceful waters, and sunbathing! There are showers right here and a concession stand, too. You can also rent kayaks and other watercraft while you’re here. Be aware there is no lifeguard on duty.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
Take a peek into Door County’s nautical history at the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse situated right here within Peninsula State Park. This 1868 lighthouse still operates in guiding ships through the narrow Strawberry Channel. Today, you can tour the lighthouse and what a lightkeeper’s life may have looked like for $5/person and children under 5 years are FREE.
One of Door County’s greatest attractions, Eagle Tower, accessible via stairs or a newly-opened 850-foot accessible canopy walk, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding islands and water, the village of Ephraim, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! This tower’s earliest construction in the 1900’s served as a fire watch tower, and it has been rebuilt a few times since. The canopy walk is well-fenced and offers rest stops for little walkers. It is also great for stroller rides. If you have especially adventurous toddlers, consider backpack baby-wearing for peace of mind. You don’t want to miss this if you are at Peninsula State Park!
Hiking & Biking Trails
Peninsula State Park is a spectacular park for hiking and biking opportunities! Families can pedal along the Sunset Bike Trail, a ten-mile route that passes through the northern forest that is 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 an excellent choice for families with small children. The hiking difficulty of each trail is well-documented, so you can pick the right challenge for your group.
Boating & Fishing
Weborg and Nicolet Bay piers are excellent fishing locations. Don’t have your own gear? You can actually check out free, basic fishing equipment at the park office!
Peninsula State Park is a favorite spot for paddling of all kinds! The boat launch at Tennison Bay offers a gentle place to put it for kayaks. You can also access Horseshoe Island, a part of the state park, from Nicolet Bay! It is only accessible via boat, and if you decide to make the journey out there, you can enjoy a hike along the rustic 1-mile Engelmar trail that runs the circumference of the island while there.
Peninsula State Park no doubt offers the ultimate family camping experience! With 468 sites to choose from and five distinct family campgrounds, you’re sure to find one that best suits your family. Be sure to book your camping site well in advance, however, because they fill up quite quickly. Before you go, make sure you’re ready for camping success 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 kid-friendly, nature-themed activities and events. They offer hikes, nature crafts, and outdoor skills workshops to name a few. While you’re here, sign up for their Like to Hike challenge which promotes healthy, sustainable recreation through silent 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 very own lineup of professional actors and musicians who offer family-friendly entertainment at the Northern Sky Theater throughout the summer months!
- Camping: Winter camping is allowed at the Tennison Bay campground upon reservation. Electricity and nearby 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 are right.
- Sledding: Sledding is available and the number 17 fairway in the park’s golf course is a perfect spot! No toboggans allowed.
- Snowshoeing: There are 6 miles of ungroomed snowshoe/hiking trails in some the park’s most peaceful areas for use during the winter months.
Other Fun & Yummy Stops In the Fish Creek Area
- Not Licked Yet, 4054 Main St, Fish Creek
- Amazing custard, a sweet playground, and just outside of the State Park. This one is a Door County favorite and worth the splurge while you’re here!
- Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor, 9990 Water St S, Ephraim
- Think old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream specialties! Located in the heart of Ephraim across from the picturesque marina.
- Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik, 10698 N Bay Shore Dr, Sister Bay
- You haven’t experienced Door County unless you’ve spotted the goats on the grassy roofs here! Also check out their Butik for some amazingly cute Nordic-themed gifts.
- Seaquist Orchards Farm Market, 11482 WI-42, Sister Bay
- The Daddy of Door County Roadside Farm Markets! Amazing selection of everything cherry (samples too!), fudge, and their playground, maze, and pedal kart trail are hands down the best FREE fun around.
Check out the other amazing Door County State Parks including Potawatomi State Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Newport State Park while you’re in the area!
And, if we’ve successfully whet your appetite for even more outdoor Wisconsin adventure, check out our big roundup of 26 Awesome Wisconsin State Parks That Are Only Two Hours or Less From Appleton!