Your Door County Culture & Events Guide

Must-stop art spots, events to plan your trip around and a peek at the door’s literary scene



Art Ventures

Beyond the natural beauty, the peninsula is also an art hub. Here are some must-stop spots.    

The Miller Art Museum


Door County’s only fine art museum features a collection of 20th century Wisconsin art and rolling exhibitions. It also runs the peninsula’s coolest artist-in-residency program at The Dome House in Whitefish Bay. Events to see the featured artist’s work and the home, itself a work of art, begin in August. 



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MargaretLockwood Gallery


Tucked in Sturgeon Bay’s artsy Steel Bridge Creative District is this gem of a gallery focusing on work from Margaret Lockwood, honored by the Door County Art League as a Master Artist. Her ethereal paintings are meant to embody the essence of the peninsula’s natural beauty. 

The Hardy Gallery


Part of the charm of this beloved Door County staple is the graffiti on its exterior; visitors have left hundreds of notes and signatures over the years. Inside, the gallery features creative programming like the “Wall-to-Wall” exhibition May 26-July 9, spotlighting emerging and established artists from across the region. 

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Cupola Collective

7836 HWY. 42, EGG HARBOR

This artful cafe and studio opened just last year, but the stunning white gothic style building dates back to 1849. Photographer Laura Quackenboss is set up upstairs, hosting print shop pop-ups and offering photo sessions. It’s also a great spot to grab a cup of coffee and homemade bagel. 

Plan Your Trip Around These Great Events

1. Door County Lighthouse Festivals

JUNE 9-11 AND SEPT. 29-OCT. 1 

This year, you have not just one but two chances to celebrate the 11 historic guiding lights scattered across the peninsula – plus three more in Kewaunee and Algoma, on Lake Michigan to the south. The various tour options available during these festivals, organized by the Door County Maritime Museum, are ticketed and include trolley rides, boat cruises, airplane tours and even
a kayak adventure. 

Photo by Adam Senatori

2. Door County Beer Festival

JUNE 17 

Just in time for Father’s Day, this ticketed outdoor event brings together 40 Midwestern craft breweries and more than 150 brews in Baileys Harbor, with food vendors, live music and more. 

3. Fyr Bal Festival

JUNE 17 

A bayside celebration of Scandinavian heritage in Ephraim with music, dancing, crafts, and a big bonfire and fireworks. 

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4. The Door County Wine Festival

JUNE 24 

Staged at the Maxwelton Braes Lodge, this parade of sips features food, music, and of course wines from nine different Door County wineries. They’re well known for cherry and apple fruit wines, but there is a growing number of new estate-grown grape wines. 

5. Door County Plein Air Festival

JULY 23-29 

Peninsula School of Art hosts 30 artists painting outdoors along with other workshops and events, including activities for the kiddos. Exhibits and sales continue into August. 

6. Door County Fair

AUG. 9-13 

There’s nothing like a good ol’ fashioned county fair, and this one in Sturgeon Bay dates back to 1871. Expect rides, concessions, animals, stock car races, a demolition derby and more. 

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7. Cherry Fest

AUG. 5 

Jacksonport hosts this town event with a car show, juried art fair, music and delicious eats centered around cherries – they’re even in the brats! 

8. Washington Island Literary Festival

SEPT. 21-23 

The big island’s lit event features a “moveable feast” of writer talks, presentations and workshops under the theme “Space for the Unexpected.” 

Literary Door County

THE PENINSULA has such a brilliant performing arts scene and plethora of galleries that its literary community doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Its centerpiece is Write On, Door County, an organization that hosts a variety of workshops, author events and writer residencies. Its beautifully designed Writing Center, open to the public and located just off Highway 42 south of Fish Creek, is a literary sanctuary on 59 mostly wooded acres with walking paths. Events are geared toward both readers and writers; expect readings, the Coffee & Conversation series with authors and poets, free workshops such as a one-hour
memoir-writing class for seniors, and gatherings for word games like Scrabble. The atrium features a library of books with a local or Wisconsin connection, and a cozy space in which to read them. Write On’s writers residence is across the road.

Elsewhere, The Tambourine Lounge in downtown Sturgeon Bay hosts a writers night open mic every Thursday. The Door County Library has eight branches and a calendar of events from story time readings to an annual Door County Reads selection. Just looking for something to peruse? Check in with the friendly and helpful owners behind the counters at Novel Bay Booksellers in Sturgeon Bay or Fair Isle Books & Gifts on Washington Island. 

Door County Writing Center; Photo courtesy of Write On Door County



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s May issue.

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