A long-time vacation destination for Midwesterners, Wisconsin’s Door County is a peninsula jutting into Lake Michigan with 11 charming towns. In them you’ll find old-fashioned ice cream and fudge shops, Wisconsin supper clubs, outdoor fish boils and Mom and Pop diners. Here’s a roundup of kid-friendly Door County dining options.
With more than 300 miles of shoreline to enjoy, visitors have long flocked to the pretty peninsula known as Door County. Nature lovers and culture vultures will find plenty to keep them busy, and when it’s time to dine, families have a rich menu of dining options. Here are a few of our favorite kid-friendly Door County restaurants:
Where to Eat in Door County?
Kid-friendly dining experiences are served up throughout Door County. However, the first stop for any family with younger kids must be P C Junction. P C stands for Peninsula Center. Not surprisingly it’s located in a town pretty much in the middle of Door County. This train-themed restaurant will likely be the highlight of your younger child’s trip. It’s one of the few restaurants where kids are welcome to pull up a barstool. That’s because they’ve turned the bar into a train depot. A train track runs across the bar, delivering burgers, barbecue, soups and salads.
Although anything tastes better delivered by a toy train, the food is really quite good, and moderately priced. Parents will appreciate the $6 kids meals. There’s an arcade filled with free toys and coloring books in the back of the restaurant. However, it was empty when I visited, as kids were too mesmerized by the train. Should there be a wait to sit at the train bar, check out the train-themed playground out back or hop aboard one of the free pedal cars for a ride through the groomed tracks in the woods. P C Junction’s owner Bob Hanusa, who wears a train conductor’s uniform, likes to tell people “It’s all about the kids here.” He’s right!
Door County’s Sweet Treats
Not surprisingly, old-fashioned ice cream and candy shops are plentiful. Wanna take a sentimental journey? Pop some quarters into the tabletop jukeboxes at Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor in the town of Ephraim. There’s no better place to watch the sunset over the bay than from their outdoor porch with an ice cream cone in your hand.
You’ll find another adorable ice cream shop in Sister Bay. Chicago transplant Todd Frisoni bought the ice cream shop when he was just 21 years old. Twenty years later it’s still serving up home-made waffle cones, ice cream concoctions and sandwiches.
Swedish Door County Dining
Plenty of Swedes emigrated to Wisconsin. Their heritage is alive and thriving at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik in Sister Bay. Known for its authentic Scandinavian decor and cuisine, order the Swedish pancakes (served with lingonberries) and substitute your bacon or sausage with Swedish meatballs. The breakfast wait can be long. Luckily there’s an adorable playground, beach and harbor directly across the street where you can easily enjoy your wait. And don’t forget to get a glimpse of the goats on the rooftop!
Door County Supper Clubs
Step back in time by having dinner at one of Wisconsin’s supper clubs. What’s a supper club? In case you’re wondering, you don’t need to be a member. All are welcome to dine. Some would say it’s a way to have an authentic Wisconsin experience, others would say it’s an ingenious marketing strategy to make dated 60’s decor seem hip. You decide!
If you’re game for an evening of true vintage Wisconsin, make a bee-line for the lanes at Sister Bay Bowl. It’s a bowling alley, bar and supper club (known as a restaurant in every other part of the country). Get ready for an evening of delicious fun. The food’s good and the bowling’s a blast for the whole family. Or let the older kids play while Mom and Dad have a drink in the bar or restaurant, while waiting for their table or meal.
Door County Cheese
No visit to Wisconsin would be complete without a cheese tasting! Head over to Door Artisan Cheese Company, a beautiful cheese store, market, and on-site cheese factory. Their cheese is made in Door County and aged on-site in caves. That’s right, caves. And you can actually take a tour of the caves when you stop by. Watch the process, sample a few of their award-winning cheddars or asagios. Then pick up your favorites in the cheese shop.
What’s a Fish Boil?
The Fish Boil has become a Door County tradition. A lot of the hotels offer up fish boil meals for the guests. Watch the whitefish boil outdoors in a kettle along with a few large flames for the crowd’s entertainment. Just know that whitefish has a LOT of bones, and can be difficult for even adults to eat. Make sure there’s something offered for kids.
Rowley’s Bay Resort in Ellison Bay offers a classic Door County fish boil along with a local storyteller who shares some Wisconsin history. Be aware that while history buffs might enjoy the local storyteller, most kids will be bored by the half hour history lesson. After the storytelling, the crowd lines up for a buffet that includes ham, chicken, chili, and a full salad, along with the freshly cooked whiteish. The fish boil is on the menu Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in the summer ($22.50 for adults or $1.25 per year of age for kids under 12) Make sure and call ahead for a reservation.