After living in Door County for three long and exciting months, I learned many new things about the area. Here are some of my findings:
1. Highways 42 and 57 will take you almost anywhere.Once you have the general feel of Door County, there is no need for a map. Just point your car in the correct direction and drive. Highway 42 travels up the west side of the peninsula while highways 57 travels up the east side. Just before Sturgeon Bay (the southern end of Door County), the two highways merge into one. You will never get lost, and even if you do, highways 42 and 57 are only a short distance away!
3. Cash please, not credit.One thing I had never encountered before was the $10 purchase minimum rule. In order to use a credit card or debit card, the purchase total must cost at least $10 otherwise you have to pay with cash. At first this rule really confused me because I had never seen a minimum purchase requirement before. I was not used to carrying cash, and I hated seeing my cash physically disappear before my eyes when I spent it. But I learned that this rule tremendously helps the local businesses make a profit, which I fully support in a county almost entirely built on tourism. By enforcing the $10 minimum rule, local businesses can avoid the high fees associated with running a credit card transaction and avoid barely making any profit off of a sale. I still apply this rule to my shopping now, especially with local businesses, by paying in cash for smaller purchases. Without Door County, I never would have understood this concept.
3. You’re never too old to applaud at a sunset.One of the most peculiar, yet fascinating things about Door County was the fact that people applauded the sunsets. People gathered at restaurants, beaches, houses, or anywhere they could find overlooking Green Bay to simply watch the sun set. As the sun finally dipped below the horizon, people applauded. It was the weirdest concept for me to understand before I experienced it myself. My coworkers and I tried for days to find an applause-worthy sunset, but every night we went searching the skies were cloudy. Finally we found a sunset worthy of remarkable applause and we clapped our hearts out.
4. Appreciate art.Door County is filled with different kinds of art. Painting, pottery, music, theatre…there are so many options. I highly appreciated the inspirational atmosphere of Door County. With visits to Peninsula Players, the Hardy Gallery, Birch Creek, other local galleries, and all around the peninsula, I learned to really love all of the artistic talent in Door County. It truly is a place for artists of all kinds.
5. Take the back roadsEven though highways 42 and 57 can get you almost anymore, driving around in Door County during tourist season can be a mess. If you’re there for only a couple days, by all means enjoy the highways and looking at all of the businesses and beauty of the land. If you’re there for more, stick to the back roads. They can cut down half the time simply because of the huge reduction in traffic. Any highway that cuts across the peninsula is a life saver, and especially highway A, which cuts up the middle of the peninsula. Take the back roads to save yourself some driving time!
6. State park passes rock!My favorite part of Door County was the ease of access to so many wonderful state parks. The first week of my residence in Door County, I purchased myself a state park pass and used it almost every week (sometimes almost every day of every week). From Newport State Park, to Peninsula State Park, to Whitefish Dunes State Park…there are endless places to go with a state park pass. If you love the outdoors, a state park pass is a great option. It provided me an entire summer of entertainment, and I still use it throughout the rest of Wisconsin today.
7. Don’t speedOne of the first things I was told by one of my bosses this summer was “Don’t speed.” Being a grandma driver, I knew I really didn’t have to worry about my own driving habits. But I was curious if the cops really were that harsh or if that was just a rumor meant to scare the new girl. Within the first day of being in Door County, I saw 3 different cars pulled over in the same place in Egg Harbor. On my first day on the job, the lady who I was riding with was pulled over as well. I never really had a problem with speeding, but I will pass on that you might be pulled over for simply going 5 miles over the speed limit. Just be wary of the speed limits when coming into all of the towns of Door County. They can sometimes seem too slow, but they are enforced very well.
8. Appreciate the workersFinally, when exploring Door County make sure to appreciate all of the workers that make everything possible. Many of the workers put in ungodly hours during tourist season to make ends meet. Times are stressful, so just a simple smile and conversation can make a worker’s day. Talk to the locals; they are knowledgeable about local businesses and are more than happy to help you find what you need.