n the Great Lakes area of the USA, just south of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, is the beautiful state of Wisconsin. If you have not previously thought of Wisconsin as a vacation destination, you’ve been making a mistake because it has a lot to offer!
The area that is now known as Wisconsin was first inhabited by various Native American tribes, the major tribes among them being the Chippewa, Menominee, Oneida, Potawatomi and Winnebago. These Native Americans utilized the region for centuries, before the French explorer Jean Nicolet visited Wisconsin in 1634, arriving at what is now Green Bay in search of fur pelts and the Northwest Passage. That pretty much spelled the beginning of the end for them, though to this day there is a preponderance of Native American names on everything from rivers to towns.
Most famous for its dairy products, the state has a great deal more to offer– from the sophistication of its cities to its beautiful scenery, skiing and abundant wildlife.
On the northeastern side of this state is a peninsula that sticks out like a thumb into Lake Michigan and Green Bay. This peninsula is Door County, a unique and stunningly beautiful place dotted with quaint towns and villages that offer an amazingly diverse selection of attractions.
Often called “The Cape Cod of the Midwest”, Door County has 250+ miles of shoreline so it’s not surprising that it offers some of the best fishing in the state (walleye, perch, and trout– and more). Sailing, golfing (lots of golfing), and horseback riding are only a few of the outdoor options. Combine this with the fantastic slate of arts and other indoor attractions, and the county should keep you entertained no matter what the season.
One of Door County’s most popular events is a tour of lighthouses, as people from all over the Midwest are drawn to the most populated county in America in terms of lighthouses. (Door County holds the title of the “county with more lighthouses than any other in the country”.) Adding to the fun is the Keepers Kin Reception Saturday evening at the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay and special Door County Trolley tours to the lighthouses.
You can even stroll across the water to the most photographed lighthouse– which is on an island. Cana Island is open to the public seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM through Oct. 29. Walk across the rock causeway from the mainland to the island.
This is also an area full of fruit orchards, with a cherry festival that provides fun and amusement– and wonderful cherry products– for visitors and locals alike. Apples make their presence felt here, too, with some of the best apple pies and other apple goodies you will find anywhere.
Fish Creek, midway up the peninsula on its western shore, has become the heart of the county’s artistic life. Here you’ll find Peninsula Players, the country’s oldest professional summer theater; The Peninsula Music Festival; American Folklore Theatre; Peninsula Art School; Peninsula Arts Theater, and more. This is also where you’ll find the Little Sweden Resort, which I’ll get to in a moment.
Fish Creek is still somewhat a late 19th century village. Many of its original buildings still stand along Main Street more than a century after they were built by pioneer settlers. Among these historic structures are the Noble House (built in 1874), the Episcopal Church, the Town Hall, both grocery stores, and several former homes that are now shops or other businesses.
A wide variety of shops, galleries, supper clubs and restaurants draws visitors back year after year. After a fine dinner, take a stroll to the marina and check out the pleasure boats moored there, or sit on the city beach and watch as the sun paints the sky red and gold. Forest rises dense and lush all around you, the lake glitters as golden as the sky…
Summertime in Door County is a time for fishing, golfing, canoeing, wildlife watching, summer theater, sailing, bicycling, music festivals and wandering along the peninsula from village to village exploring the antique shops, crafts boutiques and the many wonderful little shops and cafes that turn up in the most unexpected corners. In winter, it is time for Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating (and ice fishing), and curling up in front of the fireplace with a hot drink and a good book.
At any time of the year, on the off chance that you need a little city excitement, you are only an hour or so away from Green Bay– a city with everything.
A very fine place to stay is at the elegant Little Sweden Vacation Resort, consisting of several log home villas nestled on a wooded hillside and two penthouse suites, all of which are available on a fractional ownership basis as well as via Shell Vacations Club. Little Sweden is proud to participate in the Shell Vacations Club points program, which gives you access to one bedrooms, two bedrooms or penthouse suites. Accomodations range in size from 800 sq. ft. in the one-bedroom to 3,900 sq. ft. in the penthouse deluxe.
Located on a wooded hillside just outside of Fish Creek, these RCI Gold Crown/Interval International Select villas (most with vaulted ceilings and massive Door County-fieldstone fireplaces) have views that are stunning every season of the year. As the resort’s Web site says: “Meditate while you walk through eighty acres of woodland and meadows. Trails lead from your doorstep down the valley to seclusion or up the hill to inspiration. Surrounded by spectacular landscape, visitors to Little Sweden will discover quiet meadows alive with colorful wild flowers and enchanting woodland pathways.” In the spring the area is full of blooming fruit trees, in the autumn the colors are vivid, all year long it is a place for regaining your sanity far from the madding crowd.
The decor is definitely Scandinavian, with ample use of unpainted wood and stone, and the streamlined but comfortable furnishings for which Sweden and her sister countries are famous. The resort recently completed a remodeling project, which updated the television systems to a 42″ plasma television in the living rooms in all 24 timeshare units.
The resort gets extremely good reviews from those who have either visited or purchased there, with kudos for both the attentive staff and the units themselves. You will have a great sense of privacy, even on your wide front porch– from which you can watch the turtles in Gota Pond or glimpse a deer wandering across the meadow.
Little Sweden is also a Travel Green Certified Resort. The Travel Green Wisconsin program is a voluntary program that reviews, certifies and recognizes tourism businesses and organizations that have made a commitment to continuously improve their operations in order to reduce their environmental impact.
As the folks at Little Sweden like to say, “Let your hair down. Lift your spirits up. You’re home.”
Some Web sites you may want to visit for more information:
- http://www.little-sweden.com –Little Sweden’s website
- http://www.shellvacationsclub.com/ –Shell Vacations Club at Little Sweden
- http://visitfishcreek.com/ –All about the town of Fish Creek
- http://doorcountyvacations.com/ –Everything you need to know about Door County
- http://www.door-county.com/ –Door County online
- http://www.doorcountynavigator.com/html/home.html –Good complete info on Door County
- http://www.doorcountycompass.com/ –Door County e-zine
- http://www.dcmm.org/ –Maritime Museum, very interesting
- http://www.doorcountyadvocate.com/ –The local newspaper
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