You’ve seen Door County as a visitor, but have you experienced it the way locals do? There’s no better time than the winter to get the full effect.

You just might find that Door County is even better the local way. Here are our tips to get a taste of the local life.

1) Order an old fashioned, Wisconsin style. Your bartender will know what you mean.

Wisconsin Old Fashioned

2) Grab a cup of coffee at Blue Horse Bistro in Fish Creek. Door County doesn’t have a Starbucks – and that’s a good thing. Blue Horse in Fish Creek has been the spot for locals and tourists alike. Lucky for us, owners Erik and Corrina stick it out and keep the coffee brewing all winter long.

If you want the local buzz and a local buzz to start your day, this is your spot. And the sandwiches are fantastic.

3) Visit Jorn’s Sugar Bush. Ring the bell, someone be with you soon enough, then chat about the history of the operation. Stock up on some delicious syrup and locally made goodies.

Jorns Sugar Bush
The sign at Jorns Sugar Bush says small town at its best.

4) Roll at the Bowl. You keep score! If you’re used to suburban bowling, the Sister Bay Bowl will be the kind of experience that takes you back in time. There are no computers in this alley, just pencils and score sheets for you to fill in. But don’t worry, the barkeeps can teach you how to do it.

5) Take a ferry ride to Washington Island, cutting through the ice, and do a shot of bitters at Nelson’s Hall to earn your Bitters Club card.

6) Sip the local brew! Door County Brewing Co.’s taproom always has great bands. Be sure to try the Pastoral, it’s our favorite of the McMahon family brews.

7) Get on some skis. We take them for granted, but the cross country ski trails at Peninsula State Park, Whitefish Dunes, and Newport are all amazing after a fresh snowfall, thanks to some dedicated local groomers. Bring your skis or rent them and experience another side of our amazing parks!

8) Ring the bell at JJ’s La Puerta. If you don’t know what that means, we can’t tell you, but we’ll give you a hint. It will involve tequila, cinnamon, and orange slices, and you’re advised to do it when the bar is less sparsely populated.

9) Take in a Fish Fry. Fish fries a staple Friday-night tradition in Door County, and with the number of fish fries in the area, why not make a tour of a few of them?

10) Strike up conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask your server, bartender, or clerk a few questions about life up here. Now, do this in winter and you might get a terse response or a roll of the eyes from a swamped server, but come the slow season, we tend to ramble rather freely with our info and stories.