Door County, Wisconsin, abounds with beautiful parks. Peninsula State Park proudly stakes its claim as Wisconsin’s most complete park due to its abundance of recreational activities. We will cover everything you need to know to make the most of your Peninsula State Park visit.
Disclosure: I received gifted products from adidas that I am sharing in this post. Destination Door County hosted me for this trip. All opinions are my own.
Peninsula State Park sits in Fish Creek within beautiful Door County. The address is 9462 Shore Road, Fish Creek, WI 54212.
If you have never heard of Door County, do not feel bad. Neither had I until a few months ago. Door County stretches along a 70-mile long and 18-mile wide peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan.
The area is primarily known for its rich cheese and tart cherries. Both are delicious! However, you will find charming coastal towns, gorgeous landscapes, friendly people, and lovely parks across the peninsula.
Wisconsin’s most complete park nestles along the peninsula’s western coast, where its outer edges touch the waters of Green Bay.
If coming from Green Bay, take State Highway 57 north toward Sturgeon Bay. For those coming from Manitowoc, you will take State Highway 42 toward Sturgeon Bay.
Before reaching Sturgeon Bay, the two highways join. Keep heading north to Fish Creek, where the road turns east. Proceed another half mile on State Highway 42. The park entrance is on your left.
Your drive is over an hour from Green Bay or longer than 1.5 hours from Manitowoc.
Hours of Operation
Peninsula State Park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Wisconsin state parks, forests, and recreation areas require a vehicle admission sticker. You can purchase the car sticker at the park’s drive-up office window or the self-pay station when the office is closed. Or, you can buy it in advance online.
Daily admission for those with a Wisconsin license plate is $8. Wisconsin residents age 65 and up with the state plate pay just $3. The cost for cars with out-of-state plates is $11.
Annual admission for those with a Wisconsin license plate is $28. Wisconsin residents age 65 and up with the state plate pay just $13. The cost for cars with out-of-state plates is $38. Annual stickers are valid from the purchase date through the year’s end.
The admission sticker is valid at all Wisconsin state parks. Motorcycles, like cars, must pay for entry. If you have a rental car, your vehicle’s license plate state will determine the fees.
What is Special About Peninsula State Park?
Spanning 3,776 acres, Peninsula State Park offers natural beauty and many recreational activities. The park harbors rocky bluffs more than 150 feet above the bay. Those beautiful rocky bluffs are part of the extensive Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
Scientists believe the Niagara Escarpment began forming over 400 million years ago. It houses over 200 rare plant and animal species.
Astonishingly, the Niagara Escarpment runs from Lake Winnebago in east-central Wisconsin through Ontario, Canada, to Niagara Falls, New York. To say it is an expansive limestone cliff is an understatement. The towering limestone cliff rising out of Green Bay is breathtaking.
Can You Bring Your Dog to the Park?
You can bring your dog to most campgrounds, roads, trails, and outlying park sections. Pets must always be under control and on a leash that is eight feet long or less.
Things To Do in Peninsula State Park
Wisconsinites will quickly tell you Peninsula State Park is their most complete park because it offers many things to do. Let’s explore your recreational opportunities.
I had the opportunity to bicycle on the beautiful 9.6-mile Sunset Trail. The route takes you through the peaceful forest teeming with cedars and maples, by Weborg Marsh, and along cliffs with spectacular views of Green Bay. The bike ride was so rewarding I could not stop smiling.
You can take Hidden Bluff, a scenic 0.75-mile spur trail that leads you to the nature center and is a shortcut if you are traveling to and from Nicolet Bay.
Nor Door Sports & Cyclery sits just outside the park. The store has friendly service and rents traditional and electric bikes (e-bikes). Please note riders must be at least 16 years old to rent e-bikes.
If you desire more of a challenge, the park has 12 miles of off-road biking trails. The paths are rugged and unsurfaced. Off-road bicyclists aged 16 and up will need a state trail pass.
Canoeing and Kayaking
With eight miles of alluring shoreline, paddling is a popular thing to do in Peninsula State Park. You can rent kayaks and canoes at Nicolet Beach. While Nicolet Bay has a launch ramp, some paddlers prefer Tennison Bay due to its shallow draft.
When paddling along the coast, you can see the stunning limestone cliffs, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, and Eagle Cave, which sits 40 feet above the water.
Some prefer to paddle a mile north of Nicolet Bay to the lovely Horseshoe Island. The island is considered part of the park and is only accessible by boat. It is an excellent place to swim or hike the 1-mile rustic path that loops around the circumference of the 38-acre island.
Park visitors can partake in shore fishing at Weborg Pier. The pier is famous for brown trout fishing in spring and fall. In summer, anglers typically catch smallmouth and rock bass.
Although Weborg Pier has a more substantial reputation for fishing, some guests report success along Nicolet Bay’s cobblestone shoreline.
Please note anyone age 16 and up must have a valid Wisconsin fishing license. If you plan to catch trout, you will need a Wisconsin Great Lakes Trout Stamp. You can purchase these licenses at local sporting goods stores or online at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources site.
Nicolet Beach has a lovely sand beach, yielding an excellent area for sunbathing and swimming. Near the beach, you will discover a sprawling grassy section for recreation, a picnic area, a playground, and a camp store. It is the perfect setting for an afternoon of family fun.
There are no lifeguards to patrol the beach. You may bring your dog to the picnic area, but not on the beach or the mowed area just behind the beach.
Peninsula State Park has twenty miles of hiking trails. Eagle Trail is one of the most popular hikes and the park’s premier trail. Along the challenging trek, you will see 150-foot cliffs, springs, and forested terraces. Although a workout, the views are pretty rewarding.
Here are the park’s primary hiking trails:
- Eagle Trail – challenging 2.0-mile loop
- Hemlock Trail – moderate 1.8-mile hike one way
- Lone Pine Trail – moderate 0.5-mile hike one-way
- Minnehaha Trail – easy 0.7-mile walk one way
- Nicolet Bay Trail – moderate 2.2-mile hike one-way
- Sentinel Trail – easy 2.0-mile loop
- Skyline Trail – moderate 3.0-mile loop
- Trail Tramper’s Delight Trail – easy 0.5-mile hike one way
- Vita Course Trail – exercise stations for different ability levels along a 1.0-mile loop
- White Cedar Nature Trail- easy 0.5-mile loop
To say many people camp at Peninsula State Park is an understatement. It is Wisconsin’s most popular camping destination.
The park houses 468 family sites within its five campgrounds. It also has three group campsites to accommodate tent camping.
The five campgrounds are:
- North Nicolet Bay Campground
- South Nicolet Bay Campground
- Tennison Bay Campground
- Weborg Point Campground
- Welcker’s Point Campground
Across the campgrounds, you can access showers, flush toilets, fishing piers, and boat launches. You will find a few fully-accessible campsites, showers, and bathrooms. Some campgrounds even provide electric hookups.
Since camping is popular at the park and each campground provides different services, we suggest you visit the Wisconsin State Parks camping site to obtain details and reserve your spot.
Tennison Bay offers winter camping for anyone interested in braving the elements and earning respect from true Wisconsinites.
White Cedar Nature Center
The White Cedar Nature Center is the perfect place for families with children. It has bird and fish displays, a reading corner, park and natural history, fossils, furs, and nature programs. Friendly park staff members will answer questions so you can make the most of your time there.
As staffing allows, the nature center is typically open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in summer and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in winter.
Peninsula State Park offers a unique opportunity for guests to play golf with stunning views of Eagle Harbor and the Village of Ephraim. While playing, you will catch glimpses of the Niagara Escarpment and lush forests of maples, cedars, beeches, and oaks.
The Peninsula State Park Golf Course offers two options. You can play either the 18-hole golf course or a short course with six holes of par 3.
The course is regularly open from late April through late October. You can find more information and schedule a tee time at the Peninsula Golf Course site.
The clubhouse serves breakfast and lunch so that you can enjoy a relaxing meal before or after your round of golf.
Watching a breathtaking sunset over tranquil Green Bay is a rewarding experience. The park offers several excellent spots, including Eagle Tower, Welcker’s Point, and the Tennison Boat Launch.
If you stay after nightfall, Sven’s Bluff is a fantastic spot for stargazing.
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
The park harbors a historic lighthouse, lit in 1868. Keepers operated the light until 1926. After undergoing restoration efforts, it reopened in 1964. The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
You can tour the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse from mid-May through mid-October. Tours are typically available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $5.
If you love lighthouses as I do, Door County is an excellent place to visit. The peninsula houses 11 beacons. Eagle Bluff is undoubtedly worth visiting. You can learn about its history and savor the beautiful views of Green Bay behind the light.
One of the park’s primary attractions, Eagle Tower, stretches 60 feet into the sky, delivering breathtaking views of the Upper Michigan shoreline and surrounding islands. You can climb 95 stairs or use an 850-foot ramp, making the attraction Wisconsin’s first accessible observation tower. The third generation tower opened in 2021, replacing its predecessor, dismantled in 2016.
It reminds me of the Myakka River Canopy Walkway & Observation Tower in Florida. They are similar in terms of height and the number of stairs. However, where the observation deck in Myakka River State Park overlooks the forest and vast prairies, the Eagle Tower yields breathtaking views of the bay.
I fear heights and tremble at climbing ladders or standing on a roof. Naturally, I chose to take the ramp.
We visited on a windy day with gusts regularly topping 30 miles per hour. Although the observation deck is accessible and provides handrails, I admit the gusty conditions tripped my internal height alarm. After all, the deck sits 253 feet above Green Bay. The views are excellent, and I am glad I climbed the tower.
I suggest taking the canopy walkway rather than the stairs for those who fear heights. Even if your time on the upper deck is brief, it will be worth it.
Eagle Tower is regularly open from May through October. The park will open the tower on certain days, if ice and snow conditions allow, from November through April.
Northern Sky Theater
You can watch a show in the park’s Northern Sky Theater during the summer. These are professional musical and dramatic productions. Many are family-friendly musical comedies.
Catching a show may not come to mind when considering state parks. However, a peaceful setting surrounds the outdoor theater, making it an excellent way to relax and laugh with your family. Visit the Northern Sky Theater site for show times and seat availability details.
While many travelers shy away from the cold, Wisconsinites embrace winter. Accordingly, Peninsula State Park offers unique winter activities.
The park has 16 miles of groomed trails set aside for cross-country skiing. All skill levels are welcome. Tracks are color-coded and vary from easy to challenging.
The park contains 6 miles of trails for snowshoeing. These ungroomed trails take you through some of the park’s most remote and peaceful areas. Look for the green signs with a pink reflective dot to find the path.
With a valid license, you can try your hand at ice fishing. Anglers regularly catch walleye, trout, and perch. Please exercise caution when ice fishing.
The park offers 17 miles of snowmobile trails. All snowmobiles must be registered and display the registration decal. You will need a nonresident snowmobile pass for a snowmobile registered outside of Wisconsin.
The maximum speed limit is 25 miles per hour within the park.
Sledding and Tubing
Families can enjoy a fun day of sledding or tubing at the park. Due to a steep hill, Peninsula Golf Course’s fairway at hole 17 is a favorite spot for sledding and tubing. The park asks adults to supervise children at all times.
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit?
Peninsula State Park delivers plenty of natural beauty and recreational opportunities year-round.
Although you will experience higher crowd levels, summers are an excellent time to visit due to comfortable temperatures and opportunities to swim, golf, and catch a show at the Northern Sky Theater. You can expect an average high temperature in the 70s.
Temperatures drop in autumn, with average highs in the mid-50s in October and low-40s in November. Peninsula State Park is stunning when the fall foliage paints the landscapes against the backdrop of limestone cliffs and Green Bay.
Winters are cold, but the recreational opportunities within the beautiful park are outstanding. Playing in the snow and ice and cozying beside a fire will forge lasting memories for your family.
Spring sees an average high of 49 degrees Fahrenheit in April and in the low 60s for May. Flowers brighten the grounds, and fragrant apple and cherry blossoms heighten your senses.
If you dress appropriately, each season is rewarding and offers something unique. We recommend packing light layers regardless of the season. It allows you to add or shed layers as needed throughout the day.
I swear by my adidas hoodies. The thick, soft fabric keeps me warm and comfortable.
Julie is fond of the adidas jackets. In particular, she loves the TERREX cold weather gear. The comfortable, lightweight jackets keep you warm and provide effortless movement.
Plan Your Peninsula State Park Adventure
Peninsula State Park is dubbed Wisconsin’s most complete park for a reason. It abounds with natural beauty and offers a wide variety of recreational activities. Whether you want to climb Eagle Tower or play a round of golf, you can find an adventure in Door County’s Peninsula State Park. Afterward, you can eat all the cheese curds and cherry pie you want!
Featured image credit: Destination Door County / Mike Tittel
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About the author
We are Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey. After nearly 30 years, we took a leap of faith out of the corporate world to enjoy a life of travel and adventure. We hope to inspire you to find ways to travel more and enjoy life now.