Washington Island is one of the few places in Door County that I have never visited, so when my Mom suggested spending the day there, I was psyched!
This approximately 25 square mile island is located just north of the peninsula and is accessible by pedestrian or car ferry. I had no idea what to expect going onto Washington Island, but I have to say that even though we had an incredible Sunday, spending Monday on Washington Island was my favorite day of our trip!
We had some help planning our trip as my Mom has a friend who owns a home on the island. There are ~700 year round residents on the island and that number can swell to 1500 during the summer.
The best way, we discovered, to explore the island is by bike!
We boarded the ped ferry (bikes are free!) located right behind Charlie’s Smokehouse in Gill’s Rock, climbed up to the top deck and took the scenic 30 minute ride out to Washington Island.
We arrived at the peer and studied our map and headed out towards town!
Our first stop…Red Cup Coffee House for power bars.
The café was adorable, but as it turns out, the power bars were actually at the Island Bread Company right next door!
We had a fun chat with the owner of the bakery, who happens to be a biker. She suggested an alternative and more scenic route around the island as opposed to our planned out and back. My mom and I noshed on a bar (which was awesome) before heading out on our bike ride.
The first portion of our ride was through the wooded southwest corner of the island. It was a beautiful day to be out on a bike and we kept catching glimpses of the water.
We also passed the Island Wheat barn where the wheat for Capital Brewery is grown. I’m a huge fan of their beer!!!
Towards the middle of the island, we discovered Mountain tower.
There are 150 stairs leading up the mountain to the actual tower.
From the top of the tower, you can see the north and east sides of the island. The colors were spectacular, especially in contrast to the water and deep blue sky.
Our next stop was northeast to the Jackson Harbor.
From here you can see Rock Cut state park, which is a rustic island with no cars or bikes that you can only access from Washington Island…it’s pretty remote!
By this point, we were pretty tired, but we biked west past the fine arts center in search of a late lunch. Fiddler’s Green was sadly closed, so we continued on.
We found ourselves at School Beach.
This limestone beach was really neat and beautiful on this crisp fall day!
But don’t try to take a rock home for souvenir! It is a $250 fine per rock!
It was just a few more miles past a couple of barns and an ostrich farm before we finally made it into the tiny downtown. Per recommendation, we swung into Nelsen’s Hall for a beer and lunch.
After riding for 20 miles, we were pretty hungry and ready for a break. Luckily, the bar had a few other friendly customers to swap stories with while we sipped on cold beer…Spotted Cow for Mom and Washington Island Wheat for me.
With rested legs, we were ready to ride the last few miles back to the port. However, we made one last stop…
The Danish Mill for dessert!
The Oatmeal Cherry cookie was unreal! We caught the last ferry off the island at 4pm returning to Charlie’s right before it closed to pick up some smoked fish to take home with us.
It was such an awesome day exploring the island, meeting the locals, and even more special spending it with my Mom. We made our way back to the hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. We walked over to the BOY and my favorite restaurant, Wild Tomato and then found a pub to cheer on the Bear’s during Monday night football. It was risky to be out in Green Bay territory, but we made some friends in blue and orange who happened to be camping in Peninsula State Park and were able to help me convince my Mom to go hiking one more time along the Eagle Trail. For the second day in a row, we crashed into bed for a long night’s sleep!
If you are looking for more information about Washington Island, check out the Washington Island Visitors Guide or shoot me an email! I definitely recommend visiting and TAKE YOUR BIKE!