Exploring Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin: A Perfect Blend of Adventure, History, and Flavor

John Purves Tugboat at Night

Exploring Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin: A Perfect Blend of Adventure, History, and Flavor

Nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan and boasting a rich maritime history, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, offers visitors an enticing mix of outdoor adventure, cultural exploration, and culinary delights. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or foodie, there’s something for everyone in this charming city. Let’s dive into the top attractions and experiences that Sturgeon Bay has to offer.

Places to Hike:

1. Potawatomi State Park: Embark on a hiking adventure amidst the natural splendor of Potawatomi State Park. Explore scenic trails that wind through lush forests, offering breathtaking views of Sturgeon Bay and the surrounding landscapes. Don’t miss the opportunity to hike to the park’s observation tower for panoramic vistas of Lake Michigan.

2. Crossroads at Big Creek: Discover the beauty of Door County’s natural habitats at Crossroads at Big Creek. This environmental preserve features a network of trails that meander through forests, meadows, and wetlands, providing opportunities for birdwatching, wildlife spotting, and peaceful contemplation.

Places to Visit:

1. Door County Maritime Museum: Immerse yourself in Sturgeon Bay’s maritime heritage at the Door County Maritime Museum. Explore fascinating exhibits showcasing the area’s shipbuilding industry, commercial fishing heritage, and the importance of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. Step aboard the historic tugboat, the John Purves, for a firsthand glimpse into life on the water.

2. Historic Third Avenue: Take a stroll down Historic Third Avenue in downtown Sturgeon Bay, where you’ll find a treasure trove of shops, galleries, and historic buildings. Browse local artwork, artisan crafts, and unique gifts, or simply soak in the small-town charm of this bustling thoroughfare.

3. Saturday Farmers Market: The Saturday Farmers Market in Sturgeon Bay is a vibrant gathering of local farmers, artisans, and vendors showcasing the best of Door County’s bounty. Visitors can peruse a diverse array of fresh produce, homemade goods, and handcrafted items while enjoying live music and the friendly atmosphere of this beloved community event.

4. Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Pierhead Lighthouse: stroll out to view the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Pierhead Lighthouse. Located at the entrance of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, the lighthouse is accessible from the adjacent pier. Visitors can enjoy scenic views of the canal and the lighthouse while walking along the pier. However, access to the lighthouse itself is restricted.

5. Sunset Park: Catch a stunning sunset over Sturgeon Bay from Sunset Park. This scenic waterfront park offers benches and picnic tables, providing the ideal setting for enjoying the evening sky over the bay.

The John Purves Tugboat

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John Purves tugboat at night is docked along the water, It is a 149-foot, large red tugboat, that was built in 1919. The tug has sailed everywhere from the Bering Sea to the Caribbean and the Great Lakes. You can take a 45-minute tour of the tug by paying a fee at the Door County Maritime Museum.

Jacqueline Nicole Tug

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The Jacqueline getting ready to go out onto Lake Michigan with the historic Sturgeon Bay steel bridge in the background.

Sturgeon Bay Steel Bridge

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The Sturgeon Bay Steel Bridge, also known as the Michigan Street Bridge, is a significant landmark in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It spans the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, connecting the northern and southern parts of the city. This vertical-lift bridge was constructed in 1931 and is notable for its steel truss design and ability to lift vertically to allow for the passage of ships and boats. It plays a crucial role in the maritime industry of Sturgeon Bay, facilitating the movement of vessels between the bay and Lake Michigan. The bridge has become an iconic symbol of the city and is appreciated by locals and visitors alike for its historical significance and architectural charm.

Some Good Eats:

1. Inn at Cedar Crossing: Indulge in a culinary delight at the Inn at Cedar Crossing, housed in a beautifully restored 1884 building. Savor farm-to-table cuisine featuring locally sourced ingredients, including freshly caught fish and seasonal produce. Be sure to try their famous Door County cherry pie for a sweet taste of the region.

2. Sonny’s Pizzeria: For a casual dining experience with a local flair, head to Sonny’s Pizzeria. Enjoy handcrafted pizzas made with premium ingredients and innovative toppings, along with a selection of craft beers and cocktails. With its cozy atmosphere and friendly service, Sonny’s is the perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploration.

3. Waterfront Mary’s: Waterfront Mary’s in Sturgeon Bay offers a delightful dining experience with its picturesque waterfront location and relaxed atmosphere. Guests can savor delicious food, or a fish boil and cocktails while enjoying panoramic views of the bay, making it the perfect spot for a memorable waterfront dining experience.

4. Glas Coffeehouse: Start your day off right with a visit to Glas Coffeehouse, a cozy café serving artisanal coffee, espresso drinks, and freshly baked pastries. Relax with a book or catch up with friends in the inviting atmosphere, or grab a coffee to go and explore the charming streets of Sturgeon Bay.

5. Scaturo’s Baking Co. & Café: For a taste of homemade goodness, stop by Scaturo’s Baking Co. & Café. This family-owned bakery and café offers a mouthwatering selection of freshly baked bread, pastries, sandwiches, and desserts. Don’t leave without trying their famous Door County cherry turnovers or cinnamon rolls.

6. Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center: Whether you’re looking for fine dining or a casual meal, Stone Harbor Resort & Conference Center has you covered. Enjoy waterfront dining at the resort’s restaurant, featuring locally inspired cuisine and panoramic views of the bay, or grab a drink and appetizer at the waterfront bar.

7. Harbor Fish Market & Grille: Indulge in a seafood feast at Harbor Fish Market & Grille, known for its fresh catches and innovative seafood dishes. From succulent crab cakes to grilled salmon and lobster bisque, there’s something to satisfy every seafood lover’s cravings.

8. Kitty O’Reillys Irish Pub: Offers an authentic Irish experience with its cozy atmosphere, hearty pub fare, and selection of Irish beers and whiskeys. Guests that visit Kitty O’ Reilly’s can enjoy music and hospitality while savoring classic dishes like fish and chips or shepherd’s pie.

Fish Boil At Waterfront Mary’s

Door County’s tradition of fish boils dates back to the late 19th century when Scandinavian settlers introduced the practice to the region. Fish boils were originally a practical way for fishermen and lumberjacks to cook large quantities of fish outdoors. Today, fish boils have evolved into a beloved culinary tradition and popular tourist attraction in Door County.

Whether you’re hiking through pristine natural landscapes, delving into maritime history, or indulging in delicious cuisine, Sturgeon Bay invites you to experience the best of Door County’s charm and hospitality. Plan your visit today and discover why Sturgeon Bay is a must-visit destination in Wisconsin’s scenic peninsula.

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