Last Friday, my mom and I left Chicago and drove five hours north for a three-day trip to Door County, Wisconsin. I mentioned here on the blog last week that we'd been talking about a mini Baswell Girls getaway before baby comes for a while, and decided that an autumn weekend in Door County would be perfect. It was absolutely beautiful, full of all of the vibrant fall colors that we'd hope for. It was also incredibly peaceful, with very limited phone service and no internet service when we were away from our Bed and Breakfast. But it rained. And rained. And rained. In fact, it rained the entire time we were there, except for a fifteen minute period early on Saturday morning. It was also really cold. We didn't let the less-than-stellar weather ruin our time though. We laughed when we got caught in downpours, we expressed our gratitude for the lack of what would have normally been a weekend full of crowds, and we vowed to make the best of the experience, dreary skies and harsh winds or otherwise.
Although we thoroughly enjoyed cozying up by the fireplaces at our inn after coming in from the chilly rain, we spent most of our time out exploring. We drove around the peninsula to look at the gorgeous fall trees, apple orchards, pumpkin patches, wineries, and Lake Michigan, which was mostly covered in a hazy October fog. We walked from shop to shop bundled up in rain jackets, huddled under umbrellas. We ate amazing dinners and homemade ice cream and sipped on hot coffee (and local wine, for my mom). My big plans to take all sorts of pretty pictures didn't exactly work out, because there were only a few occasions where the rain subsided enough to pull out my real camera. This is the reason why (1) the majority of images you see here are phone-quality, and (2) there are no shots of us (because neither of us felt like being photographed looking like dripping wet dogs). But honestly, the lack of more calculated photography was okay. It was actually kind of nice to just be present and take pictures here and there instead of feeling pressured to capture the visually perfect shot everywhere we went.
There are so many wonderful places to eat, shop, and hang out in Door County, and we only got to experience a handful of them in the time we had. There are a few places that I highly recommend though, if you happen to be visiting the area. The first is a delicious little dinner spot called Mr. Helsinki. It's a restaurant and wine bar, located above the market in Fish Creek, that specializes in Asian and French food. We wanted to have a really nice dinner Saturday night, but it seemed like most of the places we researched featured menus that were primarily steaks and other meats. So we were stoked to find this place, and ended up being all sorts of impressed with both our food and the ambiance. The decor and overall design were very chic and reminded me of something we'd find in the city, rather than in a small town. We shared the fondue appetizer and finished off with crepes (spinach and shitake mushroom for me, salmon and asparagus for my mom), and left full and satisfied.
For coffee (and the yummiest homemade cookies around), I suggest Drink Coffee in Sister Bay (the town where we stayed). I had a decaf vanilla latte and a peanut butter cookie that was to-die-for. My mom had a regular latte and an oatmeal raisin cookie that were equally delicious. They also had the raddest wallpaper ever, as seen in the image above.
Even though we were shivering cold and wet the majority of the time, we still had to stop at Wilson's in Ephraim, a local staple for ice cream. On Friday evening, we got peppermint and chocolate ice creams to go, and ate them by the fire back at our B&B, the Churchill Inn (which has some of the most decadent cinnamon pancakes in existence, if you ask me). Earlier that evening we grabbed dinner at another great find in Fish Creek called The Cookery. It was a cute little cafe with a great selection of vegetarian items. We both had potato leek soup and black bean burgers. Everything one our plates was delicious, but we agreed that the french fries won out. They were perfectly cooked and seasoned. Do yourself a favor and stop by to get an order of their fries if you're ever in the area.
I can't remember all of the shops we visited, but every one of them was cute and quaint, and most featured at least some items from local artists and designers. We ended up mostly buying items for the baby (that's just how it goes these days), including an old school Fisher Price phone and handmade wood rattle from Kid Works Toys, and the cutest double pom pink hat from Wilkins and Olander boutique, both in Fish Creek. We also picked up some new books at Book World in Sister Bay, along with a few small gifts at some other local stores. And I may have gone a little crazy at Door County Confectionery. I crave sugar a lot these days, and I definitely did not deny my cravings when I discovered their old fashioned candy bins.
On our way home on Sunday, we stopped by Door Peninsula Winery (oh how I miss you, wine) and the hilariously famous Mars Cheese Castle (where I purchased way too many dairy products). We had to laugh because after several days of nonstop rain, the clouds disappeared and the sky became sunshiny and blue literally the moment we drove over the Door County line. It didn't matter though. We had the best time, rain and all. The only thing missing was my sister - we're kidnapping you from Indianapolis next time Morgan! For those of you in the midwest, I highly recommend paying a visit to Door County next spring or summer (or even this fall if you can get away soon). It's the ideal place for a relaxing, affordable vacation that is the perfect combination of natural scenery and local culture. I hope that next year we'll be able to make it again, but with our little girl in tow.
Have you ever been to Door County? If so, are there any places I missed that you recommend for next time?