Archive for the ‘fall getaway’ Category

A Wisconsin fall getaway

 

Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)

Fall in Ephraim, (Photo by John Nienhuis and Door County)

 

Picture a small town where goats on a restaurant roof can cause a traffic jam in a county where visitors to its scenic towns often gather around huge outdoor pots to watch traditional fish boils.

 

It is Door County, a peninsula that separates the calm waters of Green Bay from turbulent waves of Lake Michigan and where the must-take-home items are chocolate covered cherries or cherry pies and the must-visit time of year is fall.

 

An easy drive from Green Bay’s airport, the route on the way to the Sturgeon Bay, the first vacation town on the peninsula, is dotted with the crimsons, golds and pinksm of changing leaves. And, as TV ads say, “But wait.” The colors keep intensifying, driving northwest along curving roads through picturesque villages.

 

Sunsets over the harbors, bay side, are phenomenal. This is from the Sister Bay Yacht Club where stayed in September. (JJacobs photo)

Sunsets over the harbors, bay side, are phenomenal. This is from the Sister Bay Yacht Club where stayed in September. (JJacobs photo)

 

That restaurant with the goats is up in Sister Bay.  The fish boils are in Fish Creek, Ephraim and a couple of other villages. But Door County’s famed cherry items are everywhere from farm and orchard markets such as Seaquist Orchards Market and gas stations to wineries such as Door Peninsula Winery in Carlsville.

 

However, a trip to “The Door” means you can leave the car at your B&B, inn or condo. This is a great place to bike, hike or walk.

 

I’ve biked the great trails in Peninsula State Park  on the bay side and the back roads across fields and woods.. My place had loaner bikes but there are bike shops including one near the south entrance to the park. I also loved walking around the harbors and hiking Dunes State Park on the lake side.

 

The reward is ice cream sundaes at Wilson’s or fudge  and cherry/chocolate cookies from Seaquist Orchards‘ market.

 

But not everything here is horizontal.

 

If the Cana Island Lighthouse near Bailey’s Harbor on the lake side is open, do the 97 stairs up. The view is spectacular, particularly in fall. But I also loved taking a fall cruise out of Sister Bay to see the park from the water.

 

At Hands On Studio visitors can make jewelry, do ceramics, work with stained glass to to frame as sculptures and work with metal. (J Jacobs photo)

At Hands On Studio visitors can make jewelry, do ceramics, work with stained glass to to frame as sculptures and work with metal. (J Jacobs photo)

 

Colors here are not just outside. Door County is an artists’ colony.

 

Potters, painters and photographers have studios and shops in every town. Artists from across the country go there to participate in the Peninsula School of Art’s annual prestigious July Plein Air Festival.

 

Edgewood Orchard Gallery in Fish creek has an amazing sculpture park.  Or you can also do your own thing, from stained glass and sculpture to jewelry and ceramics at Hands On.Art Studio, up the road from Edgewood.

 

Take a Door County Trolley tour to see part of the peninsula or for a haunting experience. (J Jacobs photo

Take a Door County Trolley tour to see part of the peninsula or for a haunting experience. (J Jacobs photo

 

Oh, and if here in October take the  Trolley Ghost Tour or the Haunted Pub Crawl. I think I saw a strange face in a mirror at a haunted house and felt shivers when visiting a haunted lighted house.

 

Just remember to charge your phone each night so you are camera-ready for fall.

 

For accommodations and other help visit Door County Visitor Bureau or call (800) 527-3529.

 

 

 

The Door: A heavenly vacation spot belies its death passage name

Hike, bike or take the Door County Trolley through Peninsula State Park for great views of Green Bay. Jodie Jacobs photos

Hike, bike or take the Door County Trolley through Peninsula State Park for great views of Green Bay. Jodie Jacobs photos

The best part of vacationing in Door County, WI is the way its delightful harbors make you feel you left work and daily stress miles back at the last stoplight.

The county actually begins back a ways on a thumb shaped peninsula that separates Lake Michigan from Green Bay (the body of water, not the city). There are a smattering of stoplights at its southern end.

But once you cross a drawbridge over Sturgeon Bay, a shipping waterway cut across the peninsula to  connect Lake Michigan to Green Bay, you enter a world where a curve in the road reveals yet another scenic view and where villages have a few scattered stop signs, not stop lights.

However, to experience the dangerous waters where Lake Michigan waves bump against those from Green Bay that give the peninsula its name, you should drive north about 40 miles from Sturgeon Bay to Gills Rock and then a short distance to Northport. There you would take a ferry across to Washington Island.

Among the stories floating between the peninsula and the island is a tale of how when one native tribe lured another tribe to cross from Washington Island to the peninsula, those who attempted the crossing died in the stormy waters, thus giving the crossing the name Death’s Door.

Safe? Yes, though sometimes the trip can be rocky. But the Washington Island Ferry is so popular the best plan is to check the season’s schedule and get to its departure ramp at Northport ahead of time so there is room for your car.

While exploring look for Island Stavkirke, a recreated 12th century Norwegian church and the Jacobsen Museum of island artifacts.

OK, you’re here, meaning at the Door County room, condo, guest house or cottage or other lodging you booked ahead of time, and you are already gazing out at the quiet blue expanse of Green Bay or the ever changing colors of Lake Michigan.

Ah, but an hour later comes the stomach rumble, so next is investigate food options. Do ask your accommodation manager because Door County is loaded with good restaurants and diners so choosing one is a matter of what kind of food you’re in the mood for and how far you want to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Visit Great Smoky Mountains for fall color and terrific crafts

 

I love all parts of Tennessee but if you only have time for a color drive through one section you won’t go wrong choosing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

Great Smoky Mountain National Park offers more than 800 miles of well-maintained hiking trails and wonderful fall color. (Tennessee Tourism photo)

BTW if you see bear cubs, pull to the side to take photos because “bear jams” instead of ordinary fall color “peeps” make it hard for people merely driving through the park from Nashville to get to Ashevill, NC.

Put Sugarlands Visitors Center (above Gatlinburg) into your GPS to start the color drive. It’s a short drive south of Gatlinburg on US 441.

Ask there about road closures. You should be able to continue up to Clingman’s Dome for an amazing view and a fun picture op

At 5,048 feet you can stand with one foot in Tennessee and the other in North Carolina. The Tower is closed but the parking lot which also has great views is open.

After going back down to Gatlinburg, drive the eight-mile Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community loop on Glades and Buckhorn Roads.

The art in the studios complement the park’s natural wonders.

You are likely to return home with great photos and probably a well-turned bowl or gorgeous painting.

For more information call (865) 436-1200 or visit the park headquarters at 107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738.

 

For fall color drive along the other Minnesota river

 

Pair fall color with a town worth at least one overnight stay and a drive that is scenic any time of year.

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

Take a paddle boat excursion on the St. Croix River. (Jodie Jacobs photo)

A fun getaway is to drive along the St Croix National Scenic Waterway and Lake Superior’s North Shore after first starting in Stillwater, MI.

Overlooking the St. Croix River on the Minnesota side of a waterway that also borders Wisconsin, Stillwater has several historic B and B’s, antique shops and cafes.

I stayed at the Rivertown Inn for its romantic rooms, great breakfasts and charming hosts. However, there are several other good B&Bs.

A good way to see color from the town is a paddle boat excursion.

When ready to look for a long color drive, head north on Highway 95 to follow the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.

Both sides of the highway are state parks. The scenic byway goes from Point Douglas near Hastings to north of Sandstone, MN.

If you didn’t take a paddle boat in Stillwater you can do so from the Minnesota side of Taylors Falls. From Taylors Falls continue north on M35 and then I 35 to Duluth where you pick up M61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

The route takes you to Grand Marais. The North Shore is a nationally designated “All American Drive” for its scenic overlooks, fall color, hiking trails and waterfalls. Be sure to make an overnight reservation ahead of time.

A fun lodge is the Naniboujou.  Or check out the lodges at the William Obrien State Park site.  For more information visit Explore Minnesota.

Remember to charge the phone because lots of good photos await.

 

 

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