Cruising Stories

Cruising from Green Bay to Marinette

Great Lakes

The shoreline near Green Bay is scattered with small towns with big personalities, spectacular scenery and multiple opportunities to enjoy fish boils, supper clubs, and incomparable local cheeses. Wisconsin’s first settlement hums with contagious energy, much of it generated by the fan-owned Packers football team, but Green Bay’s trendy restaurants, vibrant art galleries and bustling breweries give the city a year-round fun vibe.

Lively street art adorns the visitor-friendly downtown districts straddling the Fox River. Must stops are LoCo WisCo, a local retail collective of artists and producers crazy about Wisconsin, the Packers Pro Shop and any place that serves cheese curds, a local delicacy.

Curds are breaded or beer-battered white cheddar, deep fried and served with buttermilk ranch. For traditional style, check out no-frills Al’s Hamburgers, an old-school 1930s eatery. Copper State Brewing Co. pairs one of its beers and beer-battered cheese curds with a homemade Bloody Mary aioli.

Also noteworthy: Paper has been an important regional industry. Northern Paper Company offered the first splinter-free toilet paper in 1935 earning Green Bay the tag, “Toilet Paper Capital of the World.” The city is also known for its comprehensive National Railroad Museum with more than 70 pieces of rolling stock, plus numerous displays of artifacts.

Day 1: Egg Harbor

Green Bay to Egg Harbor — 44 NM

Egg Island | Dan Eggert Destination Door County

Heading northeast, the rugged shoreline of Door County ambles up the starboard side. Tucked among the vineyards, farms and fruit orchards are charming communities such as Egg Harbor. A launch ramp and 500 feet of sandy beach are part of its recently remodeled waterfront.

Start your day at Buttercups Coffee located in the Main Street Shops, a collection of boutiques in a park-like setting. Or head for the links and grab lunch on the patio overlooking the ninth green at Stone Hedge Golf & Pub.

Explore the area on a narrated tour aboard the Door County Trolley or nibble and sup the afternoon away on your own. You’ll find artisanal and farmstead champion cheeses at Wisconsin Cheese Masters store. Soak up a brew or cider next to a cozy firepit in One Barrel Brewing’s enormous beer garden and pair it with a classic pie from Pizza Bros on site. Sample a small batch spirit crafted from the ground up with local organic grains and honey at Hatch Distilling Co.

Prefer grapes over hops? Create a flight from Harbor Ridge Winery’s full spectrum of exceptional wines in their welcoming log cabin tasting room and wine shop. For dinner, The Fireside Restaurant is a classic supper club with a Cajun attitude serving Big Easy Jambalaya alongside Door County’s original chicken and waffles.

Where to Dock: Egg Harbor Marina

Day 2: Washington Island

Egg Harbor to Washington Island — 26 NM

Washington Island | Dan Eggert Destination Door County

Cruising into the once treacherous strait linking Lake Michigan and Green Bay, known as “Death’s Door,” many of the over 240 known shipwrecks lie in water so shallow they’re visible from a boat. Deeper vessels make for an exciting snorkeling adventure.

Before hopping aboard the Cherry Train for a narrated tour of Washington Island’s folklore and legends, grab some great coffee (honey and brown sugar cinnamon latte) and homemade baked goods at WIS-CO. Must-see destinations nearby include the Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm & Shop where acres of purple lavender are turned into charming products, and the Art & Nature Center that features local artists’ paintings, jewelry and pottery.

Early settlers were primarily Scandinavian, especially Icelandic, and the island is home to one of the oldest Icelandic communities in the United States. Traditional Scandinavian fish boils — whitefish boiled in a metal kettle over an open fire — is a leading tourist attraction. The Koyen Collection that includes K.K. Fiske Restaurant, Granary Saloon and Coop Hangout boasts “the only fresh caught, boneless, skinless fish boil in Door County.”

Take in a bit of Prohibition history and a shot of bitters at Nelsen’s Hall Bitter’s Pub, the largest purveyor of Angostura Bitters in the world selling more than 10,000 shots annually.

Where to Dock: Shipyard Island Marina

Day 3: Marinette

Washington Island to Marinette — 33 NM

Marinette | Bruce Schwierske from Flickr

The town is named after the daughter of an Indian chief who ran a trading post and was dubbed the name Queen Marinette. During the lumbering boom of the late 1800s, the city became a major lumber port and processing area. Isaac Stephenson, a lumberman who once owned the world’s largest sawmill, and Queen Marinette each have statues on the Historic Riverside Avenue Walking Tour that includes historic homes dating back to 1885.

Stephenson Island, a small park in the Menominee River, is accessible via footbridge. Birdwatchers can walk from Red Arrow Park to Seagull Bar State Natural Area, a critical habitat for piping plovers and migratory birds. The lagoon is shallow for a long way making it easy to anchor out, then wade or dinghy to land.

Food options are wide ranging. For homemade pizza, head for The Brothers Three. Blue Bike Burrito offers a smorgasbord of Southwestern favorites. Rail House Restaurant & Brewpub boasts award-winning microbrews on tap and a popular Friday fish fry in the beer garden. Go retro at 1940s Mickey-Lu Bar-B-Q, with a diner with jukebox and red and chrome barstools.

Last chance for one of Wisconsin’s famous supper club dinners is at Marinette River’s Edge Supper Club. Dock at the property’s pier overlooking the Menominee River.

Where to Dock: Nestegg Marine

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