101 Free things to DO with your kids in Door County…

  1. Go play on a jungle gym at a local park.
  2. Go to the Library. There are branches in Baileys Harbor, Fish Creek, Egg Harbor, Ephraim, Sister Bay, ForestvilleWashington Island and Sturgeon Bay
  3. Create a collage out of old magazine pictures; maybe about your family’s favorite activities and values.
  4. Take any of the Self-Guided Tours of the nature preserve in Baileys Harbor and learn how the “Ridges” were formed.
  5. Enjoy one of the many local festivals, such as the “Cherry De-Lite Festival” at Country Ovens in Forestville, or one of the many “Cherry Festivals” at local farmer’s market shops –most “Cherry” events are held in July.
  6. Go fishing. A popular spot is at the old railroad spur park.
  7. Go for a bike ride. Look for special bike route signs, or try the Ahnapee State Trail, which spans about 30 miles between Casco, Algoma and Sturgeon Bay.
  8. Hike the Mink River Estuary Trail in Ellison Bay.
  9. Take a walk down 3rd Avenue in Sturgeon Bay…especially great on a warm, summer night.
  10. Go swimming at one of the many local beaches such as Otumba Park & Sunset Park or further north; there are Egg Harbor, Sister Bay and Fish Creek Beaches to name a few!
  11. Stroll across any of the three bridges in Sturgeon Bay and watch the boats.
  12. Have a picnic at a local park—or in your own back yard.
  13. Play catch at a real ballpark…like Memorial Field in Sturgeon Bay.
  14. Play tennis…Sister Bay Sports Complex, Otumba & Sunset Parks in Sturgeon Bay all have tennis courts; or try the court at the local high school.
  15. Enjoy a free “Concert in the Park.” There are concerts all summer long in: Ephraim at Harborside Park, Fish Creek at Noble Square, Sturgeon Bay at Martin Park, Egg Harbor at Harbor View Park, Baileys Harbor at the Town Hall Terrace and Sister Bay at the Village Hall.
  16. Watch the Venetian Boat parade in Sturgeon Bay in August or Independence Day boat parade in Fish Creek.
  17. Watch fireworks…there are lots of great opportunities throughout the summer in Door County!
  18. Play in the Snow…build a snowman, a snow fort, or make snow angels.
  19. Sled down a hill in a local park.
  20. Visit and use the toy lending library…the Sturgeon Bay branch has a great collection of toys.
  21. Visit “Death’s Door,” all the way at the end of the Peninsula in Northport and watch the cars load and unload from the ferry boats.
  22. Have some adventurous fun Geo-Caching using a GPS. Many caches are hidden throughout Door County and contain interesting prizes. Click here for a link to get you started.
  23. Watch the Christmas Tree lightings in the different communities as they welcome the holiday season.
  24. Christmas Carol through your neighborhood.
  25. Visit local nursing homes like the Anna’s Healthcare in Sturgeon Bay or Scandia Village in Sister Bay (best to call their activities office first).
  26. Visit the variety of fall festivals throughout Door County-Baileys Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor and Sister Bay all host wonderful festivals to celebrate the arrival of autumn.
  27. Visit an area pumpkin patch.
  28. Jump into a leaf pile.
  29. Participate in one of several free programs at your local library-including their annual Summer Reading Program…then read those books together under a tree in your backyard or at the local park.
  30. Visit one of the 5 state parks in the county during the Free Weekend and/or participate in a free family event. Check out your local newspaper or online for upcoming events in each park.
  31. Catch a free movie in Sturgeon Bay or Sister Bay during their summer “Movies in the Park” series.
  32. Visit the “Link Gallery” at the Door Community Auditorium in Fish Creek or the “Miller Art Museum” at the Sturgeon Bay Library Branch.
  33. Take your young child to an area Parenting Playgroup-check the local papers for times and locations.
  34. Check out one of the many “Little Free Libraries” located throughout Door County…neighbors sharing books with neighbors. Click here to find locations.
  35. Visit a dairy farm. Schopf’s Hilltop Dairy offers free tours of their dairy production.
  36. Clean out the toy box and donate clean and usable toys to local charities.
  37. Have a block party and invite all your neighbors to bring a potluck dish to pass, play outdoor games and get to know your neighbors better!
  38. Attend Healthy Kids Day, a free health fair hosted by the YMCA each April.
  39. Volunteer at a local charitable organization…call the Volunteer Center of Door County for current opportunities at 746-7704. They also share opportunities in the local newspapers and radio stations.
  40. Skip rocks along the shore. Pebble Beach in Sister Bay is a great place to practice.
  41. Do a little spring-cleaning and donate clean and usable items to Feed and Clothe My People in Sturgeon Bay.
  42. Hike a snowmobile trail in the summer.
  43. Go bird watching and/or volunteer for the annual bird-count project. Birding on Washington Island.
  44. Enjoy free music at the Peg Egan Center in Egg Harbor on Sunday evenings or at the Hospital Green Space on 16th Place in Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday evenings. (Both are sponsored by Ministry Door County Medical Center).
  45. Go to the shipping canal when a big ship is going through (kind of tough to catch, but well worth it!)
  46. Enjoy the bonfires at Fyr Ball Festival during the Summer Solstice celebration in Ephraim in June.
  47. Browse the many local art fairs in the county; such as the Sturgeon Bay Fine Art Fair
  48. Watch a parade…Door County has a variety of fun parades during all 4 seasons!
  49. Check out the Polar Bear Plunge in Jacksonport on New Year’s Day.
  50. Take a drive and view all the spring blossoms…celebrate Blossom Festival during the month of May…or in the fall, view the fall colors.
  51. Visit the Craft and Farmer’s Market in Sturgeon Bay every Saturday during the summer or visit many other markets throughout the county. Baileys Harbor hosts one on Sundays and Jacksonport on Tuesdays.
  52. Visit a local Fire station…call for tour information.
  53. Participate in the United Way’s “Make a Difference Day” event in the spring and volunteer as a family; helping to support your favorite non-profit organization.
  54. Take an Historic Walking Tour through Sturgeon Bay, Fish Creek or Ephraim.
  55. Select a movie or DVD from your local library and enjoy a “family movie night” together.
  56. Enjoy a “Sunday Sing-Along” at the Ephraim Village hall during the summer.
  57.  Visit “Crossroads at Big Creek” in Sturgeon Bay and enjoy one of their many free family programs.
  58. Go on an art gallery tour…most private galleries are free to visit.
  59. Attend a family event at a local church.
  60. Enjoy a band or choir concert at your local Middle or High school.
  61. Stroll through the “Garden Door” Community Garden at the Peninsular Research Station just north of Sturgeon Bay.
  62. Tour the Coast Guard’s Sturgeon Bay Canal Station.
  63. Plant and care for a neighborhood garden or sign up in early spring to care for your own plot at the community garden in Sturgeon Bay.  Contact the UW-Extension office for more details at (920) 746-5994.
  64.  Go to the library for story time…they offer several options from lap reading for young children to groups and activities for middle schoolers-call (920) 743-6578 for details.
  65. Watch a session of Circuit Court; a great opportunity for older kids to learn about the Justice System.
  66. Watch a Little League Baseball game.
  67. See local government in action; take your older kids to a City Council meeting.
  68. Take a nature hike.  Check out the Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserves or one of the many trails cared for by the Door County Land Trust.
  69. Adopt a section of the Highway and help keep it litter free…or pick up litter in your neighborhood.
  70. Visit the animals at the Humane Society.
  71. Take a walk on the Pier by the Maritime Museum and see all the tugboats.
  72. Go to Cave Point and view the crashing waves of Lake Michigan-it’s a beautiful spot year-round!
  73. Celebrate winter during the Fish Creek Winter Festival.
  74.  Enjoy a free Candlelight Ski at one of the local parks.
  75. Visit an elderly neighbor or friend.
  76. Take a walking tour of a local Historic district- Sturgeon Bay, Fish Creek and Ephraim have interesting tours.
  77. Walk through an orchard-Door County is host to many Apple and Cherry orchards.
  78. Grab a deck of cards or your favorite board game and have a “Family Game Day”—or Night.
  79.  Go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing at Crossroads at Big Creek through the Ski-For-Free program. Loaner skis and snowshoes are available for use at Crossroads. Call 746-5895 for more details.
  80. Attend a Free Family Event at the YMCA-watch the local newspaper for dates.
  81. Participate in a babysitting co-op.  A great way for parents to get a break and for children to socialize.
  82. Have a “rainy day” picnic and watch the rain from a local park shelter.
  83. Watch a fish boil. Many area restaurants have outdoor viewing available.
  84. Go on a photo safari and “shoot” all our local animals with your camera.
  85. Go on a leaf walk and see how many different fallen leaves you can collect as the fall season sets in.
  86. Watch the salmon spawn…sounds strange, but really pretty interesting.  A good spot for watching is the boat ramp at Clark Park in Fish Creek.
  87. Visit the Tornado Park Memorial wayside south of Sturgeon Bay.  It offers an interesting bit of local history about the Peshtigo Fire.
  88. Check out the Hardy Gallery and Anderson Dock and Store in Ephraim…where they share a lot of local history.
  89. Visit Toft Point outside of Bailey’s Harbor; a great place to hike and learn about nature.
  90. Climb the lookout tower on Washington Island…you can see the Upper Peninsula of Michigan from there!
  91. Enjoy the view at Ellison Bluff Park…especially pretty in the fall!
  92. Visit School House Beach on Washington Island.  It is a beautiful beach of round stones and crystal clear water.
  93. Stargaze on a warm, summer night and then “camp out” under the stars in your own backyard.
  94. Stop at Meridian Park near Jacksonport and learn how you are half-way to the North Pole.
  95. Lie on your back and look for objects in the clouds. What shapes do you see?
  96. Make paper airplanes and fly them in the backyard, an open field or at the park.
  97. Fly a kite.  Make sure there are no electrical wires or trees close by.  A favorite spot is in the center of the   local high-school’s football field.
  98. Make a simple map of your neighborhood and talk about what a “bird’s eye view” means.
  99. Pick a few wildflowers from along the roadside and press them in an old book.  After about 3 weeks, use them to make bookmarks by brushing on a coat of watered-down craft glue as “varnish.”
  100. Visit a local greenhouse.
  101. Go Ice Skating together! Sturgeon Bay offers free ice skating and equipment at the Memorial Ball Field parking lot. Check with your local municipality for possible free recreational activities like ice skating in your area.

…take a walk, read a book, play catch. It’s not the amount of money spent on your child or even a “special” outing that’s important…it’s all about the time you spend TOGETHER!