Sister Bay – the hub of the Door Peninsula
With abundant hotels and restaurants, unique galleries and proximity to key attractions, it’s easy to understand why visitors and residents call Sister Bay the northern hub of the Door Peninsula.
The heart of the village sits alongside the waters of Green Bay, where Hwy. 57 ends and intersects with Hwy. 42.
Sister Bay’s central location—just 12 miles north of Fish Creek, about 10 miles west of Baileys Harbor and 10 miles south of the Washington Island ferry depot – makes it a convenient base for families and couples to explore the entire Peninsula.
“We are really centrally located for what you want to see in Door County, just miles from neighboring towns and minutes away from Peninsula State Park (in Fish Creek),” says Terry Zielke, president, Sister Bay Advancement Association.
Sites to see
But you may find plenty to do right in Sister Bay. Plan to stop at the Sister Bay Information Center, 416 Gateway Drive. There, Nita Gros, who has held her greeter position for four years, provides a wealth of information on the village or can help you make a hotel reservation when you arrive on a whim.
She says the most common question is, “What do we do if it rains?”
“I advise going shopping or to a restaurant, or to Sturgeon Bay for a movie. You can always get a book. We have a very nice library,” she says of the Village’s new library on Mill Rd. “We help with hotel reservations here – I know who is full or has an opening.”
Publications about hotels, bed and breakfast inns, galleries, shops, historical sites and Peninsula-wide arts venues decorate the Information Center, which is an attraction itself. Housed in a former one-room schoolhouse, the center shows what education was like in northern Door County during the mid-1800s.
The schoolhouse, built in 1866, remained open until 1881, when a larger school replaced it. Walls, made from logs, are original. The floor and ceiling were replaced after area residents moved the schoolhouse in 1978 from its original location on Hill Rd.
Continue your journey into Sister Bay’s past with a visit to the Old Anderson House Museum, located on the south edge of the village on Hwy. 57 and Fieldcrest Rd. Staffed by volunteers of the Sister Bay Historical Society, the Museum is open weekends and holidays mid-May through Mid-October. There’s no admission charge, but a donation is accepted.
This former home of Alex and Emma Anderson, who moved to Sister Bay from Marinette in 1895, was restored from 1994 through 1997 by Sister Bay residents. Now, it showcases furnishings and memorabilia of life and times in northern Door County more than 100 years ago.
While you are there, members of the Historical Society will proudly share their plans for further development of this site, where the village acquired 6.4 acres of adjoining property in 1999.
Four vintage buildings—a granary, machine shed, barn and migrant worker cabin--are being restored (Corner of the Past). Step over to the machine shed to view old photographs showing early settlers and merchants, a destructive fire of 1912, the steamships at Roeser Dock and the early logging and ice industries.
Zielke, who grew up in Sister Bay, tells his own stories about the past. When the logging industry was bullish in Sister Bay, he recalls jumping off the logs—stacked 40 feet high on the dock—and into the water.
“That was great fun,” he says. “And Bunda’s right here was a big city department store. Husby’s (Husby’s Food and Spirits) is now a bar and serves food, but Emma Husby herself used to serve ice-cream there. It was real special.”
And many find shopping and dining special in Sister Bay today. Shops are located along Hwy. 42 or Bay Shore Drive in the heart of the village. Discover other galleries on rural roads or Hwy. 57. Shopping complexes include the Cedar Shops, Country Walk Shops and the Walkway Shops.
Do the beach
And no trip to Sister Bay is complete without a swim in Village Park beach. The beach’s lifeguard services make it a popular place to bring children.
Throughout summer, blues, jazz, ragtime, swing, country, Cajun and other musicians entertain the crowds who gather at the Beach Park Pavilion 3 p.m. Wednesdays for Concerts in the Park.
Nearby, the Sister Bay Marina shows off its recent improvements –new break walls, additional slips, showers and rest room facilities. There are 100 slips here and 34 are available for transient boaters.
Always a Party
The Marina also is the site of the annual Marina Fest, held each year on the Saturday before Labor Day. Water ski show, live entertainment, a book sale benefiting the library, crafts exhibition, food and fireworks make the one-day fest an increasingly popular attraction.
Shortly afterward is Sister Bay Fall Festival, held each October during the weekend following Columbus Day. The highlight of the festival is the annual ping pong ball drop 2 p.m. Sunday, when 5,000 balls—offering discounts and prizes from area merchants-- are dropped from a helicopter onto a crowd gathered on Bay Shore Drive, which is closed for the entire three-day festival.
Other Fall Fest activities include arts and crafts fair, fireworks, parade, fall classic run and walk, soap box derby, classic auto show and teen dance.
Sister Bay celebrates the holidays with Capture the Spirit the first Saturday in December and kicks off the summer vacation season with children’s activities during a mid-May Blossom Fest.
And now there are about 5 outdoor bars, some with music in peak season, throughout downtown Sister Bay - party on!
If you only have a day in Sister Bay
But if you only have a day, here’s what you can see and do in Sister Bay:
- Stop by the Visitor Information Center, housed in an old one-room schoolhouse.
- On a summer day, swim at Sister Bay Village Park beach.
- Here during winter? Head to the village’s new sports complex on Woodcrest Rd. and skate on the separate hockey and free style outdoor skating rinks.
- Visit the Old Anderson House Museum and neighboring attractions to reminisce about yesteryear in Sister Bay.
- Enjoy unique shopping on Bay Shore Drive or in nearby outlying areas.
- Have dinner at a restaurant and watch the sunset from your table.
To learn more
Donna Marie Pocius is an Egg Harbor, Wisconsin-based freelance writer and regular contributor to DoorCountyNavigator.com
Please check out the following Sister Bay businesses, which we have reviewed on our site – so you can get all the information you need about Sister Bay!
Places to Stay