Just seven miles off the northeast tip of the Door Peninsula is Washington Island. This Door County island is home to less than 1,000 people year-round and has a booming summer tourism population. Washington Island is 23.51 square miles and is part a string of islands in the Porte des Morts straight; which is a dangerous waterway now littered with shipwrecks dating back to the time of early French explorers. The island is also home to the Midwest’s largest lavender farm as well as many outdoor activities for nature lovers and cultural sites.
1.Historic Island Dairy and Lavender Farm
© Historic Island Dairy and Lavender Farm
Historic Island Dairy is a renovated property which was once the center of dairy farming on Washington Island. The farm is no longer used as a dairy farm but is home to an exhibit on the island’s history, an art and poster gallery, as well as the first-floor lavender market. The second floor is available for special events such as weddings or corporate events and features a grand ballroom with views overlooking the Scandinavian Garden Pavilion, which is surrounded by fragrant lavender fields. The building is also the only multi-level public property on the island that has an elevator making it fully accessible.
1309 Range Line Rd., Washington Island, WI 54246, Phone: 920-737-7531
2.Washington Island Arts and Nature Center
© Washington Island Arts and Nature Center
The Washington Island Arts and Nature Center is a nonprofit organization that gives local artisans and craftsman a space to sell their art and provides tourists a look at local arts and history of Washington Island through galleries and nature study programs. The building was constructed in 1904 and was once one of four schoolhouses that were on the island. The Arts and Nature Center was established in 1965, one year after the high school was closed. The center also has an app that anyone can download that will take you on a scavenger hunt around the island and educate users on the history of the sites.
1799 Main Road, Washington Island, WI 54246, Phone: 920-847-2025
3.Little Lake Nature Preserve
© Viktor Fedorenko/stock.adobe.com
Thirty-two acres of protected forest make up Little Lake Nature Preserve where visitors can access a 1.25-mile trail through the white cedar and hemlock forest where waterfowl, birds, and wildflowers, along with other wildlife are often visible and present. Many bird watchers come to Little Lake to observe the predatory birds that nest in the area such as bald eagles, osprey, and white pelicans. Little Lake Nature Preserve was first a Native American settlement but became the summer home to Thorstein Veblen in the early 1900s. The preserve protects Washington Island’s only inland lake.
2285 Main Road, Washington Island, WI 54246, Phone: 920-746-1359
4.Trueblood Performing Arts Center
© Andriy Bezuglov/stock.adobe.com
The Trueblood Performing Arts Center is a 263 seat multi-purpose theater space for the performing arts that is also a charitable organization that was made possible by a gift from Ruth and Wilson Trueblood, summer residents of Washington Island. The community also generously supports the center since it was opening in 2004. Special events hosted annually by TPAC include two-three productions annually from the Island Players, classical music performances, retreats, and many other community events.
870 Main Road, Washington Island, WI, 54246, Phone: 920-847-2528
5.Domer-Neff Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary
Birders will enjoy Domer-Neff Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary, which was established to protect the bird habitats in the uplands in 1997. There have been 218 species of birds recorded on the island, and the preserve is a popular location for science class field trips with a .6 mile trails that meander through the fields and shrubbery where birds of prey hunt in the open meadows. The preserve is also home to the Stavkirke Chapel and meditation trail which leads to the Door County Land Trust Hiking Trail.
1800 Town Line Road, Washington Island, WI 54246, Phone: 920-746-1359
© Sunset Resort
Sunset Resort has been family owned for generations, dating back to 1894 when an immigrant from Norway and his family were forced to start over on Washington Island. The Engleson family turned their property into an inn for teachers who stayed on the island over summer break and other tenants. Today three generations of the Engleson family still own and operate the inn, now named Sunset Resort for its stunning views of the sunset over the bay. The resort is open seasonally and known for their fabulous breakfast menu.
889 Old West Harbor Road, Washington Island, WI, 54246, Phone: 920-847-2531
7.The Pop’s Kettle Corn
© The Pop’s Kettle Corn
The Pop’s Kettle Corn is a locally owned kettle corn shop opened in 2009 by the retiree, Richard Knudsen. Richard and his wife, Teri, take their kettle corn on the road to festivals and special events all around Wisconsin in addition to their brick and mortar shop in Muskego. A second location is run by Knudsen’s son, Mark in Waukesha and both locations are dedicated to great tasting products that are hand produced. Pop’s also pops more than just kettle corn; visitors will find cheese popcorn and gourmet flavors such as Mama Bears Gourmet Caramel and the Milwaukee Mix.
S75W17461 Janesville Road, Muskego Wisconsin, 53150, Phone: 414-552-2079
7 Best Things to Do on Washington Island, WI