Fall Colors in Door County: The Most Stunning Drive Through Northern Wisconsin

I knew I couldn’t let my favorite season pass me by without taking a fall drive somewhere extra colorful.

The fall colors in Door County seemed like the perfect choice. Door County is located in Northern Wisconsin and is only a 4-hour drive from Chicago. Door County in October is a sight to be seen.

Fall Colors Door County

The whole town was at peak and the colors were so vibrant (as you can see in the photos). If you’re planning to see the fall colors in Door County make sure you book everything ahead of time.

With any popular autumn location, hotels get booked quickly for the season especially on weekends. We planned our trip for a Tuesday so that we could have some flexibility with our hotel options and prices.

Door County in October

I booked the hotel room the day before driving out because I was tracking the colors via their fall report found HERE. Super handy little tracker!

I recommend you start tracking the colors in late September for your October trip, especially if you plan to explore beyond Door County. Once the colors hit a 90% peak in the area, I booked my stay, packed up Jorge, and headed north.

Where to Stay in Door County

I booked a room at the Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Sturgeon Bay is right at the start of Door County, so it’s a great base to start your fall drive through the area. I don’t normally book motels, but Holiday Music is so well-reviewed, seemed unique, and the price was affordable considering the season.

Once we arrived, I was more than pleased with my choice! We had free parking, our room was spotless, and you can tell that they pay attention to details. It’s a quirky little place with 1950s decor in all the rooms and lobby. I was honestly loving it!

The kitchen area, where they offer continental breakfast every morning looked like a 50s diner, even the dishes fit the era! The breakfast (included in price) had cereals, yogurts, fresh doughnuts and muffins, orange juice, coffee, teas, etc. Not a bad deal for $89! Click here for the latest prices and booking.

Trying to Enjoy the Drive

The drive up Door County is simple and made up of multiple small towns. We followed Highway 42 up and Highway 57 down. Unlike the Smokies, it’s not just a straight road of nature and viewpoints, but still plenty of opportunities to stop for photos.

Sadly, we did have an ugly experience with someone during one of our stops. We saw a gorgeous area of color on a side road so we decided to pull in. The road only had room for one car so when a pickup truck pulled up behind us we quickly moved out of the way.

We went around and on our way out stopped again to try to get the photo (below). We were surprised when the pickup truck came racing up behind us and beeping like a maniac.

I jumped into the car and Jorge started driving toward the main road. The driver behind us kept aggressively beeping the whole way out.

When Some People Just Suck…

Jorge slowed down to let him go around because he obviously seemed to be in a hurry. The guy did go around, but he cut us off and put his truck sideways in front of our car! We looked at each other confused and I told Jorge to keep going.

I wasn’t about to wait and see what the psycho wanted. He left us such little space that Jorge had to drive through the grass to get to the main road.

We turned onto Highway 42 and the guy jumped back into his truck and followed us! Can you believe this?! He followed us for about 10 miles before he turned elsewhere. We were both so upset and confused and couldn’t understand what he had against us.

We weren’t on anyone’s private property. The road was clearly a public road. We weren’t even near anyone’s home. He had no reason to treat us that way.

We were still shaken up by it but decided to keep on exploring. We made one more stop and had dinner before heading back to the motel. I just want to note that everyone else we encountered while in Door County was friendly.

Though northern Wisconsin isn’t the most diverse area, the pickup truck guy was the only one who treated us poorly. I’m not sure what was going through his mind, but he wasn’t representative of the whole area. I wouldn’t let that unfortunate incident hold any of you back from taking that fall drive.

Things to See in Door County

Considering you’d be visiting for the fall colors on a road trip, I’ll list some of my favorite stops in Door County along the way. Remember, you can easily follow highway 42 up and Highway 57 down. Have your camera ready because this area is full of so much beauty!

Highway 42 nearing North Port– I had seen photos of this road before and knew I had to find it. If you keep following Highway 42 toward North Port, you’ll hit it right before you get to the ferries. It gets busy during peak hours so it can get difficult to get the shot. I went twice and couldn’t get a photo I liked, but whatever here it is:

Cave Point County Park– What I love most about this park is that it’s free, and it’s easy to get to the photo spot you see below. No need to hike crazy miles. Just park, walk a few feet and you’re there. Plus, how cool is this dramatic scene?

Hardy Gallery– Loved the building, not really sure what’s inside. It was extra windy when we went to get photos and the waves were high so we were the only fools out there. This is also along Highway 42. There are benches along the water if you want to hang out and enjoy the breeze if you get better weather than us.

Where to Eat in Door County

Bearded Heart Coffee– As far as food goes, we weren’t as impressed with Door County as we were with Traverse City. Don’t usually expect much from small towns, but one place Jorge enjoyed was Bearded Heart. I didn’t get anything (no coconut milk), but Jorge loved his cappuccino and fancy toast!

source: beardedheartcoffee.com

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant- You can find goats grazing their sod roof!! Unfortunately, we didn’t see any goats but that was probably because of the season. I was going to try the food there anyway, but it seemed more like a tourist trap than the food I’d enjoy. But who knows? Maybe it’s fantastic. Either way, if you’re in the area check for the goats!

source: yelp.com

Besides the little hiccup, we enjoyed exploring this beautiful area of Wisconsin. In my opinion, fall is certainly the best season to visit. Don’t miss these fall colors!

Looking for more fall drives ideas? Check out these guides


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  • Reply Door County Mom October 12, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    Which road did you encounter that pick up truck? First, in all the years I head up to DC, never once have I been harrassed. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I cannot imagine what his problem was. You can always take down the plate number and report it to DC Sheriff’s Dept. 🙁 Second, I’d like to head down that road myself! It’s so pretty. I rarely get to Sturgeon Bay. I live around the corner from the road you photographed by Northpoint Pier! You definitely went past my home when you arrived there. 😛

    • Reply Lily October 13, 2019 at 10:41 am

      Im not sure what road it was, but it did shake us up a bit. Good idea though, I didn’t even think to report him! And I hope you do make it up, it’s beautiful! Right now it’s probably about to peak? Great timing!

  • Reply Cinthya October 29, 2018 at 8:39 pm

    Highway 42 is my favorite picture! I’ve always wanted to go to Door County but now it seems like it has got to move to the top of foilage peeping for next year!

    So sorry you had a bad experience, sometimes people are crazy for no reason.

    • Reply This Darling World October 30, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Thank you so much! It’s an easy drive and so close to home. Hope you make it there soon!

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