Sturgeon Bay, WI: Lodging, Dining, Attractions, & More

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin is your door to Door County. While an authentic working city, it still offers plenty of lodging, dining, and attractions for tourists. Any trip to Door County calls for time spent in Sturgeon Bay.

Collage with a picture of the Door County Maritime Museum, the steel bridge, and a sailboat with the text super-imposed: Sturgeon Bay, WI

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About Sturgeon Bay, WI


“Sturgeon Bay” can refer either to the bay of Sturgeon Bay, the City of Sturgeon Bay, or the Town of Sturgeon Bay.

The Bay of Sturgeon Bay

The bay of Sturgeon Bay is an arm off of Green Bay, which is itself an arm off of Lake Michigan. It is located on the Door Peninsula, which is a peninsula separating Green Bay from Lake Michigan.

In its natural state, Sturgeon Bay was only connected to the main body of Lake Michigan via Green Bay. However, in 1878 the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal joined the waters of Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan.

The Bay of Sturgeon Bay is a popular location for fishing, sailing, and pleasure boating.

The City of Sturgeon Bay

The City of Sturgeon Bay is outlined in red. Via Google Maps.

The City of Sturgeon Bay is named after the Bay of Sturgeon Bay. The City of Sturgeon Bay is the only city in Door County, and it is the county seat.

At the 2020 census, the City of Sturgeon Bay had a population of 9, 646 people. It has an elevation of 581 feet. Sturgeon Bay was incorporated as a village in 1874 and a city in 1883.

The Town of Sturgeon Bay

The Town of Sturgeon Bay is outlined in red. Via Google Maps.

The Town of Sturgeon Bay is located to the northeast and southeast of the City of Sturgeon Bay. It may be hard to understand why there would be both a “City” and a “Town” of Sturgeon Bay, but this is explainable by Wisconsin State Law.

The legal definition of a town in the State of Wisconsin is different than the common definition of town that many people use. Many people think of towns as having an urban or suburban pattern of settlement. However, according to Wisconsin State Law, any land that is not covered by a municipality like a city or a village is part of a town.

Towns in Wisconsin have historically had a rural character. However, this is not always the case. Some towns have experienced much growth and have suburban and even urban settlement patterns.

Town populations can range from 40 residents to over 22,000 residents.

Towns are general-purpose units of local government that perform and provide various kinds of municipal functions and services.

Sturgeon Bay Industries

Major industries in Sturgeon Bay include:

  • Shipbuilding
  • Tourism and Recreation
  • Manufacturing

Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay is home to the largest shipyard in the Great Lakes: Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. This shipyard constructs and maintains large ships including 1,000-foot bulk freighters. The busiest time of year for the shipyard is in the middle of winter. This is because ports in the Great Lake become icebound in the winter. This makes it a good time for the ships to receive maintenance.

Tourism and Recreation in Sturgeon Bay

Door County is a tourism and recreation powerhouse, and Sturgeon Bay is a major provider of services to tourists and recreation seekers.

Multiple hotels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts host tourists to Sturgeon Bay.

Popular events that bring tourists to Sturgeon Bay include the Fire and Ice Festival, fishing tournaments, and the Door County Classic and Wooden Boat festival.

Tourists to Sturgeon Bay enjoy activities that include:

  • shopping
  • dining
  • fishing
  • going to the beach
  • visiting lighthouses
  • sailing and powerboating

Manufacturing in Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay is home to many manufacturing plants. Major manufacturers in Sturgeon Bay include:

  • Hatco – manufacturer of commercial kitchen heating equipment
  • Therma-Tron-X – an industrial equipment supplier
  • Wiretech Fabricators – steel component manufacturers
  • Marine Travellift – manufacturer of boat handling equipment