Wondering how you’ll spend time during your vacation to Gills Rock in Door County, Wisconsin? Here are the best things to do in and around Gills Rock!
Ellison Bay Beach
Few things say “vacation” more than going to the beach. Head south from Gills Rock just a few miles to the Ellison Bay Beach!
It is a shallow, sandy beach in a full-service park with a picnic area, grills, gazebo, playground, and restrooms. A non-motorized boat launch is also available.
Address: 11953 Highway 42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Sand Bay Town Park Beach
Another beach in the vicinity of Gills Rock is at Sand Bay Town Park. The locals are going to kill us for telling you about this one.
Sand Bay Town Park of the Town of Liberty Grove is a hidden gem of Door County. On the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula, the waters here are especially inviting for a swim on the hottest days of the year. This has a sand beach, swings, picnic area with grills, restrooms, and a non-motorized boat launch for those who would like to ply Lake Michigan’s waters by kayak.
Address: 11154 N Sand Bay Lane, Sister Bay, WI 54234
These are only two of Door County’s many beaches. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Amazing Door County Beaches in order to find the right beach for your visit to Fish Creek.
Drive the Curvy Road
Just beyond Gills Rock, Wisconsin State Highway 42 proceeds through 15 curves. The road was designed to encourage drivers to participate and take in the natural surroundings. Interestingly enough, the road itself has become a focal point of attention, attracting many photographers.
Visit a Restaurant
Here are a couple restaurants near Gills Rock.
The Shoreline is the last stop before Washington Island in Gills rock, near Ellison Bay. The peninsula’s restaurant scene goes out with a bang here, with a restaurant that boasts a view as alluring as its food.
Water views are surprisingly rare at Door County restaurants, but The Shoreline has a great one. This alone is worth dining at The Shoreline.
However, the food is quite good as well. With an emphasis on Great Lakes whitefish, walleye, and perch, the food reflects The Shoreline’s locale. It is well-prepared, and enticingly presented.
Address: 12747 WI-42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
The Hügel Haus calls itself Door County’s “wurst bar,” as a self-deprecating nod to the German fare they offer.
Attached to the Hillside Inn, Hügel Haus is unassuming on the outside but has a unique interior. It’s worth coming in to see it!
Patrons enjoy the German food and also the ample beer selection.
Address: 11934 WI-42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Powerboating or Sailboating
Boating is a popular activity in Gills Rock. There is a public boat ramp in Gills Rock.
If you prefer plying the waters under your own power, Gills Rock is a great place to do this as well. Many waterside resorts lend paddling equipment for free.
Visit Washington Island
Once you are to Gills Rock, you are almost to Washington Island. Make it a day trip and take the ferry across Death’s Door Passage to this magical place.
Newport State Park
Newport State Park is Hello Door County’s favorite of the Wisconsin State Parks in Door county, and it is right in the vicinity of Gills Rock. Newport offers more of a wilderness experience than the other state parks. People will not crowd you here, but the stars crowd the night sky. Gorgeous hikes, stunning shoreline, and pack-in camping round out the experience at Newport State Park.
Our post on Everything You Need to Know About Door County State Parks has lots of information about Peninsula State Park and the other state parks in Door County.
Ellison Bluff County Park / State Natural Area
This 174-acre park with 7,000 feet of shoreline sits 100 feet above Lake Michigan. Outstanding views are available from the hiking trails. Amenities include a picnic area and restrooms. This County Park has also been named a State Natural Area.
Ellison Bluff County Park is one of the many examples of Door County’s excellent parks and preserves, even beyond the 5 state parks. Our article on all of Door County’s parks and preserves is your guide to these portals to natural beauty.
Address: Ellison Bluff Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Hiking Trail Map
Door Bluff Headlands County Park
This 252-acre park, with 600 feet of shoreline, is Door County’s largest county park. However, it is also the least developed. No facilities exist here except for an access road and undeveloped hiking trails. Because of the lack of development, naturalists will love to explore this park.
Door Bluff Headlands County Park is one of the many examples of Door County’s excellent parks and preserves, even beyond the 5 state parks. Our article on all of Door County’s parks and preserves is your guide to these portals to natural beauty.
Address: 12900 Door Bluff Park Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
View a Lighthouse
Door County has 11 lighthouses. While Gills rock doesn’t have a lighthouse, several are accessible in a daytrip.
Once you are to Gills Rock, it makes sense to try to see the Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island. It will take you a drive to the tip of the Door Peninsula, a ferry passage across “Death’s Door,” another drive across Washington Island, and one further ferry passage across the Rock Island passage just to get to the island. Once there, you will have about a mile-long hike uphill to get to the lighthouse.
Despite the effort it takes to get there, you will be rewarded with experiencing something that few others have. A beautiful setting, an inspiring lighthouse, and a sense of accomplishment awaits you at the Pottawatomie Lighthouse.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Door County Lighthouses for details on how to visit this and other lighthouses in the area.
Attend a Fish Boil
Boiled fish? It’s a Door County tradition you should try! Several establishments near Gills Rock offer fish boils.
Our post on Everything You Need to Know about Door County Fish Boil will tell you more about this tradition and all of the boils available in the Door County area.
Watch a Sunset
Gills Rock is a wonderful place to catch a sunset. Mariner’s Park, right in the heart of Gills Rock, is a great place to watch one. Check out our post on Door County’s parks and preserves to find out more about great places in the Gills Rock area to catch a sunset over the bay of Green Bay.
Several public and private campgrounds lie around Gills Rock. Check out our ultimate guide to camping in Door County to learn more about camping opportunities around Sister Bay.
Door County is known as “Cherryland USA.” Take part in this All-American activity, usually sometime from mid-June through early August.
Check out our ultimate guide to Door County cherry picking to learn more!
Gills Rock is a great place to go fishing. Fishermen frequently land perch, pike, walleye, and salmon.
Peninsula State Park, about 15 miles south of Gills Rock, has one of the most scenic golf courses in the state of Wisconsin. Tee times for this golf course are highly sought after.
The clubhouse has a restaurant and pro shop.
Catch a Free Concert
The village of Sister Bay, just a few miles south of Gills Rock, hosts weekly concerts at the stage at Waterfront Park, held at 6:00 PM on Wednesdays from mid-June through mid-August.
Uncle Tom’s Candy Shop
Uncle Tom’s specializes in making homemade, high-quality candy. It’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, but the journey to get there will only add to the fun of a visit.
Address: 703 Europe Bay Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Bea’s Ho-made Products
Offering canned goods like jams, jellies, pickles as well as other down-home goods, Bea’s Ho-made Products is a classic Door County stop. For the food and also for the obligatory picture by the sign.