The bay of Sturgeon Bay is a geological wonder. Cut into the dolomitic rock of the Niagara Escarpment by glacial ice, the bay of Sturgeon Bay is an eastward inlet off of the bay of Green Bay, extending toward Lake Michigan. For thousands of years, mariners would portage their boats over the narrowest point between Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan in order to avoid having to make passage northward through “Death’s Door,” one of the most treacherous passages in the Great Lakes.
In the late 1800s, this geological wonder also became an engineering wonder, as the Sturgeon Bay Ship canal cut through the traditional portage route and allowed ships to make a water passage all the way from Lake Michigan, through Sturgeon Bay, and on into Green Bay.
This unique geology and geography mean that Sturgeon Bay has thrived both as an industrial hub and as a tourism powerhouse. It is a place both of big industry and of big hospitality. Because of this, it is an amazing place to visit with many great activities to entertain visitors.
20 Amazing Things To Do Near Sturgeon Bay, WI
The Farm is a “living museum of rural history” just outside of Sturgeon Bay. The main attraction of The Farm is feedings its adorable baby goats, lambs, and piglets.
But, The Farm is so much more than just a petting zoo. It is a way of connecting with our agricultural past and therefore our human past and foundation of civilization.
The Farm is fun, but even beyond fun, it is good for the mind and the soul.
Check out our full post on The Farm in Door County.
Cave Point County Park
Door County is legendary for having 5 state parks, but one of the peninsula’s favorite state parks is a county park by the name of Cave Point. Here, Door County’s Niagara Escarpment comes right up to Lake Michigan. The lake’s powerful waves have carved caves and rock formations in the dolomitic rock.
It is a great place for photography, kayaking, hiking, and more. This is definitely a “must-do” activity for any visit to Door County.
To learn more about this incredible park, make sure to check out our comprehensive post on Cave Point County Park.
Cave Point County Park is the best example that Door County has far more opportunity to experience natural beauty than just state parks. Check out our post detailing all Door County’s park, preserves, and access points. As of last count, there are 136 of them!
Door County Maritime Museum
The Door County Maritime Museum details the maritime history of Sturgeon Bay and the Great Lakes. It has an impressive collection of models and full-size boats and maritime equipment. Recently, they opened an observation tower that will give you an impressive view of the bay of Sturgeon Bay, and they also offer tours of a tug boat and of the Cana Island lighthouse.
Check out our article on the Door County Maritime Museum to learn more about this attraction.
Go to the Beach
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Amazing Door County Beaches in order to find the right beach for your visit to Sturgeon Bay.
Visit a Restaurant
From Irish pubs to supper clubs, Sturgeon Bay has you covered in the culinary scene. Check out our post on the Best Restaurants near Sturgeon Bay for a run-down of some surefire eateries.
A favorite spot for both locals and tourists is Kitty O’Reilly’s Irish Pub. People especially love their beautiful beer garden outdoor dining.
For a supper club experience try Donny’s Gidden Lodge Restaurant or Nightingale’s Restaurant. Our Ultimate Guide to Door County Supper Clubs will tell you more about them and about supper clubs in general.
View a Lighthouse
Door County has eleven lighthouses. You can easily catch views of two of them in the Sturgeon Bay area.
But, these aren’t the only lighthouses in Sturgeon Bay. Check out our post on Sturgeon Bay Lighthouses to learn more about the others. If you have time to venture further north into Door county, our Ultimate Guide to Door County Lighthouses will help you discover the other 11 lighthouses in the area.
Sturgeon Bay has several boat launches and marinas. If you don’t have your own boat, you can rent one.
If you prefer plying the waters under your own power, Sturgeon Bay is a great place to do this as well. A good place to do this is Potowatomi State Park, which also offers canoe and kayak rentals.
Door County Candle Company
The Door County Candle Company made national news in 2022 with their Ukraine candle used to raise funds to ease suffering in the war-torn nation.
Besides shopping for candles, patrons can also make their own candles! They start with a blank wax taper candle and then choose from an array of colors to coat the candle with whatever combination they choose.
Whitefish Dunes State Park
A few miles northeast, and in the same area as Cave Point County Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park has a sand beach over a mile long and lovely hiking trails.
This is a good place to take a dog, as there is a dedicated dog swimming beach.
Our post on Everything You Need to Know About Door County State Parks has lots of information about Whitefish Dunes State Park and the other state parks in Door County, and we also have a post dedicated entirely to Whitefish Dunes State Park.
Attend a Fish Boil
Boiled fish? It’s a Door County tradition you should try! Waterfront Mary’s, on the west side of Sturgeon Bay, offers regular fish boils.
Our post on Everything You Need to Know about Door County Fish Boil will tell you more about this tradition, Water Front Mary’s unique boil, and other boils available in the Door County area.
Several public and private campgrounds lie around Sturgeon Bay. Check out our ultimate guide to camping in Door County to learn more about camping opportunities around Sturgeon Bay.
Visit a Distillery
Given its remote location and the presence of so many fermentable crops, Door County has always had a distilling tradition, even during Prohibition years. That tradition continues with the Door County Distillery and Hatch Distillery, both a few miles away from Sturgeon Bay. Pay them a visit!
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!
Sturgeon Bay is a fishing powerhouse. One of the best places in the world to catch smallmouth bass, the bay also supports strong populations of perch, pike, walleye, and salmon.
Walk a Breakwater
Two breakwaters jut far into the waters of Lake Michigan at the entry to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. Walking them helps you feel the power of this mighty body of water. Read our post on Free Things to Do in Door County for details on how to walk the breakwaters.
From clothing stores to gaming shops, downtown Sturgeon Bay has a thriving shopping scene. Park the car and stroll the streets for some great shopping.
Whether the sleek yachts of the wealthy or the large, impressive cargo ships that ply the Great Lakes’ waters, Sturgeon Bay is a great place to watch ships. Boatnerd is a great place to keep tabs on the cargo ships that pull in and out of Sturgeon Bay.
Miller Art Museum
Catch a Concert
Watch a Sunset
Sturgeon Bay is a great place to catch a sunset. In fact, they have a park named Sunset Park which is great for this purpose! Check out our post on Door County’s parks and preserves to find out more about this and other great parks in the area.
Hopefully this post has given you some great inspiration for things to do in Sturgeon Bay, WI. However, if you need more ideas, make sure to check out our category on things to do in Door County.
Also, if you find yourself hungry while in Sturgeon Bay, our post on the best restaurants in Sturgeon Bay can help guide you to one to suit your appetite.
Finally, if you are in the planning stages for your Door County vacation, our post on the best hotels in Sturgeon Bay can be a great starting point to help you find a place to stay.