Winter doesn’t need to be a dreaded time to plan group travel. While most planners tend to lean toward tropical destinations as a chill hits the air, Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula encourages attendees to embraces its seasonal white wonderland with winter traditions quintessential to the region.
An hour drive northeast of Green Bay–Austin Straubel International Airport, attendees will find themselves at the gateway to the Door Peninsula, which extends through Lake Michigan and Green Bay. Home to cherry fruit wine, ice fishing and 19th-century culinary traditions, there’s no doubting this 70-by-18-mile cape makes for truly unique winter group experiences.
1. Ice Fishing
Nothing says “Welcome to Wisconsin!” like reeling in a fish through 12 inches of solid ice. Spend the day with JJ’s Service Guide as local fishermen take groups off-roading miles onto the frozen Green Bay to the company’s heated icehouses and tents. Guides teach novice and experienced anglers the proper techniques to catching whitefish and prepare a hot lunch on the ice.
2. Fruit Wine Tasting
Door County once produced 10 percent of the United States’ cherries. Today, the peninsula is home to Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery, which harvests an average of 350,000 pounds of tart cherries seasonally, making for the perfect blend of tart and sweet fruit wine. Gather around the Lautenbach’s tasting bar to sample over 30 estate-grown wines, from Dry Cherry fruit wine made with Montmorency cherries to Warm Spiced Cherry with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and semi-sweet cherries. (Bottles placed in participant’s rooms also make for the perfect welcome gift!)
3. Winter Horseback Riding
Since the 1960s, the family-operated Kurtz Corral has orchestrated guided equestrian rides for solo and group visitors. Its location has since relocated and is now situated on 500 acres, allowing for ample space for trotting through snow-laden wooded trails. The mild ride is geared toward all skill levels, as riders are given safety training before being personally introduced to a horse that meets their experience. Warm up with a cup of hot cider around a blazing fireplace after the ride.
4. Fish Boil
New England clam bakes have nothing on Wisconsin’s fish boils. What once was an economical way to feed 19th-century Scandinavian settlers in the Wisconsin Peninsula, is now the region’s famed culinary tradition. During the winter season, the White Gull Inn host weekly boils. Attendees can nosh on freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish dipped in butter and tartar sauce after watching a mater boiler prepare their meal over an open fire using a 20-gallon kettle boiling over with salt water, whitefish steaks and local potatoes.