Washington Island is located just off the tip of Door County. Your island adventure begins with a five mile ferry boat ride across the scenic waters of Death’s Door, where Green Bay and Lake Michigan meet. Take in the iconic white stone shores and the cedar and pine forests as you cross over and become “North of the Tension Line”. Once ashore, our island offers 35 beautiful square miles and over 100 miles of roads to explore and enjoy, as well as a wonderful selection of public parks and trails, restaurants, shops, and community events.
Places to Visit
The island is rich in history and culture. Museums, galleries, farms, performance and art centers are just a few of the activities the island has to offer. Whether you’re interested in how the islanders fish and farm, or would like to try your hand at painting or weaving, or would like to sit back and relax to local music or shows, there’s something for everyone.
Art and Nature Center
Built in 1904, the building was used as a school for 60 years. After the island schools were consolidated in 1964, the not-for profit organization was founded in 1965. The Washington Island Art and Nature Center has functioned as a wonderful hub of both the arts and sciences ever since. The art gallery features local artists with paintings and other artwork for sale, as well as exhibits on the flora and fauna of the island. Children can examine fossils, watch perch, bass, and crayfish swim, and even see snakes! Books featuring the nature and history island are for sale, as well as other nature and science themed souvenirs.
Open seasonally from June through September: 10:30-4:30 pm (Monday through Saturday) and 11:00-4:30 pm (Sunday). After Labor Day: 11:00-3:00 pm Daily. Daily Admission: Adults $1 Children 11 and younger and members are FREE. More information and a schedule of special events can be found online at www.wianc.org
Jackson Harbor Maritime Museum
Located at what once was a bustling fishing village, refurbished historic buildings now house artifacts, photographs and videos on local maritime history including commercial fishing, Coast Guard and area shipwrecks. Complex hand-crafted fishing nets, enormous iron rudders, and models of past ferry boats are a few of the featured items. Open daily from 10am - 4pm from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day.
Washington Island Farm Museum
Interesting and educational for all ages, the Farm Museum is an outdoor/indoor exhibit featuring a blacksmith shop, weaving looms, several pieces of farm and field machinery and tools. Authentically furnished log cabin shows home life. Lovingly run by volunteers who restored each building and provide day to day maintenance and care. Don’t forget to bring a few quarters to buy feed for the chickens, goats, and rabbits! Special events include a Farmer’s Market Thursdays 12 to 5 pm in the summer; Family Craft Days on Wednesdays 10 am-12pm in July. Picnic areas are available and donations are appreciated. Open Daily Mid May through Columbus Day.
The highest point on the island; climb 186 steps to reach the top and be rewarded with spectacular views of the island, Lake Michigan shoreline, and even Rock Island State Park. In the fall, there is no where better place to take in the gorgeous autumn leaves.
Washington Island Stavkirke
Across the street from Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, set back into the forest, is the Washington Island Stavkirke. The Stavkirke is modeled after the traditional Scandinavian churches. Their design is inspired by the great Viking ships. “Stav” refers to the masts of the wooden vessels, and the churches are made from ornately carved wood as well. The Stavkirke and was envisioned as a unique setting for small worship services, gatherings, weddings and prayer and meditation.
Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm
One of the most unique farms in the midwest, Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm grows 14 different varieties of lavender. Walk through the fields of fragrant lavender and learn about the properties and diverse uses of the herb through demonstrations. Stay for lunch in the bistro and shop the boutique for all things lavender. An ideal location for pictures, this is a farm you won’t soon forget. Visit www.fragrantisle.com for more information.
Little Lake and the Jacobsen Museum
Little Lake is the only inland lake on the island covering 24 acres. It’s primarily fed by groundwater springs and surface water from Lake Michigan, which is only 250 yards away separated by a rocky ridge.
On the edge of Little Lake near People’s Park, a small 1930’s vertical log cabin houses an outstanding collection of natural and historical artifacts of the region. Once owned by Jens Jacobsen, he saw the need to preserve the past and was the curator of the artifacts here. Open 10am to 4pm daily, Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day.
There’s always something happening on the island. The outdoors, sports, and community events are at the heart of what we do for fun.
Sievers School of Fiber Arts
Founded in 1970, this nationally recognized school of arts and crafts is best known for its weaving and fiber arts classes; offering more than 40 classes each year to adults of all artistic levels. Art book and supplies are available along with original art pieces. Open daily, from 10am to 5pm, late-May through October. Visit www.sieversschool.com for class registration and schedule information.
Trueblood Performing Arts Center
Locally known as the “T-PAC”, this is a non-profit, multi-purpose performing arts center. Productions include performances by the Island Players, classical music, Washington Island Music Festival performances, and community events sponsored by the Washington Island School, the American Legion, the Art and Nature Center, Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, the Chamber of Commerce and other nonprofit Island organizations. Open year-round, visit ww.truebloodpac.com for upcoming shows.
Washington Island Mosling Recreation Center
The Rec Center features a 60 foot long pool and hot tub, workout room, large conference room with TV, pool and ping pong tables, bathrooms and showers, games and books, and vending machines. Plenty to do on a rainy day or if you’re looking to get out of the sun! The Rec also has special events throughout the year, including the Rec Run, Yoga, Season of Lights, Fruit Sale, and Craft Fair. Open year round. Daily, seasonal and yearly passes available. Visit www.moslingreccenter.org for more.
Deer Run Golf Course
A 9 hole, par 36,regulation golf course for enthusiasts of all levels, this wonderful course offers beautiful scenery, challenging water hazards and sand traps, and stunning greens. Enjoy a beverage in the pub overlooking the course or unwind with some mini golf.
Islanders Baseball Games
A long tradition on the island, the Washington Island Islanders play at the Town Baseball Field on Sundays in the summer at 1:30pm. Part of the Door County League, our Isladers play other teams from the county including Sister Bay, Fish Creek, and Baily’s Harbor. For many locals this is their favorite day of the week. Admission is $5 a person. Stop by, grab a beer and a brat, and enjoy the game. Schedules can be found posted throughout town.
Bike, Moped, UTV, and Kayak Rentals
The island is a lot bigger than most people think! With over 100 miles of roads, a great way to enjoy the scenery is by cruising along the roads. We offer bike rentals at the Mercantile, or stop by Annie’s Island Mopeds locating at the ferry dock to check out her selection of mopeds. For UTV and kayak rentals and tours, check out The Island Adventure Company. The knowledgeable and friendly staff also offer boat tours along the island waters and to Rock Island. Visit www.islandadventurecompany.com for more.
The island is a fisherman’s dream. Perch, bass, trout, whitefish and salmon are all found in our waters. While you may fish off public docks at the ferry dock and Jackson Harbor, Fishing Charters are a great way to experience the action for yourself. Check out Heath Outdoors, or Death’s Door Charters & Scenic Tours for scheduling!
Don’t let a little snow get in the way, winter provides different opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. The Lions Club sets up an ice skating rink in the little league baseball field for everyone to enjoy. Little Lake is another popular ice skating destination - just be sure to check the safety of the ice! Cross country skiing and snowshoeing is another great way to get outside. Our trails are not groomed, but the scenery is unlike anywhere else.
The Great Outdoors
Washington Island’s natural beauty is one-of-a-kind.
The best way to experience this for yourself is by visiting our public parks and natural areas and trails. Open year-round to the public, these spaces showcase the verdant forests and limestone bluffs that characterize our island’s distinctive look. Find these special places marked on our map in green.
Thank you for respecting out Town Ordinance of no glass beverage containers on the beaches, keeping your dogs on a leash, and observing signs where dogs are not allowed. Campfires must be confined to the pit and grill areas, and please respect our island and the other guest around you refraining from littering and leaving each park a little better than when you first arrived.
The most popular of our beaches featuring clear blue waters and white stone shores, this is one you don’t want to miss. Historic glaciers carved out the deep protected harbor and over hundreds of years the waves battering the shore have ground and polished the limestone rocks to create the smooth pebble-like stones that cover the beach today. Only a few beaches of this kind exist in the world, so be sure to leave the rocks at the beach. After years of visitors taking the stones as souvenirs, the town imposed a law against taking the stones with a hefty fine attached to it.
In the summertime, buoys mark a protected swimming area and a bright orange raft is anchored just off-shore for swimmers to enjoy the sun. Picnic tables, grills, and public restrooms make this the perfect park for an afternoon lunch or dinner. For larger events, contact the Town of Washington to reserve the covered pavilion and private picnic tables beneath it.
This shore-side park is one of the best places on the island to watch our spectacular sunsets. Overlooking Green Bay, People’s Park sits elevated from the shore on limestone rock. Enjoy the view from picnic tables or spread a blanket beneath the cedar trees. Nearby attractions include Little Lake and the Jacobsen Museum.
Jackson Harbor Ridges
A Wisconsin State Natural Area, the Jackson Harbor Ridges offers another unique type of coastal beach. Follow the sand path from the entrance to Jackson Harbor to the 9-acre sand beach rich with rare plants and wildflowers. The beach gradually grades into drier dunes, where creeping juniper, bearberry, and sand grasses begin to grow. Birders can keep a lookout for gulls, terns, shorebirds, and waterfowl.
Stop at a sandy beach for lunch, or continue to hike and be rewarded with beautiful views of Rock Island State Park. In the summer months, the passenger ferry Karfi can be seen crossing between the islands.
Red Barn Park & Gilason Public Beach
An alcohol-free beach on Detroit Harbor, families love the playground, volleyball court, trails, benches, and grill/picnic areas. Across the street the Red Barn Park where during the summer hosts local and visiting artists, bands, and theatrical events. Check the schedule posted by the door or in the Washington Island Observer (the local newspaper) for upcoming community events. Located next to the Shipyard Marina and Sailor’s Pub Restaurant, there’s plenty to do, see, eat, and enjoy.
Sand Dunes Park
Follow the trail from the parking area through the woods to a spectacular view of one of the few sand beaches on Washington Island. Gorgeous dunes and warm waters make this beach ideal for swimming and building sandcastles.
If you’re visiting in the winter, this beach is the go-to spot for island children going sledding!
Percy Johnson County Park
The only Door County Park on Washington Island, this little park offers views of Lake Michigan and Hog Island. Picnic tables and grills make this a great spot to stop for lunch after a bike ride or cruise around the island. Read a book or simply enjoy the peaceful sound of the waves lapping along the shore.
Birding Habitats and Nature Trails
Scattered throughout the island, keep your eyes peeled for signs along the road indicating Nature Reserve or Birding Habitat. Wonderful for peaceful walks exploring the natural world, these are special trails showcasing the many diverse habitats on the island. The Washington Island Bird Festival may be of particular interest to birders, which happens in the spring of each year.
Rock Island State Park is a 900 acre island located just north-east of Washington Island. The Karfi, a passenger ferry, operates from May until October. Tickets may be purchased at the ferry dock and the ride is about 20 minutes. No cars or bikes are allowed on the island, just beautiful walking and hiking trails. Rock Island is well known for it’s one-of-a-kind boat house constructed by Chester Thordarson in 1926; an investor and engineer who used to own a large portion of the island. Now, the entire island is a State Park. Rock Island is also the home to the Potawatomi Lighthouse. Lighthouse Keepers offer guided tours to visitors from May until October.Other trails lead to the remains of old fishing villages and to a beautiful white sand beach perfect for picnics and swimming. Go to https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/rockisland/ for more infomation and to make a camping reservation!