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It’s that small-town charm. 100%. Just take a look at this picture. Kids, all dressed in red, white and blue, with bags and pockets full of candy, gathered in the middle of the road to be lassoed. Yep. Lassoed, by Door County’s resident cowboy! It’s just one thing to look forward to on the 4th of July in Baileys Harbor.

And that’s just part of the charm that has had us returning to Baileys Harbor every 4th of July for the last two decades. One of the quieter communities in the county, the town comes alive for this holiday. Let us share some of the highlights and our suggestions..

Get there early!

First things first. You have to find a place to park. We have friends on the route who thankfully save us a spot every year. You will want to get there early, and you may have to walk in a bit, and then find a place to watch the parade. The parade runs right through town, on Highway 57, past the shops and restaurants and marina. Tourists and locals line the way, several deep, from start to finish. Most people are pretty nice about letting the younger kids up close to see the floats, and more importantly, catch the candy.

Pre-parade provisioning

Once you get everyone settled, make sure there’s enough time for some grownup refreshments! (At least, that’s what we do.) The Cornerstone Pub is open bright and early. They have an outdoor bar with endless bloody marys, Door County crafted cocktails and a variety of beer. (And waters to stay hydrated.) There could be other places up and down the parade route doing the same thing, but we are suckers for tradition and this is where we go! What makes this bloody mary taste so good? Location!

The floats, the bands, and Uncle Sam

The Fourth of July parade in Baileys Harbor is a parade of so much that makes Door County tick. We love seeing the floats from local bars and restaurants, the art schools, politicians from both sides of the aisle, the school marching bands and the local firetrucks. Most, are handing out candy. Some even give cups of ice cream or ice pops. Be sure to dress for the weather. Being lakeside, Baileys Harbor on the 4th can be cool, hot, foggy, misty or rainy. But as you can see, for us, it’s been mostly perfect.

One of our favorites is always seeing the John Purves parade float, a replica of the tug docked at the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay. It does not get more Door County than that!

It’s all just so friendly. Familiar. Small town nice. All the good things about Door County. And with the shore of Lake Michigan right in front of you, you just can’t beat it!

The party continues post parade

After the parade the fun continues with an all day long celebration. There’s an arts and crafts fair and food vendors on the lawn of the Town Hall. Strawberry Fest is happening inside. Look for the beer tent, kids face painting and live music in the park right behind it. We’ve seen live animals there, too! End the night with a bang by watching the fireworks show right over the great lake.

The parade puts on a double feature

If you’re not an early riser. Or if you’re staying on the bay side of Door County and want to stay close to home, Egg Harbor gets virtually the same parade in the afternoon! The floats, the bands, the politicians and pageant winners all head across the peninsula for a repeat parade at 1:30.

Will you be vacationing in Door County over the 4th of July? Be sure to check out Northern Door Vacations for your next family getaway!

Rae