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Here in Wisconsin we savor our summers. The days are long, but the season is short! So any chance we get to sip al fresco, we take it! New outdoor dining spaces seem to pop up each year in Door County and we are here for it. From fine dining and casual eating establishments, to craft breweries and lovely wineries and wine bars. You’ll find a bunch of our favorites on this list. We know we have many more to discover!

Sister Bay: a beer garden, beach bar, garage bar and grand view!

We’ll start our tour of outdoor dining, with a beer garden! And not just any beer garden. This one has a view of the goats on the famous Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant next door! Put your name on the wait list (it can be long!) and make your way to Stabbur while you wait. With it’s bright yellow umbrellas, and being smack dab in the middle of town, you can’t miss it. Not only does it have a unique bar, it has it’s own kitchen and menu, and covered tables to wait out the rain.

Location, location, location! Like Stabbur, Wild Tomato is in the center of the action in Sister Bay. When the weather is right, grab a table on their back patio with a view of the water. If you’re not sitting down with a pizza pie or two, grab a drink at the beach bar while the kids play in the nearby park.

Husby’s is that reliable friend. Always there when you need it. It’s a year round gathering place. In the summer it’s where you meet up on the outdoor patio and watch the world go by. (Order the sliders!) Enjoy live music from the garage bar while sipping a frozen cocktail from the “Filling Station.” The outdoor experience continues into the fall with the best bloody marys for Sister Bay Fall Fest!

Up the road is the slightly quieter Boathouse on the Bay. Grab a seat on the top deck for a grand view of the marina. We recommend the po’ boys, lobster roll and peel ‘n eat shrimp! Slip into vacation mode with a Sister Island mojito or Pain Killa. Pro tip: if it’s storming, the Dark and Stormy is only $4!

Two of our favorite outdoor wine experiences..

We LOVE Twelve Eleven Wine Bar and Provisions in Sister Bay. It’s the vibe, the bartenders, the vast outdoor space, and the wines are delicious. Chill out around a fire, toss bean bags, and listen to live music. You can grab cheeses and snacks to graze on or make your way next door to Thyme for dinner.

Pearl Wine Cottage never disappoints. The outdoor stone patio in the heart of Ephraim, with it’s bistro chairs and wine barrel tables and lovely garden, is the perfect spot to sit back and sip. With it’s wines of the world and charcuterie options, Pearl is a must for your Door County getaway. From here you can walk to the next two places on our list.

Fans of Wickman House and Trixie’s will be happy to hear that the two restaurants, which have closed, have reopened as The Fashionable in Trixie’s location. Order some wine. And some Oysters. It’s the fashionable thing to do! Seating is first come first served so get there early!

Ephraim: breakfasts of champions in the open air

Breakfast burritos and bloodies. Avocado toast and mimosas. Or just a good cup of coffee. We’ve got you! Just across from Pearl, and down the way from The Fashionable is Chef’s Hat. We have spent a number of mornings here. It’s a great spot for the whole family. Smoothies or hot chocolates for the kids. Cocktails and beer for the grownups. The cocktails are made with wine based spirits, and are delicious! We love the chef’s scrambles and breakfast bowls, too.

Looking for a unique location, with the most colorful and artistic interior, but with just as fun outdoor seating? Be sure to check out Sip located in North Ephraim. The sister to Spot (clothing) and Space (gifts), Sip is bright and colorful with food to match! The ambiance is fun with tons of outdoor seating. Stay awhile, plays some games, and sip something from the coffee, beer and wine bar!

Egg Harbor after a long day of shopping..

If you find yourself in Egg Harbor, wind your way down toward the beach and the historic, and newly renovated Alpine Resort. Burtons on the Bay offers a waterfront deck with views of the harbor and a full menu. If you prefer to view the water from up on high, find a seat at Mezzanine. If you’re lucky enough, from here you’ll have the best seat for Egg Harbor’s fireworks show! Or watch the hustle and bustle of central Egg Harbor in the high season with a seat on the patio at Shipwrecked Brew Pub.

Fish Creek for oysters, martinis and the best margarita

We find ourselves at Barringer’s maybe a few too many times. Is it the beautiful indoor/outdoor bar? Or the outdoor fireplace? The oysters and the Dirty Bleu Door martini? Obviously it’s all of it. Close to the marina, and main street Fish Creek, it’s fun to watch the world go by.

The same can be said about Hill Street in the heart of Fish Creek. We love the burgers, the “hangover noodles” and the margaritas! Pro tip: do not, we repeat, do not ask for any substitutions or ketchup!

During the pandemic we discovered that The White Gull Inn, famous for its traditional Door County Fish Boil and Cherry Stuffed French Toast, had a lovely outdoor patio. Try the cherrmosa (cherry mimosa) or hot cocoa with whipped cream! (or should we say whipped cream with a little cocoa!)

The “quiet side” of the peninsula is pretty happening!

We love Baileys Harbor. (See our previous post on the Fourth of July festivities.) In that post I think we raved enough about Cornerstone. So let’s highlight a few of our other favorite outdoor drinking/dining destinations. Door County Brewery in the center of town is a huge draw. And for a good reason. For the non-beer drinkers, may we recommend the margarita? Chives gets a big nod for their food trucks and lawn seating! Breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails steps away from Lake Michigan!

And even closer to the shore is another favorite, Harbor Fish Market & Grille. Outdoor garden, dog friendly, fine food and cocktails! We had a lobster boil there once that we will never forget.

Not to be missed on the northern end of Door County

Three restaurants under one roof and several umbrellas. Blue Bear/Della Porta/La Piazza for brunch or a little slice of Italy in the heart of Ellison Bay. We love the wood fired pizza and fresh pastas and can’t wait to sit back and enjoy their new outdoor Italian Wine Bar.

Tops on our list the next time we’re in Ellison Bay, is to visit the new outdoor bar at Hugel Haus. They have a schedule of live music planned. And don’t miss their Oktoberfest party if you’re in Door County in late September. Tucked away, off the main road in Ellison Bay is Island Orchard Cider. It’s so quiet and off the beaten path you almost feel like you’re in on a secret. Enjoy flights of cider while sitting under the awnings. The bartenders are super helpful in guiding you through the flights of ciders. We haven’t been to the Shoreline in Gills Rock since new owners took over this year. But the view is always stunning. And the patio is open for the season. Check out their facebook for the latest pictures and specials.

When you find yourself in Sturgeon Bay..

Visit Dromhus with its lovely outdoor patio attached to a historic house in the middle of town. Stay for the music and delicious food. We loved the salads and flatbreads and cheeses and the dog friendliness.

If you’re looking for something less quaint, head over to Kitty O’Reillys Irish Pub. We make this a regular stop on our way back home after our Door County getaways! The outdoor patio is extensive and includes an outdoor bar. Good food. Great drinks. Fun chairs. And an occasional real kitty hanging out nearby.

It’s going to take you awhile to get to all these places. And we know we’ve missed some great ones. That’s what this summer is all about! We will keep you posted on any new favorite patios. And welcome your recommendations! As always, if you’re looking for a fabulous way to end and start your day in Door County, book with Northern Door Vacations to stay in one of our amazing rental properties.

Rae