Many visitors to Door County are unaware that our region played a pioneering role in the shipbuilding industry on the Great Lakes. The Door County Maritime Museum offers interactive exhibits and educational tours that bring the area’s maritime history to life in three separate locations across the peninsula. The Sturgeon Bay Museum, Cana Island Lighthouse, and Gills Rock Museum each showcase a specific piece of the peninsula’s roots. Each museum is a short drive from one another can be enjoyed in one fun-filled day! Here’s what you can expect during your own visit and how to get the most out of your museum experience.
The Door County Maritime Museum is just one of the many incredible attractions you’ll find in our Wisconsin paradise. Request your free copy of our Vacation Guide right now and you’ll instantly receive a full list of the best recommendations for local activities, parks, dining, events, entertainment, and much more. It places everything you need to plan the perfect Door County getaway right in your hands!
More About the Door County Maritime Museum
The Door County Maritime Museum features three spectacular locations that perfectly illustrate the region’s rich maritime history. Whether you’re interested in model ships and boats or historic lighthouses, you’ll be sure to find something that will delight your inner history enthusiast. Here is a quick look at each location and what you can expect at each.
Sturgeon Bay Museum
Open year-round, the Sturgeon Bay Museum contains interactive exhibits and intricate models that depict Door County’s maritime history. Each gallery showcases a distinct characteristic related Wisconsin shipbuilding. For example, the Peterson Gallery follows and depicts the personal stories of shipbuilding workers through newspaper clippings, historic photographs, and personal letters. Another visitor favorite is the Sea Dogs exhibit, which memorializes the presence of dogs and shipbuilders during this time. Dogs either served as a shipbuilder’s companion or became trained for a specific piece of the shipbuilding process. After all, what is stronger than the bond between a dog and their owner?
Cana Island Lighthouse
Ever wanted to see the view atop a real lighthouse? Look no further than the Cana Island Lighthouse. This extension of The Door County Maritime Museum highlights an 8.70-acre island, nestled on the shore of Lake Michigan, with an incredible 89-foot high lighthouse.
Be sure to get there by 4:30 pm or you may miss the chance to look out and see the natural beauty of the Cana Island. The tour boat to the island excursion runs 7 days a week during the months of May through October.
Door County Maritime Museum Gills Rock
Also known as Death’s Door Maritime Museum, Gills Rock places visitors right in the heart of an elusive fishing village The museum’s landmark attraction, Fish Tug Hope, is a 45-foot wooden boat. This tug provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors to tour through its hallowed interior and see the precise craftsmanship of this historic ship. Learn about artifacts taken from the floor of Lake Michigan and trek through the passages of Death’s Door (with a guide of course).
Don’t Miss the Door County Lighthouse Festival
Door County is home to some of the most beautiful and historic lighthouses in the region. Each summer, the Door County Maritime Museum organizes the Door County Lighthouse Festival, an event that allows visitors to see all the peninsula’s lighthouse up close. Not only will you learn the stories of each beacon, but you’ll have the opportunity to visit the ones that are usually closed to the public.
Anchor Down at The Ashbrooke
As one of the only adults-only hotels on the peninsula, The Ashbrooke is the perfect place for a much-needed getaway! Our highly-appointed rooms and suites are designed with your comfort in mind and boast all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury resort. Our prime location in the heart of Door County also places you just minutes from all the best Sister Bay restaurants and the local attractions that you’ll want to experience. Come and see for yourself why so many of our guests return again and again!
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