Setting: Sturgeon Bay, population 9,500, is the largest city in Door County. It lies between Lake Michigan on the east and Green Bay (the bay) on the west. Sturgeon Bay is 47 miles northeast of Green Bay (the city), 160 miles north of Milwaukee, and 250 miles north of Chicago.
Attractions: The lake and the bay. Miles of shoreline with craggy limestone inlets and sandy beaches. Rustic charm and friendly neighbors. Fine dining at The Inn at Cedar Crossing and Sage. Restaurants in nearby towns such as Fish Creek and Egg Harbor, which offer innovative cuisine using local ingredients.
Drawbacks: January temperatures average in the teens. July highs average in the upper 70s, but can climb into the 90s for days at a stretch. Big-city amenities require a trip to Green Bay (population 101,000) or Milwaukee.
Housing: Shipping executives built impressive Victorians with wraparound porches. Other options include 1950s-era tract houses, modern shore homes, and condos. Apartments mostly cluster in complexes. Monthly rentals range from $300 to $800 for a one-bedroom apartment, including most utilities, to $650 to $695 for a single-family home. Inland homes sell for $140,000 on average. The median price for shorefront homes is $375,000.
Your Next-door Neighbors: Mike Sherman, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, has a home here. Sculptors Stephanie Trenchard and Jeremy Popelka and furniture maker Michael Doerr live and create here. Artist Charles Peterson lives in nearby Ephraim. Most residents work for the medical center, the school district, the shipbuilding industry, or a tourism business.
How You'd Spend Your Free Time: Walking the lakeshore. Exploring one of Door County's 10 lighthouses. Hiking, biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing at Potawatomi State Park. Hanging out at Kick Coffee, a bright downtown institution. Hunting, fishing, and boating.
(published May 2006)