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Traveler of the year

Take on New Year’s in Door County, Wisconsin

by Eugenia Lazaris

Dec 6, 2023

© David Schliepp | Dreamstime.com


The end of the year is a great time to plan family travels — kids have time off and the holiday season is the perfect time for bonding and making memories. But while there are plenty of destinations known for big New Year’s Eve parties, it can be tough to find just the right spot for a family-friendly trip to celebrate this annual milestone. This year, Door County in Northern Wisconsin offers the perfect solution.


Door County is a popular destination year-round thanks to its picturesque small towns, endless outdoor activities and unique shopping opportunities, but when it comes to the world’s biggest end-of-the-year holiday, the area pulls out all the stops to ring in the new year.


While New York’s Times Square is busy preparing to drop its infamous ball for the year’s biggest celebration, Door County does things a bit differently in charming Sister Bay. This little village along the shore of the Green Bay portion of Lake Michigan will drop a giant cherry at the stroke of midnight.


Suspended high in the sky by a crane, an enormous lighted cherry will sparkle throughout the night, ready to drop as the clock counts down to midnight. Door County, one of the top cherry-producing regions in the country, is home to more than 2,000 acres of cherry orchards, making the giant cherry the perfect symbol for the area’s biggest New Year’s celebration.


The evening’s festivities include plenty of family-friendly fun, including ice skating and a bonfire at the local Sports Complex, great dining experiences around town and a fireworks show to kick off the night. The fireworks show begins at 8 p.m., with the official party starting at 10:30 p.m. where the event’s host, FM 106.9 The Lodge, plays a curated soundtrack for the evening.


While you are in town, you won’t want to miss New Year’s Day events taking place across the peninsula from Sister Bay. At noon on Jan. 1, Jacksonport Polar Bear Club takes its annual plunge into the icy waters of Lake Michigan. Even if you don’t have the guts to jump in the freezing lake, the action is worth watching. This event, which included 800 swimmers this past January, is free to watch and free to participate in for anyone over 18 who signs a waiver ahead of the event.


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