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Lake Effect Co. Blog | Stories & Lake Destination Details from Lake Lovers

Lake Effect Co. blog features stories & lake travel details from Lake Lovers across the midwest. Join the community of lake-minded folks!

48 Hours in Green Bay + Door County, WI

Katherine Gramann

As a lake person, I forget how easy it is to confuse terms referring to bodies of water and time on the water. After a weekend hosting two landlocked friends, it occurred to me that lake, bay, peninsula, isthmus, river, straits, channels, etc., can get mightily confusing when you’re navigating the Green Bay and Door County area.

All the little bays on Door County’s bay-side are technically within Green Bay. Green Bay is within Lake Michigan. There are tons of straits and channels within the bays within the Bay within the Lake. The confusion was amazing. We didn’t even get into the dock vs. pier conversation, but what we did all agree on and naturally came to the same conclusion about, Door County is amazing. I know, it’s been talked about here before, and I won’t even pretend to recap at that level, but our weekend was worth chatting about too.

I’ve never been to Door County (DoCo) before, as my family’s cottage has been the go-to destination for forever. But as this past weekend approached, and knowing that we were going to the Packers game on Sunday, I felt like this might be a great opportunity to do some exploring. We had exactly a day on the peninsula, and while our original plan involved much more than we were able to get to, what we did get to take in was amazing. One thing was certain, regardless of the official terminology, the way the land and water work together to create beauty does something special.

Door County Highlights:

  • Al Johnson’s (Beer Garden) - this is the one place that every list of DoCo recommendations does not skip. We found out why early on Saturday morning, catching up over delicious, loaded Bloody Marys and cheese curds. They had plenty of umbrellas to shade us from the already hot morning sun, and we enjoyed the lively bier garden for a few hours.
  • Wild Tomato - Ok, this is also on every list of DoCo recommendations, and after beers, pizza is an obvious next step. We ordered a supreme and took it to-go so we could enjoy it lakeside at the downtown beach. Boats were coming in and out of harbor, kids and adults alike were swimming, and it was quite possibly a perfect Saturday.
  • Door County Creamery - I wanted to buy everything, but settled on the ramp chevre, which we polished off by the end of the next day. Sample all the things - you won’t regret it.
  • Analog Ice Cream & Coffee - a quick hit of caffeine to keep us moving along. Fun vibe and DELICIOUS ice cream, too.
  • Peninsula State Park - This is ALSO on everyone’s MUST-SEE list for the peninsula. Upon entering, we asked how to make the most of less than an hour in the park. I would highly suggest inquiring about the park the best spots to explore when you enter the park, as they mentioned this changes with season. That said, spend more time, hike the trails, explore every nook and cranny because every stop - suggested or not - that we made, we found more views to love.

Green Bay Highlights:

  • Hinterland - We probably spent too much time here, but you can’t beat the festive vibe immediately stadium-side. The food was good, but the cool drinks on this unseasonably hot weekend were most appreciated. That and the high concentration of bearded Packer fans. I frequented this place in Milwaukee until it recently closed, so I was happy to have those delicious brussel sprouts back in my life.
  • Johnsonville Tailgate Village - if you don’t know a tailgate going on or you need to cool down (we’ll be saying warm-up or escape the snow in a few weeks, I’m sure) escape to the beautiful facility to enjoy delicious foods, a full bar, and live music before the game.
  • Creamery Downtown - Right on the Fox River, this spot is situated right downtown and allows you to sit on the riverwalk. Great views of the city, including the gorgeous Titletown Brewery across the river. Get the BEST EVER chai.
  • LAMBEAU - Obviously go to a game. As per usual, the stadium, staff, facilities, concessions, fans, and Packers did not disappoint. I do not, however, recommend browsing the Pro Shop after an emotional win, or you may spend a little [ergh, LOT] more than you meant to. The CA crew left Monday afternoon totally heartsick, mildly hungover, and assured me they will be back again. 

Still Summer: Soak It In

Katherine Gramann

I’ve slept with windows open for countless days straight. I made sure to grab a denim jacket one chilly morning last week, and while sitting at the Packers pre-season game last night at Lambeau, I ordered a hot cocoa to help keep my hands warm. I haven’t heard the hum of an air conditioner in quite some time. It’s that time of summer when we notice every store transition to “back-to-school” marketing and see busses heading around our neighborhoods starting to scoop up kiddos as school resumes. It’s a bittersweet sense that the end of one joyous, favored season may be coming to a close while another one of fresh starts begins.

I’m not ready. I’m usually one to accept the change of seasons and feel fully prepared for change, but I will make this lake-day-heavy summer last as long as possible. As mid-July hit, I knew that it would take some intentional planning to make sure I could, and it seems God, the universe, mother nature, whatever you believe in, is meeting me halfway. It’s been reported in numerous places that this fall is projected to be a hot one, and I’ll take it, because there is so much living to do. I bought an inflatable paddle board so I could partake whenever/wherever I wanted. Our family got a new puppy, forcing us to immediately double the amount of time outside, and more importantly, outside playing. He kept us from thinking about the inevitable shift into late summer and spent more of it smiling, throwing sticks, watching Eddie learn to jump off the pier and take first rides on the paddleboard.

I also read an article recently about how maybe Milwaukee does summer too big. There is a sense of pressure to attend festivals, events, dine al fresco, lake walks, etc. And I’d imagine that there’s a sense of that across the Midwest, or really the entire northern half of this country where temps dip to uncomfortable lows throughout much of the year. This sense of “so much to do, so little time” is actually something I’ve been conscious of ditching. You can only do so much. Give yourself grace to do what you can. Seize the days, but let yourself rest, too. That, after-all, is another component of summer that we need to remember - the beautiful colors and temps and breezes are meant to be fully felt. Soak it in.

So as Labor Day Weekend comes and goes, I’m going to be sure to celebrate the sunshine and take as many dips in the now cool water temps as I can. I’ll cast a few more lines out. I’ll pause to notice the few leaves overachieving as they begin to turn gold, but I will not let that take away from the summer that’s left to live. Just like I can’t feel badly about the fact that I attended zero Milwaukee festivals and dined al fresco in this city only twice, I can rest easy knowing that I chased sunrises and sunsets, explored new lakes across the Midwest, but even if I hadn’t, it was still enough to simply pull over my car on those days I had a few extra moments during a commute to watch the sun glistening on the water. It was enough to sleep in and enjoy the gentle lapping of the waves on the shore instead of being out exploring as the sun rose. It was enough to simply enjoy a few glasses of wine with close friends near the water, enjoying the peace it inevitably brings.

Enjoy the last official month of summer, and let’s welcome this transitional month with as much joy as we did summer because fall brings so much to celebrate! Apple crisp & brilliantly hued leaves to start...

Banff National Park: Mirror Lake + Lake Agnes

Katherine Gramann

I met Keegan through the ironically wonderful world of social media, as I found myself always liking her photos and Instagram stories of her adorable puppy. Just as I realized that she was a fellow lake-lover, she reached out wanting to share her stories of her recent honeymoon to some of Canada's (and the world's) most beautiful lake regions. Keegan is a lifestyle blogger with a passion for travel, fashion & fitness. Follow along at instagram.com/keeganmichellel. Thanks for sharing your honeymoon hike with us, Keegan!

This past year my (now) husband and I were spending most of our time planning our wedding. In the meantime we realized we also needed a honeymoon destination! With everything else needing our attention, we kind of procrastinated in planning. We weren’t even sure where we were going to go until 1-2 months beforehand, but we both made a list of 5 places we thought would make for a good honeymoon, then compared. Come to find out, Banff in Alberta, Canada was the only one that  overlapped. So we wasted no more time and booked.

We started...

We started in Canmore, which is a 1-hour drive north of the Calgary Airport. We stayed there for the first two nights of our trip. Now, I’m going to be honest, this was not our ideal location for a honeymoon. If you have a large family that you are traveling with and want to stay in a hotel that has a bit more space, a kitchen that you could live in for a few more days, then this is where you want to stay. But after the first day, we realized that we were, at minimum, an hour drive from all of the hikes that we wanted to do! The idea of driving 2+ hours a day, plus the hikes and exploring exhausted us, so we took a chance. We went up to Lake Louise to see if the famous Chateau Fairmont had any rooms available. Let’s just say the Honeymoon Gods were looking down on us, and we were in!

With that said, there is nothing wrong with Canmore! There are some great little restaurants and shops within the downtown area, and from what we heard, there are some good hikes and lakes as well. But since we had limited time (and energy) we knew we wanted to be closer to the action. If you do drive straight to Banff from the airport and need a break in the drive up Highway 1, Canmore is right on the way! There are grocery stores, gas stations, cafes, sports shops, and anything that you might need to load up for your trip!

Banff National Park

Happy Bday Canada! Because Canada turned the big 1-5-0 this year, all car and entrance passes to the park were free! People are right... everyone is nicer in Canada :-) Driving from Canmore to Lake Louise is another hour, but straight from the airport, about two hours total. You’ll want to trade drivers on the way back because seeing the scenery along the drive can be distracting and shouldn’t be missed! Lake Louise is about 45 minutes into the entrance of the park, so you’ll have plenty of time to take in the scenery.

We traveled here mid-July which we were told was the beginning of the VERY busy tourist season. We were pleasantly pleased to find that, it didn’t feel like Disneyland or anything overly touristy. While still busy, it wasn’t unbearable. A huge upside to staying at the Chateau is the parking. If you go early enough, and are in a small enough car, you will probably be fine. But if you take your time, and drive up during the peak hours of just before/after lunch, then odds are you will have to park in one of the satellite lots and take a shuttle to the lake. While it is a popular place to be, we never found the trails to be terribly crowded. And if you’re adventurous enough, you will likely go far enough that the majority of tourists don’t bother to try.

Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes

This was the hike we did our first day staying in Banff. You get to it from the main walkway around Lake Louise, and is about an hour to the end. Lake Agnes features the famous Tea House, so this area can get busy, as people stop for lunch, water break, and pictures, but it is worth it! We had stored away some granola bars in our backpack so we didn’t have to wait in line at the tea house, but we enjoyed our picnic spot, for sure! The contrast in view was breathtaking. Sweating from the walk, in tank tops and shorts, but looking at snow just across the way.

Big and Little Beehive

These were the hikes that I mentioned before. The majority of the tourists didn’t seem to get past the tea house at Lake Agnes, so we had most of these trails and views to ourselves. We started with Big Beehive, which started at the Northwest corner of Lake Agnes. You walk along the eastern side of the lake and find the trailhead to get to the top of Big Beehive just on the other side. You can’t miss it. It’s the trail that starts to go up!

I’m not going to lie, Big Beehive was one of the harder hikes we did on our trip. My husband and I kept saying that it was the altitude, and add in the dozens of switchbacks, we had to work for the view. And I promise, it is worth it. Not only is it a beautiful view of the entire park, but you also cannot beat the view of Lake Louise. However, it’s not for the faint of heart, so if you are afraid of heights, maybe stay in the middle of the peak.

IMG_1635.JPG

This picture was taken at the hut, which is positioned at the end of the trail. We were thankful it was there when it started to rain for a few minutes. Again, there aren’t many people that venture past the tea house, so there weren’t many people competing for shelter! Keep in mind that when you go on these higher and longer hikes the altitude changes quickly! So not only hard on  hydration and fitness, but also in regulating temperature. I’m glad we threw our light sweatshirts in our backpacks, because we needed them... and quick!

Our overall itinerary that day was Lake Louise > Mirror Lake > Lake Agnes > Big Beehive > Little Beehive. The concierge suggested doing it in this order so your legs didn’t get too tired for Big Beehive, if you chose to do that last. To get to Little Beehive we traversed down the switchbacks, the same way we came all the way back to the Tea House. But instead of heading back towards Mirror Lake from Lake Agnes, you follow the trails east which will take you another 20 - 25 minutes. But thankfully, these are fairly flat trails, so your legs will get a bit of a break.

IMG_1647.JPG

This pictures shows our favorite view from Little Beehive. Lake Louise on the left and Mirror Lake on the right. Make sure you do these hikes on a clear day, because the reflection of the sun off of the water is spectacular! This picture barely does it justice.

At that point we were so tired, but happy to find that the Little Beehive trail back to Lake Louise broke off a bit. So instead of going all the way back to Lake Agnes, and back down, we only had to backtrack about 5-10 minutes before meeting up with the trail to take you back down to the base. The trails all along the way do an amazing job with signage. So if you have a map, but seem to get turned around, just go a few steps further and you will likely find a sign to point you in the right direction.

We’ve done a lot of hiking as a couple, but we both agreed that none compare to the views we got on this day. The effort and time was worth it putting in a full afternoon on your feet. But if you go to Banff and Lake Louise without making these walks up the mountain, you will surely wish that you did!