Algoma: oldest winery, formal wear, fishing, fine dive-bar fare

waterfrontIn the shadow of beautiful Door County, the 70-mile-long peninsula that attracts two million visitors per year, is Algoma on the Lake Michigan shoreline. The beguiling little city of 3,200 is less than 20 miles south of Sturgeon Bay, and Highway 42 cuts through the core of downtown.

Often-overlooked Algoma is worth a quick detour or overnight all on its own. This is why:

Von Stiehl, the oldest licensed winery in Wisconsin, is downtown. Its underground limestone tunnels are as old as the Civil War. Wine lovers tour then linger at tasting tables, a cozy upstairs lounge or outdoor terrace that faces the lake. Two popular reds are Naughty Girl and Sassy Sangria. vonstiehl.com, 920-487-5208

Ahnapee Brewery operates from a converted garage, under Von Stiehl ownership and adjacent to the winery. Pints and growlers are filled with fresh beer made in 15-barrel batches. Little Soldier, an amber ale, honors a Civil War vet and local brewer. “Ahnapee” was Algoma’s name long ago. facebook.com/ahnapeebrewery, 920-785-0822

The 48-mile Ahnapee State Trail for bicyclists and horseback riders includes a 15-mile stretch that links Algoma and Sturgeon Bay. The scenery along this limestone route is a mix of farmland, prairies and forest. dnr.wis.gov, 920-388-0444

Smoked fish – chubs to full salmon fillets – is a specialty at Bearcat’s Fish House, which also is the place to buy Belgian trippe, an ethnic sausage whose stuffing contains cabbage. Staff can brine and smoke your big catch, too. bearcatsfish.com, 920-487-2372

Fishin’ Magician Charters arranges sport fishing trips on yachts, with “catch and cook” as an option. That means your captain will inspect, gut and ice your catch of the day. Possibilities include weighty salmon and trout. fishinmagiciancharters.com, 920-304-3474

The charter fishing company has a deal with Stadium Diner, whose cooks will prepare what you catch, although you are required to buy side dishes and beverages to accompany the entrée. The casual restaurant is known for its widespread sports memorabilia and pro athlete autograph collection. Look for signatures from Matt Kenseth to Joe Namath among the hundreds of items. facebook.com/stadiumdiner, 920-487-9788

Waloo, tuna steaks, crawfish and other fresh seafood turn dive bar Skaliwag’s into a destination for gourmet dining. Add a seaweed salad to an order of Parmesan-pesto oysters, shrimp with grits, coconut shrimp rolls or Cajun-spiked mahi mahi. Coming along nicely is outdoor patio seating. At events, look for owner-chef Chris Wiltfang’s food truck, the Skaliwagon. facebook.com/skaliwags, 920-487-8092

Crowded into the mazelike Tina Marie’s Boutique are racks and racks of elegant gowns for mothers of the bride, homecoming queens, beauty pageant contestants and more, petite to plus sizes. The shop owner is a seamstress who can alter the dress of your dreams. Also expect a fun selection of accessories. tinamariesboutique.com, 920-487-3711

Just on the outskirts of town is The Flying Pig, a spacious coffee shop and art gallery that favors folk art and items made with recycled materials, but on display is much more. In the two-story, farm-like building is a passive geothermal solar system, and it sits on four acres that is rich with gardens and sculptures. The property is home to summer Sunday farmers markets. theflyingpig.biz, 920-487-9902

Rooms are unpretentious but clean and reasonably priced at the friendly Stebbins Hotel, open since 1857, named after a state senator and two blocks from the beach. Rates start at $70. thehotelstebbins.com, 920-487-5521

Visit Algoma June 20 for Meet the Makers, a daylong festival of wine and beer. A $5 ticket buys access to two stages of music, a street full of gift/food vendors and demos by a chainsaw carver and drone operator. Beverages – flights and full pours – are at an additional cost, as are wine pairings with cheese or chocolate. vonstiehl.com/meetthemakers, 920-487-5208

The community’s biggest summer bash is Shanty Days, which features a three-day beach volleyball tournament and bands from late morning to early evening. A book sale, fireworks, parade, 5-kilometer lakeshore run, street vendors and outdoor ecumenical church service fill out the Aug. 14-16 event. algomachamber.org, 920-487-2041

Throughout the year, shops within an easy walk sell farm supplies, vintage apparel, kolaches and gifts with nautical themes. Ten colorful murals on downtown buildings freeze highlights of local history, which includes a proud heritage of commercial fishing that continues today. Murals were designed and painted in 2007 by visiting artists from around the country. thewalldogs.com