Newly noticed in, en route to Door County

I’m waterlogged from writing about lakefront destinations at least a half-dozen times this spring, at the request of magazine editors who know that many of us long for “a shore thing” when vacation time arrives.

Much of what makes these getaways special are the little discoveries that pop up along the way, the detours we choose, the enthusiasm of friends, the nostalgic memories that lead to places long forgotten.

Take our beloved Door County as an example. What’s new, to me, may be long known – or long bypassed – by you because of the area’s wealth of natural and people-made diversions. No one sees everything during one visit, and no two people – even when side-by-side – ever see exactly the same thing.

Maybe none of these six stops is enough to warrant its own trip. But when added to what you already love in or en route to Door County, they just might enrich already-fond memories of the area.

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help – Sandwiched between two farms in northeast Brown County is the first shrine in the United States acknowledged as a site of Virgin Mary apparitions. The designation, announced last winter, turns the rural community of Champion into a point of global pilgrimage.

The Vatican says a Belgian immigrant, Adele Brise, reported the sightings three times in 1859. An 1871 fire devastated the surrounding area but spared the chapel, Franciscan convent and school. Notice the collection of discarded canes and crutches, behind glass in the shrine’s crypt, to suggest miracle healings.

Visitors are welcome to walk the well-kept grounds, meditate at Stations of the Cross, linger in the chapel and light prayer candles in the crypt. Gift shop offerings include a big selection of Virgin Mary lawn statues. A farm’s easy-access vegetable stand faces the parking lot.

The shrine, 4047 Chapel Dr., New Franken, is six miles east of highways 57 and K. www.shrineofourladyofgoodhelp.com, 920-866-2571

Toft Point – Between Baileys Harbor and Moonlight Bay is a peninsula within the Door County peninsula, a National Natural Landmark since 1967 that contains the remains of a circular kiln and a rustic 1920s resort.

The forested acreage is home to rare plants and an assortment of birds, including 17 types of warblers. Hike a mile to a beach of limestone and dolomite cliffs; two shoreline fishermen were casting when we visited.

Toft Point is near Highway 57 and Ridges Road. More specific directions are at www.dnr.wi.gov; search “toft point.”

Fred and Fuzzy’s – Cherry margaritas and clear sunset views are specialties at this 85-year-old waterfront bar and grill, which is a pleasant shoreline twist away from the bustle of boutiques and highway traffic.

Skipping stones on adjacent Pebble Beach is a fine way to amuse the crowd and exercise the elbow while waiting for the day to end. You’re in a 20-acre cedar forest and facing Green Bay.

The watering hole is a part of Little Sister Resort, 360 Little Sister Rd., Sister Bay. www.littlesisterresort.com, 920-854-4013

The Cookery Restaurant – Many chefs aim to use locally grown ingredients in their menus these days, but Dick and Carol Skare made it a priority when opening their restaurant in 1977.

They know how to live off the land, canning to bread baking. “Going local” means buying a butchered cow from a local farmer – more than just steaks or ground round. Sustainably harvested seafood supplements the locally caught whitefish.

A 2008 fire quelled the cooking, temporarily, but now business resumes in a new building. Whitefish chowder, on the menu since the beginning, is a specialty. Add live music – blues, folk, oldies, Celtic – on Thursday nights.

The restaurant, 4135 Hwy. 42, Fish Creek, serves breakfast on weekdays, lunch and dinner daily. www.cookeryfishcreek.com, 920-868-3634

Scaturo’s – Coffee rings (strawberry cream cheese, cherry walnut, blueberry and beyond) look tantalizing at this family-run bakery, but the hands-down winner is the apple pie with its not-too-sweet filling, tasty crust and tidy thumbprint fluting.

Shop early in the day, for the best selection of treats. Wednesdays is two-for-one bread day, and that includes the stuffed breads. Choices – such as veggie-pesto, pepperoni-cheese, antipasto – vary.

Also in the building is a café; seating includes picnic tables in a big, brightly decorated screened porch. The address is 19 Green Bay Rd., Sturgeon Bay; turn off of Highway 57, just south of the bridge. www.scaturos.com, 920-746-8727

Wequiock Falls County Park – Easily missed along Hwy. 57, when you’re too busy coming or going, is a cute place to stretch your legs or picnic in northeast Brown County. Look for the looming statue of Jean Nicolet, on the bay side of the highway; accompanying signage needs paint but offers a good story about the French explorer’s introduction to the area.

The tiny park’s waterfall, ravine and craggy rock formations are part of the 1,000-mile Niagara Escarpment, an ancient sea bottom, created through erosion before glacier movement. About 230 miles of these often-steep ledges and cliffs skirt through six Wisconsin counties, then veer underwater in Lake Michigan.

The splashes turn into trickles during the heat of summer. Look for the park at 3426 Bay Settlement Rd. in the Town of Scott. www.co.brown.wi.us/departments (click “park management”), 920-448-4466

Feel free to share your own Door County discoveries, especially if you’ve visited the area for many years. What lesser-known stop do you cherish? What new discovery have you made?

“Roads Traveled” began in 2002 and is the result of anonymous travel, independent travel, press trips and travel journalism conferences. What we choose to cover is not contingent on subsidized or complimentary travel.