It was just about dusk as we drove through the bustling streets of the quaint town of Fish Creek, Wisconsin. The July evening was warm and muggy, but it didn’t stop the people who filled the streets. I forgot we weren’t in New England as we wound around the village. I had no idea Wisconsin was so charming. It’s always such a pleasant surprise when a destination turns out even better than you’d hoped. I definitely found a hidden gem in Wisconsin’s Door County.

Fish boil

Fish boil in Door County. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

I started off my trip with a traditional fish boil at White Gull Inn. Established in 1896, the White Gull Inn is a Door County original. The Fish Boil dinner is unique to Door County. And it is definitely an experience you won’t want to miss. The White Gull Inn features freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish cooked outside over an open fire, just as it was 100 years ago by the Scandinavian settlers of the Peninsula. White Gull Inn goes out of its way to make this an experience.

I sat on the patio, enjoyed a glass of crisp Chardonnay as a slight breeze toyed with the leaves on the towering trees, chasing away the day’s heat. Front and center was the huge pot of fish and potatoes boiling over an open flame. The smell of burning wood and the tease of the wind brought the old familiar feeling of family and camp fires and evenings under the stars. I knew dinner was approaching when the fish boiled to the top of the pot and the boil keeper tossed kerosene on the fire to create a massive flame. After the flame died down, the servers picked hauled the massive pot to the kitchen for service. Everyone lined up buffet style to eat the fish we’d just seen boiling outside. With the smell of the fire still tickling my nose, I settled down with a massive plate of whitefish, boiled potatoes, absolutely delightful cole slaw, and some of the best home baked bread I’ve ever tasted.

Fish Boil

Fish boil at White Gull Inn. Photo by Susan Lanier-Graham

I’m not a fan of boiled white fish. I probably wouldn’t suggest going to the fish boil just for the fish. However, I am a fan of tradition and this is definitely all about tradition. Throw in a few good friends, the laughter of the kids playing on the patio, a lovely summer night, and you have all the ingredients necessary for an unforgettable evening.

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