If you've never been to Peninsula State Park, boy are you missing out!! This beautiful Wisconsin State Park has easily become one of my absolute favorite not-so-secret spots to take photos, and it's no wonder. Filled with hiking trails, views of the water, incredible foliage and lots of little romantic nooks and crannies, weddings and photo sessions at Peninsula State Park are guaranteed to be gorgeous; I mean, is there anything more gorgeous than a Wisconsin State Park wedding?!
That said, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a little blog full of tips for having a Door County photo session at Peninsula State Park, both for photographers and clients alike. I've done a ton of research for you, because I want to make sure this little slice of Wisconsin heaven stays available for photographers and hikers!
First, let me tell you a little factoids about Peninsula State Park:
The Park has coastal wetlands, forests, meadows and 150 ft tall bluffs.
3,776 acres park on the Door County peninsula
Surrounded by 7 miles of Lake Michigan coast
Unbelievable coastal sunsets along the western coast
Located between two of the most charming historic towns: Fish Creek and Ephraim
Located in Door County- which is nationally known for cherries!
Since Peninsula State Park is so big, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the different locations and trails that work great for photos.
1. Top 5 favorite locations in Peninsula State Park
Nicolet Bay (which is amazing for snowshoeing!)
Shore Road (there are some incredible and intimate cobblestone beaches here!)
And last but not least, Eagle Trail. Just a heads up: this trail is very difficult but absolutely lush forest and with moss covered rocks, and a white rocky shoreline.
2. What season should I have a session at Peninsula State Park?
The beauty of Wisconsin is that it is seriously gorgeous year-round; but, sometimes clients have strong preferences on things like temperature and weather (warm versus chilly), what type of attire they want to wear (beanies and scarves versus shorts and dresses) and if they want a winter wonderland backdrop or a lush green setting.
The typical average temperature is between 20-30 degrees, so winter sessions are not for the faint of heart. Wisconsin winters can be wicked! But, that also means lots of wintry perks! Thanks to the lake effect, this area of the state typically sees a heavy snow fall, meaning all the snowman building your heart can dream up, snowshoeing, sledding, epic frozen lake photos and it makes the perfect scene for a magical wintry session. We could even have a steaming mug hot chocolate at my favorite local spot, Blue Horse Beach Cafe, to warm up during or after our session together.
With the average temperatures hovering between 30-50 degrees (with it obviously being warmer the closer to May and summer!), springtime is a great time for a session at Peninsula State Park. The biggest perk of having your session during the spring is the wildflowers, especially the cherry blossoms between April and late May. There technically aren't any cherry blossoms in the park, but they are super close by and we could absolutely do part of your session with them. Inside the park, you could also expect to see forget-me-not's, mayflowers, wild strawberry and marigolds! This would be a perfect setting for a champagne picnic!
Summer is the warmest and busiest time of the year for Peninsula State Park - and with good reason! Temperatures are gorgeous, between 60-80 degrees, and summer is the time for green, green and more green: rich, dense foliage covers nearly every inch of the park. It's also the perfect time for water photos, kayak to Horseshoe Island or you could even rent a bike for two. However, with the great weather and lush greenery comes the peak of tourism season, so the park may be busier than you'd see it any other time of the year but rest assured: there are plenty of secluded and intimate locations for photos!
Autumn, fall, pumpkin spice season - whatever you wanna call it, it is AMAZING at Peninsula State Park. No lie: the fall colors in northeastern Wisconsin are jaw dropping! Fall colors peak quickly up here so if you're looking for those rich oranges, golds and reds, you'll want to plan your session around the short time frame (check this site out for the fall color report with estimations of peak colors).
3. Where to Stay Near Peninsula State Park
Make your session at Peninsula State Park just a part of the fun, and plan a couple of days at a local AirBNB in this gorgeous region of Wisconsin. Here are some of my favorite spots:
Sunrise Cabin on Cedarbirch Island, Door County (about 30 minutes away)
A City Cottage in the heart of Town (about 30 minutes away)
Flats on Church Street #103 (about 15 minutes away)
Bay Shore Bungalow (about 10 minutes from the park)
4. Tips for Peninsula State Park
No matter the season, bring layers! Layers are a fun away to change up outfits and get different looks in for your photos, and as a bonus you'll be prepared for the ups and downs of weather in the park. Even in the warmer months, one side of the Peninsula will likely be warmer than the other. There can be a big temperature difference between the Lake side and the Bay side!
And with the “coast” comes lots of wind, so be prepared for a few wind-swept hair photos. Can we say romantic!?! Yassss.
You'll also want to make sure you bring bug spray and sunscreen.
You ready to have some fun together? Let's chat!