As the temperatures outdoors hovered at 8 degrees, I’m cozied up under a forest-green throw in front of a roaring fire that the innkeeper built just for me in the Fireplace Room. (Too bad my husband was unable to come on this trip; it would have been the icing on the cake if he were by my side, sharing a glass of wine.)
As I sip tea and nibble on some homemade peanut brittle, the embers are crackling and Christmas music plays softly in the background. Evergreen-and-ribbon garlands wind through the stair banusters; candy canes peep out of confectionary boxes.
In the adjacent sitting room, the floor-to-ceiling Christmas tree is decorated in a nostalgic, traditional way that makes me feel right at home. It’s not a bushy tree—there’s lots of space between boughs—and the decorations are simple: popcorn strands, a few colored ornaments, old-fashioned colored lights, antique cookie-cutter ornaments. No fancy color schemes. Just a simple tree. It’s all so beautiful that I want to cry.
On one table is a three-quarters-finished jigsaw puzzle of an Amish snow scene—begging me to sit and find the next piece to fit into the picture. On the coffee table in front of the Christmas tree is a Scrabble board that invites a couple to settle in and match their vocabulary skills.
Eagle Harbor Hospitality
As if all this country inn atmosphere weren’t enough, I’m staying in the lovely Serena room, which features a fireplace—gas, not real wood like the one I’m enjoying at the moment—a lovely four-poster bed and a two-person Jacuzzi tub.
The Serena room is named after one of the former owners: Serena Christiansen, who grew up in Norway and arrived in Ephraim in 1884. She and her husband, Ole, turned their home into an inn they named Hillside Hotel, which eventually accommodated 40 people.
The biography on my bed stand says Serena “had the laundry done by 6 a.m., breakfast prepared by 8 a.m.—and she baked pies, muffins, rolls, cakes and 14 loaves of bread a day in addition to meal preparation, milking the cows, and tending to the guests.” Serena’s tireless hospitality lives on today at the Eagle Harbor Inn.
Cheery, Cherry Breakfast
Nothing kicks off a sunny winter morning like a good breakfast, and the Eagle Harbor’s are top-notch. Every day they serve homemade granola with dried cherries (cherries are famous in Door County). Yesterday I enjoyed cherry-stuffed French toast, which was truly decadent. It was accompanied by cherry juice, naturally!
—Laurel Kallenbach, freelance writer and editor
P.S. I’m so carried away by the romance of the Eagle Harbor Inn that I nearly overlooked the fact that it’s certified green by Travel Green Wisconsin, a voluntary program that certifies and recognizes tourism businesses that are committed to reducing their environmental impact. Travel Green Wisconsin awards points for various social and environmental measures followed; you can see the ratings of all participating Wisconsin businesses on the website.
P.P.S. Share with other readers your most romantic destination by leaving a comment below.