Spring Getaway in Bayfield, Wisconsin
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Bayfield in bloom
Springtime visits to this Lake Superior town in northern Wisconsin reveal sights, sounds and scents Midwesterners welcome after a long winter. Daffodils and lupines nod as waves lap the shore. Pink and white apple blossoms blanket the ridge above town. And some of the town's 611 residents actually have time to sit and chat about Bayfield's natural beauty before the busy summer travel season starts.
Click through our slides for suggestions on when to go, what to do, where to eat and where to stay for a spring getaway in Bayfield.
Beat the crowds
A Memorial Day visit reveals a side of Bayfield that disappears by July 4, when thousands of visitors pour in to tour the nearby Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and hit concerts under the Big Top Chatauqua tent. An apple festival brings another wave of tourists in October. But for those riddled with cabin fever after winter, the springtime setting is just right for strolling, driving, biking, breathing deeply and noticing the pop of fresh colors.
Dozens of Master Gardeners (and other serious gardeners) live on this peninsula 80 miles east of Duluth. For years, gardeners from as far away as the Twin Cities have traveled here for the perennial plant sale and the annual garden tour. For other springtime visitors who miss those events, the blooms are like a private living-art show.
The flowers of May and June
The show starts in mid-May, when 40,000 daffodils unfurl sunny yellow petals along State-13 leading into town. That's about three weeks before bushy magenta lupines push up from the sandy dirt along the wooded hillsides. Lilacs welcome June with regal purple plumes. Colors deepen during 35-degree nights and brighten during 60-degree days.
Planning your Bayfield trip
Many attractions and restaurants keep limited hours until Memorial Day. Call to check on bloom times before you go. For more info, contact the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau. (800) 447-4094); bayfield.org
What to do: Touring
Bayfield Bike Route The shop (open seasonally) offers maps with suggested rides around the area based on skill level. For a quick but totally worth-it ride, hop on the Brownstone Trail. The trail hugs Lake Superior and includes a narrow wood bridge you have to walk your bike over—which gives you a chance to hear the shush-shush-shush of Lake Superior's waves on the beach below. See Midwest Living's review. (715) 209-6864
Bayfield Heritage Tours These 90-minute walking tours of Bayfield offer wonderful insights to the history and characters that settled this town and helped it grow. Most tours begin at Bayfield's Carnegie Library. Guides assume the identities of people who lived in Bayfield, and they dress accordingly. Admission charged; reservations required. (715) 779-0299; bayfieldheritagetours.com
What to do: Orchards and farms
Bayfield Apple Company This apple-lovers' haven, which also is Wisconsin's largest raspberry grower, has developed a lower-sugar version of commercial pectin that uses apple juice produced on-site. Products in the orchard's store include an apple cider with a subtle raspberry undertone, apple mustards and butters and jams. (800) 363-4526; bayfieldapple.com
Blue Vista Farm This Earth-friendly grower uses composting, organic herbicides and apple varieties bred to resist local pests. Blueberries, apples, raspberries and fresh-cut flowers are among the items sold in the on-site barn store. (715) 779-5400; bluevistafarm.com
Erickson's Orchard and Country Store You've probably had apple cider doughnuts at other orchards, but these are seriously exceptional -- crusty and juicy at the same time. Also available: garden supplies and sculptures, plus jams, ciders and pies made on-site. June brings you-pick strawberries. (715) 779-5438
Hauser's Superior View Farm Gardeners come here each spring for locally grown perennials, annuals, fruit trees, shrubs and tomato plants. You'll also find locally made apple wine, jams and jellies, plus gardening T-shirts. (715) 779-5404; superiorviewfarm.com
Where to eat
The Egg Toss Cafe Fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee precede asparagus omelets and the fantasy French toast, which comes stuffed with cinnamon and cream cheese. (715) 779-5181; eggtoss-bayfield.com
Big Water Cafe and Coffee Roasters House-made lavender syrup subtly flavors the lavender latte, while the grilled ham and cheese on artisan sourdough and creamy tomato soup make for a fine lunch at this downtown Bayfield cafe. See Midwest Living's review. (715) 779-9619; bigwatercoffee.com
Where to stay
Old Rittenhouse Inn This Queen Anne mansion has luxe rooms and suites with fireplaces, steam showers and whirlpool tubs. No TVs. Plan to have dinner here at least one night. The $39 two-course meal satisfies, but the $55 five-course feast is splurge-worthy. From $125, including continental breakfast. The hot breakfast is worth the extra $11. See Midwest Living's review. (888) 611-4667; rittenhouseinn.com