Top Things to Do Around Bayfield and the Apostle Islands | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do Around Bayfield and the Apostle Islands

The gateway to the Apostle Islands offers walking and biking tours, sailing outfitters and great ice cream. Check out our trip guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay on Bayfield.

At the edge of the largest of the Great Lakes, the small harbor town of Bayfield, Wisconsin, forms a gateway to music, art and the Northern wilderness of the Apostle Islands. About 85 miles east of Duluth, Minnesota, the town draws travelers yearning to kayak to the caves or the islands, to hike through the trees, or to simply enjoy an evening stroll down Bayfield’s corridor of culture, Rittenhouse Avenue.


Apostle Islands Cruises A 55-mile narrated cruise goes past highlights of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Other options: island shuttles, private tours and glass-bottom boat tours.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore The nearly 70,000-acre preserve covers 12 miles of cave-studded shoreline along a peninsula jutting into Lake Superior and also includes 21 of the 22 Apostle Islands. (About 300 year-round residents inhabit archipelago member Madeline Island, not part of the national lakeshore.)

Exploring sea caves around the Apostle Islands

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Bayfield Bike Route Rent bikes by the hour or day to hop on the Brownstone Trail for an easy ride along Lake Superior.

Bayfield biking

Bayfield biking

Bayfield Heritage Tours Walking tours bring to life the history of the town and the characters who settled it.

Bayfield Maritime Museum Nautical artifacts and demonstrations tell the story of life on an inland sea.  Maritime Museum Facebook page

Big Top Chautauqua Listen to concerts and other performances in a 900-seat canvas tent near the Lake Superior shore.

Big Top Chautauqua

Big Top Chautauqua

Living Adventure Guides share history and geology lessons and lead kayak trips to explore shipwrecks or the sea caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Madeline Island Boats with the Madeline Island Ferry Line deliver visitors to La Pointe, where they can visit artists studios, galleries, off-beat bars (like Tom’s Burned Down Cafe) and the informative Madeline Island Museum. On the east side of the island, Big Bay State Park and nearby Big Bay Town Park offer hiking, swimming and picnic opportunities.

Orchard tours Pick up a map at the visitors center and drive to 14 orchards, including Bayfield Apple Company (, Hauser’s Superior View Farm ( and Blue Vista Farm ( for fresh fruit, baked goods and locally made products.

Rittenhouse Avenue Bayfield’s main drag offers one-of-a-kind boutiques, beachy gift shops and upscale eateries, as well as great views of Lake Superior and Madeline Island. 


Big Water Coffee Roasters Kick back with a lavender mocha made with beans roasted on-site. Nibbles include scones, cookies and muffins.

Big Water Coffee Roasters

Big Water Coffee Roasters

Cafe Seiche Chef-owner Chris Wolfe’s menu changes daily but might include almond-crusted lake trout over roasted red potatoes and asparagus at the Madeline Island spot. 

The Candy Shoppe Old-fashioned hand-dipped sweets fill the shelves, and a small bakery makes waffle cones for the ice cream counter. Candy Shoppe Facebook page

DaLou’s Bistro For cheap but authentic New York-style wood-fired pizzas, follow State-13 ten miles south to Washburn.

Ethel’s at 250 For more than a decade, guests have come for great burgers and must-try pizza with apple and bacon.

The Fat Radish Artisan sandwiches and wraps make a terrific picnic lunch, or stop in for a smoked whitefish bagel or walleye tacos.

Old Rittenhouse Inn The menu is seasonal, but the signature fork-tender pork roast in apple-cider glaze is always available. The historic lodging is one of our all-time favorites.

Pier Plaza Restaurant A bayfront location makes for great views for guests eating burgers, sandwiches, wraps.


Bayfield Inn Whirlpool tubs and fireplaces enhance rooms with views of the Apostle Islands. ​

Legendary Waters Resort and Casino Every room overlooks Lake Superior and the nearby Apostle Islands, as do the fitness center, indoor pool and hot tub.

Old Rittenhouse Inn Suites with fireplaces, steam showers or whirlpool tubs promise indulgence, as do five-course dinners and gourmet breakfasts. ​

Pinehurst Inn Reuseable stainless-steel water bottles are just one of the ways this B&B gets its rep as a premiere eco-friendly stay. ​

For information: Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau


Comments (1)

hausersbayfield wrote:
Also check out Hauser's Bayfield Cabin -- Dog friendly!

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