Top Things to Do Around Bayfield and the Apostle Islands
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 by boat
A 55-mile narrated cruise goes past highlights of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Other options: kayaking (Trek & Trail is a popular outfitter), sailing, 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.)
Hop on the Brownstone Trail or another area trail for a ride along Lake Superior.
Bayfield Maritime Museum
Nautical artifacts and demonstrations tell the story of life on an inland sea.
Big Top Chautauqua
Check the online schedule for concerts and other performances at the 900-seat canvas tent near the Lake Superior shore.
Boats with the Madeline Island Ferry Line deliver visitors to La Pointe, where they can visit artists studios, galleries and off-beat bars (like Tom's Burned Down Cafe). On the east side of the island, Big Bay State Park and nearby Big Bay Town Park offer hiking, swimming and picnic opportunities. madelineisland.com
Pick up a map at the visitors center and drive to local orchards, including Bayfield Apple Company, Hauser's Superior View Farm and Blue Vista Farm for fresh fruit, baked goods and locally made products.
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. Joaanne's Scandinavian is the place to go for elegant home goods and a sprinkle of Nordic humor. Get lost among the stacks at Honest Dog Books, which dedicates a section to local authors.
Eat and Drink
Chef-owner Chris Wolfe's menu changes daily but might include almond-crusted lake trout over roasted red potatoes and asparagus at the seasonal Madeline Island spot. To-go orders only for 2022.
Copper Crow Distillery
Copper Crow, the nation's first Native American distillery, makes a unique vodka and gin with whey sourced from a Wisconsin dairy. Sample their spirit offerings in cocktails in the taproom.
This restaurant (formerly Ethel's at 250) features fresh fish and other locally sourced fare. Try the popular Big Lake whitefish pizza with whitefish, bell peppers, onions, mozzarella and lemon-garlic olive oil.
For cheap but authentic New York-style wood-fired pizzas, follow State-13 ten miles south to Washburn to DaLou's.
This bistro is the place to go for gyros and wood-fired pizza.
Tom's Burned Down Cafe
Take a ferry to Madeline Island and grab a drink at Tom's while listening to live music and touring the art gallery.
The Fat Radish
Artisan sandwiches and wraps make a terrific picnic lunch at The Fat Radish, or stop in for a smoked whitefish bagel or walleye tacos.
Pier Plaza Restaurant
A bayfront location makes for great views for guests eating burgers, sandwiches, wraps.
Whirlpool tubs and fireplaces enhance rooms with views of the Apostle Islands.
Legendary Waters Resort and Casino
Every room at Legendary Waters 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.
Wild Rice Retreat
This sanctuary focuses on the arts and well-being, with activities like yoga, meditation, essential oil-blending classes and hikes. Stay in newly built lodging that includes Ricepods (small standalone cabins) and the Nest, with separate living and sleeping quarters.
Reuseable stainless-steel water bottles are just one of the ways this B&B gets its rep as a premiere eco-friendly stay.
For more information bayfield.org