Looking out at the Apostle Islands, one of the region’s most attractive small towns makes a great base for walking, biking and sailing as well as touring the plentiful fruit orchards on Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shore.

By By the editors of MidwestLiving.com
The marina in Bayfield

Sandwiched between boreal forest and Lake Superior, Bayfield feels north. The weather is cool, the town is small, and the adventures are big. Kayaking through caves, hiking over beaches and dancing to live music under a big-top tent are just a few of the experiences that await.

Day 1

Experience Bayfield on two wheels by renting bikes by the hour or day at Bayfield Bike Route; the 5-mile (round-trip) Brownstone Trail follows the glittering water of Lake Superior.

Brownstone Trail

Locals love Big Water Coffee Roasters for java made with beans roasted on-site, as well as scones, cookies and muffins.

The history of the town and the characters who settled it come alive on Bayfield Heritage Tours; reservations recommended.

Shops line the downtown's hilly Rittenhouse Avenue. Stone's Throw blends a fine art gallery with a home decor, garden accents and gift shop; Joanne's sells all things Scandinavian. (We love the traditional wool sweaters).

Stop into the Wild Rice Restaurant for a five-star dining experience; the grilled bison tenderloin with chevre mashed potatoes is a favorite.

Snuggle under duvets in rooms with whirlpool tubs at the renovated Bayfield Inn, which has great views of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Day 2

Known for its rugged hiking trails, lighthouses and sea caves, the 22-island archipelago Apostle Islands draws hikers and kayakers.

Visitors can get to Madeline Island via ferry or can view shipwrecks from the Superior Princess on Glass Bottom Boat Tours.

Full-size boats and nautical artifacts tell stories of life on an inland sea at Bayfield Maritime Museum, where for a donation, guests can ring a ship's bell.

The marina in Bayfield.

Add a day

More than a dozen orchards outside of town grow berries, cherries, currants and apples. Some offer seasonal cider and doughnuts, as well.

Hauser's Superior View Farm also sells beautiful flower baskets; Bayfield Apple Company's farm store stocks apple-cranberry cider; and Blue Vista Farm has a U-pick area.

Blue Vista Farm

More information: (800) 447-4094; bayfield.org

Meal you'll remember

We love the posh rooms at the Old Rittenhouse Inn, but even travelers staying elsewhere should stop in for dinner. Splurge on the five-course gourmet meal, or order the Lake Superior chowder, steak Bercy and sinful flourless chocolate torte. After dinner, count the stars from the inn's wrap-around porch. rittenhouseinn.com

Old Rittenhouse Inn


Big Top Chautauqua Mid-June through the second week of September, Chautauquas-or culture under the canvas-fill one of the Midwest's most beloved outdoor venues, carrying on a tradition from the early 1900s. Original productions, regional artists and national headliners, including The Beach Boys and Lyle Lovett, pack the tent on Mt. Ashwabay. bigtop.org