Skip to main content

Wisconsin Parent

Up North! Bayfield, Madeline Island, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Mar 10, 2014 04:56PM ● By Julie Henning
A favorite Midwest travel destination, Wisconsin's Lake Superior coast is a place of peace and relaxation. Whether your trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life or just the daily grind, the city of Bayfield, Madeline Island, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a triple-strength remedy for the human soul. Experienced for the first time at the end of last summer (but before the fireworks of fall), sun bathers dotted the beach to catch some last-chance rays of vitamin D. Unlike the tropics, Lake Superior takes just about the entire summer to warm to a temperature suitable for human enjoyment. If you can't stand the "Nestea Plunge," consider an above water jaunt in a kayak or sailboat. Sailboat and KayakerWith a charming downtown complete with coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, books, antiques, and souvenir t-shirts, the town of Bayfield is a nice place to pass a morning or afternoon. Downtown BayfieldIf your kids grow restless, visit the playground at East Dock Park located near the marina and harbor. This park is also a lovely picnic spot.

Bayfield PlaygroundThe launching off point for both the ferry to Madeline Island and the Apostle Islands Cruises, make sure you leave enough time in your itinerary to fully explore both of these destinations. Rock OutcroppingConsidered Wisconsin's "Crown Jewels," the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is comprised of 21 islands known for their natural beauty, sandstone outcroppings, sea caves, and old growth forests. Thoroughly enjoying the 55 mile, 3.5 hour "Grand Tour", our boat took us past the Raspberry and Devils Island Lighthouses, standing rocks, and the historic Manitou Fish Camp. Raspberry Island LighthouseThe largest of the Apostle Islands, Madeline Island is not part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Accessible by car ferry in the summer months and ice road in the winter, visitors arrive at the town of LaPointe. Comprised of a small conglomerate of artist studios, ice cream parlors, souvenir shops, grocery/convenience store, miniature golf course and Madeline Island Museum, the town also features one of the more eclectic bars in the entire state.

Madeline Island Ice Cream ShopMadeline Island Mini GolfMadeline Island BarIf you are not staying on the island, pay careful attention to the weather and the ferry schedule. We just missed an afternoon thunderstorm that makes me want a Dramamine just thinking about the rolling seas.

Nichevo II FerryKnown agriculturally for apple orchards, the entire region comes alive with the fall harvest. The Bayfield Apple Festival runs each October and draws thousands of visitors into town. Other popular "draws" are the Big Top Chautauqua and hiking to the famous ice caves in the winter months.

Kates Pies