Discover what Bayfield has to offer as a charming lakeside town and a gateway to small islands, hiking trails, and boat tours. The Apostle Islands is a bird-watching haven with over 300 bird species, including eagles, sparrows, hawks, sandpipers, and owls. Get your binoculars ready to witness one of the busiest migration bird flyways in the Great Lakes Region.
Take a ferry from Bayfield to La Pointe on Madeline Island, the only inhabited island among the Apostles. You can bring your car on the ferry that operates from March or April until the water freezes in winter. Accessing the other islands requires a private boat, water taxi or cruise.
Upon reaching Madeline Island, visit an outfitter to plan watersports activities, such as sailing, fishing, kayaking, or diving. During summer, explore the protected forests through hiking or biking. Meanwhile, during winter, walk across the ice bridge between Bayfield and Madeline Island for pedestrian traffic and winter vehicles. Rent snowshoes, skis, a dogsled, or a snowmobile and explore the snowy Northwoods.
Don’t miss visiting the Sea Caves while enjoying your trip.
Exploring the sea caves in the Apostle Islands is an essential part of any visit to this scenic area. The caves are a unique sight to behold, with their network of sandstone rooms lining the shoreline of Bayfield and the surrounding islands. To experience the caves at their best, visitors can kayak there from Bayfield during the warmer months or hike across the frozen water from Meyers Beach in winter, when the caves are blanketed in snow and giant icicles. Keep in mind that accessibility to the caves may be affected by weather conditions, so it’s a good idea to check the Apostle Islands’ Facebook page for the latest updates.
The Apostle Islands are accessible throughout the year, but the Bayfield Visitor Center is only open from May to mid-October. During these months, visitors can participate in water excursions and lighthouse tours, with July and August being the peak months for optimal views and a wider range of activities. If you want to witness the sea caves turning into ice, indulge in winter sports like skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
For accommodation, La Pointe offers The Inn on Madeline Island as the main resort and several cottages and home rentals. Bayfield has the majority of locally owned lodgings, including The Rittenhouse Inn’s accommodations in two Queen Anne Victorian mansions and a 1910 Arts Craft cottage.
Camping is a popular option across the year, with 19 island sites and five sites on the mainland.
Visitors should try the local trout and Lake Superior whitefish on Fridays, which is when almost every Wisconsin bar and restaurant hosts a Friday Fish Fry. Pair your dish with a brandy Old Fashioned for the complete experience.