Photos Courtesy of National Park System
Photos Courtesy of National Park System

Where to stay, what to eat, and things to do during your final warm-weather Wisconsin getaway of 2022.

Labor Day has come and gone and fall is knocking at our door. If you love summer, the arrival of pumpkin spice lattes and color-changing leaves might have you feeling down. So take advantage of the final days of summer and plan one last road trip–this time, to the Apostle Islands. 

If you haven’t heard of them, the Apostle Islands are a group of 21 tiny islands that line the shore of Lake Superior about as far north as you can go in Wisconsin. 

Here are some great options for lodging, dining, and activities to make the most of your island getaway. 

Where to Stay

Where you choose to stay depends on whether you prioritize dining and activities or seclusion. Outdoor enthusiasts who love to camp opt to pitch a tent on one of the islands’ many campsites. You can find individual campgrounds with basic amenities including picnic tables, fire rings, and nearby bathrooms, or you can opt for even more “off-the-grid” sites in the islands’ backcountry for total seclusion. 

Courtesy: National Park Service

If you prefer to sleep at a hotel or B&B, check out Madeline Island or Bayfield, known as the Gateway to the Apostle Islands. Airbnb lists dozens of cottages, cabins, and other rentals on Madeline Island, and the Inn on Madeline Island offers hotel rooms, suites, condos, and homes. 

Bayfield has a variety of lodging options on the water, downtown, and in the surrounding areas. For stunning views of Bayfield Harbor and easy access to dining and water transportation, check out Harbor’s Edge Motel, The Bayfield Inn, or The Old Rittenhouse Inn

Where to Eat 

Whether you’re staying on Madeline Island or simply exploring it for the day, don’t skip lunch at Rock House Food Truck, a local favorite in La Pointe. The menu changes frequently, but typically includes gyros and various types of gourmet burgers and sandwiches. You’ll also want to think about grabbing some whitefish tacos at Captain Matt’s. For a larger menu that includes appetizers, salads, burgers, and sandwiches, The Beach Club on Madeline Island is a great option to grab a bite while walking around La Pointe.

Courtesy: National Park Service

There are far more dining options in Bayfield, ranging from small diners and pubs to upscale restaurants. Because of its proximity to Lake Superior, seafood lovers will find an abundance of fresh fish on nearly every menu! Check out Manypenny Bistro for regular specials on whitefish, lake trout, and seafood pizza. If you’re lucky, they might have locally-grown Bayfield blueberries on the menu, too. 

Courtesy: National Park Service

Outdoor dining is also big on the islands. Head to The Pickled Herring to enjoy a meal on the deck overlooking Lake Superior. You’ll find fried favorites like fish and chips, whitefish tacos, and specialties like honey ginger broiled trout on the menu. Looking for a more upscale dining experience? Visit the Copper Trout for meals that rely on fresh local ingredients, like lake fish, berries, and wild mushrooms. 

Things to Do

There’s something fun for everyone on the Apostle Islands: exactly how you choose to take in the islands depends on your interests. 

Outdoor enthusiasts can spend their getaway exploring the islands on foot, after kayaking, canoeing, or boating to the islands they want to visit. If hiking isn’t your thing, take a scenic, narrated Apostle Islands cruise that takes you past dozens of historic lighthouses and allows you to absorb the beautiful landscapes and marine wildlife. Name a water activity, and it’s likely offered, including fishing, kayaking the sea caves, sailing, and more.

Courtesy: National Park Service

At some point on your trip to Madeline Island, stop by Tom’s Burned Down Cafe for a cocktail. Yes, it really was once a cafe. After it burned down in the ‘90s, its owner, Tom, decided to pull a trailer next to what was left of his establishment and start serving beer. Although the place appears to be in shambles, Tom calls it “organized chaos.” Enjoy the relics, antiques, and funny signs adorning the character-laden establishment as you sip on a pint or your favorite spirit. 

And if it rains on your trip, don’t worry. Downtown Bayfield offers a variety of indoor activities, from the Bayfield Maritime Museum to local small businesses, carrying various items like handmade art, jewelry, and books. 

Happy exploring!