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A Superior Autumn Adventure

This article was written by Heidi Siefkas and was featured in our November issue of Home By Design magazine. To visit the original Home By Design article and view more photos, click here.


Located in Northern Wisconsin on Lake Superior is the quaint, coastal town of Bayfield. Although its population is slightly under six hundred residents, its list of attractions and accolades is robust: proudly the berry capital of the Dairy State as well as the gateway to the Apostle Islands. Many say that Bayfield and its surrounding area are where land meets the sky with Lake Superior providing a beautiful and ever-changing mirror. Whether you choose to charter your own boat, paddle a kayak, or cruise with one of the many tour operators, no trip to Bayfield is complete without time on the largest of the Great Lakes. Here, we share Bayfield attractions on lake and land.

Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.

By surface area, Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world measuring 31,700 square miles. To put that into perspective, that’s nearly the size of Maine. The Ojibwe first noted its size by naming it Gitche Gumee, which loosely translates to big sea or huge water. If that sounds familiar, you might be recalling Gitche Gumee from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem “Hiawatha.”

With the sheer size and area of Lake Superior, weather patterns are powerful and can change quickly. So, it’s a good rule of thumb to listen to the locals, dress appropriately, use cold-water gear, and be prepared to weather out a storm. Because of the challenging conditions and the neighboring Apostle Islands, this designated National Lakeshore (protected public lands operated by the National Park Service) is home to the largest collection of historic lighthouse and light towers in the United States. With windswept beaches and sandstone cliffs spanning twenty-one islands, the Apostle Islands is a treasure of the Upper Midwest. Adventurers may kayak along the shore and into sea caves, while observers have their choice of large charter boat tours ranging from half-day to sunset cruises. All tours are subject to weather conditions.

Madeline Island.

For those looking for a shorter boat ride and perhaps a bite to eat or a concert, it’s just a hop, skip, and ferry ride to Madeline Island. Welcoming cars and pedestrians, the twenty-five-minute ferry ride runs from 7:00 a.m. to evening and changes seasonally. Once on the island, grab a bite to eat (we love Farmhouse Kitchen and Inn), do some souvenir shopping, or take in a live performance with Madeline Island Chamber Music. Repeat visitors and locals recommend venturing out of town and spending the day hiking through Big Bay State Park to experience views of sandstone sea caves, bogs, and hemlock forests.

Foodie Finds.

When adventuring in Bayfield, indulge in bites, sweets, and libations. Try some lake-to-table and farm-to-table meals at eateries for local white fish, lake salmon, and smoked trout. Near the harbor in Bayfield, there are numerous options from casual, like Manypenny Bistro, to fine dining like the Bayfield Inn Restaurant, including cozy locales to warm up with a frothy coffee or satiate your sweet tooth with local ice cream. A summer and fall favorite activity of locals and visitors alike is exploring the Fruit Loop where you can pick your own strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and apples. (If you don’t want to do the picking, you can purchase preharvested berries and apples, too.)

Mother Nature surely pulled out all the stops with Bayfield and Lake Superior. Its inspirational backdrop provides us all with sweet and savory flavors from the lake, farms, and orchards. Come hungry and with a thirst for adventure.

When to Go:
July and August are the warmest with the most opportunities for harvesting berries.
Late September and October provide beautiful fall colors, festivals, and apple-orchard experiences.

Must-Do Activities:
Take the ferry to Madeline Island. Charter a cruise or kayak tour of the Apostle Islands.
Eat your way around the Fruit Loop.
Drive up scenic Highway 13 for fall colors.
Catch a concert at Bayfield’s Big Top Chautauqua.

Locavore Favorites:
White fish (not fishy, great prepared multiple ways)
Smoked lake trout and salmon
Sweet treats featuring berries or apples
Ice cream and cheese curds
Hard cider