Sandstone sea caves can be toured via chartered cruise or explored solo
Kayak through Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands at sunrise or sunset and the archipelago’s sandstone sea caves seem to glow from within. Here, an Apostle Islands itinerary that makes the most of the Lake Superior scenery:
The 22 tiny islands in the Apostle archipelago are dots of land populated by old growth forests, towering cliffs, and windy beaches. They are also punctuated by sandstone caves, which the scouring Lake Superior waves have carved out over thousands of years. Cruise through the area with a tour guide from the Apostle Islands Boat Cruises or go solo in your own kayak—either way, you’ll find glorious scenery. If you’re adventurous, the Apostles are also a shipwreck hunter’s dream: Scuba divers can explore the remains of numerous wrecks such as the Sevona, which was sunk in a storm in 1905 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993. If you’re really adventurous? Rustic campsites are available on Oak Island, with car ferry service running to and from the mainland in Bayfield.
GO For chartered cruises: Apostle Islands Cruises, 2 N. Front St., City Dock, Bayfield; 800-323-7619, apostleisland.com; cruises range from $24–$40. For scuba diving: Northland Equipment & Diving, 930 3rd Pl., Clear Lake; 715-263-2119, northlandequipment.net; rates range from $85–$170. For overnight camping and kayaking: Living Adventure, State Hwy. 13, Bayfield; 715-779-9503, livingadventure.com.
- Island Living
A 20-minute ferry ride from the mainland town of Bayfield will take you to Madeline Island, where a year-round population of 272 makes up the tiny town of La Pointe. Madeline Island is also home to a state park that offers scenic hiking, beaches, bluffs, and an 80-acre lagoon good for fishing and canoeing. This Saturday (Aug. 27), the island hosts an Art Crawl, with free wine and cheese offered from 4 to 6 p.m. at local galleries and shops. Also worth checking out: The Madeline Island Museum. Visit the local chamber of commerce office for maps to a walking tour of the island’s many historic spots.
GO Madeline Island, Chamber Offices, Middle Road/Highway H (one block from ferry dock); 715-747-2801, madelineisland.com. For kayak rentals, go to Apostle Islands Kayaks, 690 Main St., La Pointe; 715-747-3636, apostleislandskayaks.com.
- Berries and Bayfield
As the “berry capital of Wisconsin,” Bayfield is a haven for picking your own fruit. Late August is prime time for blueberries and blackberries in the close to a dozen orchards and berry patches within a mile or two of the galleries, museums, and wineries of Bayfield’s eminently walkable downtown shopping district.
GO Bayfield, Wisconsin. For a detailed guide, stop by the visitors bureau at 42 South Broad St., Bayfield; 800-447-4094, bayfield.org.
Where to stay: The Cooper Hill House bed and breakfast (33 S. Sixth St., Bayfield; 715-779-5060, cooperhillhouse.com) offers kid-free luxury with a view of Lake Superior; rates range from $99–$125 a night. The Old Rittenhouse Inn (301 Rittenhouse Ave., Bayfield; 715-779-5111, rittenhouseinn.com) has individual rooms and a free-standing cottage for rent; rates range from $140–$375. Bonus: If you decide on a spur-of-the-moment elopement, innkeeper Mark Phillips is a non-denominational minister legally qualified to officiate.
Where to eat: Even if you don’t stay at the Old Rittenhouse Inn (see above), you can still take advantage of its Landmark Restaurant, where the “verbal menu” changes daily; Executive Chef Steve Keen is known for his seared yellowfin tuna. At Wild Rice (84860 Old San Rd., Bayfield; 715-779-9881, wildricerestaurant.com), Chef Jim Webster specializes in fresh fish dishes as well as innovative preparations of the restaurant’s namesake grain. Through August, the restaurant is open Tuesday–Saturday; in September, Wednesday–Saturday.