Weekend Itinerary: The Road from Milwaukee to Bayfield

Disclaimer: The tickets for our boat tour were gifted to me by Apostle Islands Cruises. All words and thoughts articulated about that experience in this article are my own.

Forest and lake views of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Bayfield Wisconsin

There’s the iconic northwoods of Wisconsin… and then there’s Bayfield, even farther north than that. With no stops (if that’s possible), the drive is just over six hours in length from Milwaukee and comes with a ton of scenic views to take in. My mom and I recently made the trek “north of Up North” and put over 800 miles on the car in just 56 hours! Whether you have a day, week, or more to spend road-tripping to and from Bayfield, I hope the highlights from my trip will help guide your own adventure! Don’t have a big budget for travel right now? Click here for some travel blogger pro tips to help you travel more for less.

Where to Stay

I found out about the Seagull Bay Motel through Instagram and am so glad to have stumbled upon it! The motel is owned by the Carrier family, who purchased it in 2017, and is truly a passion project for them! I love supporting peoples’ lifework and enjoyed a wonderful stay. The rooms are adorable, views are incredible, and staff are personable.

Where to Eat

We enjoyed a great breakfast at the Manypenny Bistro! The restaurant is family owned and operated by longtime locals who love the Bayfield area. The food was great and the turnaround time was quick, not to mention the place itself had such a cozy feel!

For lunch or dinner, you’ll want to stop at Maggie’s. Finding it amongst the buildings in downtown Bayfield is pretty easy thanks to its colorful exterior! The same cheery vibes (and a lot of flamingos) can be found inside.

What to Do

This lakeside town is all about boating, so prepare to spend time on the water to make the most of your stay! We let the folks at Apostle Islands Cruises give us the Grand Tour of the famous Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. I highly recommend one of their tours to get up close and personal with the islands and learn all about their unique histories.

Though there are 22 Apostle Islands, only 21 of them are classified as a National Lakeshore. The outcast, Madeline Island, is home to a town with over 200 residents, as well as restaurants, shops, and a state park! We took the Madeline Island Ferry Line over to La Pointe, then hiked at Big Bay State Park and took in the beauty of the Lake Superior coastline.

Pro Tips

  1. Take a different route each way! We drove up via Highway 51 and Highway 2, which took us through beautiful lake towns, desolate forestland, and along the Lake Superior shoreline, and home via Highway 13 with a pit stop at Timm’s Hill County Park!
View from Timms Hill in Price County Wisconsin

2. Pack for diverse weather conditions! Coastal weather can vary drastically and change rapidly. Rain, wind, and sun all made an appearance during the course of our boat tour!

Enjoying the Grand Tour with Apostle Islands Cruises

3. Priotize your hikes! There were so many state parks and hiking trails nearby, but we chose to visit Big Bay State Park because it was the hardest to get to and would thus limit our opportunities to visit later, compared to those on the mainland.

Sea Caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

What are your “musts” for travelers when visiting Bayfield? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Your Best Summer Guide to Bayfield Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands Pinterest Pin

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