A Summer Road Trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin

Disclaimer: Our boat tour tickets were gifted to me by Apostle Islands Cruises. All words and opinions 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, the drive is just over six hours from Milwaukee and comes with a ton of scenic views. My mom and I recently made the trek “north of Up North” and clocked over 800 miles of driving in just 56 hours! Whether you have a day, week, or more for a road trip to Bayfield, I hope that the highlights from my trip will help guide your own adventure. If you have a tight budget for travel right now, here are some tips to help you explore more for less.

Where to Stay in Bayfield

I discovered 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 their heart and soul. I love supporting other peoples’ lifework and enjoyed a wonderful stay. The rooms are adorable and the views of Lake Superior are simply breathtaking.

Where to Eat in Bayfield

We enjoyed a great breakfast at the Manypenny Bistro on our first morning in town. The restaurant is family owned and operated by locals who love their Bayfield home. The food was great and the turnaround time was quick, which made it easy to visit before our boat tour. I loved the #PursuitOfCoziness vibes in the design of this classic American diner!

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 in Bayfield

This lakeside town is all about boating, so prepare to spend time on the water if you want 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 see the islands up close and learn 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.

3 Tips for a Road Trip to Bayfield

  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 came 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 is difficult to get to and would thus limit our opportunities to visit again, compared to parks on the mainland.

Sea Caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Lake Michigan also has its fair share of island state parks. You can read about one located right in the heart of Milwaukee!

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

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