The Coastal Allure of Bayfield
  • Written by: Alicia O'Connor

  • Photography by: As credited

  • Many charming, coastal towns share a few characteristics: a distinctive style, sweeping views of boats gently bobbing in the harbor, colorful local businesses, and culinary treats unique to the destination. Bayfield, at Wisconsin northernmost point, meets all expectations for coastal flavor.  Known as the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Bayfield offers coastal allure of its own and is well worth a summer visit.

    Sailboats line the docks at the Bayfield marina on Lake Superior. Image WIDNR



    Old Rittenhouse Inn
    Travel through time to an era of classic Queen Anne Victorian homes with a stay at Bayfield’s Old Rittenhouse Inn.  The inn, housed in two separate buildings, features 20 guest rooms each decorated in the distinctive style of the era.  The flower-draped front porch of the main house boasts the town’s best view of deep blue Lake Superior and the islands beyond.

    Bayfield Inn
    The newly renovated Bayfield Inn features 21 rooms with all the modern comforts you’d expect and the benefit of a waterfront location.  The lakeshore, harbor, and ferry dock and only steps away and the inn is a perfect spot for rooftop cocktails at the end of the day.

    The beautiful Old Rittenhouse Inn is located in downtown Bayfield. Image: WIDNR


    Egg Toss Café
    Bayfield’s best breakfast is found at the Egg Toss Café where everything from bread to eggs to berry-licious jam is fresh and local.

    This legendary Bayfield destination claims “a décor that must be seen to be believed”. One word: Flamingos. Everywhere. If you can enter a kitsch-cluttered room filled with flamingos and NOT immediately start smiling, have a margarita and loosen up.   This is exactly the kind of place that makes you remember why you need a vacation.  The burgers are darn tasty too.

    The Old Rittenhouse Inn
    The classic Bayfield address offers daily breakfast and dinner.  Brunch is a special treat but call ahead to be sure it’s on the schedule.

    The Platter
    Experience a classic Wisconsin Supper Club in nearby Ashland, Wisconsin featuring local delicacies such as Lake Superior White Fish and Wisconsin Cheese Fondue.

    Street scene in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Image WIDNR


    Cruise the Islands
    Take a tour of the Apostle Islands with Apostle Islands Cruises.  The 3 ½-hour Grand Tour showcases the area’s incredible scenery and beloved lighthouses while the Glass Bottom Boat Tour visits the haunting underwater shipwrecks.

    Explore Madeline Island
    Hop a ferry to nearby Madeline Island for a day’s adventure through this unique community.  Rent bikes or kayaks to explore the stunning sea caves and picturesque Big Bay State Park. Enjoy the laid-back feel of this island community at any of the local cafes and pubs.

    Image WIDNR

    Taste the Local Fruit
    Long after berries have been picked throughout the rest of the region, Bayfield’s sweetest crop is at its peak.  The heavenly aroma of sweet strawberries, juicy blueberries, and lacy flowers fills the senses at Bayfield’s fruit and perennial farms throughout the summer months.  Find the best of everything local with a visit to Hauser’s Superior View Farm for berries, apples, field-grown perennials, and local wine.

    This article first appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Lakeshore Magazine.  Click the cover image below to read the issue.