Apostle Islands: Lake Superior’s superior getaway

The Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin are a group of islands in Lake Superior, most of which are part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Reserve. Although 22 islands make up the chain, there are more than 22 reasons to visit thanks to hiking, kayaking, camping, exploring indigenous culture, enjoying local fish fry, and more.

Located between Milwaukee (6-hour drive) and Minneapolis (4-hour drive), the islands are a popular warm-weather destination for families in the area, and in winter for those strong enough to enjoy ice fishing. Here’s the best way to enjoy the area.

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Madeleine Island

Madeleine Island

The largest island in the group—more than 13 miles long and six miles wide—is larger than Manhattan. It is serviced several times every hour by car and a passenger ferry from the mainland town of Bayfield, Madeleine Island for only 15 minutes each way.

Madeleine is the only one of the Messenger Islands that is not part of the NPS (since there are too many homeowners to purchase) and provides the perfect introduction to the area’s rich history and entertainment opportunities,

the Madeline Museum It features intricately embroidered clothing and forest dolls that the children of the island’s indigenous people, known as the Anishinaabe, play with, as well as modern artworks by their grandchildren. The attached 19th-century log cabin is filled with tools, clothing, and other artifacts from the Europeans who settled the area, and the original Fresnel crystal lens of the important 1852 lighthouse on nearby Raspberry Island is also on display here.

Big Bay State Park It offers a popular beachfront destination with a picturesque lagoon. The long sandy beach is dotted with old pine trees and easy hiking trails suitable for young children include boardwalks, kayak rentals, and camping sites.

Another feature of Madeleine Island is that most of the signs include the native language. You’ll see “Ikewag” and “Ininiwag” listed on the signs for women and men in the bathroom facilities, and the original names alongside English on the hiking trails, including identifying trees and plants.

Other Messenger Islands

Devil’s Island Sea Caves | Photo: Evelyn Kanter

Devil’s Island They are the most dramatic of the group, with a network of coastal sea caves created by millions of years of sandstone erosion. Legend is that the original settlers, the Ojibwe (Chippewa), believed that the wind whistling through the caves sounded like a demonic human howl, hence the name. It’s a dream destination for kayakers, hikers, birders, lighthouse lovers, and of course, photographers.

The most historical Manitou Island, the only one that still bears his original name. You can tour a restored 19th-century “fish camp,” with log cabins where fishermen stayed for weeks at a time to tackle their catch, including smoking them. Ditto 1852 lighthouse in raspberry island.

The easiest way to experience the islands is on a three-hour sightseeing cruise from Bayfield, the region’s largest city and base for exploration, including kayak and bike rentals. Or rent a sailboat that allows you to anchor and explore.


Little Maritime Museum It explores the history of the area, including some of the 350 shipwrecks in the area. Downtown is a typical small resort town, with shops and art galleries among restaurants, ice cream parlors, a waterside promenade and a dome. Make sure to stop by Boudin fisheries For fresh smoked local fish or fish dish, maybe for a picnic in Mayer Beach, a mile-long mainland beach that is also part of the National Lakeshore designation.

fruit ring

cherry orchard

No, we’re not talking about breakfast cereals, we’re talking about the plentiful Bayfield orchards and fruit farms, which grow apples, pears, cranberries, cherries, blackberries, and strawberries. One of the oldest farms Ericsson OrchardsNow in its third generation and fourth generation training. In season, Erickson squeezes up to 250 gallons of cider per day, most of which he sells to nearby wineries and distilleries, including the only one in the United States owned by Native Americans, on tribal land.

Copper crow distillation

Founders Kurt and his wife Linda Pasina are members of the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior tribe of Ojibwe/Chippewa. They use Ericson’s juice to produce a strong apple brandy, which is a key ingredient in what many consider Wisconsin’s official cocktail – old-fashioned brandy. Copper Crow Distillery also uses whey from local cheese production to produce its vodka. It is light with a touch of sweetness and uniqueness.

Frog Bay Tribal National Park

Located on tribal land, the 300-acre Frog Bay Tribal National Park is the first tribal national park in the USA. The trails here are in more natural condition than the NPS National Parks, which means they’re more rugged and less smuggled, adding to their allure.

where do you eat

in Bayfield, Pierre Plaza Located just steps away from the piers that are named after them, it features wood-fired pizza, burgers, and local fish. fat radish It is one of the few options throughout the year, offering an innovative menu focused on seafood. It’s in Cornucopia, about 15 minutes from Bayfield down a country road.

Friday fish fry dinner is a tradition in much of Wisconsin. Depending on the season, trout, whitefish or herring are caught either from Lake Michigan or Lake Superior, then lightly battered and fried or grilled. Of course, Wisconsin is famous for its cheese, and cheese curds make a popular appetizer or snack. They are diced and fried, and they are quite addictive; It’s hard to have a meal without it, washed down by a small Wisconsin brew like Spotted Cow, which doesn’t ship out of state lines.

where to stay

legendary water

Red Cliff Band is running Legendary Waters Lakeshore Resort & Casino, open all year round. Each room has a wonderful view of the lake and the nearby Rasul Islands.

Landmark: Midwest

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