Islands are prime vacation destinations any time of year, even in Northern Wisconsin. And Madeline Island—the largest and only one of the 22 Apostle Islands that has year-round residents—is no exception. Departures to this seeming oasis located in Ashland County usually happen from Bayfield via charter plane, private boat or a short ferry ride. However, once you alight upon its tranquil shores, these recreational recommendations are sure to make any trip worth the trek.
Explore in every season. Summer is obviously the most high-traffic time in terms of tourism. But there is much to do year round on Madeline Island. Winter’s most unique experience is the wintersled, an alternative form of arrival some visitors opt for once Lake Superior has completely frozen. The spring brings bird watchers and the beginning of hiking season once the ice begins to thaw. Autumn is the best time for shutter bugs wanting stunning pics as foliage begins to change colors or those interested in taking a photography workshop at Madeline Island School of the Arts. And the changing of the leaves is so popular, one of the most anticipated events is Family Fall Fest, which takes place annually the third weekend of October.
Stroll along the shore. For a land mass which is a mere three miles in width, half of the isle’s 14 miles in length is accessible thanks to two miles open to the public in the town park, four miles in the state park and pristine strip of shoreline with a playground adjacent to the town center called Joni’s Beach.
Camp at Bay Beach State Park. Pass the hours with a plethora of outdoor recreation once the tent is pitched. Swimming, kayaking, biking and trail running are all fair game within the park grounds.
Canoe at Bay Beach Town Park. Many visitors opt for the state park entrance since it is only six miles from the “mini” town square. However, “the town” side of Bay Beach is free to visit, plus it contains a gorgeous lagoon and boardwalk for those who desire a walk in nature sans the risk of tripping over the rocks and sticks often found on more rugged trails.
Gallery hop in town. The island may be small but its creative community is thriving. Bell Street Gallery, La Pointe Gallery and Woods Hall are three art galleries featuring an array of handcrafted items by locales such as jewelry, apparel, paintings, stationery and more.
Photo credit: Rachel Werner