I just got back from a trip up north to Bayfield, Cornucopia, + Madeline Island, Wisconsin. It was my first time to the area and the majority of our stay was enjoying Wild Rice Retreat. However, since it was a hike to get there, we explored the surrounding areas as well. If you are considering traveling here, hopefully this post will help with your planning!
I was traveling from Chicago (8 hour drive). If you happen to be traveling from there as well or just traveling through Minocqua, you may want to stop and walk their downtown to break up the drive. It’s a hot spot for tourism, so be prepared for busyness if traveling in summer. It was fun to walk around for a bit, see the area, peak at the water, and go in a few shops.
We were hungry at this stretch of our drive, so we hopped in the car and drove 5 minutes to Wild Berry Organic Market. It’s a natural market grocery store that also has a small area in the back where you can get made-to-order sandwiches and smoothies. I ordered a sourdough veggie sandwich and my husband got a turkey & sauerkraut. We shared a cold brew, some chips, and sat at their tables outside. There is also a small eating area in the back of the store as well. It was an extremely affordable lunch and a great place to pick up healthier snacks. They have good refrigerated date rolls by the berries and a wide range of nuts and dried goods hidden in the far back left of the store.
I also want to mention a café we passed in Washburn called Coco Cafe. I think it was about 15 minutes south of Bayfield. We didn’t go in, but it looked like another place to peak at if you go to the Bayfield area. It has some gluten-free and dairy-free bakery items.
Bayfield, Cornucopia, + Madeline Island
Bayfield, WI – our destination spot
Things To Do In Bayfield, Wisconsin:
- On your way in or out, stop at Wisconsin’s oldest operating pottery studio called Eckels Pottery.
- Spend part of day walking the downtown area, going into shops, and taking in the water view. Although a small town, there is still a good amount packed in. Be sure to walk the perimeter and side streets as well. I found just as many shops I enjoyed off the main drag. I picked up some items at Joanne’s Scandinavian and the Crystalline Healing Rock Shop.
- Grab a coffee or tea at Wonderstate Coffee
- See if anything perks your interest at the Starlit Kitchen. I peaked in and it looked cute. I would have grabbed some homemade hummus and olives for snacks if I had my cooler with that day.
- Stop at Bodin Fisheries to pick up amazing fresh or smoked fish. I normally don’t eat smoked fish, but the sugar cured salmon was so lightly smoked that I even enjoyed a bit. I just avoided the top part. 🙂 Have a cooler on hand!
- Drive the “Fruit Loop” and stop at the many berry farms and apple orchards depending on the time of year. An ideal time would be beginning of September to get both berries and apples. Besides produce, many of them have small shops as well. Check out:
- Walk the Brownstone Trail alongside Lake Superior. I wouldn’t go out of your way for this trail, but since we were staying at Wild Rice Retreat and the trail connected us to town, it was a nice walk.
- If you are traveling without children and have the time to stay put for a bit and relax, peak at the Wild Rice Wellness Retreat. This is where my husband and I stayed and ate our wonderful meals. It is pricey, but worth it for a special occasion.
- Take a kayak tour and/or head to the beach. Both of which I would do in Cornucopia – about a 25 minute drive from Bayfield. I have these listed under Cornucopia below.
- Hop the ferry from Bayfield to Madeline Island. More listed under Madeline Island below.
Things to do in Cornucopia, Wisconsin
About a 25 minute drive from Bayfield, Cornucopia was actually my favorite town. There is very little there, but it gave me all the feels. I envisioned jumping on a boat, living on the water, grabbing my daily produce from Ehler’s General Store, and setting up a shop in the small stretch of shops. I can’t guarantee you’ll have this same vision 🙂 , but I think it’s worth the drive up.
- Must stop: Ehlers General Store – open since 1915. Needless to say, it felt nostalgic. There is a little bit of everything for all and I was thrilled to see some great healthy offerings (especially after going into the rough Bayfield grocery store). I think all I grabbed was homemade hummus since I didn’t need anything at the time, but it was so much fun to look around. Kids would enjoy this place too.
- Pack a picnic or grab some ready made food at Ehler’s and spend an afternoon at Cornucopia Beach
- Rent a Kayak or take a tour with Lost Creek Adventures.
- Sail with Cornucopia Sailing
- Shop the adorable row of lakefront shops. You’ll see them on your right side by the harbor coming into town. Hestekin Pottery was my favorite. I’ve been drinking out of one of his cups since I came home.
Things to do in Madeline Island, Wisconsin
It’s about a 25 minute ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island. You can buy tickets right at the ferry stop and ferries run every half hour or so in the busy season. We skipped a car since you can easily walk the very small town by foot; it was $17 round trip/person.
- As soon as you get off the ferry, you are right in town. We spent about 3 hours total here and really took our time, so it can easily be a quick trip. Plus, it’s just fun to ride the ferry and take in all the views.
- Walk the small town and stop at the shops. Bell Street Gallery & Artbar was our favorite; we grabbed a beautiful pottery mug from here as well. Bayfield and the surrounding areas are a large art and pottery community. I came home with 4 pieces of pottery and while I didn’t want to spend any more at the time, I now wish I would have purchased some more. It just means I’ll have to go back.
- Stop for a drink at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe or just walk through it and see what it’s all about. It’s a sight for sure. Ha. I had a few sips of my husband’s Paloma and it was actually pretty good.
- Stop and take in the incredible views of the lake at the small beach. The water views from Madeline Island are incredible.
- Quality/healthy food options are scarce on the Island. I grabbed some apples for a snack at the grocery store and washed them with my water bottle. However, dinner at Miijim looked lovely. If we didn’t have meals at our retreat, we would have taken a later ferry so we could have had dinner there.
I hope this travel guide helps you plan a trip there as well! Xx Riane
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