2020 was the year of getaways to destinations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, exploring some of the best of the midwest. I really enjoyed adventuring this summer and fall to places that I hadn’t been to since I was a kid, or were completely new to me despite being not far out of my own backyard. I went up to Madeline Island in Lake Superior for a weekend in September, and it was a magical time to go. The changing colors of leaves in the transition from summer to fall are a sight to behold on the North Shore, and there’s a lovely quaint, calmness in the air after the summer rushes of tourists have gone.
The Copper Trout in Bayfield
Looking for a nice dinner before popping on the ferry over to Madeline Island? This was one of my favorite new restaurants I’ve tried this year! The Copper Trout in Bayfield offers super friendly service and a delicious menu of Lake Superior sourced dishes like whitefish and wild trout. I had the puttanesca and it was delicious. It’s a nice atmosphere and great dining at a reasonable cost, even if you’re drinking too.
Ferry to Madeline Island
After dinner, we caught the 7pm ferry over to the island. You can usually pull up and just buy your tickets right there, but be cautious if you’re taking one of the last ferries of the day. It’s $13 one way for a car or $27 roundtrip, and the trip takes about 25 minutes. It’s a cool experience if you’ve never been on a ferry too.
Big Bay State Park
If you’re going to Madeline Island, there’s no doubt you’re going to spend a day hiking around Big Bay State Park. It’s a gorgeous place to go for a walk, with a long shoreline of sandstone bluffs, lovely trails through pristine forests, and endless views of Lake Superior. Spend at least a half a day going walking around Big Bay State Park if you’re venturing to Madeline Island. The trails are well-marked and maintained, and you’ll see lots of birds and other wildlife. Unfortunately it was sprinkling during our hiking day, but with the cover of the forest, the light rain wasn’t too bad.
Tom’s Burned Down Cafe
Ready for a drink after a day of hiking around? Stopping at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe is an absolute must. Literally patched together while also falling apart, this bar is set up in a trailer. There are various nooks and crannies for seating as well as a fire pit. It was a great stop for a Bloody Mary and a beer, to check out the whimsical decor and relax after exploring the nature of Madeline Island.
Grampa Tony’s on Madeline Island
For dinner on Madeline Island, you have several options to choose from, and we decided on pizza from Grampa Tony’s. Simple and delicious, they have specialty pizzas or you can make your own. And it’s not a visit to Wisconsin without sipping a New Glarus beer. Whenever I drink it, I remember my solo Wisconsin road trip back in 2015 when I went to the New Glarus brewery. Check out Grampa Tony’s
And that’s about it! You can definitely enjoy all that Madeline Island has to offer in just 1-2 days, it’s a long drive from the Twin Cities but a very beautiful one in the fall season. I could see spending a relaxing week here if you enjoy camping, canoeing, kayaking, or other water-based activities in addition to hiking. There are lots of boat tours options for the surrounding Apostle Islands available too, and a few historical centers on Madeline Island to check out. I would highly recommend stocking up a cooler with snacks and food before heading to Madeline Island, there is a grocery store but I’d imagine prices are much higher and they might not have everything you need.