By Pat Dillon
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Historic districts along Wisconsin harbor towns are embedded with stories that often begin on land and end up at sea. Add a lighthouse in fog and the local mystique intensifies.
Experience the maritime allure or just enjoy Great Lakes charm from these three bed and breakfasts, each with its own distinct, old world Wisconsin story.
Perched atop a hilly street overlooking the Port Washington harbor is the Port Washington Inn Bed and Breakfast, just a few blocks above the 1860 Lighthouse and Light Station Museum. This Travel Green-certified business is one of Wisconsin’s most energy efficient lodges. Owners Rita and Dave Nelson’s eco-sensibility is felt from the vegetable and flower gardens that have replaced summers of mowing to their emphasis on sustainability in the kitchen where local and organic breakfast menus are prepared.
And once you’ve arrived, you can walk to the shore or drive a half-hour north to Sheboygan for dinner at Trattoria Stefano, one of four celebrated restaurants by chef and owner Stafano Viglietti. His more casual spot, Field to Fork, keeps things local with ingredients that come from many Wisconsin family farms.
Stop at the John Michael Kohler Art Musuem, where the focus is Wisconsin self-taught art, or take a trip to Kohler-Andre State Park on Lake Michigan, known for its sand dunes. And of course, the Sheboygan Breakwater Lighthouse at Deland Park is a shoreline attraction, though it's not open for tours. Here you’ll also see the remains of the Lottie Cooper, one of 700 wrecks lost on Lake Michigan.
Set on 25 wooded acres, the Travel Green-certified Artesian House Bed and Breakfast is another conservation-conscious Inn where rain gardens and solar panels support a modern structure built to maximize passive solar energy.
It’s located just outside Bayfield where, at the City Dock, you can pick up the Ashland Bayfield Express to Raspberry Island and tour Lake Superior’s historic Raspberry Island Lighthouse. There are six historic lighthouses within 21 islands and many other island tour options.
Plus the sweet town of Bayfield is filled with artisan shops and restaurants serving whitefish and trout caught daily right off the shores of Lake Superior.
The Whitefish Bay Farm Bed & Breakfast and Gallery, located near Whitefish Dunes State Park on the north end of Sturgeon Bay, is truly pastoral and serene with a surrounding landscape that’s a rugged, knotty patchwork of pastures and trails. Here roaming Corriedale sheep yield yarn that’s spun and felted into small functional works and woven into amazing blankets sold in the Farm Gallery.
As any countryside surrounded by water, the area has its lighthouses and Door County Trolley in Egg Harbor picks you up and escorts you to four of the 11 lighthouses on the peninsula —Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Fish Creek, Cana Island Lighthouse and the Range Lights in Baileys Harbor, and the Ship Canal Lighthouse in Sturgeon Bay.
End your tour at the eclectic Village Cafe in Egg Harbor, known for home cooking and amazing carrot cake. Then take a drive up the peninsula for unbeatable art and one-of-a-kind shops.
Can't get enough of Wisconsin's iconic lighthouses? Check out more of our favorites here.