By Jeniece Smith
Wisconsin’s northern edge is a purely wild escape with some of the truest small-town charm you’ll find anywhere. Trade in concrete and steel skylines for towering forests, and the buzz of zipping traffic for the sighing cadence of the Lake Superior surf. Highway 13 arcs about 90 miles along the outskirts of the Bayfield Peninsula, creating one of the most placid and picturesque drives in the state.
You’ll pass through several tiny lakeside communities – including beautiful little Bayfield, gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Stop for a meal, try some of the best sea kayaking in the world or take a ferry ride to Madeline Island. Hike to two waterfalls on the other side of the peninsula in Cornucopia, and marvel at the unspoiled wilderness of the Brule River State Forest further west.
After you’ve put in a day exploring, keep the mood serene with a stay in one of these five cabins and cottages along Highway 13.
Secluded in the stretch of woods between the highway and Lake Superior, this cluster of cottages will return you to a simpler time. Choose from five rentals that each sleep up to seven people, with linens and kitchenware included. The resort has been in the hands of one family for at least three generations, and includes a private beach on Chequamegon Bay.
Further up along the bay is another small resort where you can find four dog-friendly cottages – set up for couples to groups – tucked beneath lovely old-growth pines. Cook out with a provided grill on your deck, relax on the beach or lakeside swings, launch your boat off the ramp or stroll the resort’s wooded paths.
Just north of Bayfield, this bed and breakfast offers two suites and three cottages ranging from 400 to 680 square feet, all with a queen bed, a deck complete with comfy Adirondack chairs, fabulous views of Lake Superior and the islands, and access to a private 300-foot beach. In addition to having your own kitchen with appliances and utensils, you’ll get a full breakfast delivered to you each morning. Linens and some toiletries are included with your stay, along with Wi-Fi, cable and air conditioning.
Want to feel like you have your own Northwoods lake house? A 15-minute jaunt from Highway 13, this rental property sits on the shores of the Bayfield Peninsula’s largest inland lake. A group of up to eight people can sleep comfortably in the three-bedroom, two-bath home, complete with a cozy gas fireplace in the living room, fully equipped kitchen and lower-level rec room. The backyard slopes down gradually to a private dock and sandy swim beach, where you can launch a provided canoe and kayak for a spin around the 285-acre lake. Linens for the home’s six beds and kitchen towels are included.
Located on its own petite peninsula on the western edge of the Bayfield Peninsula, this rustic little resort shares its property with the full-service local marina and is adjacent to the Port Wing Boreal Forest State Natural Area. The three cabins – charmingly named after varieties of pine – are cozy and inexpensive. The two smaller rentals sleep up to four people, and one larger lodge accommodates nine. Bring the dogs along to this pet-friendly destination!
Favor a stay across the bay from the peninsula on Madeline Island? Check out our recommendations for island getaways throughout the state!