Discover Adventure at Wisconsin's Apostle Islands

The Apostle Island National Lakeshore is one of Wisconsin’s greatest natural wonders, and a trip here — whether with family, friends or solo — is nothing short of extraordinary. Learn about the islands and some of the best ways to explore them. Your adventure awaits!

Apostle Islands 101

The Apostle Islands sit in the northwestern corner of Wisconsin on the shores of Lake Superior. One of just three national lakeshores in the U.S., the Apostle Islands is comprised of 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland shoreline, which boast sculpted red cliffs, sea caves and endless adventure.

Kayak the Sea Caves

The Apostle Island’s freshwater sea caves are astounding, and kayaking is one of the best ways to experience them. During warmer months, kayak past — and through — the red sandstone caves. The bulk of them lie along the mainland shoreline, while a few are tucked into the islands’ shores. Take care: Lake Superior can be rough, and a sea kayak is a must. Local outfitters provide rentals and guided tour options galore. Choose from easy half-day paddles to multiday excursions, which will have you camping on some of the farther-out islands.

Take the Ferry to Madeline Island

A ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island is another popular Apostle Island activity, especially for families. Madeline Island is the largest of the Apostles, but it’s not officially part of the national lakeshore. The ferry drops you off in the town of La Pointe, home to one of Wisconsin's state historical museums and Big Bay State Park. Hike or bike around the island, or simply explore around La Pointe, which contains boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. Before your return ferry, enjoy a drink and live music at the famous Tom's Burned Down Café, a cobbled-together collection of decks and bars, many open-air, created from the remains of a partially burned building.

Captains Bridge atop Madeline Island Ferry

Miles of Hiking Adventure

The Apostle Islands are home to more than 50 miles of hiking paths. Stroll along the six-mile Lakeshore Trail, which unrolls atop the famous sandstone cliffs from Meyers Beach to a backcountry campsite. To get in more miles, take a ferry to one of the 21 islands, many of which have paths leading to lighthouses, abandoned quarries, historic logging camps, photo-worthy scenic views and more.

Take a Boat Tour on Lake Superior

Book a narrated sightseeing tour by motorized boat or sailboat for more time on the water. Or take a glass-bottom boat tour past some of the legendary shipwrecks dotting the lake bottom. Fishing charters are available, too. And, of course, there are sandy beaches everywhere.

Where to Stay

There are plenty of lodging options, from upscale to backwoods, around the Apostle Islands. If camping is your thing, you can find scenic campsites on 18 of the 21 islands. There are also a variety of campgrounds scattered along the mainland and Madeline Island. For more comfort, book a stay at a mainland bed-and-breakfast inn — they make perfect romantic getaways for 2. The Old Rittenhouse Inn, one of Wisconsin's first B&Bs, is a luxe property offering suites with fireplaces, plus gourmet dinners and breakfasts. The Pinehurst Inn, is known as one of the most eco-friendly lodgings around. A wide selection of cabins, cottages, condos and resorts round out the area’s offerings.

Where to Eat

Foodies will love that quality dining options are plentiful. Good Thyme, tucked into a sprawling yellow house in Washburn, offers finely crafted dishes such as Vietnamese egg rolls and pistachio shrimp ravioli. Craft cocktails are available, too. Morty's Pub in downtown Bayfield boasts freshly caught whitefish, and the area's largest collection of craft and specialty beers. The Fat Radish in Cornucopia has themed dining events, such as Sushi and Ramen Night, Dan's Homemade Pizza Night and Special Cuts of Meat Night.

Winter at the Apostle Islands

While high season in the Apostles comes with the warmer weather, the lakeshore is remarkable in the winter, too. There's skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding and two unique opportunities: driving on the Ice Road from Bayfield to Madeline Island and exploring the famous Lake Superior ice caves, ice conditions permitting.

Your next adventure awaits! Learn more about the Apostle Islands and the adventure you can discover there.

This entry was posted in National Parks & Forests