By Eva Apelqvist
Chequamegon Bay Wisconsin
Start your visit to tourist-friendly Ashland and Washburn - two small North Wisconsin towns facing each other across the Chequamegon Bay - at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 2.5 miles west of Ashland. With boardwalk nature trails, an observation tower, numerous exhibits, a nature store and a history and research center, it is a destination in itself. More importantly, however, it is a great place from where to plan your excursions.
Head up to the Bayfield Peninsula to the small city of Washburn, a tourist mecca on Lake Superior. The historical mile and a half long waterfront trail offers an excellent overview of both the town and the majestic Great Lake. Cozy beaches are scattered along the shore. This is also a good place to find beach treasures; glass, wood and rocks, which you might bring to Lake Superior Drifting Stone Jewelry, for owner Mary Ross to help you design and make your own unique keepsakes jewelry: “uncommon jewelry from common stones." If you want to get out on the water, you might rent a sit-on-top kayak or a stand-up paddle board at Dog-Paddle Kayaks.
Famous Coco Café and Bakery is almost a must. Feast on a delicious Italian beef baguette or have a bowl of scrumptious wild rice trout soup. Maybe you will even have room for their wonderful bread pudding and a cup of Bayfield Big Water Coffee Roasters. Chequamegon Book and Coffee Company, an eclectic, independent bookstore and coffee shop housed in a historic brownstone is well worth visiting. If you stay for dinner, a wood-fired pizza from DaLou’s Bistro might just hit the spot, not to mention some homemade gelatos for dessert.
Across the bay from Washburn is Ashland, the home of Northland College, known for its focus on sustainability and the environment. One of many unique features of Ashland is its historical murals, evidence of Ashland residents’ pride in their logging and shipping past. The now fourteen murals are included in the Ashland Mural Walk.
For outdoor fun in Ashland, a non-profit group aimed at teaching sailing, North Coast Community Sailing, offers sailing lessons on Lake Superior. Like Washburn, Ashland also has some great snack spots. For example, the locally flavored Black Cat Coffeehouse, where everything is made from scratch with mostly local ingredients. Have a cinnamon bun, a smoothie made from real fruit, or a satisfying cup of espresso.
A good dinner is easy to find in Ashland. One favorite is the Deep Water Grill and South Shore Brewery with menu items like the delicious Lake Superior white fish with cranberry wild rice pilaf and Beer Cheese Soup served with popcorn.
Places to Stay in the Chequamegon Bay Area
It is impossible to squeeze in all these must-see places in just one day. Spend the night. Blakely's Hill House and North Coast Inn and Chalets in Washburn are quaint, north woodsy boarding options. In Ashland, historic Hotel Chequamegon offers an unbeatable view of Lake Superior, and for families with young children AmericInn Splashland is a great choice for water fun.
Your only regret visiting the Chequamegon Bay area is that you didn’t plan to stay longer.