For a fall weekend along Lake Superior shores, you can’t beat Ashland and Bayfield. The first preserves a historical downtown and bike path along the shore; the latter rises up from the small harbor like a town out of Cape Cod.
Just west of Ashland, stop in at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center to learn about the natural world, heritage and history of the area and gather intel for your weekend. Take in a colorful view from their observation tower. Check in at Blue Wave Inn for some lakeside accommodations—and get a room with a balcony overlooking the bay.
As you drive through Ashland’s historic downtown, watch for the massive murals. For a Friday fish fry and local craft beer, eat at Deep Water Grille. But if a hometown pizza is more your thing, Frankie’s is the best.
Fill up your water bottles at the continuously flowing artesian well at Maslowski’s Beach near the hotel. Breakfast options include the Ashland Baking Co. with excellent pastries and artisan loaves, baked daily. Or grab a cup of joe right across the street at Black Cat Coffeehouse.
Drive north on US-13, stopping in Washburn at Café Coco for great bakery, breakfast or lunch. Or if you arrive later in the day, drink a pint at the South Shore Brewery taproom. Continue on the scenic highway to Bayfield, known for its bed and breakfasts. Old Rittenhouse Inn, featuring 20 rooms in two Victorian homes, gets raves for both their lodging and fine dining. The Pinehurst Inn is another great option. If you come during the Bayfield Apple Festival (Oct. 4-6, 2019), be sure to book a room well in advance!
Next, take lunch at Flamingo-themed Maggie’s. After, hikers will enjoy the Lakeshore Trail over the sea caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, 25 minutes north of town. Orchards are abundant here, so get apples and cider at Hauser’s Superior View Farm or several others nearby. In the evening, tour and taste at Copper Crow Distillery before enjoying fine dining at The Landmark at Old Rittenhouse Inn or Italian cuisine at The Copper Trout.
Be sure to eat breakfast at The Fat Radish. Through the first weekend of October, paddlers can get out on the water with Trek & Trail and explore the sea caves. (If the lake is cooperative, that is!) Art lovers will enjoy Stone’s Throw Art Gallery in town. A drive out to Seven Ponds Winery nets you more fall colors and some sampling. Back in Bayfield for lunch, stop for wood-fired pizza or Turkish food at Manypenny Bistro. During your visit, don’t forget to take home some apples and preserves!
Photo: courtesy of Sigrid Knutson