Bayfield is an exciting destination in the northwest corner of Wisconsin, and it is most well known for being the gateway to the stunning Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Though kayaking, boating, and exploring the breathtaking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is genuinely a bucket-list-worthy item, it's just one of the many great things to do in Bayfield, WI.
With so many fantastic things to do in Bayfield, WI, it's hard to believe it's also the city with the smallest year-round population! As of the most recent 2020 census, the population of Bayfield was just a surprising 584 people. Aside from being a popular lakeside destination with spectacular access to the sparkling blue waters of Lake Superior, Bayfield is also known as the Berry Capital of Wisconsin.
There's a lot to this quaint community, and we'd love to be your guide to this quintessential seaside town. There's no better place to stay in Bayfield than our Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast in the area. Like all properties within the Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association's portfolio, our Bayfield Bed and Breakfast boasts exceptional hospitality, top-notch accommodations, and a personalized experience that's second to none.
Explore Bayfield's scenic, historic charms with us this summer, and book a room at a nearby Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast today!
The 15 Best Things to do in Bayfield, WI This Year
Aside from serving as a jumping-off point to explore the breathtaking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, you'll find plenty of great things to do in Bayfield, WI. From attending vibrant local festivals and visiting local fruit orchards, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised by a visit to this uniquely gorgeous part of our state!
There must be a reason Conde Nast selected Bayfield as one of "The 23 Best Places to Go in the U.S. in 2023", after all, right? It has a lot to do with the gorgeous expanses of Lake Superior - but we think it also comes down to the friendly hospitality and inherent charms of this remarkable place.
Below, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite things to do in Bayfield, WI, hoping to inspire you to plan a getaway to this charming seaside destination this year.
- As the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, it will come as no surprise that one of the top things to do in Bayfield, WI is boat out to these treasured islands and experience them for a day or more. We'll discuss this top-rated attraction in more detail below.
- Another of the top-rated things to do in Bayfield, WI is to go hiking. Of course, you'll find some hiking trails on the Apostle Islands, but there's plenty to explore on the mainland's Bayfield Peninsula. We love Frog Bay Tribal National Park, the first Tribal National Park in the country, Houghton Falls State Natural Area, and the Lakeshore Trail's Mainland Unit that starts at Meyer's Beach.
- There's another offshore attraction near Bayfield: Madeline Island, the largest and most developed of the Apostle Islands. Madeline Island is home to Big Bay State Park, a great place to hike, swim, and enjoy the scenery.
- Some great waterfalls in the Bayfield area include Houghton Falls at the Houghton Falls Nature Preserve and Lost Creek Falls.
- The Apostle Islands offer just one set of water-based adventures in the area. Sailing on Lake Superior is another of the most popular things to do in Bayfield, WI - and with the endless views and sunsets you can enjoy from the water, it's easy to see why!
- When the weather warms up, dip in Lake Superior's cooling waters at Bayfield's local beaches, such as Reiten's Boatyard Beach or Friendly Valley Beach, which offers exquisite views of Madeline and Long Islands.
- Attending the town's signature events, such as the Festival of the Arts in September, is one of the top things to do in Bayfield, WI. Other signature events include Bayfield in Bloom each June and the Bayfield Apple Festival in October.
- Though Mt. Ashwabay is a great place to enjoy various snowsports each winter, it's also fantastic to visit the rest of the year! Warm summer days offer plenty of mountain biking and hiking, too.
- Speaking of Mt. Ashwabay, one of the most popular things to do in Bayfield, WI is to visit Mt. Ashwabay's Big Top Chautauqua, which features a summer full of live music and other fun events.
- Explore the exciting exhibits and learn more about water's critical role in Bayfield's history at the Bayfield Maritime Museum.
- Artists will love the charming art galleries found throughout downtown Bayfield.
- Tour the beautiful lighthouses of the Bayfield Peninsula, one of the top-rated things to do in Bayfield, WI.
- As the Berry Capital of Wisconsin, you can't miss the opportunity to tour the berry orchards around the Bayfield Peninsula. In the fall, our attention turns to apple picking and fun at local orchards. You can also find plenty of delicious locally-grown foods at the Bayfield Farmers Market.
- With so many fruit orchards in the area, it's probably no surprise that several wineries, cideries, breweries, and distilleries are also in the Bayfield area!
- Finally, last but certainly not least of the best things to do in Bayfield, WI is biking. The area has some fantastic trails, including mountain biking trails and road routes on and off the Apostle Islands.
Where to Stay in Bayfield: Old Rittenhouse Inn
Visit the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
If kayaking through sea caves and marveling at jaw-dropping scenery is at the top of your list of things to do in Wisconsin this year, then the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is the place for you. The Apostle Islands offer some of the best kayaking in North America, let alone Wisconsin - and visiting this treasured archipelago is, without a doubt, one of the most popular things to do in Bayfield, WI.
As you navigate your boat along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, you'll find yourself marveling at arches whittled away over centuries by mother nature and weaving your way in and out of sea caves, and passageways water has carved out from the sandstone cliffs. Meanwhile, you'll be treated to nothing but the sounds of water gently slapping against the shore and the call of birds and other wildlife.
Though you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Apostle Islands on your own, it's best to travel on a guided kayaking adventure, as the weather and conditions can change rapidly. It's truly easy to see why the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has garnered such a sought-after reputation - but kayaking isn't the only thing to do out there. There are plenty of great things to do in the Apostle Islands, from fishing to scuba diving.
In total, there are 21 islands in the archipelago filled with sea caves, lighthouses, and plenty of things to do. Besides Madeline Island, accessed by the Madeline Island Ferry from downtown Bayfield, the Apostle Islands can only be reached by boat.
With so much on offer, it's easy to see why you'll need a few days to explore the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, let alone all the rest of the great things to do in Bayfield, WI! Luckily, staying at our Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast in the area guarantees you a comfortable, welcoming place to stay with exceptional hospitality. Book your getaway today!