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Madeline Island is a not-so hidden gem located in the Apostle Islands of Wisconsin. This beautiful island offers a unique blend of history, art, outdoor activities, and local cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or an adventurous vacation, there are tons of things to do in Madeline Island WI and it has something for everyone.
Visitors can immerse themselves in history by visiting the Madeline Island Museum, which showcases the island’s rich cultural heritage. Art enthusiasts can explore the island’s galleries and cultivate their artistic spirit.
The island also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking, swimming, and golfing. Visitors can also indulge in delicious local fare served up with a side of lakeshore views, shop unique local boutiques, and attend local events and concerts.
History of Madeline Island
Madeline Island is located in Lake Superior and is the largest of the Apostle Islands. The island has a rich history that dates back to 1500 A.D when it was first settled by the Chippewa Indians . The island was later discovered by French explorers in the 17th century, who named it “Isle de Madeleine” after Mary Magdalene.
The island was a hub for the fur trade and was an important trading post for the French and British. In the mid-1800s, the island became a popular destination for wealthy Americans who built summer homes and resorts on the island.
Today, visitors to Madeline Island can explore and experience its history in many ways. The most comprehensive exploration of Island history can be found at the Madeline Island Historical Museum. The museum features four historic structures that combine to form the heart of this modern museum, featuring fascinating artifacts and engaging exhibits telling Ojibwe, French, British, and American stories.
In addition to the museum, visitors can also take a walking tour of the island’s historic sites, including the Old Mission and the La Pointe Indian Cemetery. The island’s history is also celebrated during the annual Madeline Island Family Fall Fest, which features historical reenactments, live music, and local food.
Whether you’re interested in Native American history, French and British colonization, or the island’s more recent history as a summer destination, Madeline Island offers a wealth of historical sites and experiences for visitors to explore.
Getting to Madeline Island
The most common way to get to Madeline Island is by ferry. The Madeline Island Ferry Line operates from Bayfield, WI to Madeline Island daily. The ferry ride is about 25 minutes long and offers stunning views of Lake Superior.
The ferry can accommodate both vehicles and pedestrians. It is recommended to arrive at least 30 minutes before departure time to ensure a spot on the ferry. The ferry schedule can be found on the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce website.
By Private Boat
Another way to get to Madeline Island is by private boat. There are several marinas on the island that offer dockage and other services. It is important to note that Lake Superior can be unpredictable and weather conditions can change quickly.
It is recommended to check the weather forecast before departing and to have the necessary safety equipment on board. The Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce website has a list of marinas on the island.
Overall, getting to Madeline Island is relatively easy and straightforward. Whether by ferry or private boat, visitors will be rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the opportunity to explore all that the island has to offer.
Madeline Island is a beautiful destination with plenty of attractions for visitors to explore. Here are some of the top attractions to check out during your stay:
Big Bay State Park
Located on the southern tip of Madeline Island, Big Bay State Park is a must-visit attraction. This park boasts miles of sandy beaches, hiking trails, and stunning views of Lake Superior. Visitors can explore the park’s diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and sand dunes. There are also picnic areas, a playground, and a nature center for visitors to enjoy.
Madeline Island Museum
For history buffs, the Madeline Island Museum is a must-visit attraction. This museum showcases the island’s rich history and culture, from the Ojibwe people who first inhabited the area to the French fur traders who arrived in the 17th century. Visitors can explore exhibits on local art, archaeology, and maritime history. The museum also offers guided tours of historic sites on the island.
Woods Hall Craft Shop
If you’re looking for unique souvenirs or gifts, be sure to check out the Woods Hall Craft Shop. This shop features a wide selection of handmade crafts, including pottery, jewelry, and textiles. Visitors can watch local artists at work and purchase one-of-a-kind items to take home. The shop also hosts workshops and classes for those interested in learning more about traditional crafts.
Whether you’re interested in nature, history, or art, Madeline Island has something for everyone. Be sure to check out these top attractions during your visit.
Madeline Island is a beautiful place to explore the great outdoors. The island offers a variety of outdoor activities that cater to all levels of fitness and experience. Here are some of the best outdoor activities to do on Madeline Island.
Madeline Island has some great hiking trails that offer stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding forests. One of the most popular hiking trails on the island is the Big Bay State Park Trail. This trail is a 3.5-mile loop that takes you through the park’s forests and along the shoreline of Lake Superior. Another great hiking trail on the island is the Boardwalk Trail, which is a 1.5-mile trail that takes you through the wetlands and offers great views of the wildlife.
Biking is a great way to explore Madeline Island. The island has several bike rental shops that offer a variety of bikes, including mountain bikes, road bikes, and electric bikes. One of the best bike trails on the island is the Madeline Island Bike Trail, which is a 6.2-mile trail that takes you through the forests and along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the lake.
Kayaking is a popular activity on Madeline Island, and there are several places where you can rent kayaks. One of the best places to kayak on the island is the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The lakeshore offers a variety of kayaking routes that take you through the islands and offer stunning views of the shoreline.
Another great place to kayak on the island is the Madeline Island Sea Caves. The sea caves are a series of caves and arches that are carved into the sandstone cliffs along the shoreline of Lake Superior. Kayaking through the sea caves is a unique and unforgettable experience.
Whether you prefer hiking, biking, or kayaking, Madeline Island has something for everyone. So, get out there and explore the great outdoors!
Madeline Island is a foodie’s paradise with plenty of options for both locals and visitors. The island prides itself on locally sourced ingredients, and you can taste the difference in every bite. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a fine dining experience, Madeline Island has something for everyone.
One of the best ways to experience the local cuisine is by visiting the Madeline Island Farmers Market. The market is held every Friday from 9 am to 12 pm at the Community Garden. Here you can find fresh produce, homemade jams and jellies, artisanal bread, and much more. It’s a great way to support local farmers and get a taste of the island’s freshest ingredients.
Madeline Island has plenty of dining options, from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants. Here are a few of the best local restaurants:
- The Pub at the Inn on Madeline: This restaurant is known for its fish boil, a classic Wisconsin tradition. The whitefish is cooked over an open fire and served with potatoes, onions, and coleslaw. The Pub also offers a variety of other seafood dishes, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
- Farmhouse: This farm-to-table restaurant focuses on locally sourced ingredients and has a menu that changes frequently based on what’s in season. The restaurant also has an extensive wine list and craft cocktail menu.
- Cafe Seiche: This cozy cafe serves breakfast and lunch and is known for its homemade pastries and bread. The menu features classic cafe fare, such as quiches, sandwiches, and salads.
- Mission Hill Coffee House: This coffee shop serves up some of the best coffee on the island, as well as baked goods and light breakfast and lunch fare. The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, making it the perfect spot to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee.
No matter where you choose to eat on Madeline Island, you’re sure to have a delicious meal made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
If you’re planning a trip to Madeline Island, you’ll need a place to stay. Fortunately, there are plenty of accommodation options available on the island. Here are some of the most popular choices:
There are several hotels on Madeline Island, ranging from budget-friendly options to more luxurious accommodations. Some of the most popular hotels include:
- Chateau Madeline
- Ferry Landing Suites
- Inn on Madeline Island
- The Beach Club at Big Bay Town Park
All of these hotels offer comfortable rooms and convenient amenities, such as free Wi-Fi, on-site restaurants, and easy access to the island’s attractions.
Bed and Breakfast
If you’re looking for a more personalized experience, a bed and breakfast might be a perfect choice. Madeline Island has several charming B&Bs, including:
- The Old Rittenhouse Inn
- The Inn at Madeline Island
- The Pinehurst Inn
These B&Bs offer cozy rooms, homemade breakfasts, and friendly hosts who can offer tips on exploring the island.
For a more independent experience, consider renting a vacation home or condo on Madeline Island. There are many options available, from cozy cottages to spacious beachfront properties. Some popular vacation rental companies include:
- Madeline Island Vacations
- Lake House Vacations
- Get-A-Way Condos & Rental Homes
Vacation rentals offer the flexibility to cook your own meals, enjoy private outdoor spaces, and truly feel like you’re at home on the island.
No matter what type of accommodation you choose, be sure to book early, especially during peak travel seasons. With so much to see and do on Madeline Island, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable and convenient home base for your adventures.
Events and Festivals
Madeline Island is a hub of cultural activity, with a variety of events and festivals happening throughout the year. Whether you’re interested in music, art, food, or outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the most popular events on the island is the annual Fall Fest, which takes place in early October. This three-day festival features live music, arts and crafts vendors, food and drink, and a parade. It’s a great way to celebrate the arrival of autumn and enjoy the beautiful fall foliage.
If you’re a fan of running, the Madeline Island Marathon and Half Marathon is a must-attend event. This race takes place in late May and offers stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding islands. There are also shorter races available for those who prefer a less strenuous option.
For art lovers, the “WOW” Open Art Studio and Gallery Weekend is a can’t-miss event. This three-day event takes place in late July and showcases the work of local artists in their working studios. It’s a great opportunity to meet the artists, learn about their techniques, and purchase unique pieces of art.
Other events throughout the year include live music performances, theater productions, and food and drink festivals. Be sure to check the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce’s events calendar for the most up-to-date information on what’s happening on the island.
Overall, Madeline Island is a vibrant community with a rich cultural scene. Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, there’s plenty of things to do in Madeline Island WI that are new and exciting.
Madeline Island offers a variety of shopping opportunities for visitors to explore. From locally crafted items to unique specialty stores, there is something for everyone.
One of the must-visit stores on the island is Madeline Island Candles. This store offers handmade candles in a variety of scents and sizes. Visitors can also purchase other scented products such as lotions, soaps, and diffusers. Stone’s Throw is another store worth visiting, offering locally crafted items such as pottery, soap, candles, hats, and mittens.
Up North is a clothing store that offers a selection of men’s and women’s clothing. Visitors can also find jewelry, hats, and other accessories in this store. The store has received mixed reviews, so it may be worth checking out if you are interested in clothing.
For those looking for more shopping options, the Tanger Outlet Mall in the Wisconsin Dells is a great destination. This mall has a variety of stores ranging from apparel and shoes to gifts and unique specialty stores. With plenty of coffee shops, candy stores, and snack stops along the way, visitors can shop to their heart’s content.
Overall, Madeline Island offers a unique shopping experience for visitors. Whether you are looking for handmade candles or locally crafted items, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Final Thoughts on Things to Do in Madeline Island WI
Madeline Island is a hidden gem in Wisconsin that offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy. From exploring the outdoors to immersing yourself in history, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island.
Some of the top things to do on Madeline Island include visiting Big Bay State Park, hiking the trails, biking around the island, and enjoying the sandy beaches. The island also offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and sailing, as well as golfing at the Madeline Island Golf Club.
For those interested in history, the Madeline Island Museum and the La Pointe Historic District are must-see attractions. Visitors can also take a tour of the island on the Madeline Island Ferry Line or attend one of the island’s many events, such as the Madeline Island Marathon or the Annual Bayfield Apple Festival.
Overall, Madeline Island is a wonderful destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the beauty of nature. Whether you’re traveling with family, friends, or solo, there’s no shortage of things to do and see on this charming island.
Frequently Asked Questions about Things to Do in Madeline Island WI
What are some popular restaurants on Madeline Island?
Madeline Island has a variety of restaurants to choose from, including cafes, bistros, and pubs. Some of the popular restaurants on the island include The Pub Restaurant & Wine Bar, Cafe Seiche, Grandpa Tony’s, and The Beach Club at Big Bay Town Park.
What are some things to do in Bayfield, WI that are close to Madeline Island?
Bayfield, WI is the gateway to Madeline Island and offers a variety of activities and attractions. Visitors can explore the Bayfield Maritime Museum, take a guided tour of the historic Bayfield area, or visit the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Visitor Center. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the trails at nearby Meyers Beach or enjoy a scenic drive along the Lake Superior shoreline.
What is the Madeline Island Ferry schedule?
The Madeline Island Ferry Line operates year-round, with varying schedules depending on the season. Visitors can check the ferry schedule online or by calling the ferry office for the most up-to-date information.
How long does it take to get to Madeline Island by boat?
The ferry ride from Bayfield to Madeline Island takes approximately 20-25 minutes each way, depending on weather and lake conditions.
What are some popular activities on Madeline Island?
Madeline Island offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including hiking, biking, kayaking, and fishing. Visitors can also explore the island’s art galleries and museums, or relax on one of the island’s many beaches.
What is the Madeline Island Museum and what exhibits does it have?
The Madeline Island Museum is a cultural and historical museum that showcases the island’s rich history and heritage. Exhibits include artifacts from the Ojibwe people, early European settlers, and the island’s maritime history. Visitors can also learn about the island’s famous residents, including writer Laura Ingalls Wilder.