10 Madeline Island Secrets Only the Locals Know


This is part of a series of posts written in collaboration with Bayfield Chamber of Commerce + Visitor BureauCome learn more about Bayfield at Northerly Collective's Pop-Up Truck event with Big Water Coffee + Bayfield Tea Company this coming Sunday, August 6th from 8am to 2pm in Koller Park in Manitowish Waters. Event details available here


one - Scenic overlook at Big Bay Town Park

First off, if you are on the fence about bringing your car or bike to Madeline Island, do it. Either that or rent bikes or mopeds once you arrive, because a trip to the Island is not complete with seeing the spectacular scenic overlook at the Big Bay Town Park.

On the Island, head out on Airport Road/Big Bay Road - the Town Park is about six miles from the village of La Pointe. Once you arrive, follow the signage to the parking lot and then make the short walk to the overlook which has views of Lake Superior and the Big Bay Lagoon. It’s a beautiful and inspiring vista, you just have to see it for yourself and you will immediately know that you are in the right place.

Follow the path down a flight of stairs, cross the wooden bridge and you will find yourself at a 1.5 mile long beach, perfect for swimming, sunbathing and picnicking.   


two - Bell Street Gallery and Island Eats Food Truck

This eclectic gallery is tucked away in downtown La Pointe, but is still just steps away from everything town has to offer. If you can find Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, the Bell Street Gallery is right across the street. Look for the colorful flags and bright blue exterior.

Inside you will find beautiful art, an open-air pottery garden and the ARTBAR - Wisconsin’s smallest bar. It is also home to The Island Boutique, featuring wearable hand-made, locally designed and created clothing.

Be sure to stop in and grab a snack at Island Eats Food Truck, parked next to the gallery. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, they use local ingredients in innovative ways. The spicy rice bowl is highly recommended.

three - Hike the trails at Big Bay State Park

Big Bay State Park, which is at the southern end of the Big Bay Beach, has an excellent network of hiking trails that allow you to explore the sandstone formations that hug the Lake Superior shore. They are similar to the sea caves near Meyer’s Beach, but smaller and more accessible. The trails are all easy to moderate.   


four - Lip Sync Battles at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe

Tom’s Burned Down Cafe is a must-see on Madeline Island. The original bar burned down and the current iteration rose from its ashes, unlike anything else you’ve ever seen. Decorated with hand-painting quotes, found art and more, it is sure to make an impression. 

The Burned Down often has live music, but the Lip Sync Battles are the stuff of legend. Watch the contestants battle it out, oftentimes in full costumes that pay homage to original singers, along with choreographed routines. 


five - Fall Fest

This event lands on the third weekend in October and is a great time to take advantage of the fall weather and vivid fall colors. The ferry ride between Madeline Island and Bayfield pffers amazing views of the autumn foliage.

Madeline Island’s Fall Fest features local food and craft vendors, along with events and demonstrations at local businesses.


six - Madeline Island Summer Film Series

Three nights of outdoor film and music on the beach at Madeline Island! What a perfect way to spend a summer evening. This film festival presents a thoughtfully curated program of new and noteworth independent films from around the world, focusing on works with “island spirit.”

2018 will be the seventh season and the series continues to evolve and impress. Special events in 2017 included appearances by John Munson (of Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic, The New Standards) and Winona LaDuke.


seven - Madeline Island Candles

This store and workshop is located in downtown La Pointe, directly across from the ferry landing. All the candles are made on Madeline Island with environmentally friendly materials and fragrances. They offer a wide variety of scents,including Sun-Ripened Raspberry, Cedarwood & Cinnamon and Lilac. 


eight - Art workshops at Madeline Island School of the Arts

Ranked among the top five art and craft schools in the nation, their Madeline Island campus is located on the site of the historic Sandstrom Dairy Farm. The original farmhouse has been fully renovated and serves as lodging for the course instructors. The rest of the buildings are new and have been custom designed to host the week-long workshops in writing, painting, quilting, fiber arts, photography and yoga.

nine - Walking Tours

Pick up the Madeline Island Walking Tours brochure at any of the information kiosks in Bayfield and Madeline Island. It’s free and highlights four different ways to explore the Island. Each walk points out landmarks and special places that are open to the public. 


ten - Sunsets at the Pub

The perfect spot to catch a sunset is at the Pub on Madeline Island. Featuring an outstanding wine list and a full bar with island-themed contacts, it’s the ideal way to end your Madeline Island day.


(Bonus Tip) eleven - Bilingual Signage

Madeline Island is the spiritual homeland of the Ojibwe people, who settled in the area in the mid-1400’s. Their name for the island is Mooningwanekaaning-minis, or Home of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker. bilingual signage madeline island All of the public signage on Madeline Island is bilingual, written in both English and Ojibwe.


getting there


Thanks to @kelleylinehan for our thumbnail phot

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