10 Bayfield Secrets Only the Locals Know
This is part of a series of posts written in collaboration with Bayfield Chamber of Commerce + Visitor Bureau. Come 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.
Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a local organization that helps support the Park in various ways, including fundraising, education and providing volunteers for much needed work on the Islands. When volunteers are needed, the Friends help get the word out via their volunteer email list, which gives you the opportunity to vist the Islands and do good, at the same time. Recent opportunities have included planting beach grasses at the Oak Island sand spit and stabilizing the lakeshore with live stakes on Sand Island. Visit their website + send them a note via the Contact button, requesting to be added to their volunteer list.
two - Bayfield Farmers Market
Every Saturday morning the Farmers Market sets up shop on South First Street, in downtown Bayfield. You can find everything from fresh berries to sauerkraut, maple syrup to vegan sweet treats, all grown and produced locally. The market runs from 8:45am to noon from June through mid-October.
Fun bit of insider knowledge: Do you wonder why the market starts at 8:45am instead of the more traditional 9am? Well, many of the shops in downtown Bayfield open at 9am. So the 15 minute head start allows the locals to stop in and buy their weekly produce before they open their businesses for the morning.
three - Berry Farm & Orchard report
Bayfield is the Berry Capital of Wisconsin. Our location near Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands creates a unique micro-climate that is perfect for fruits and berries. Starting with the strawberry harvest in late June, we’ve got fresh goodies available until the apple harvest wraps up in late October.
Berries are best when harvested at the peak of ripeness, which can be a tricky thing to keep track of. That’s where the “Berry Farm and Orchard Report” comes in. The staff at the Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau call each of the 15 berry farms and orchards twice weekly during the summer months and get information on what is currently available and what’s coming up next. The report details all of your options, pick-your-own, pre-picked and frozen. Once the apple harvest begins, which is usually late August, they also detail the different types of apples that are available. So whether you want the perennial favorites like Honeycrisp or MacIntosh, or you are looking for old time, heirloom varieties like Northern Spy or Maidenblush, you will find the info all in one place.
four - September is a great time to visit
Bayfield is an excellent summertime destination - there’s lots to see and do, the days are long and the water is cool. But because of our location on Lake Superior, the weather stays summer-like later into the autumn season than other places in northern Wisconsin.
The shops, restaurants and attractions all stay open through Apple Festival, which always begins on the first Friday of October - and is hardly a local secret - but the crowds thin out dramatically after Labor Day. Apple harvest is in full swing and many of the berry farms also have raspberries and other local produce available.
five - Roast days at Big Water coffee
Big Water Coffee Roasters in downtown Bayfield has a great little cafe, offering baked goods, soups, salads and specialty tea and coffee drinks. But they also roast their own beans, which are available for sale on site and at retailers and cafes throughout the midwest. They have several signature and seasonal blends, along with a handful of Single Origin beans.
Big Water roasts 60,000 lbs. of coffee beans every year and they do it every Monday and Wednesday afternoon. The roaster is located in the back of the cafe, with a big window for viewing the process. Stop by and see the magic happen.
six - Daily tastings at the wineries
Bayfield is home to three wineries: Bayfield Winery, Seven Ponds Winery and Pikes Creek Winery. Both Bayfield Winery and Pikes Creek Winery specialize in fruit wines, using fruits and berries grown in Bayfield. Seven Ponds Winery offers grape wines, and they just planted an experiemental vineyard - the first in the region - which will begin producing in the next few years.
seven - Explore the Old Rittenhouse Inn
The Old Rittenhouse Inn is a landmark that defines the region. This stately Queen Anne Victorian mansion overlooks Bayfield, the Apostle Islands and Lake Superior. The first Bed & Breakfast in Wisconsin, it is part of the heart and soul of Bayfield. The first floor of the building is home to the award-winning Landmark restaurant, which offers its signature 5-course dinner showcasing regional cuisine, along with breakfast and lunch options that are second to none.
And of course, the rooms are available to rent during your stay in Bayfield. Elaborately decorated, each one is different, staying true to the building’s past as a “summer cottage.” Want to see them all? The Old Rittenhouse Inn is open for self guided tours between check-out time and check-in time for guests. Stop by the front desk, just inside the main entrance between 11:30am and 1:30pm to get a behind the scenes view of one of the most spectacular properties in the midwest.
eight - Hike the sea caves
The sea caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are world famous. The soaring sandstone cliffs are accessible by kayak and boat charter during the warmer months. And in wintertime, when conditions are right, they can be explored on foot when the ice freezes thick enough to allow passage.
But that’s not the only way to see them! There is a public hiking trail called the Lakeshore Trail that runs along the upper rim of the caves, providing a perspective that is fantastic and awe inspiring. And also a great vantage point to wave to all the tiny kayakers below! The trail is open year round, and winds its way through the mainlain unit of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, crossing streams and ravines along the way.
The trailhead is located at the Meyer’s Beach parking lot, which is also where the kayak tours depart. There is a $5 parking fee and the route is roughly 3-8 miles round-trip, depending upon how many of the caves you want to see. The caves become visible about 1 mile into the hike and continue on for a couple of miles. There are a lot of ups and downs on this trail, so be sure to wear good hiking shoes.
nine - Winebread at the Candy Shoppe
Winebread? Yes, winebread! Think kringle meets pastry, with a little bit of magic thrown in. Try it and you will understand why their hashtag is #WhereTheWinesbreadsAre
ten - Apple Cider Donuts at Erickson’s Orchard
Another Bayfield delicacy, available at the Erickson’s Orchard Country Store, made fresh daily and available singly or by the dozen. This year they have added another option, strawberry apple cider donuts, which have proven to be a hit amongst locals and visitors alike.
eleven - Cooking with Lars
This is a great new offering in Bayfield and a perfect complement to the local foods that are available in the region. Lars Dukowitz’s background in the culinary arts ranges from deli manager to baker, US Navy galley captain to a 5-year appointment as Chef de Cuisine at Bayfield’s own Wild Rice Restaurant. He recently unveiled his new endeavor, Cooking With Lars, offering private and small group cooking classes that range from knife skills to tapas and pizzas on the grill.
With a special focus on local and seasonal ingredients, these classes provide an excellent way to round out your Bayfield experience and add to your own abilities too!