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The Short Version: Bayfield, Wisconsin offers a picturesque getaway for couples. Visitors will enjoy outdoor activities for every season, from hiking to kayaking in massive Lake Superior. The city has plenty of excellent places to dine and drink, no matter your preferences. With a strong sense of local culture, history, and community, Bayfield is the perfect place to travel with your partner.
Lake Superior, the largest fresh-water lake in the world, is home to stunning rock arches, cliffs, and distinct ecosystems. Known for its marvelously blue waters and breathtaking views, this long coastline is known among adventure seekers as offering some of the most exquisite natural beauty in North America.
At the northernmost tip of Wisconsin is Bayfield, a welcoming town with diverse experiences for couples in search of a romantic getaway. Small but mighty, Bayfield offers adventure-savvy couples a cozy homebase while they immerse themselves in the rich culture and explore the outdoor attractions that surround the city.
While Bayfield may be best known for its close proximity to 22 Apostle Islands and boundless outdoor activities, the city itself is filled with historical landmarks. Visitors will find educational cultural opportunities and delicious hand-crafted cuisine at the city’s many restaurants.
This is what Kati Anderson, Public Relations Manager for the Bayfield Chamber and Visitors Bureau, said sets Bayfield apart as a city of eclectic and intimate experiences. She detailed a few of the extensive activities available to couples in search of an idyllic escape.
Bayfield offers so much for couples looking for intimacy and romance whether it be for the perfect shoreside summer honeymoon or a bundled-up winter getaway.
Diverse seasons make Bayfield the ideal city for couples to escape to year-round. Couples seeking hiking, kayaking, swimming, and sunny 70-degree days should aim to visit in the summer, when outdoor activities are most accessible. Summer is the busiest season in Bayfield and the prime time for guided excursions and tours.
“Tours give visitors an up close and personal experience,” Kati said. “Boat tours along the lakeshore will give couples up-close views of delicate arches, vaulted chambers and honeycombed passageways of sandstone cliffs along the Bayfield Peninsula.”
Apostle Island Cruise Service runs tours in the summer season, with opportunities to travel to several islands, camp overnight, and tour by kayak. The Grand Evening Tour, which runs regularly June 17-Sept. 3, is a great idea for couples who want views of dreamy sunsets, the largest and most complete collection of historic lighthouses, and marine life, complete with expert narration throughout the three-hour tour.
Changing leaves, transforming landscapes, and the yearly Apple Festival make for the ideal autumn retreat in Bayfield. The festival will be held Oct. 6-8 in 2023, offering three days of crisp, apple-picking fun that includes local vendors and even a crowning of the Apple Festival King or Queen.
Couples looking for time away may opt for a long walk or hike through the vibrant backdrop of orange, red, and yellow leaves. Take a ride on the Madeline Island Ferry, which connects Bayfield with nearby Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands.
Couples can enjoy the gorgeous lake views, delectable food and drinks, or a quiet and informative trip to the Madeline Island Museum, where visitors learn about the small historical island. Couples looking for stellar views of the iconic Lake Superior sandstone bluffs should head to Big Bay State Park, located on Madeline Island.
Wintertime offers cold-weather experiences for truly adventurous (and frost-resistant!) couples, including trail hikes, snowshoe excursions, and views of the incredible ice caves. Kati noted that the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Trail is one of the best access points for couples to view iced-over sea caves on foot.
Less than 10 minutes from the city center, Mt. Ashwabay has bike routes and 12 downhill ski runs to satisfy couples in search of an adrenaline rush. The mountain regularly reports prime conditions for skiing and snowboarding in winter months and is a go-to destination for locals seeking snow adventure.
Couples will find refuge after long days of outdoor adventure among the numerous Bayfield restaurants, bars, stores, and breweries that offer a mix of elevated and casual food and drink experiences. Whether couples are looking for multicourse fine dining or relaxed bar bites and brews, Bayfield can deliver.
Kati says there are many cozy bed and breakfasts around the Bayfield area providing a romantic place for your engagement, honeymoon or anniversary.
Consider checking out the Rittenhouse Inn. The bed and breakfast’s two Queen Anne Victorian homes include the award-winning Landmark Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with handcrafted cocktails and five-course dining options. Defined by casual elegance, this restaurant and historic homes are perfect for couples looking for an elevated but unpretentious experience with exceptional customer service.
Couples looking to grab a one-of-a-kind, locally made wine or beer will find a wide variety among the smattering of bars in Bayfield. The Creamery Bar is the city’s newest bar and offers couples late-night eats and an extensive beer, wine, and liquor menu.
If couples want to enjoy delicious and fresh locally sourced food over a romantic glass of wine, Kati recommended Copper Trout, a city-center restaurant that remains a cornerstone of Bayfield. Copper Trout’s menu is inspired by its geographic location near Lake Superior. It features local trout and whitefish for seafood dishes, seasonal berries in desserts and salads, and a rotating assortment of locally brewed beers on tap.
Copper Trout’s commitment to local and fresh food does not hinder the options on its menu, which includes standard American fare, traditional Italian classics, hand-tossed pizza, and fresh fish. Kati said Copper Trout is an ideal spot for an intimate anniversary date night or a celebratory glass of wine, and it’s perfect for couples who want the freshest of what Bayfield has to offer.
“If couples want to enjoy delicious and fresh locally sourced food over a romantic glass of wine,” Kati says, “there are several establishments in Bayfield with that atmosphere.”
Bayfield’s rich local culture highlights Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) tradition and the continued presence of Anishinaabe peoples. The history of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands is rooted in Ojibwe stewardship, culture, and continued influence, and Kati said you can tell this about Bayfield simply by looking around.
“The Anishinaabe First Nation’s culture is being studied, showcased, and preserved everywhere you turn,” Kati said. Bayfield Heritage Association is currently exhibiting a birch bark canoe crafted by Marvin Defoe, a member of the Red Cliff Anishinaabe, using the traditional construction of his ancestors.
The United State’s first tribal national park, Frog Bay, was reacquired in 2012 by the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa with preservation of Lake Superior and its shorelines in mind. Since then, the 300-acre area, which is home to the rare boreal forest ecotype, coastal wetlands, and sand beaches, offers an undeveloped and protected area where couples can experience views of five Apostle Islands.
For couples interested in local art, Art Escape is Bayfield’s yearly art festival. The festival, which spans nine days Sept. 9-17 this year, will feature the work of dozens of local woodworkers, painters, performers, and jewelers, among other artists. The fair features different artists, so visitors get a unique experience each day through demonstrations, live showcases, shopping, and do-it-yourself art giveaways. Art Escape is a perfect activity for couples who need a laid-back day — or days — built into their itinerary.
Couples visiting Bayfield in 2023 will find its two largest commercial industries, fishing and tourism, booming. “Whitefish is the main cuisine that has made award-winning fish fries and white fish liver platters,” said Kati in reference to the decades-old fishing industry. Couples looking to enjoy fresh and locally-sourced fish will be thrilled with the options available throughout the city.
Bayfield is full of opportunities for couples to experience the beauty of nature, local culture, and outdoor adventure. It is a destination like no other for couples to celebrate, connect, and create wonderful memories together amid Lake Superior’s stunning shoreline and incredible rock formations.