For timeless lakeside charms, the small town of Bayfield, set serenely near the tip of land jutting out into dark blue Lake Superior depths, shouldn't be missed. This is also the scenic end of WI 13 as it meanders on through from Superior, a route that achieves, at plenty of points along the way, postcard proportions. Bayfield itself won't disappoint, and has enough charisma to entice visitors into lingering on longer than it takes to find the ferry Apostle Islands bound.
Sailing ships and shadowed island shapes break the Lake Superior horizon stretched out beyond Bayfield on a sunny day. If you're looking for things to do in town, stop at the Heritage Museum, wander through the Bayfield Maritime Museum, and catch, if you can, a summer performance in the big blue tent, Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua.
For a spot of exercise, rent bicycles and peddle scenic routes winding along through the interior, or, in winter, test runs and cross-country ski trails at the Mt Ashwabay Ski Area. Dog-sledding and snowshoeing are also popular cold-weather pursuits, and accessible to interested visitors.
Though a trip out to the Apostle Islands is a must, it's easy to get time on the water closer to hand, hopping charter excursions for an afternoon of fishing, or kayaking, in fine weather, around Bayfield or out to the islands.
It's an enlightening introduction to the lakes that travelers will find when stopping in at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, south of Bayfield and just west of Ashland. Leave time for a tour on your way in to Ashland, where a megalith-like iron ore dock awaits, a reminder of this region's industrial past. Now more ecologically minded, Ashland is home to the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute of Northland College ? wander through during term time to learn more and see some nature-friendly art. Get in a bit of fresh air strolling trail stretches of the Tri-County Recreation Trail, splashing about in the lake on sunny days, or checking out the numerous waterfalls gushing through the region.
Bayfield is 77 miles, along WI 13, from Superior, and 23 miles from Ashland.