This past weekend my husband and I took a mini vacation to Madeline Island. It’s about 5.5 hours north of Madison with a population of only 220 year round residents. I had never been there, but my husband grew up in Park Falls which is only a couple of hours away, so he had visited this quaint, relaxing island before. We’ve been wanting to make the trip and finally bit the bullet and hit the road. My quick explanation of the island is Wisconsin’s version of the Hamptons, but clearly without the real estate value. In order to get to the island you have to take the Madeline Ferry Line from Bayfield, WI. Cars pull right up onto the ferry and it runs every half hour. The 20 minute ride is a perfect way to take in some beautiful scenery.
When we arrived Friday afternoon we were driving up the main street and I decided I felt like I was in a scene from the movie The Descendants, replacing the palm trees for pine trees. There is not much to do on the island, but it’s an outdoorsy person’s dream. You can rent kayaks, bikes, mopeds, hike, and swim. If we had one more day I think we would have rented something, but we decided to hike in the state part and just relax the rest of our time there.
We stayed at The Inn on Madeline Island and it was perfect. We had our own balcony with a beautiful view of Lake Superior. The inside was really nice with a craftsman’s style decor. There was a private beach and pool for those staying at the Inn.
The shopping on the island is restricted to just local vendors and artists. There are no touristy like shops, which was really neat. The island has three bars on it and of course my husband and I visited each one. The Beach Club was a great place to hang out during the day because it was right on the beach and it was fun to watch all the boats come in and out. They had great food, entertainment and service. The Pub is another bar/restaurant and it’s part of the Inn hotel. They had wonderful food and a full menu, not just bar food. The last place is a place I will never forget. It’s Tom’s Burnt Down Cafe and it is by far the craziest place I have ever been to. We had read online that you need to go and experience it first hand. We loved it and spent both evenings there throughly entertained. They have live music every night and it’s a place for the truly open minded. A lot of…should I say transients, are patrons at the bar. In fact, for $2 you can use their “showers”. The “building” is a huge tent and a bunch of sheds and “stuff” piled high around the area. I am not even sure my picture does it justice, but it’s a very strange, crazy, and fun place to be. When we were leaving one night I set my drink on a table and a woman working there asked if it was my drink. I said yes and she told me, “if you aren’t getting into a car, you are fine on the island…take it with you”. The only other place I have been to where you can drink cocktails in public is Las Vegas, but as we learned quickly, it’s island time and there isn’t much to fret about there.
We spent Saturday walking the parks. There are two of them on the island. Big Bay State park and Big Bay Town Park. They are both so pretty. The state park had a boardwalk built throughout it for biking and walking. There were plenty of swimming areas and beaches too. There is so much wildlife you never know what you may see. We spotted two baby fawns eating right off of the road. They were adorable. My father-in-law is a retired DNR Warden so I’ve learned that a baby deer’s mother is never too far away. They can see their young at all times. But since baby deer are born without a scent, it’s safer for the mother to leave from time to time, so a predator doesn’t smell them. We didn’t stay too long, so as not to frighten them, but I was able to capture a couple of pictures.
This was the perfect getaway and we will most definitely be going back. The island is relaxing, friendly, and so beautiful. If you ever get the chance to go north, I highly recommend Madeline Island. You will forget that you are still in Wisconsin and come home wanting more island time. Have you taken any fun trips this summer?