Headquartered in the charming resort village of Bayfield (on the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior), this preserve includes 22 islands, six lighthouses, old brownstone quarries and a preserved fishing camp. It offers a chance to slow the pace of your travels a bit—just relax, do a little fishing, a little boating. If you don't have your own watercraft, you'll need to take one of several available boat tours—the islands in the preserve are not accessible by auto.
Cars are allowed on the ferry to Madeline Island—though it's not part of the National Lakeshore, it is a popular summer destination and the largest of the Apostle Islands. Bus tours of the island are available, and sailboat charters leave from the marina. The Madeline Island Historical Museum stands on the site of a trading post from the 1700s. The Madeline Island Golf Club has an 18-hole course. Big Bay State Park is one of the island's best places to relax and walk the sandy beaches. Though most visitors see the island during the summer months, it's also possible to visit Madeline Island in the winter. You get there by car—once the ice on Lake Superior is 2 ft/60 cm thick, you can drive from the mainland to the island. (State maintenance workers keep the snow on the ice plowed in the winter.) From Madeline, you can cross-country ski, ride a snowmobile or even take a dogsled to the other islands.
In Bayfield (on the mainland), stop to learn about the area's fishing and boatbuilding history at the Bayfield Maritime Museum. Plan to attend the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua, an old-fashioned tent show that stages plays, concerts and music during the summer. A walking tour of the town will take you to 50 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Many of these now house bed-and-breakfasts, and there are also plenty of boutiques, specialty shops and restaurants downtown. Be sure to try whitefish livers, the local delicacy: You'll be surprised at how good they taste. The Bayfield Winery offers tours and tastings. http://www.nps.gov/apis. 400 mi/640 km northwest of Milwaukee.
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