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Dog-Friendly Travel Guide to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Updated: Apr 25

Bayfield is Wisconsin’s smallest city, the state’s berry capital, and the gateway to the Apostle Islands. It has become one of my favorite destinations to explore. I love that even though the town is small, there is no shortage of outdoor adventures. You can explore the National Lakeshore on the waters of Lake Superior, on the islands, or via the mainland. Here are all my favorite Bayfield County recommendations for your Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Travel Guide!


Meyers beach sea caves with kayakers

Table of contents: Where to stay


STAY

The many cute inns and locally owned bed & breakfasts in Bayfield are definitely part of the town’s charm! In my two recent visits, we chose to camp at Apostle Islands Area Campground. It was very reasonably priced, but there are only a few tent sites accompanying their fun cabins and camper sites. The bathrooms were always clean, and they have the cutest camp store. Last summer, my sister and I stayed in their covered wagon! It has a queen bed, full bath, refrigerator, and even a coffee maker. It was such a unique experience! The campground is dog-friendly, but only if you are staying in a camper. Unfortunately, no pets are allowed while tent camping. The pet fee is only $3 per pet per night.



St. James Social is a stunning new boutique hotel in downtown Bayfield and has all the cozy vibes you need! They have one dog-friendly suite available and eight rooms total. Hotel guests have access to a sauna and cold shower. It’s a lovely way to unwind and even has views of Lake Superior! After the sauna, you can head up to the rooftop patio for more spectacular views of Bayfield & Lake Superior. Fuel up with coffee from the SJS guest coffee bar, or head down to the Social for espresso & pastries. In the Social (open to the public and hotel guests) they offer yummy, ever-changing dinner options on the weekends and wood-fired pizza on some weekdays. We got to try the enchanting roasted bone marrow, sweet potato gnocchi, and pan seared duck—everything was so delicious! SJS also offers a tasty selection of wine and local beers and has lots of space to relax— pack a game and enjoy the Social!



HIKE

Of course there is so much good hiking in this area, but I highly recommend Meyers Beach Sea Caves hike. It's about 5 miles total out and back, and you walk out to look down at the gorgeous sea caves that make this area famous. The colors were fantastic! This trail is on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and there is a small fee per car. I recommend having the hike open on All Trails as you go, as there are lots of great overlooks you won’t want to miss. The trail is pretty narrow at the beginning because you walk across planks, so be aware that if you have your pup it might be difficult to move over to let others pass. But it’s definitely worth it–the views are great!


Another highlight of our trip was definitely Lost Creek Falls. This is an easy 2 mile round trip out and back hike, and you can even walk behind the falls! It was amazing, and there is plenty of room for the pups to splash around and cool off, making for a great afternoon stop!


 


 


DRINK

As always, we did our best to drink locally in Bayfield. Adventure Club Brewing was right by the campground, is connected to a cool adventure store, and has fun sour beers. Their patio is dog-friendly and great for winding down in the evening after a day of exploring. They don’t serve food at the brewery, but there is a taco truck on the patio with some great options. If you’re looking for another good brewery, you could also make a stop in Washburn to check out South Shore Brewery. Both the taproom and the patio allow dogs, and they have a fun atmosphere and great beers!


We also love to stop at Bayfield Winery & Blue Ox Cider. This winery/cidery combo is set on the most beautiful, serene property. Their dog-friendly patio was the perfect place to sit and enjoy a flight of their unique wines and snack plate. The orchard views were gorgeous, and I loved the dry cider and live music too!


Another gem I highly recommend is Copper Crow Distillery. Copper Crow is the first Native-owned distillery, and they serve up some remarkable cocktails! They have a pretty outdoor space and covered patio that are dog-friendly, but you have to go in and order at the bar. Our group tried a variety of drinks and we were all impressed. I can’t wait to go back!


Looking for a place to grab a beer in town? The Creamery is what we would consider the friendly neighborhood dive bar in downtown Bayfield. They have a covered patio where the pups can join you for a brew and/or a game of cribbage.



DINE

I really loved Pickled Herring Lounge at Pier Plaza–great supper club vibes here. They have an awesome breaded fish fry, a huge dessert selection, and fun Old Fashioneds. (I recommend the black cherry one!) If you have your doggos with you, you are able to dine on their patio, which has a nice view of Lake Superior. We dined at the bar and the bartender, Frank, was fantastic. We met the sweetest local couple, Lynn & Mike, who filled us in on some local history and a bunch of places to add to our list to explore. Big shout out to Lynn and Mike! They really made my sister and me feel right at home in Bayfield.


A great stop after hiking Lost Creek Falls is The Cranberry over Superior. They have a very nice dog-friendly deck for you to eat at, but again you have to go in and order at the bar. They have a fun cocktail menu and I highly recommend the Maple Sriracha Chicken Sandwich. It was one of the best lunches I’ve had in a long time!


We have also checked out Good Thyme*, a local favorite. We were both impressed by the fish fry and Hayden enjoyed the ribeye. Highly recommended Good Thyme if you’re looking for supper club vibes in Bayfield County!

If you're looking for a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere, Manny Penny Bistro* had awesome thin crust pizza. They do not offer dog-friendly seating, but you could order to-go and dine in Halvor Reiten Park just a short distance away.


Wonderstate Coffee* is the only other non dog-friendly spot we visited, but it was the coffee shop of the trip! The vibes are good and they serve up some light breakfast options made right there in-house. I loved the hibiscus lemonade and hope they still have it on my next visit!



EXPLORE

I highly suggest finding a way to get out on the water during your time in Bayfield. A lot of people kayak to the Meyers Beach Sea Caves, but I recommend All Hands Sailing. Does it get more romantic than sailing off into the sunset together?! In all seriousness, this has been one of my favorite adventures. Exploring the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore by sailboat felt like a dream! Snacking and sipping on wine while soaking in sunshine and great views on the boat will never be forgotten. I have sailed with Captain Bronte twice now, and he’s fantastic! He let us choose our own adventure by picking which islands we wanted to sail to. We got to help with the sails and steer the boat while looking out for eagles and beautiful shorelines, and if you ask me, this is the best way to see the islands! The whole fleet is even dog-friendly. If you’re looking for an incredible date night, check out their half day evening sail. Or if you’re looking for a weekend getaway, check out the overnight sailing trips!



MADELINE ISLAND

Madeline Island is the largest of the Apostle Islands and the only one of the 22 islands that is inhabited. The Island is home to the town of La Point and has lots to explore. To visit, take the Madeline Island Ferry over from Bayfield for the day. The price of the ferry is per person, but you can pay an additional fee to board with your car. Instead of using a car to get around, we rented mopeds from Motion To Go once we got on the island and had a blast bopping around! If you're looking for more on the island's history and the fur trade industry, be sure to stop by the Madeline Island Museum.


I highly recommend traveling up to Big Bay State Park for a hike. I liked the Bay View and Woods Trail loop for some breathtaking views of Lake Superior. There were even spots to get out on the shoreline and let the dogs (or yourself!) take a swim. You can also check out Big Bay Town Park and walk the beautiful boardwalk along the lagoon. This boardwalk connects the town park and the state park.


There is no shortage of good eats on the island. For breakfast, I highly recommend Quinn & Zayda’s Bakery for a savory scone. The scone I had is one of my favorite pastries of all time! My favorite lunch spot on the island is Beach Club. The Lake Superior whitefish breaded fish fry and the fish tacos both were great. They have a gorgeous outdoor dining area right on the water of Lake Superior–it made a great place for the pups to cool off while we waited for our food. I also recommend popping over to Grandpa Tony’s for an ice cream cone! They have a large grassy dining area for you and your pups to lounge while you enjoy a sweet treat.


Thirsty? There is an iconic dog-friendly bar right in town! Tom’s Burned Down Cafe is the place, and it really did burn down! It’s an outdoor bar covered by what could be a circus tent, and the restaurant burned down in May of 1992, but they have continued to open for 30 seasons since. They don’t serve food, but they have plenty of alcoholic beverages to go around and often have live music. Definitely make a stop!




This area is so dog-friendly! The places mentioned that are not dog-friendly are marked with a * (there are only 2!). You and pup can enjoy adventures (like sailing!) and dine on plenty of patios!



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