Who doesn’t need a quiet getaway from work? And who wouldn’t like to explore and inspire the creative side in them as they embark on a vacation? All you need to do is read this piece on Madeline Island, fall in love with it, and start making plans!
1. The Story of Madeline Island
Hundreds of years ago, a group of wanderers travelled to an island in search of the land where “food grows up on water”. They had been asked to go there by the Great Spirit, or the Gitche Manitou. Today we know that the “food growing up on water” was the wild rice growing in the marshes in Chequamegon Bay. The island was none other than Madeline Island in Lake Superior.
Madeline Island is much more than a tourist attraction. It has spiritual significance for the Lake Superior Chippewa, a tribal band living around Lake Superior. For hundreds of years now, the La Pointe Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has been living on this island. That’s actually how the present-day town of La Pointe gets its name.
In the 16th century, the first batch of European settlers set foot on this island. They were French fur traders who built a fort and a trading post on the island. The owner of this trading post is the reason Madeline Island got its name.
Madeline Island gets its name from the daughter of the tribal chief White Crane. The name of his daughter was Madeleine Cadotte. Madeleine married Michel Cadotte, the owner of the French trade post. They both went down as prominent rulers in the history of the island.
2. The Landscape
Madeline island is one of the 22 Apostle Islands that lie in Lake Superior in Ashland County, Wisconsin. What makes it unique is the fact that it is the only island that can be commercially developed and privately owned. As a result, it is the only developed island in Lake Superior.
Madeline Island is 14 miles long and 5 miles wide. It is the largest of the Apostle Islands. Most of it is covered in woods.
Madeline island is a great place to wander around. You can find some absolutely breathtaking nature trails over here. You can walk, you can cycle, you can ride a moped! You can go on all the morning walks and evening strolls you want.
There are parks like Big Bay Park and the Big Bay State Park. There’s the beautiful Madeline Island Wilderness Preserve that preserves the local flora and fauna. Not only can you explore the forest and the wetlands, but you can also go skiing or pick berries!
4. Row, Row, Row Your Boats
If you are a water person, you’re going to make lovely memories on Madeline Island! You can hire a canoe or a kayak and go sailing on the shiny waters of the lagoon at Big Bay Town Park.
If you are into guided tours, you’ve got a fun and informative one over here. The tour can help you explore the sandstone beaches at big bay State Park and the surrounding sea caves. Moreover, you can also go on the Apostle Islands Cruise that shows you around the entire Apostle Islands Lakeshore.
Careful While Swimming!
Standing on the shore of the marvellous Lake Superior, anyone would want to go in for a dip! But the waters of the lake have rip currents. Rip currents are powerful waves that can sweep you away from the shore very quickly.
There have been a couple of cases of people losing their lives in the water because of rip currents. The fire department officials have warned people against swimming in the lake, even experienced or trained swimmers. Plus, the lake is frigid and chilly. So you would probably run out as fast as you splashed in.
5. The Sea Caves
The town of La Pointe, 10 minutes away from Madeline Islands features some of the most exquisite sea caves in not just the country, but the entire world. During summer, you can row through them, staring up at the white, overarching ceilings as your raft bobs up and down on the water. During winter, when the water freezes, you can actually stand under them.
The grand Madeline Island Golf Club sits on a rolling landscape, nestled in dense woods. With seven holes overlooking the lake, this elegant golf course has been designed by Robert Trent Jones, Senior. The course is private, but you can make a reservation for some time from the Madeline Island Golf Club website.
7. The Lovely Ice Road
If you happen to visit Madeline Island during summer, you can get there on a ferry or a hovercraft. But come winter, the place transforms! As the water begins to form into ice, people start travelling with wind sledges and snowmobiles at first.
Then soon enough, you can see a charming ice road opening for traffic. With the frosty tracks and the Christmas trees, you’re right there in a winter wonderland! You can walk, you can ski, you can skate, or you can drive. Either way, make sure you take a lot of pictures and videos to remember this trip by!
8. Camping on Madeline Island
Camping enthusiasts, Madeline Island got you covered! If you have your mindset on sleeping under starry skies, there are several camping grounds to choose from.
Six miles away from your ferry landing, you have the Big Bay Town Park. Before you start fretting over hygiene, let me tell you that you have access to potable water, toilets, and pay showers. Further away, you have the Big Bay State park showing off a 1.5-mile beach and plenty of nature trails for hiking, trekking, and board-walking.
If you decide to have a bonfire, make sure your firewood comes from within 10 miles of your campsite. That would ensure that insects and diseases from outside don’t mess with the forest habitat.
Bird City, Wisconsin
Bird City is an initiative for recognising the importance of birds in any ecosystem. The government in Wisconsin educates people about the significance of bird conservation and implements accommodative policies. That’s what makes the community a bird city.
As a result, there are numerous bird-watching spots on Madeline Island. If you are visiting in Spring, you can spot the Red-Winged Crane, Sandhill Crane, and the Great Blue Heron. During summer, you should expect to see our cute friend, the piping plover. It is a sparrow-sized, sand-coloured species that nests on sand and gravel.
9. The Madeline Island Historical Museum
Madeline Island has a rich history. And what better way to tell it than a museum full of artefacts? The Madeline Island Museum displays relics from the life of Native American tribes. It also sports exhibits of the activities of fur traders and missionaries.
The museum was assembled by a person named Leo Casper in 1903. Later, he donated it to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The museum is actually created on a space that housed four historic structures- an 1835 warehouse of the fur company, a Scandinavian style barn, the La Pointe town jail, and the Old Sailor’s Home, a structure built in the memory of a drowned sailor.
10. Indoor Fun
While going out and exploring is a lovely experience on Madeline Island, there are times when you feel like putting your feet up and slowing down for a while. Madeline Island offers several things to do for this homebody in you.
You can visit the Madeline Library to leaf through a novel, listen to an audiobook or use the computer. The space was initially used for a school.
The library still offers learning opportunities. There are storytelling sessions and other activities for kids. There are scheduled yoga sessions.
You can also buy or rent cards and board games from local retailers. You can go to Woods Hall to watch how weavers work. And if you’re feeling like spending some time in solitude, just pour yourself a cup of coffee and get cosy!
11. Attention, Food Lovers!
Whether you are looking for a proper meal, a sandwich to grab on your way, or a drink to go with an amazing sunset, you won’t have to go far. Restaurants, cafes, bars, and taverns are all over the island. Good food and brilliant music are awaiting you at the end of each day!
Vegans and vegetarians do not need to worry. There’s a lot on the menu to choose from including salads, burgers, pizzas, and everything else under the sun. What’s more? Some places even offer dishes made from locally grown veggies!
Dining on Madeline Island is not just about food and drink. It’s about making moments and living in them. So make sure to sit down somewhere with a picturesque view of the sea or the woods.
Sip your cocktail by the window. Take your lunch to a nature trail. Lie down on one of those picnic mattresses and doze off with your drink!
12. Souvenirs and Shopping
The town of La Pointe is spotted with speciality shops selling locally created art, books, novelty items, and photos. They sell jewellery made of sea glass and stones and locally spun wool. And of course, you can shop for t-shirts, toys and key chains to remember this trip by.
In fact, you can even shop at some of the bars and restaurants around town. For instance, Bell Street Gallery and Artbar has an art gallery, a clothing boutique, a pottery garden, and a wine bar. Plus, they serve the best wood-fired pizzas in the world!
A Tradition of Art
The reason why there are so many art galleries and boutiques on Madeline Island is its three hundred old traditions of art. The Madeline Island School of Arts is ranked among the top five art schools in the country. MISA offers courses in writing, painting, quilting, and photography. Among other things, this art school is well known for its skilled instructors and a workshop environment.
13. Special Days
Madeline Island is a beautiful place to be at. But it’s even better on some days. Madeline Island hosts several special events, parades, festivals and celebrations throughout the year.
Family Fall Fest
Family fall fest is an opportunity for families to spend some time with each other during the last few days of the lovely autumn weather. You can do fun activities like decorating pumpkins, face painting, and building birdhouses.
You can roam the streets, probably try a wapple. It is basically a waffle filled with waffles filled with apple cheesecake and caramel sauce (clever!). You can also make candles and tie-dye shirts and polish rocks.
You can make apple cider using cider press. Apple cider is a beverage made from apple sauce. With fresh apples from the island, it’s got to taste terrific!
Madeline Island Marathons
The Madeline Island Marathon and Madeline Island Half Marathon are usually organised around the month of May. The marathon was first organised in 1980. Runners can arrive and stay on the island a day before. Running through a forest along the shores is not like every other marathon; no one can argue with that!
4th of July
4th of July celebrations start with a grand parade in the morning and end with mesmerising fireworks in the evening. But of course, Madeline Island puts its own spin on them! Boats are anchored all over the harbour as a backdrop to the music and the colourful explosions in the sky.
There are outdoor events like music shows and speeches. You can get yourself a beer and a beer brat and have a good time all day. The best part? There are awards and trophies for paraders!
14. Wedding Venues
The pristine beauty and splendour of Madeline Island make it an excellent location for your dream wedding. There are churches and gardens where your wedding cake would look absolutely stunning. Imagine saying your vows with the sun dancing on sea waves and your feet digging in warm sand!
Moreover, you would love the services provided by local businesses on Madeline Island. They can help you with food and drink, flowers, photos, music and everything else you need for the perfect destination wedding you always wanted.
This was our piece on Madeline Island. Do check out similar articles on the website!