South Shore Series: What Bayfield has to offer

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The apple orchards on the south shore are ripe for the picking and our region’s attention is swinging to Bayfield.

The apple fest is a northland tradition not to be missed, but Bayfield is known for much more than this great festival.

Apple pie, apple dumplings, apple chili, apple wine, carmeled apples…if it can be flavored with apples, you’ll probably find it at the Bayfield apple fest.

Bayfield is the apple fest, but it is much more. Bayfield is the main gateway to the Apostle Islands national lakeshore, a group of 21 islands in lake superior. A ferry operation links Bayfield to the the largest island, Madeline island and the island residents.

Bayfield is a tourist and resort destination with a quaint coastal fishing village feel. It has cozy hotels, outdoor patios overlooking the bay, good restaurants offering fresh seafood, well lakefood technically…marine services and fishing tours. It is enchanting and the people who call this magical place home, feel a special connection to it.

“I really think it’s one of the most special little communities in probably the world!”

That, coming from someone who knows Bayfield well. “I am Mark Phillips and I am a co-owner of the old Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield.”

A walk through the Rittenhouse Inn takes you on a journey back in time.

“The Rittenhouse is actually Wisconsin’s first bed and breakfast that is still in existence,” Phillips said. “My parents bought this building in 1973, and we opened officially in 1975. So we’re coming up on our 50th anniversary.”

The Rittenhouse was built in 1890 by a civil war era judge, who was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. The Rittenhouse was a summer home for him.

From the moment of check in, one can’t help but feel the elegance all around you.

“Well I always tell our staff when we’re training that I want them to to create and preserve the magic,” Phillips said. “And I really do feel like there’s kind of a magical feeling about this place, all of the years of good times and hospitality have really created quite a special place.”

From exquisite antique furnishings, to the spacious overnight suites with modern luxuries such as private jacuzzis, you feel as if you’ve walked into another world.

Phillips says the goal of the Rittenhouse is to combine our human sense of history, service, art, and music.

“The community that I am most familiar with here is the artistic and musical community which is so strong. And for a town this size per capita we have more musicians and painters and sculptors and just incredible artists that have been here ever since I can remember,” Phillips added.

That strong artistic community was alive and well while we were filming our story. Award-winning, internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski performed breath-taking songs of noted composer Linda Kachelmeier at the Presbyterian church…yup, right here in lil ol’ Bayfield.

The quaint, uniqueness of Bayfield is partly why they just made USA Today’s top 10 list for 2023, as one of the best small towns in the Midwest.