Sunday, August 5, 2012

Madeline Island

Saturday morning we took the ferry across to Madeline Island. Madeline is the only populated island of the Apostle’s. They do a booming tourist business in the summer but things die down in the winter. Surprisingly, Lake Superior is quite shallow around the Apostle Islands and it freezes solid in the winter. Once the ice is nice and thick, a road is plowed from Bayfield to Madeline Island for the 200 hearty residents that stay all winter. (I can’t imagine!) In the summer, that number increases to around 2500 and a ferry service runs back and forth. We decided to take the trip and see what Madeline Island was all about.


It had rained a good portion of the night before and the skies were still very gray and overcast with a sprinkle here and there. The temperature was threatening to pass the 70º mark (please don’t hate me! It’s been wonderful!). We thought the crowds would be smaller with the cloudy weather but that didn’t seem to be the case :)  We purchased our tickets. We chose to go on foot. Round trip tickets are $13 per person. If you take your car, it’s an additional $24. We were pretty sure we could walk anywhere we wanted to go. It’s not a very large island. If, by some chance, we underestimated our abilities we could always rent bikes or scooters :)

The ferry pulled into the harbor at La Pointe on Madeline. Homes and cottages dotted the shoreline with boats anchored offshore.

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The Post Office is the first building you see when you walk away from the ferry landing. It’s been there awhile. The date on the building is 1832.


We were not disappointed in our decision to do the walking tour. We turned right onto the main drag which took us past bungalows, restaurants, shops, condos, the Yacht Club, marina and the golf course.

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Of course, we had to check out some of the boats at the marina. Rick says if he ever gets tired of paddling, this will be our replacement for the Sea Eagle. Isn’t it cute?


This is truly the land of many kayaks but I thought this was a bit over-kill. I don’t think I’ve ever seen kayaks trailered before. Seems a roof rack would be so much easier…or maybe not.


We wandered onto the side streets where we came upon this.


The FOR SALE sign enlarged


Well, Tom’s Burned Down Café was right next door!

Tom's Burned Down Cafe'

The story is that Tom’s burned down in 1992. The owner never rebuilt, but never closed down either. The place is now tents and awnings with hand-painted signs of catchy sayings and quotes. We wandered in the front, looked around and wandered out the back. They were doing a great business. There was no place to sit! :) Apparently the place is pretty famous. Who knew?

We back tracked to our starting point and continued on to the left this time where we found the museum, the school and a mostly residential area.


We concluded our time on Madeline with a late lunch at the Beach Club. They served some of the best fish tacos we’ve had. Gotta love that fresh Lake Superior white fish!

Today we are winding things up to leave in the morning. We loved our time here and, hopefully, will return someday. It was very relaxing and a beautiful place to visit. Rick even bought a fishing license and spent several hours fishing off one of the piers.  He didn’t catch anything but he sure enjoyed the time he spent there. The next couple weeks will be down time for us as we travel a couple hundred miles south and enjoy some family time.

Thanks for stopping by. Turtle


  1. Thanks for the beautiful tour and sharing that COOL weather!! Enjoy your family time!!

  2. We had fish n chips with whitefish when we were at Mackinac Island last year...really good fish!

  3. Enjoying the cool weather ... at least virtually!

  4. I saw several of those trailers in Rockport. Love the "For Sale sign"

  5. Oh so sorry you are leaving such a great area. I'm loving your tours and hearing about the cool weather. If you can't have it yourself, it's nice to imagine it. :-) Did you skip Voyagers in Minnesota or did I miss it?? Beautiful place too.

    1. Sherry, I'm afraid we'll have to do Voyageurs another time. It was much further north in MN than we were able to go this trip. Gives us a good reason to come back again :)

  6. Thanks for a beautiful tour and pics. I think I'd just as soon skip lunch at the burned out restaurant though.

  7. That for sale sign is hilarious. I guess if you can't control what happens to you, you can always make the best of it! Sounds like that guy did! Looks so beautiful there!!! Be safe :)
    Love you!!

  8. That's pretty amazing that Tom's Burned Down Cafe does such good business. It must do so well that they can afford not to do well on bad weather days??

    Really jealous of those cool temps. Grrrrr! :-)

  9. Looks like a real interesting place. I wonder how much commission there is on the sale of that RV:)

  10. Yes, I'd love to see you fold up that boat like a Sea Eagle... ;c)

  11. Sounds and looks like a good tour!

  12. Looks like a very fun place to visit! I think we'll stick with the Sea Eagle thank you very much!


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