Up North on South Shore

hopping around the hot spots of Lake Superior

Tracy Chipman, photos by Tracy Chipman

The Bay of Stockton Island
The Bay of Stockton Island

If nature, adventure, culture, big wide open water, friendly folk, and relaxation sound like your idea of vacay, then the South Shore of Lake Superior is waiting. Before departure, pack for any weather because it can change quickly (even in August). Bring a cooler if you want to stock up on local goods – fresh fish and homemade ice cream come to mind. In addition to this Great Lake and her mysteries, there are many hot spots, communities, and hip spaces to discover and explore.

Washburn: Believe it or not Washburn, population 2000 is a lil’ hotbed of cultural creativity and at the hub is StageNorth. This community sweet spot is a cutting edge performing arts center and the theater, live music, art, and late night dance party place. Their bar is artistic class and northern charm. On the main drag is Coco Café & Bakery where it’s all about “Grown Locally” and “Made from Scratch.” Take a picnic down to the beach at West End Park and walk the trail along the coast to the marina for some Lake time.  

Madeline Island: As you step off the ferry you are officially on “Island time.” Places to explore include the Madeline Island Historical Museum and the eclectic Tommy’s Burned Down Bar – which has live music on the weekends. Fourth of July festivities on “the Island” have been voted the best in the country.

Red Cliff: Continuing onwards north on Highway 13 you will pass through Red Cliff, also known as Miskwabiikong in Anishinaabe, which is home to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.According to tradition, the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) came from the Atlantic coast to Chequamegon Bay directed by the Great Spirit (Gichi Manidoo) to find the “food that grows on water” (wild rice).  

On Route to Cornucopia: Five miles east of Cornucopia you will see Meyer’s Beach Road leading you to the beach and hiking trail. If I had to pick one place to stop and soak all this gorgeous Lake life in, it would be here. Meyer’s Beach is a clean sandy beach on western lip of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and a great place to have a wee swim, kayak voyage, or beach walk in the purest (and chilliest) lake water in Wisconsin.  

Cornucopia: Last stop on this South Shore odyssey is Cornucopia. Folks come to Corny from all over the country for the artisan spring water, the white fish livers, and a stop in Elher’s Old Time General Store. The spring is located in the town beach park right off Hwy 13 and the whitefish livers are available at the Village Inn and Fish Lips Pub. Elher’s will provide you with everything from local organic produce to postcards to beer nuts.