With the annual Celebrating Winter Festival activities behind us and both the Chili Cook Off and Fish Derby slowly-fading memories, Islanders are ready to begin anew as winter loosens its grip. Spring, like all the seasons on Washington Island, is more about Mother Nature’s clock than a date on the calendar. Let us share all the seasons with you and your family.
Springtime on Washington Island begins with snow still ever-present, warming sunny days and chilly nights. But it’s the curious steam that rises from the sugar bushes sprinkled throughout the Island that signals the new season and tells us that it’s maple syrup time. Soon-to-be liquid gold is collected by the many Islanders who, each using their own private process, produce signature brands of maple syrup.
Summer & fall bring an explosion of activity. Museums open their doors and provide an abundance of activities like the Pioneer Days & the Harvest Fest at the Farm Museum and art shows or nature programs at the Art & Nature Center. Jacobsen Museum presents regional history in a structure hand built by an Island icon and our Maritime Museum allows you into the world of our maritime history on the great lake. New this year is the Historic Island Dairy and the Shops of Fragrant Isle featuring products inspired by the fields of lavender on the Island. Many of us enjoy a game of regulation or mini golf at Deer Run Course with no tee times required, that’s the Island way.
Your visit should include a ‘taste’ of Washington Island. We recommend sharing a glass of Island Wheat from Capital Brewery, a cocktail with Death’s Door Spirits or Island Orchard Cider. Foodies will enjoy a splash of Verjus from Lyons Isle Vineyards. All these products and more boast their beginnings here on Washington Island and are available at Brothers Too for carry out and at several of our eateries.
No franchises here, the Island’s family owned eateries incorporate local produce and products in many dishes and some unique favorites. Grab a Monster Shake at the Albatross, a soup/sandwich combo at the Danish Mill or the ‘killer’ coffee at the Red Cup. Karly’s, famous for their burger night blow outs or Nelsen’s Hall & Bitter’s Pub nightly soup/salad bar and famous Bitter’s Club, amp up the choices. For an explosive meal head to KK Fiske for an authentic fish boil. Bread and Water offers vegetarian options and homemade pies; get your Irish on at Fiddler’s Green with Guinness on tap and a panini. Ship’s Wheel has popular walleye dinners and Nana’s baked goods, while Sunset Resort breakfasts offer wonderful Icelandic pancakes. Timeout Concessions’ Chicago-style hot dog is terrific, and Island Pizza is simply amore by the slice. Sailor’s Pub is your port of call for upscale dining on the water, and Findlay’s Holiday Inn is a popular Friday fish fry destination.
Summertime means more entertainment. Live bands & jam sessions erupt at various spots on the Island. The Trueblood Performing Arts Center hosts the Washington Island Music Festival as well as an ongoing schedule of year-round entertainment. The Red Barn presents a variety of local artists, including local legend Julian Hagen, in a park-like setting. Annual events like the Island Fair, the Death’s Door BBQ competition, the Fly In, Scandinavian Festival and the Canoe & Kayak race and expedition might suit the adventurer in you. There are more things to see and do than available time…so you’ll have to sleep over. When you have slept on an Island, life is never the same!
There’s an island bounty of accommodations, including motels, inns, cabins, resorts and camping options to suit all needs and pocketbooks (washingtonisland-wi.com). Wake to the serenade of birds passing through a major flyway, a birder’s paradise. And every season offers photographers sensational views and memories for the family album.
Enjoy fishing, swimming and water fun in Mother Nature’s environmentally-friendly waterpark, Lake Michigan. The catch of day may be a minnow or a contest-winning salmon, perch, walleye or bass. Forgot your license? Visit the Island Outpost, Kap’s Marina or Mann’s Mercantile and pick-up the latest fishing updates (and stories). Shipyard Island Marina will accommodate your vessel or help with unexpected repairs. Paddlers head to the folks at Bread & Water, for canoes and kayaks. A trip to Wisconsin’s only island park, Rock Island is more than just hiking – it’s home to the Pottawatomi Lighthouse, the first U.S.-commissioned light on Lake Michigan.
Shopping here means no big box stores but friendly family shops with unique gifts. The Kaupstauder offers Scandinavian gift items and Island Outpost will outfit you head to toe. Mann’s Mercantile has locally made gifts, while the work of students and instructors at Sievers Fiber Art School is a must see. The sterling silver work of DeWitt Jewelry is displayed at the Red Cup along with work by other local artisans. Bookworms will enjoy the writings of Island writers and other best-selling authors at Islandtime Books or Books up the Road.
One hundred miles of paved roads provide cyclists of every level an opportunity to navigate the island. Bike and moped rentals are available. No car, no problem, the Island Shuttle can transport you. The Cherry Train and Viking Train tours provide a glimpse of Island life, and flyers will be happy to hear they can touchdown and tie down at the Washington Island Airport.
What we don’t have makes us special. We’re a community that is about our nature, our neighbors and our guests. Come, be our guest and let us share this life experience with you anytime of year. We’re here waiting to welcome you to Washington Island. Welcome to our home!