5 Top Things to Do on Washington Island

Things to Do on Washington Island

There are so many things to do on Washington Island! Nestled within the embrace of Lake Michigan, Washington Island stands as a serene and enchanting destination. This tranquil haven is a magnet for those seeking an escape from the bustling city life, offering a range of unique and captivating things to do on Washington Island. From cultural landmarks to natural wonders, this destination caters to a diverse array of interests, making it an ideal getaway for all types of travelers. (How to Get to Washington Island) (Wondering where to eat on Washington Island? Click here!)


1. Visit Stavkirke Church: One of the most captivating things to do on Washington Island is visiting the Stavkirke Church. This stunning piece of architecture transports visitors to a world of Scandinavian charm. The church’s intricate wooden design is a tribute to the heritage of the island’s early settlers. With its towering spires and ornate carvings, the Stavkirke Church is a testament to the island’s rich history and cultural diversity. Exploring its interiors offers a glimpse into a bygone era, making it a must-see for history enthusiasts and architecture aficionados alike.

2. Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm: The fragrant Lavender Farm is another gem that adds to the list of things to do on Washington Island. This idyllic setting boasts rolling fields of lavender that create a feast for the senses. Visitors can wander through the vibrant purple fields, capturing the beauty of nature in full bloom. The farm also offers workshops and demonstrations, allowing guests to learn about the cultivation and uses of lavender. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking a serene environment to unwind, the Lavender Farm promises a tranquil and enchanting experience.

lavender farm
Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm

3. Mountain Lookout Tower: For breathtaking panoramic views, a visit to the Mountain Lookout Tower is a must. Situated at a strategic vantage point, the tower offers an awe-inspiring vista of Washington Island’s lush landscapes and the surrounding waters of Lake Michigan. As you ascend the tower, you’ll be rewarded with a bird’s-eye view that stretches as far as the eye can see. This spot is particularly popular during sunrise and sunset, when the sky is painted in hues of gold and crimson, creating a truly magical ambiance.

mountain lookout tower
View from the top

4. Schoolhouse Beach: One of the unique things to do on Washington Island is a visit to Schoolhouse Beach. Unlike traditional sandy shores, this beach features smooth, rounded limestone pebbles that create a stunning contrast against the clear blue waters. The tranquility of this shoreline invites visitors to relax, unwind, and bask in the natural beauty that surrounds them. Whether you’re collecting smooth stones, picnicking by the water, or simply enjoying the gentle waves, Schoolhouse Beach offers a serene and picturesque escape.

5. Join the Bitters Club: An exceptional addition to the list of things to do on Washington Island is joining the Bitters Club at Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Pub. To become a member of the Bitters Club, you take part in a ritual that involves taking a shot of Angostura bitters. This powerful and aromatic concoction is renowned for its use in cocktails and culinary applications. Nelsen’s Hall Bitters Pub, steeped in history, holds the distinction of being the longest running bar in Wisconsin. With a remarkable legacy dating back to the 1800s, this iconic establishment has weathered time and even operated during the era of Prohibition under the guise of dispensing “medicinal” bitters. The act of sipping the bitters is not just a tasting experience; it’s a homage to the island’s past and a connection to the generations that have frequented Nelsen’s Hall over the years.

bitters club
Bitters Club

BONUS: Journey to Rock Island State Park: For adventurers and nature enthusiasts, a journey to Rock Island State Park is a pinnacle experience among things to do on Washington Island. Located off the northern coast, this park requires a short ferry ride to access its pristine shores. Once there, you’ll be immersed in a wilderness haven, with hiking trails leading to historic buildings, scenic overlooks, and untouched beaches. The solitude of Rock Island State Park fosters a sense of connection with nature, making it a cherished destination for camping, hiking, and experiencing the great outdoors.

Washington Island is a destination that captivates the hearts of its visitors with a variety of things to do. From the cultural charm of Stavkirke Church to the fragrant beauty of the Lavender Farm, the island offers a diverse range of experiences. The panoramic views from Mountain Tower Lookout, the unique pebble beach at Schoolhouse Beach, and the untamed wilderness of Rock Island State Park complete the tapestry of attractions. Whether you’re seeking cultural enrichment, relaxation, or adventure, Washington Island provides an inviting sanctuary where each moment unfolds into a cherished memory.