Best Wisconsin Weekend Getaway: Ashland, WI

Wisconsin Weekend Getaway - Image of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior in Ashland, WI

Located in Northern Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior is the charming town of Ashland. Known for its outdoor splendor, historic downtown, and beautiful mural walk, Ashland is the perfect destination for your next Wisconsin weekend getaway.

I love that Ashland has a little bit of everything, no matter the season. Some will fall in love with the natural beauty and the peacefulness of the area. Others will love the outdoor opportunities. There are activities for all seasons, from hiking, biking and boating in the summer months to ice fishing, skiing and snowmobiling during the winter. 

In this post, I share the best weekend guide to Ashland, WI, including a mix of outdoor adventure and community exploring.

While this post is not sponsored, I did collaborate with Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce (Visit Ashland) and Shrpa during my visit to the area. As always, all opinions and recommendations are my own. 

When you make purchases through the links in my post, I may earn commissions at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As always, I only provide links to products and services I recommend.Read my full disclosure here.

Short on Time? Here’s a Mini Guide!

Top Things to Do: Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Ashland Mural Walk, Ashland Waterfront Trail

Where to Stay: Cobblestone Inn & Suites or Best Western The Hotel Chequamegon

Best Restaurants: El Tarasco, Deep Water Grille, Black Cat Coffee House

More About Ashland: Explore Ashland on Tripadvisor

Where is Ashland, WI? 

Ashland, WI is located in the northernmost portion of the state on the shores of Lake Superior. Across the bay, you’ll find Washburn and Bayfield, and to the east you’ll reach the Bad River reservation. 

Ashland is a popular Wisconsin destination for outdoor recreation and is a common roadtrip spot. It’s located: 

– 7 hours from Chicago

– 5 Hours from Madison

– 3.5 hours from Minneapolis 

If you’re flying in from out of state and plan on visiting Ashland, you will need a rental car for optimal exploring. Driving in and around Ashland is peaceful with beautiful views along the way. 

Where to Stay in Ashland, WI

Ashland may have a population of less than 10,000 people, but you’ll find plenty of lodging options for your visit. 

Sam and I were hosted at the Cobblestone Inn & Suites during our visit and we both would highly recommend the hotel for accommodations. While the hotel is a few blocks from the water, it’s situated on Main Street and some of the rooms have beautiful views of the bay. 

We were in a Queen Suite on the fourth floor that had two queen beds, a separate area with a pullout bed and tv, and a gorgeous view of the water.

Additional hotel amenities include a hot breakfast each morning and a nice fitness center. 

Cobblestone Inn & Suites Continental Breakfast with fresh fruit and hot items - Ashland, WI
Young woman working out in the fitness room at Cobblestone Inn - Ashland, WI

If you’re looking for a prime location on the water, consider the Best Western The Hotel Chequamegon. It’s located right along the bay and is just a couple blocks from Ashland’s historic downtown district. 

Wisconsin Weekend Getaway: Ashland

Day 1: Hotel Check-In, Dinner & Drinks

Since Ashland is in the northernmost portion of the state, you’ll likely have a decent drive before you arrive. 

Upon arrival, check into your hotel and grab a local dinner while getting a feel for the area. Sam and I didn’t arrive until after 10pm so we headed right to bed in preparation for a jam-packed Saturday, but Ashland offers plenty of spots if you’re not early birds like us. 

If arriving earlier in the evening, after checking in and getting settled into your room, head to El Tarasaco for a delicious Mexican dinner. After a long drive, you just might be ready for a jumbo margarita. 

Steaming Chicken and shrimp fajitas from el tarasco - Ashland, WI
Jumbo strawberry margarita from El Tarasco, Ashland, WI

Day 2: Coffee & Outdoor Adventures

For your first full day in Ashland, start your morning on the right foot with a delicious breakfast at the cutest coffee shop. Black Cat Coffee House is located just a block from the Cobblestone Inn & Suites and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

I enjoyed a breakfast sandwich that was as big as my face. It was so huge that I could only finish half of it, although absolutely delicious. Sam devoured a breakfast bowl with black beans, chorizo, and veggies galore. 

Breakfast bowl at Black Cat Coffee House
Book nook with comfy chairs at Black Cat Coffee House

After a tasty breakfast, venture about 10 minutes down the highway to Bayfield to explore the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. 

The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center is free to explore and includes a main exhibit hall, observation tower, outdoor trails, and gift shop. 

The Main Exhibit Hall features numerous displays showcasing how humans have interacted with the land and natural resources in this region of the country. I loved how interactive and informative the exhibits are. 

Wisconsin Weekend Getaway - Interactive activity at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland
Woman engaging in the interactive activities at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center

The highlight for many is the observation tower on the fourth floor of the visitor center (you can take stairs or an elevator to access). At the top, you’ll find impressive views of the nearby Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge. There’s an outdoor platform that is open when the weather is nice and has multiple tower viewers which are perfect for spotting wildlife. 

It was a really cold and windy day when I visited, but I cannot wait to go back in the warmer months and enjoy the trails. Even in the five minutes that I attempted to walk them, I saw numerous birds flying among the trees. 

On the way back from the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, stop for lunch at the Sandbar. Located in the Blue Wave Inn, the Sandbar offers a variety of sandwiches and both coffee and non-coffee beverages. They also have a full bar if you’re looking for an afternoon drink. 

Image of stairwell and seating area at the Sandbar in Ashland, WI
Image of upstairs seating area and large windows at the Sandbar, Ashland

Next door to the Sandbar is a fantastic outdoors store, Solstice Outdoors. I loved their selection of outdoor clothing from socks and base layers to fleeces and jackets. They also sell just about any outdoor item you might need for your visit. I needed to buy spikes for my hiking boots and a buff, and both were very reasonably priced. 

After lunch, head just down the road to Maslowski Beach. Here you’ll find a beautiful beach area to enjoy the water on a warm day, a playground, and restrooms. There’s even an artesian well located just off the parking lot (in front of the beach) that flows year-round, providing fresh and cold well water. 

Artesian Well featuring mosaic wall art at Maslowski Beach in Ashland, WI

Steps from the beach is access to the Ashland Waterfront Trail, an 11.5-mile asphalt trail that is part of the Ashland Rails to Trails System. The trail is ADA- compliant and provides a great way to see Ashland. You’ll also pass 7 parks along the way if you want to enjoy some time at a beach or playground. 

Grab a table at Deep Water Grille for dinner and enjoy a drink and delicious meal. In addition to great food, a portion of the restaurant is home to the South Shore Brewery and you can enjoy their beers with your meal. 

Day 3: Murals, Shopping, and a State Park

Enjoy a slow morning in your cozy hotel room and grab a bite to eat at the free continental breakfast in the hotel lobby. After checking out of your room, venture to the historic district to spend the morning browsing the local shops and viewing the murals on the Ashland Mural Walk. 

Within the eight-block historic district, you’ll find the famed Ashland Mural Walk. Designated as the Historic Mural Capital of Wisconsin in 2005, there are over 20 beautiful murals created by local artists. This is one of the highlights of any visit to Ashland and I was so impressed by the variety and individuality of each mural.

Mural of multiple buildings in Ashland Wisconsin - Wisconsin Weekend Getaway
Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce Mural Mural - Ashland, WI

Since most of the murals are found on the exterior of downtown buildings, they can be admired at any time. Only a few are located inside buildings, including one within the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. 

Before heading out of town, grab lunch at Chequamegon Family Restaurant to fuel the rest of your journey. As you leave Ashland, consider stopping at Copper Falls State Park in Mellen, WI on your way home. The park features the Doughboy Trail, which will take you to two beautiful waterfalls and several overlooks. Check out the Guide to Copper Falls State Park for all you need to know before visiting. 


Ashland, Wisconsin may be a smaller city, but there is so much to explore in this northern escape. Both indoor and outdoor explorers will love the activity options and enjoy exploring this Northern Wisconsin gem.


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