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Washburn

Washburn is the seat of Bayfield County and located on the west shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon (Shuah-meh-gun) Bay. It is a great place to live with a K-12 school system, grocery store, restaurants, coffee shops and parks. There is a beautiful marina and several public boat launch areas. Washburn has a rural feel, and most residents own their home. It has a lively and growing business district, many stores and shops, and many residents own a small business in or around town. Outside and around the city limits there is a vast trail system for winter and summer riding, trekking and skiing. Washburn has a golf course, and of course all the joys of year ’round fishing on the lake from the docks, the beach, your boat or ice-shack. It is a friendly town where newcomers are welcomed. You will live well here. A quick drive to nearby Ashland, Bayfield, and Cornucopia.


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Homes for Sale in Washburn, WI

Washburn

Known for its outdoor adventures and rustic beauty, Washburn is a fascinating town in Wisconsin’s Bayfield County. This hidden jewel is perched on a hillside along the shores of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay, providing stunning views and a wealth of lakeside activities.

Spanning approximately 3.9 square miles, Washburn is home to around 2,071 people as of 2024. The city has an annual growth rate of 1.12 percent, with the population rising by 1.47 percent since the 2020 census. Washburn also serves as the Bayfield County seat and a Lake Superior port city. It is situated along US Highway 13 between Ashland and Bayfield.

Washburn’s lakeside parks and camping spots are playgrounds for outdoor-loving residents and visitors. There’s also a scenic lakeshore walking trail where you can stroll from Thompson’s West End Park to Washburn Marina. Sand beaches and trout streams are found here as well.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, just over an hour’s drive from Washburn, offers unending opportunities for hiking, biking, nature exploration, riding, and other outdoor adventures. Other recreational things to do in Washburn, WI include fishing, boating, and sailing.

Washburn brims with antique shops and artisan stores showcasing everything from pottery to wood carvings to handmade chocolate. For history buffs, the city doesn’t disappoint with its heritage destinations, including three buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, namely the Washburn Cultural Center, the Washburn Public Library, and the Bayfield County Courthouse.

Historical significance

Washburn, the largest community in Bayfield County, was founded in 1883 in response to the need of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railways for a lake port. The city’s name was named in honor of Cadwallader C. Washburn, who was a US congressman, Civil War general, and Wisconsin’s governor from 1872 to 1874. The city became a thriving commercial and industrial hub due to the presence of brownstone (sandstone building material), as well as a protected harbor, and lush forests.

Washburn has rich Finnish and Croatian ancestry, with more individuals tracing their roots to these European origins than almost any other community in America.

WASHBURN REAL ESTATE

Washburn

People living in Washburn enjoy a rural atmosphere and uncrowded roads with only 27 residents per square mile. It is less crowded than 93.2 percent of all neighborhoods in the United States, based on Washburn WI real estate data.

Interested in purchasing homes for sale in Washburn, WI? Featuring Western-style properties, modern homes, and classic charmers, this town and its surroundings are adorned with beautiful houses. Updated well-equipped kitchens, expansive living areas, wrap-around decks, and large yards are among the typical features you can expect, along with lovely porches, beautiful gardens, and cozy fireplaces. The use of wood and other natural materials, as well as large glass windows is prevalent, capturing the city’s connection with the great outdoors

Single-family homes for sale dominate the Washburn, WI area, coming with expansive lots that range anywhere from around 4,500 square feet to 40 acres or more. Acreage properties are abundant here, including vacant land of anywhere from 0.31 acres to over 15 acres.

Properties along Lake Superior are some of the most prized homes for sale in Washburn, WI, offering fishing and boating opportunities as well as panoramic views of the lake. Many of these properties come with beaches, boat docks and decks, as well as finished outdoor living spaces that allow residents to fully enjoy the lush forested surroundings.

LIFE IN WASHBURN, WI

Washburn

Getting around

For public transportation, the Bay Area Rural Transit (BART) serves the city with bus routes and bus stops found around the area, and connects the community to other Chequamegon Bay area towns and cities, including Bayfield, Iron River, and Ashland.

BART also operates the “Blue Goose”, a door-to-door van service that takes passengers to destinations within the Washburn area, or to a bus stop if you need to travel outside the city.

Many residents drive their own cars, walk to work, or go for the more eco-friendly option of biking.

Climate

Washburn experiences all four seasons: summer, winter, spring, and fall, and each season reveals a different landscape and outdoor activities.

Based on data from BestPlaces, the city enjoys 183 sunny days per year on average, and summers are often warm and comfortable. Winters can be snowy, windy, and cold as the temperature can reach below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for a slew of activities such as cross country skiing, sledding, and more. Moderate temperatures and precipitation levels can be experienced during spring and fall, which are generally milder.

Community amenities

Washburn, WI homes for sale are close to numerous amenities such as a grocery store, cafes, shopping, and a community center. Outdoor enthusiasts can also take advantage of the abundance of natural forests, parks, and trails.

Vast open spaces and lush nature promote good air quality, enhancing health and well-being. Neighboring Ashland boasts several healthcare centers and nursing homes.

Cost of living

Data from AreaVibes show that the cost of living in the city is 2 percent lower than the Wisconsin average and 6 percent lower than the national average. If you’re looking into houses for sale Washburn, WI, you’ll be pleased to note that housing costs here are about 22 percent lower than the national average.

Schools

The city is served by the School District of Washburn, which includes Washburn Elementary, Washburn Middle School, and Washburn High School, as well as Washburn Early Learning Center.

What sets the school district apart is the environmental sites where kids learn amid various outdoor settings, including a 40-acre school forest, a 6,400 square foot elementary garden, and a natural playground in the woods called the Lost City. Along with programs such as Aquaponics, solar panels, and High Tunnel, these sites introduce students to sustainable agricultural methods and the importance of nature conservation.

Experiences and attractions

Washburn is best known for its nature and outdoor destinations that capture what northern Wisconsin is truly about, but a host of contemporary and cultural attractions also await visitors and new residents.

Washburn

The top attractions in the area include:

Thompson’s West End Park – One of the best things to do in Washburn WI is to visit and explore this park, which features 27 acres of shoreline. Thompson’s West End Park features campsites that can accommodate recreational vehicles, motor homes, and big vehicles. The children will have a blast in the open play area, and families can bond over lunch in the covered picnic shelter. There’s an unguarded swimming beach and a boat launch, and anglers can enjoy shoreline fishing. Visitors also get access to the Lakefront Parkway and Walking Trail.

Ghost Ship Gallery – This funky art destination close to the shores of Lake Superior boasts nine art studios and a gallery space that exhibits the craft of over 50 artists. Housed in a building with a 55-year history, the gallery is also home to the tiniest beer bar in northern Wisconsin, where you can enjoy your favorite brew or sparkling tea while doodling on a sketchbook. Music sessions and events are also hosted here.

Lake Superior View Golf – One of the fun things to do in Washburn is to enjoy a round of golf at this 18-hole, par-66 executive course with unbeatable views of the lake and the Fertile Valley hillside. During winter, the area transforms into a winter wonderland with miles of cross-country ski trails and a snowshoe track.

Washburn Cultural Center – This historic building is a cultural, artistic, and educational hub featuring an antiques & gifts shop, art galleries, and a community gathering space. Among the things you can purchase here are vintage vinyl records and original paintings, as well as jewelry, ceramics, local art cards, and books.The center also houses the Washburn Area Historical Museum, which showcases important artifacts, dioramas, and photographs depicting the city’s history.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest – Many homes for sale Washburn, WI are just minutes from the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. This vast outdoor haven comprises over 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, with 858,400 acres situated in the counties of Bayfield, Ashland, Taylor, Price, Sawyer, and Vilas. The natural forest is a dream destination for nature lovers seeking to go camping, boating, hiking, picnicking, and other activities.

Houghton Falls State Natural Area – This 76-acre attraction along the shore of Lake Superior boasts stunning sandstone cliffs and marvelous views of the Apostle Islands. Encompassing more than 2,230 feet of Lake Superior coastline as well as 2,305 feet of stream, this landmark located north of Washburn plays a significant role in maintaining the water quality of Lake Superior and improving the natural habitat of wildlife species. The area is perfect for kayaking and wading, as well as hiking and birdwatching.

Long Lake Recreation Area – A family-friendly place to visit, Long Lake Recreation Area has a sandy beach and two picnic grounds with pedestal grills, picnic tables, and paved trails. Plus, you can kayak and do paddleboarding here. There’s also a carry-in boat landing accessible to the lake, perfect for bass and panfish. The swim beach is situated at Long Lake’s east end. During the winter, visitors and residents can enjoy fun activities such as snowshoeing and ice fishing.

Memorial Park Campground – The park serves as a memorial to the First World War veterans and has been offering lakeside recreation to the community since 1920. This recreational site and campground is adorned with beautiful old-growth pines on a bluff that fronts Chequamegon Bay. There’s a covered picnic shelter, picnic areas, a playground, and open play areas. Lakeside campsites and shoreline fishing are also at your disposal. Campers have access to fifty campsites in the park, most of which are nestled on all-weather gravel access roads.

Proximity to the best attractions in Bayfield County

Washburn

Nestled between Bayfield and Ashland, Washburn offers the best of both worlds. Bayfield, a quaint harbor town just a short drive away, provides convenient access to Madeline Island by car ferry, while Ashland, a vibrant cultural hub, boasts a renowned theater scene and historical charm.

This proximity allows Washburn residents to enjoy the peacefulness of a small town with easy access to the lively offerings of its neighbors. Some attractions that you can visit are the Mural Walk, Big Top Chautauqua, and Great Lakes Visitor Center. Golf courses such as Chequamegon Bay Golf Club and the Apostle Highlands Golf Course are great spots for spending some tee time.

Bayfield is a gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, located a mere 12.6 miles from Washburn. Boasting 21 islands and a stunning mainland coastline, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is famous for its red sandstone cliffs, fascinating rock formations and sea caves, and old-growth forests. This year-round park offers a variety of activities for all interests. Hike scenic trails, relax on pristine beaches, or kayak the crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior.

From Washburn, you can take a short drive to Bayfield, from where you can choose from various Apostle Island cruises, including narrated boat tours and fishing or sailing charters. Kayak outfitters are also available for those seeking a paddling adventure. You can also take a scenic car ferry ride from Bayfield (operating seasonally) to explore Madeline Island. This gem, technically not part of the National Lakeshore, boasts its own set of attractions like Big Bay State Park, the Madeline Island Historical Museum, and charming Town Park.

Dining and entertainment

A vibrant dining and entertainment scene means you’ll never run out of places to go for a celebration, a treat for the taste buds, a quiet date, or a fun night out. These are some of the must-visits:

Patsy’s Bar & Grill – Socialize with the locals in this bar that dates back to the late 1800s. It serves delicious American favorites, including burgers, sandwiches, and fish fry. Guests can also enjoy happy hours and occasional live music.

The Snug – This popular Irish pub entertains guests with fantastic live music and offers sandwiches, soup, homemade chips, Scotch eggs, and other bar food. Feel free to choose from its selection of drinks, including Irish beer, draft beer, and scotch.

StageNorth – Lovers of performance arts will be delighted to watch a play in this 142-seat theatrical facility on the shores of Lake Superior. Featuring local talents, The StageNorth Groundlings produces amazing shows staged at this Washburn community theater.

Valhalla View Pub & Grub – Located just minutes from Valhalla Recreation Area, Valhalla View Pub & Grub features an inviting log cabin design and spacious outdoor seating with fantastic views. Many trails in the area pass by the Pub & Grub, making it the perfect stop for hikers, bikers, and snowmobilers.

The Fat Radish – Offering delectable lunch, brunch, and dinner menus, The Fat Radish is the place to go for a fantastic farm-to-table experience in Washburn. The restaurant’s All You Can Eat Fish Friday makes it a popular hangout for locals every Friday night.

Harbor Table – Harbor Table offers a widely varied menu, including steaks, seafood, and vegetarian fare, as well as a bar menu with creative cocktails. Featuring stunning views of Lake Superior, this restaurant is perfect for a romantic date night or a celebration with friends and family.

FIND YOUR DREAM HOME IN WASHBURN, WISCONSIN

Interested in exploring homes for sale in Washburn, WI? With over 40 years of combined experience in Wisconsin real estate, our agents at Broad Street Brokers will help you achieve your real estate goals, whether it’s  buying or selling a property in the beautiful communities of Bayfield, Madeline Island, Washburn, Cornucopia, Herbster, Port Wing, Iron River, and Ashland.

Get in touch with our team of seasoned professionals who have aided transactions of approximately 550 properties in the region. Let us assist you in finding your dream home near Lake Superior or your next property investment.

Learn more about Washburn, WI with real estate. Feel free to send us an email here or call us today at 715.779.3220!

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