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Thanksgiving at The Rittenhouse Inn
Bayfield, Wisconsin

Rittenhouse Inn Bayfield Wisconsin
After a light snowfall, the historic 1890s Rittenhouse Inn decorated for Christmas.

Every other Thanksgiving, Jo and I do a Thanksgiving dinner and overnight at a historic hotel with her sister Donna and brother-in-law Dan. Previously we had done four historic hotels along the Great River Road from Galena, Illinois to Stillwater Minnesota. This year we turned our attention to the Lake Superior Circle Scenic Drive and chose Bayfield's Rittenhouse Inn for our romantic holiday weekend getaway.

rittenhouse inn holiday

Good timing by Mother Nature provided a pleasant dusting of snow in the afternoon, covering the lawn of The Rittenhouse in a white blanket. Our dinner was scheduled for 4 PM. We checked into our room early to get settled before our meal. As a courtesy to guests of the Inn, guest rooms that are not occupied are left open for tours so we did a circuit visiting several rooms.

Guest Rooms

Room #3 Rittenhouse Inn

Our room was among the more modest-priced rooms ($160/night is modest in a relative sense - smiley face smile). While comfortable with authentic Victorian furnishings, our room wasn't as spacious as you'd find in a modern 4 star hotel. No closet, just a collection of well crafted hooks on the wall behind the entrance door. And the compact bathroom was a shower with no bath tub. But in fairness we weren't here for modern; we wanted the romance of "old-timey" and there were many quaint features, including a working fireplace with a 2 hour paper log, good crystal wine glasses on the bureau and a good quality wine bottle opener (which was put to good use the first evening!). Guests can order a bottle of wine or craft beers from the kitchen and the prices were reasonable. Other nice touches were a comfortable quilt-covered bed laden with plenty of extra pillows of varying sizes, good quality soft-as-charmin towels and nice views from the three bay windows.

When we did our tour of other rooms we found the next price level up from ours gave you more living space, more furnishings (like an antique desk), a whirlpool bathtub, and a closet. And the next step, the luxury suites, were cavernous and fabulously appointed . . . as you'll see in our sideshow of our room tour below.

But regardless of price-point, there are a few casualties in exchange for that authentic Victorian bed and breakfast experience: no bar or lounge, no room telephone, no TV, no in-room fridge, no microwave, and in our case no desk for our laptop. There is however a strong wireless Internet connection so you aren't totally without 21st century technology!smile But you really don't miss these other modern amenities; partly because the staff service is outstanding. Every staffer, from housekeepers on up to the Inn Keeper, act as you expect from a four star hotel, always asking if they can help you with anything.

  • Room #7: whirlpool tub, king bed, huge bathroom
  • Room #8 whirlpool tub, fireplace, king bed, stained glass windows
  • Suite 10 apartment size suite with fantastic views
  • Suite 10s library-sitting room and whirlpool tub
  • Our "sitting room" was down the hall and shared

Thanksgiving Dinner

rittenhouse dining room
rittenhouse inn dining room

Our dinner was scheduled for 4 PM (and all meals are scheduled, including the complimentary breakfast) which helped ensure no long waits for service or no long waits for our food. The dining service is top quality linen and fine china, comfortable, well-spaced tables and chairs. Each of the three intimate dining rooms has a fireplace.

Our Thanksgiving menu was a five course meal. A choice of two soups, two salads, a sorbet, four entrees, and four deserts (click on the menu image below for details). Our group chose two of the four entrees, passing on the vegetarian option and the poached Salmon. Jo and Dan chose the more traditional menu, the Slow Roasted Hen Turkey with fixing's. Donna and I went with the traditional turkey option, the Double Smoked Ham with its fancy fixing's. Both entrees were mouth-watering outstanding. The ham was particularly unique with its tasty smoky flavor, yet surprisingly moist and delicate.

rittenhouse menu

While this is five star dining with a few menu items with mysterious names, the five courses and decent portion sizes ensured even the most hearty appetites would be satisfied. (I can recall one occasion dining at a fancy french restaurant and having to stop for burger on the way home because all the meal did was whet my appetite!). By the way, the complimentary breakfast was also several courses, ample choices and portions, and five star food and service.

After dinner we relaxed in the second floor sitting room with a few glasses of wine. Jo and Donna got the comfortable leather couch while Dan and I drew the Victorian side chairs that ensured you sat up straight! That evening the Packers were playing the Bears and romantic getaway aside, Dan and I had to see the game. No TV in the room and no lounge at the Rittenhouse, we had to find a bar in town that was open Thanksgiving night. The folks at the Rittenhouse recommended the Creamery, a new sports bar in town, so we walked down there that evening and enjoyed a few brews and the game. Well we didn't entirely enjoy the game, because the Pack lost!

Bayfield decorated for Christmas
Looking down Rittenhouse Avenue towards the Bayfield Harbor

star See more Bayfield Holiday Activities

Downtown Bayfield is packed full of interesting boutiques, funky restaurants & bars, outdoor recreation shops, art galleries & artisan shops, etc.

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red arrowRittenhouse Inn.

red arrowBayfield Holiday Shop Hop.

red arrowPopular Bayfield Events & Visitor Attractions.

red arrowCampground Listings - Bayfield Area.

red arrowBayfield Apple Festival.

red arrowBayfield Pictures & Scenes.

red arrowBayfield & Ashland Fall Color Scenic Drives.

Bayfield, WI Chamber and Visitors Bureau


The Bayfield Chamber & Visitors Bureau office is conveniently located downtown on Manypenny Avenue. They are the prime sponsor of AppleFest and are an essential stop for the Bayfield visitor to get useful advice, maps, brochures, and information on enjoying the Bayfield area.


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