First look inside Little Sand Bay Visitor Center

What a fantastic place! The newly-completed visitor center at Little Sand Bay is closed to the public for now due to the pandemic but we are pleased to give you a look at what’s inside.

The building serves as one of the gateways to the mainland and island units of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It’s designed to be a fun and interactive experience for park visitors. You can get information on planning your visit and learn a lot more about the park and its rich history.

The energy-efficient building completed last fall replaces an older visitor center which could not be restored. The visitor center and nearby bathroom & shower facility are powered by the sun via shares “Friends” purchased in 2017 from Bayfield Electric’s nearby solar garden.

The main room features a mural wall depicting the park and people enjoying activities and a map of the park and its iconic lighthouses. The open space can be used for presentations, exhibits and functions. National Park Service employees currently use the office space.

Outside of the visitor center, you can explore an interactive exhibit that documents the area’s geologic story as well as its cultural history, leading up to the creation of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore 50 years ago. In addition to the visual displays and exhibits you can listen to audio stories at the press of a button.

The beautifully renovated fish tug TWILITE is available for viewing inside a new shelter that’s accessible 24/7. There, you can learn about the Hokenson Brothers fishing business which was located at Little Sand Bay from the early 1900s through the 1960s. This link on the National Park Service websiteprovides a hint of what’s there to enjoy. The National Park Service is preserving the rustic buildings and historic artifacts for future generations.

Not far away, you can see the Nelson cabin. John Nelson worked for the Hokensons and built his cabin using traditional Scandinavian methods and hand tools. It was a hard, sometimes dangerous life. You can read more about Nelson and his one-room cabin here.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak peak inside the Little Sand Bay visitor center. The Park Service is working on a plan for opening the building to visitors. For now you can tour the outdoor exhibits, as well as the harbor and newly upgraded kayak launch on the beach. Take a look through the scope on the viewing platform built on the breakwater. Donations to the Friends made that scope possible. Please practice social distancing.

Updates about NPS operations will be posted on For more information about Apostle Islands National Lakeshore,  call (715) 779-3398 or visit

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