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Winter Dog Sled Adventures in Bayfield, WI

Friday, January 16th, 2015

Dog Sled Adventures and Winter Activities in Bayfield, WI

Winter Dog Sled Adventures with Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing

Did you know that you can enjoy a great winter getaway in Bayfield, Wisconsin with a Sled Dog experience provided by our local outfitter, Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing? These hands-on trips include the opportunity to get to know the dogs, harness them up, and drive your own team (or ride along in the “basket” as a passenger if you prefer).

Mushing is an exhilarating adventure, and you’re sure to find some amazing photo opportunities along the trail as well. Do you believe travel is about getting right into the action? Well this is a bit like being shot out of a cannon! If you’ve never been mushing, you should try it.

The mushing experience is a lot more than just a sled dog run through the woods. When you meet your team leader and the sled dogs for the first time, you’ll soon realize this adventure is beyond the ordinary. You will laugh on this day. You may cry. You definitely will grow from the experience, and I daresay it might even change your life in some way.

Take the opportunity to greet each dog and look them in the eye. Each animal has its own personality, as well as a role/function on the sled dog team. As you feed the dogs a pre-run snack of their favorite kibbles (mixed with icy cold water) you’ll sense the excitement building among the dog sled team. Imagine a giant rubber band winding ever tighter, and then poised, waiting, ready to explode like a great bolt of energy, flying through the forest.
Dog Sledding Wisconsin Weekend Getaways
One by one, you help to harness the dogs in their designated spots along the gang line. The dogs yip and pant in anticipation as your team leader makes a thorough check to see that everything is correctly in place. You receive instructions about staying up on the runners, the narrow pieces of wood the sled rides on, which extend behind the basket so the Musher can stand on them.

When all is set, you release your snow hook (a large metal hook you drive into firm snow to anchor your team and sled for short periods of time) and get ready for the ride of your life.   You are off: rocketing through the woods like Bullet Bill in Mario Kart. The best advice: remain calm and hang on!

See, here’s the thing: you don’t really drive a dog sled. Of course there are commands that mushers use to communicate with the team, but you don’t actually “steer” the sled. If you are rigid, or if you try to impose your will on the dogs, they will leave you lying in the snow. (Again, I’m speaking from experience here: I had quite an amazing ‘snow beard’ when I fell off the sled my first time mushing.) The best advice is to relax, trust the dogs, and enjoy the ride.
Sled Dog Tours, Bayfield WI
You will hear the dogs breathing together as they sync up and become a living machine. You hear the swish of the snow under the sled rails, the creaking sounds of the rigging and the sled under strain. Yet somehow, with all these sounds surrounding you, and snow flying up from the trail, it is extremely peaceful and quiet on the back of a dog sled. Personally, I found it to be a  remarkably solitary experience, even within the team setting (we had 3-4 sleds going on each of my trips).

Did I mention that the scenery is breath taking? When close forest trails give way to sun-dappled open fields, full of clean white snow, it’s genuinely breathtaking.
Sled Dog Wisconsin Getaways
When the lead musher yells, “Gee!” and you take a fast right turn, then head into a straightaway you feel the energy of the sled dog team. Your sled goes faster and faster as the icy air flies by and you catch your breath in giant frosty (delicious) gulps as you stand on the sled rails, holding firmly to the handlebow.

Can one Mushing experience possibly be enough? I don’t think so. It is worth every single penny to do this. In fact, I recommend coming up for a long weekend stay to enjoy multiple sled dog runs over the course of a few days/nights. The Adventures in Mushing Long Weekend w/ Night Run package includes two day runs to gain experience, followed by a moon and star-lit Night Run you’ll remember the rest of your life.
Dog Sled Team, Bayfield WI
When you get back to Old Rittenhouse Inn, we’ll have hot cocoa and cookies ready for you to enjoy in your guest room or suite. Perhaps you’d enjoy some wine or dinner. Let our staff take care of all the details so you don’t have to!

Winter only lasts so long, so what are you waiting for? Call us today to reserve your lodging and we’ll help set up the adventure of the year. Call today: 715-779-5111

Wassail Dinner Concerts Underway at Old Rittenhouse Inn

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Wassail Dinner Concerts Underway at Old Rittenhouse Inn

The 2014 Wassail Dinner Concert series is officially underway. Wassail concerts are held in December at Old Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, WI’s first B&B Country Inn. Wassail concerts are unique in that they feature an intimate interaction between the singers and the audience. The result is a moving and memorable experience for those in attendance.

During the 12:00 Noon or 6:30 PM Dinner Concerts, the Old Rittenhouse Singers perform throughout the building in the dining rooms, hallways and on the home’s large main staircase. You’ll enjoy the food and music, along with highlights such as the “Boar’s Head” song and the traditional “Flaming of the Figgy Pudding.”

The Old Rittenhouse Inn is decorated for the season with hundreds of yards of roping and white lights. The pillars are wrapped in ribbons and light, and the 16 foot Concolor Fire Christmas tree is filled with over 600 silver and white decorations that show off its beautiful 2-inch-long blue needles. Tickets are limited, so call today to join in the fun at a Wassail Dinner Concert!

Call now for tickets: 800-779-2129

12/03     12:00 Noon Sold Out
12/06     12:00 Noon Sold Out
12/06      6:30PM Sold Out
12/07     12:00 Noon Sold Out
12/10     12:00 Noon
12/13     12:00 Noon Sold Out
12/13      6:30PM Sold Out
12/14     12:00 Noon
12/20    12:00 Noon
12/20     6:30PM Sold Out
12/21     12:00 Noon
12/21      6:30PM

New CD Available in time for the Holidays!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

New CD from Old Rittenhouse Inn SingersThe Old Rittenhouse Inn Singers are releasing their 3rd CD, and it will arrive just in time for the Holidays. The recording, entitled “Sing A New Song,” features 21 tracks of holiday music that was recorded last winter at Bayfield’s Holy Family Catholic Church.

The Choral group was created in the mid-1970’s  by Old Rittenhouse Innkeepers Jerry and Mary Phillips, former music teachers who longed to create a “Madrigal Dinner” at their Inn for the holiday season. Their first “Wassail Dinner Concert was a huge success, and started a tradition that has lasted nearly 40 years.

During that journey, the Old Rittenhouse Inn Singers have performed hundreds of live concerts at the Inn, at various churches and community centers, and also at the annual Bayfield Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (held Nov. 29 this year).

Choral Director Jerry Phillips says, “this new CD represents where the Old Rittenhouse Inn Singers are today: a seasoned, professional group that has been around for almost 40 years. This group has logged hundreds of performances, and they are no strangers to the recording process, so everything went very smoothly. We had a lot of fun, and I think it shows.”

The new release is scheduled to arrive at the Inn on December 8, a few days after the start of our Wassail Dinner Concert season. It is available for purchase at the Old Rittenhouse Inn and online at

We are taking Pre-Orders now, please call 715-779-5111

Wassail Dinner Concerts at Old Rittenhouse Inn a Holiday Tradition for All Ages

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Bayfield Historic Dining - Wassail at Old Rittenhouse InnWassail! This old English word was a greeting or salutation on festive occasions such as the holidays and Christmas Eve. It was also a toast, wishing good health and prosperity to a friend or neighbor. “Wassailing” usually involved spirits: spiced ale carried in a “Wassail Bowl,” (especially spiced ale), singing carols and making merry.

At Old Rittenhouse Inn, the word takes on a life of its own: Wassail Holiday Dinner Concerts, held each year in December, are 3-Course Luncheons or 5-Course Dinners paired with a concert of holiday music performed by the Rittenhouse Singers, a professional vocal choir backed by local musicians and directed by Innkeeper, Jerry Phillips.

Bayfield Historic Dining - Wassail Dinner at Old Rittenhouse InnThe Inn is fully decorated for the season: her pillars are wrapped in ribbons, evergreen boughs and twinkling lights. A massive Christmas tree greets visitors in the front hall, and the holiday decorations continue inside the dining room, which seats up to 64 concert-goers.

The meals are described verbally by the maitre ‘d, and include tasty soups and salads, entrée favorites like Roast Pork Loin with Apple Cider Glaze or Champagne Chicken, and desserts like decadent Turtle Sundaes, fresh baked pies, and the classic Figgy Pudding with Crème Anglaise (laced with bourbon). There’s also the famous Rittenhouse Wassail Punch, made with Cider and cranberry juice, bourbon and spices.

Bayfield Historic Dining - Wassail Celebration at Old Rittenhouse InnLeading the show is the exuberant Jerry Phillips, who conducts his choir with seemingly limitless energy, often keeping time on tambourine, wood blocks, or bells as the singers perform throughout the Inn’s dining room and hallways.

Asked where he finds the energy, Jerry claims it comes from the audience. “They give us so much and we connect with them as well. For me, it’s a total rush. It usually takes me a week or so to come back to Earth afterwards. The singers have a lot of fun performing too. For many, it makes the holiday season. It wouldn’t be Christmas without Wassail.”

Next time: How it All Started: the History of Wassail!

Rittenhouse Home Cooking on Christmas Eve

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Christmas Dinner at Old Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, WIOur little Innkeeping family here at the Rittenhouse Inn is very excited for Christmas Eve this year. We have given most of the staff the weekend off to be with friends and family, so our family is cooking and serving dinner this Saturday. For this special meal, we’ll prepare favorite dishes from our 35 years. In a nod to our long tradition of verbally recited menus, we decided to describe the meal in this blog entry much the way we would describe it at your table, so here goes:

We’ll start with a few delicious soups to choose from. First is Chicken Amandine, a sweet and rich cream and chicken stock with tender cubes of chicken breast, steamed wild rice, slivered almonds and a splash of Amaretto. The other choice is a long-time favorite, the Mushroom Burgundy. Here we begin with a rich beef and veal stock, adding fresh herbs, button and shiitake mushrooms, and burgundy wine. It is a clear soup served piping hot and rich with flavor.

For the salad course, the first choice is a spicy mixed greens salad lightly seasoned and tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and dressed with goat cheese, slivered almonds, and dried cranberries. The other choice is a classic spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette, hard boiled egg, purple onion, and crumbled bacon.

The sorbet course is still up in the air as of this writing, but we are leaning toward a fresh pomegranite sorbet with champagne float.

Christmas Dinner with Prok at Old Rittenhouse Inn, Bayfield, WIThe entrée course features five selections to choose from. First, our Roast Pork Loin with Apple Cider Glaze is slow roasted till fork tender, and is one of our long-time favorites. Poulet au Fromage is another: a white breast of hen stuffed with a trio of artisan cheeses, cream cheese, fresh herbs, and spinach. We also offer one of owner Jerry Phillips’ specialties: tender braised short ribs with a red wine and herb pan reduction, roast garlic mashers, gingered cranberries, and squash soufflé. From Lake Superior, we offer our lake trout and whitefish braids, dusted with mild cajun reddening, baked, and served with lemon vinaigrete and savory wild rice. Finally, we offer our classic Steak Bercy, a pan seared filet mignon with a sauce of garlic, shallots, veal demi glacé and red wine reduction.

Desserts include our inimitable sundaes: Hot Fudge, Rum, and Turtle. We’re also baking fresh Cherry pies and Black Bottom Bourbon pies, as well as our molten chocolate truffle cake.

Top all that off with your favorite wines and spirits, and you have a Christmas Eve Dinner to remember at Rittenhouse Inn’s Landmark Restaurant.

Your hosts for the evening are the Phillips family. Jerry will act as head chef for the evening, with his son Mark serving as sous chef. The meal will be served by Julie and Wendy, and founder and co-owner Mary will also be on hand to ensure that everything comes out just right.

If you are in the Bayfield/Washburn/Ashland Wisconsin area over the holidays, we hope you’ll consider making reservations. Seating is from 5-7:30pm on Saturday, December 24. Cost is $55/person plus beverages, tax and gratuity.


We are so pleased to offer our favorite recipes from the Rittenhouse Inn and Landmark restaurant, and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.