10 Things We Love About Lake Geneva

Imagine a place that’s got world-class golfing, high-end spas, relaxing boat cruises, charming shops, breweries, and even skiing. What if we told you there was such a place and that it is only one and a half hour’s drive from downtown Chicago? That place is Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. And as a popular resort town that draws visitors from both the Chicago and Milwaukee metro areas, there is plenty to see and do.

Here are just some of our favorite things about Lake Geneva.

The drive from Chicago and beyond

In good traffic, the 80-mile drive to Lake Geneva from downtown Chicago should take just an hour and a half. But you might want to make a detour along the way at popular attractions such as the Mars Cheese Castle, a kitschy highway stop stocked full of Wisconsin-brewed beers and delicious cheese from local dairies. Continue past Lake Geneva to hit Rustic Road 29, a winding, scenic drive perfect for a cruise in the convertible during the warmer months or to enjoy the colorful leaves in the autumn.

Golf courses to improve your swing

Grab your clubs because there are more than a dozen different resorts, country clubs, and golf courses with lush fairways and manicured greens located in the area. Some top destinations include places like Geneva National Resort & Club, Grand Geneva Resort, Lake Lawn Resort in nearby Delavan, and many others. Or perhaps traditional golfing is not your thing — check out White River Disc Golf Course or Paradise Miniature Golf.

Resorts for rest and relaxation

The aforementioned resorts also boast luxury hotels and restorative spas. But there are numerous options throughout the Lake Geneva area for rest and relaxation. From rustic inns to hotels to full-service luxury resorts, whatever is of interest (and budget) can be found within a small radius.

Ample water activities

Fans of water slides will delight at the opportunity to explore the sprawling 50,000-square-foot indoor water park at Timber Ridge Lodge. With activities and attractions for all ages, there’s more than enough to keep everyone entertained for an entire weekend. But those who want to avoid the crowds and noise, there’s always the public Riviera Beach located in the center of downtown Lake Geneva.

Outdoor adventures

After a day at the spa, head out of town to check out one of Lake Geneva’s many outdoor attractions. Be sure to visit the Dan Patch Stables for pony rides and petting farm with goats, cows, donkeys and more. But for more extreme thrills, there’s sky-high ziplining, mountain bike trails and hiking at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours. And don’t forget to pack the skis during a winter visit to Mountain Top Ski.

Geneva Lake

Geneva Lake spans 5,400 acres, making it one of the largest bodies of water (other than Lake Michigan) within close proximity to the Chicago area. This means that it’s prime for water sports and boating. For a serene trip around the freshwater body, Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers numerous options for sightseeing, narrated tours, or dinner and cocktail cruises. If you prefer to chart your own course, there are boat rental companies in town.

Unique antique shops

Downtown Lake Geneva is full of small businesses and boutiques with great gift ideas and keepsakes to remember your visit. Kitschy home decor abounds, and the many antique and art shops in Lake Geneva could keep any curious shopper busy for hours. When planning your trip, consider stops to Pesche’s Greenhouse, Floral Shop & Gift Barn, Delaney Street Mercantile, Cornerstone Shop & Gallery, and the Lake Geneva Antique Mall.

Countless opportunities to learn something new

While Lake Geneva may be best known as a vacation destination, the resort town features a number of excellent educational institutions. For starters, the small Geneva Lake Museum offers visitors a glance into the area’s history. And for outdoor enthusiasts, the 231-acre Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy is a perfect spot for bird watching, discovering native flora, or simply relaxing. And for an up-close look at American bison and more exotic creatures, check out the 800-acre Safari Lake Geneva.

Brewery and winery tours

A long day of golfing, hiking, spa treatments, or water activities is enough to make anyone thirsty. And with a variety of breweries, wine bars, and pubs to choose from, Lake Geneva can certainly help quench one’s thirst. Highlights include crowd favorites such as Geneva Lake Brewing Co., Studio Winery, and Barrique Wine and Brew Bar. Or venture to nearby orchards in Elkhorn, Burlington, or Genoa City for fresh apple cider.

Dining and restaurants

What’s a resort town without a respectable lineup of restaurants and dining options? Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s a good chance you’ll find it in or around downtown Lake Geneva. Fine dining can be found at the area’s high-end resorts, but there’s also numerous cafes. Highly rated establishments include Baker House Restaurant & Lounge, Geneva ChopHouse, and Hunt Club Steakhouse, among many others.

Written by AJ LaTrace
AJ LaTrace is a freelance writer, editor, and photographer covering Chicago real estate, architecture, and neighborhoods. His work has been featured in Chicago magazine, Time Out Chicago, Michigan Avenue Magazine, Curbed Chicago, Block Club Chicago, and others.