There's something magical about Lake Geneva. It's a charming town of posh spas, award-winning restaurants, and unique shops, but perhaps the real reason why we love the Lake Geneva region is the way it blends into the natural landscape. In the summertime, you'll watch the sunlight dance on the surface of Geneva Lake. In the wintertime, you are truly in the perfect place for outdoor adventures!
There's something for everyone in Lake Geneva, and we're here to help you plan the perfect getaway. From the sights of the city to fun on the lakeshore, we'll tell you top tips and top attractions to make your vacation wonderful.
Best Time To Visit The Lake Geneva Area
Although Lake Geneva lies in the heart of midwest Wisconsin, it's not all deep snows and frigid temperatures. In fact, Lake Geneva gets four full seasons. Since much of the tourism activity involves outdoor activities, the best time to visit Lake Geneva is when you can actually enjoy the activities you like!
Winters in Lake Geneva are cold and full of snow, but for skiers and snowboarders, this is exactly what's needed! In fact, winter is when Lake Geneva is at its busiest. Crowds are thinner, and prices are lower during spring and summer, but if you want to hit the slopes, you'll be out of luck!
When scheduling your vacation week, remember the many fun festivals locals and visitors enjoy! A big favorite is Winterfest. Winterfest is a massive annual event held in early February, dedicated to a wide range of fun winter activities. You'll enjoy beach bonfires, ice sculptures, hoverboarding, a cocoa crawl, and a front-row seat to the multi-day National Snow Sculpting Championship.
Crafted from 25 million pounds of ice, the massive Ice Castle of the Geneva National Resort & Club is jaw-dropping. This is the perfect place for photos, and you can crawl through ice tunnels, sit atop a frozen throne, or take in the spectacular light show.
Downtown Lake Geneva
A day spent taking a simple stroll through downtown Lake Geneva is a day well spent. Many local shops, charming boutiques, and unique restaurants are available to explore.
Geneva Lake Museum of History
Most of the attractions in Lake Geneva center around Gilded Age mansions, outdoor adventures, and resort stays, but history buffs also have something to enjoy. Here, you will learn more about the history of Lake Geneva and, specifically, the role the Potawatomi Native American tribe played. Visitors will also learn just how many notable people have ties to Lake Geneva!
Black Point Estate
There are some incredible houses in the Lake Geneva region, most of which have been turned into hotels and other lodging accommodations. However, the Black Point Estate, built by a Chicago beer meister, is open to tours, and you'll get an up-close view of the opulence of the age.
Let Mountain Top Ski Hill be your hub for a day of wintry adventures! This ski resort offers skiing, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeing, and snowboarding.
Not all of the Lake Geneva shoreline could be considered "beach," and most of what is required a resort pass to access. However, Riviera Beach is available to the public for only a few dollars daily. It's only open during the summer, but you spend an afternoon with surf, sand, and sun.
Since 1897, the Yerkes Observatory has been the base of operations for many famous astronomers, renowned scientists, and even Nobel Prize winners! Located just 15 minutes from Lake Geneva, the Yerkes Observatory has been hailed as the birthplace of modern astrophysics and is well worth a tour.
Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum
And now, for something completely different! This museum is located in the building where the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing was first founded. It serves as a museum of memorabilia and collectibles, as well as a hobby shop and gaming space.
Big Foot Beach State Park
Big Foot Beach State Park is a beautiful park located on the shores of Lake Geneva. It offers several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, and visitors can also go for a swim, picnic, and fish.
Gary Gygax Memorial Park
Gary Gygax Memorial Park is a public park that any game designer and gamer would appreciate. The park is dedicated to the memory of Gary Gygax, the co-creator of the iconic tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons. It was opened in 2019 and is designed to honor Gygax's legacy and his contributions to the gaming industry.
Things To Do
Southeastern Wisconsin is full of perfect ski hills. Some are perfect for alpine-style skiers, while others are great for those who prefer nordic. There are steep hills for black diamond thrills, and bunny hills for those new to the sport. Between Alpine Valley Resort and Grand Geneva Resort, you have well over 100 skiable acres to explore. The hiking trails in Big Foot Beach State Park transform perfect nordic routes once winter arrives.
Experience Ice Fishing
Guided fishing excursions are available all year round, but for a true Wisconsin experience, go ice fishing! Geneva Lake, as well as the nearby Lake Como and Delavan Lake, becomes a thick sheet of ice during the winter. Don't pass up the chance to drill down through the ice and bring up all sorts of fish for your Friday night fish fry!
Go For A Hike
The 26-mile Lake Geneva Shore Path follows an old Native American walking trail along the entire length of the lake shore. Areas of it are a bit steep, but it's mostly flat ground. You'll enjoy the beauty of the lake on one side and the backyard gardens of residents on the other.
Ride A Zipline
For a unique way to experience the natural beauty of Lake Geneva, visit Lake Geneva Zip Lines And Adventures. There are both four-line and nine-line courses, but you can also enjoy their high ropes course if you prefer not to completely dangle in thin air.
Enjoy The Nightlife
Wisconsin can claim the title of "booziest state in the USA," and there is a bar or lounge to fit any nightlife aesthetic. Owl Tavern feels like a hunter's lodge, Thumbs Up is a saloon with live DJs every weekend, and locals frequent Fat Cats and Freddie's West End. Would you rather enjoy fancy cocktails? Maxwell Mansion offers drinks every night, with all their trademark glitz and glamour.
Pamper Yourself With A Spa Day
With so many resorts situated around the shores of Lake Geneva, it would be a mistake not to enjoy a spa day pampering. Grand Geneva Resort and Abbey Resort are two top options, with whirlpools, a salt room, saunas, massages, and multiple facial treatments available.
Take A Day Trip
Lake Geneva is located near other great lakes, each with something different to offer. Only 20 minutes from Lake Geneva is the town of Delavan. Spend some time at Lake Lawn Resort, which has a peaceful waterside arboretum.
Go Horseback Riding
A forty-five-minute horseback ride on the trails is a great way to take in the natural beauty of the Lake Geneva area. Guided rides by Dan Patch Stables are a favorite with families!
Take A Boat Tour
Lake Geneva is known for its beautiful lake, and one of the best ways to see it is by taking a boat tour. Several tour companies offer various tours, including historical and romantic sunset tours.
Take a hot air balloon ride
For a unique and unforgettable experience, take a hot air balloon ride over Lake Geneva. You'll get a bird's-eye view of the lake and the surrounding area, and it's a great way to make memories with loved ones.
Try Local Flavors
Whether you are looking for a breakfast, lunch, or dinner spot, you must try some local flavors. This includes cheese curds, craft beer, Friday fish fry, frozen custard, BBQ, and cherry pie.
Where To Stay
There are many lodging options around Geneva Lake, depending on your preference and budget. Big Foot Beach State Park and Snug Lake Harbor offer campgrounds in both wooded and lakeside locations, as well as facilities for RV camping. Many spacious houses have also been converted to beautiful Beds & Breakfasts available. Check out the Boutique Inn, Humble BnB, Lazy Cloud Lodge, Seven Oaks Bed & Breakfast, and T.C. Smith Historic Bed & Breakfast.
Of course, you could also enjoy the luxurious accommodations of elegant resorts and downtown hotels! Multiple resorts offer spa services and golfing opportunities. You'll find hotels managed by well-known companies and unique hotels such as Maxwell Mansion and Baker House 1885. If you stay in a hotel or resort during your vacation, you'll receive a Geneva Transport Card, which gives you free public transportation access, as well as discounts at popular attractions.
Where Is Lake Geneva Located?
You'll find Lake Geneva at the southern border of Wisconsin, in Walworth County. It's only 10 miles away from the Illinois border, and you can drive to Chicago within an hour and a half. Lake Geneva is a small town, covering less than 6 square miles, and they intentionally keep it as small as possible. It sits on the eastern edge of the lake that gives it its name, Geneva Lake.
How To Get To Lake Geneva
There are quite a few airports near Lake Geneva. The closest one is the Milwaukee Airport, only 36 miles away. The Chicago O'Hare Airport is also close by, at 50 miles.
Lake Geneva has a Metra train station, and you can take a Metra train into Lake Geneva from both Milwaukee and Chicago. Both day and night buses regularly make stops in Lake Geneva. You can also rent a car and drive to your destination, and it's an hour, give or take, from either starting location!
Transportation Within The Lake Geneva Area
Lake Geneva is a town with a small footprint, so it's not too difficult to get around. If you have driven into town or rented a car, be aware that parking can be difficult to find, and most spots use paid parking meters. If you don't want to spend time checking public transit schedules, opt for renting a bike or scooter!
Lake Geneva is a popular destination, especially during the summer months. To avoid any last-minute hassle, it's a good idea to plan ahead and book your accommodation, activities, and dining reservations in advance.
Bring comfortable walking shoes
Lake Geneva is a great place for walking, hiking, and exploring, so pack comfortable shoes and hiking shoes if you plan to hike.