Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: for a town about 6.5 square miles and a population of a little over 7,800, this resort town really packs a punch.
As you may be aware, the location of Lake Geneva – close to a number of major metropolitan cities and situated on Geneva Lake – makes it a popular summer getaway destination. But as I am one for always discovering new places (or different perspectives of the same place), I wanted to check out this little Wisconsin gem in the colder weather. It didn’t disappoint! Here’s how we spent 28 hours during a weekend getaway in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Note: though this post contains sponsored links, all opinions are my own. I only share products, places and experiences I love and think my readers will love too.
(Click on one to jump to that section.)
Where to Stay
Obviously, when planning a weekend getaway, having your lodging nailed down is one of the most important to-do items on your list. We were fortunate to be able to stay at a family’s condo during our trip, but the town is home to a number of wonderful options. A few minutes’ drive outside of the main downtown area, the Grand Geneva is a gorgeous resort and ideal place to stay. Not only does it have great dining and lodging options, it’s also home to a humongous fitness and wellness complex that will have something for everyone (more on our WELL spa experience further down!).
Though I haven’t stayed here personally, the Maxwell Mansion is another option – especially if you’re looking for something unique. It was actually the first mansion built in Lake Geneva (the area is home to many) and along with its Baker House and Maxwell Estate sister properties, offers plenty of accommodation options. Geneva Inn, Mill Creek and The Ridge Hotel are some other great options worth checking into as well!
Must Try Eat & Drink Spots
Food. It’s one of the things that Riley and I agree has to be part of any trip. In fact, it’s literally one of the only things we agree on in terms of the agenda! As you know, if you’ve read any of my other posts (especially my guide to a getaway to Milwaukee), often times we plan our agenda around the food. Lake Geneva did not disappoint – even though we only got to experience a small handful of spots over the course of the 28 hours we were there.
In queso emergency, pray to cheesus that you save room for the bacon-confettied, 4-cheese and white truffle oil manifestation of delicious magic that is the Gnocchi. Whew. Now that I have that proclamation out of the way… Sopra Bistro was definitely worth a trip.
Reasonably priced, with a romantic Italian vibe, this is a great semi-casual dinner destination while in town. While I couldn’t pass up the Gnocchi (I rarely ever say no to anything with bacon, bread crumbs, truffle oil and cheese in it), I am really glad we opted to split that and the steak, to balance out a little of the richness. Pro tip: break up the gnocchi when you get it and start with whatever else you order first – the dish takes a long time to cool down!
The Bottle Shop
With over 400 local and imported varieties of wine, beers and beverages plus foodstuffs and daily wine tastings every Saturday and Sunday, it would be hard to find a reason not to visit this local shop.
Featured bottles include sweeter labels from local Wisconsin and Michigan wineries, plus imports from over 20 different countries, that are mostly all under $20. They even carry small batches of collaborations from the Field Museum’s beer program (bet you didn’t know they had that going, did ya?) and of course, carry Spotted Cow. Programming at The Bottle Shop also includes live music performances, monthly-featured artists in the lounge area (all art is for sale) and wine and painting classes.
Things to Do
ALLL the Shopping in Lake Geneva
Looking for unique holiday gifts? Downtown Lake Geneva will be your JAM. Trendy boutiques, specialty vendors, home goods shops and antique stores take up most of the real estate on Main Street. Again, since we were there for a grand total of 28 hours and the better half would rather watch a live pantomime of Moby Dick than go shopping with me, I had to be selective of the stores we checked out. Some of my favorites:
- JAYNE – perfect if you’re looking for on-trend wardrobe staples or even an outfit for a special event
- Fleming’s Ltd. – a collection of hand-selected Irish goods including authentic wool sweaters, fine jewelry, imported fragrances, food and confections
- Le Cookery – unique kitchenwares and cooking accessories for your food-obsessed friends
- Treasure Cove – definitely one of the weirder spots on this list, but if you are searching for a white elephant present for your office holiday party or family get together, make sure to put this on your agenda
Massage at the WELL Spa at the Grand Geneva Resort
I don’t know about you, but as much as I LOVE the holiday season, it also sometimes seriously stresses me out. I know, I know, I could combat that stress better by starting preparations earlier, or, as I’ve been told many a time, by simply “doing less” – but that’s a resolution for another year. (Maybe 2018 – we’ll see!)
Part of our goal for this quick getaway was to de-stress, and we couldn’t think of a better way to do that than to pamper ourselves with a treatment at the WELL Spa at the Grand Geneva. If the idea of spending a day relaxing and lounging around (but also having enough low-key activity to where you don’t feel guilty) appeals to you, do yourself a favor and book an appointment right now.
By no means are we spa experts, but we have had our fair share of massages, and I have to say, our experience at the Grand Geneva was one of the best we’ve had in a long time. The second we arrived, the staff made us feel completely at home. Eva gave us a quick tour of the gigantic fitness and wellness facility (which includes an indoor pool, whirlpool, rock climbing wall, basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts, a group fitness studio with classes and tons of cardio and strength training equipment) and showed us to the locker rooms.
I changed into a fluffy robes and slippers and met Riley in the relaxation lounge to unwind for a few minutes before our treatment (spoiler alert: we made it back here afterward for post-massage mimosas). After our massage therapists picked us up, we had the opportunity to share a little bit about our goal for the experience (which was of course, to relax). I’m sure I can speak for Riley when I say the next hour was nothing short of heavenly. From the automated tables to the hot packs they used on my back, to the warm compress they put over my eyes when they elevated my head after working on my neck and shoulders (which I have never had before but very much appreciated) the voodoo relaxation magic we experienced was incredible. Desiree and Cassie certainly knew what they were doing!
Holiday Festivities at the Grand Geneva
After our treatment and post-massage mimosas, we somehow made it to the Lobby Lounge of the Grand Geneva Resort in a relaxation-induced coma to check out the holiday décor before we headed out of town. If you have the opportunity, you should definitely stick around for holiday tea, or to at least enjoy a cocktail by the huge fireplace (because you guys KNOW I am obsessed with fireplaces).
Summing It Up
While I wish our time in Lake Geneva could have been a little longer, I was excited about our well-rounded yet not overwhelming itinerary. And because it’s only a quick 1.5-hour drive from Chicago, we will definitely be making another trip up there this winter for more relaxation; stay tuned for more updates! Have a favorite spot I missed? Leave it in the comments!