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20 Fun Things to Do in Lake Geneva by a Wisconsinite

Looking for fun things to do in Lake Geneva? This post has you covered!

Lake Geneva is a beautiful spot to visit at any time of year. This idyllic city in Walworth County, Wisconsin, is just a short drive from Milwaukee. There, you’ll find gilded old mansions, luxury resorts, world-class golf courses, stunning beaches, and beautiful lakeside panoramas.

Lake Geneva, as it’s fondly named after the body of water it rests on, has a storied past that goes back to the golden era and even centuries ago. This resort town has been long regarded as the “Newport of the Midwest” and is less than an hour from Milwaukee and only 1.5 hours from Chicago. And interestingly, it used to be a haven for millionaires, prohibition bosses, and native tribes. 

Aerial drone photo of boat piers and docks in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Today, Lake Geneva is the epitome of a picture-postcard destination, especially in the summer and fall, as the surrounding nature is at its liveliest colors. It’s the best city to try lake activities, arts and crafts fairs, walking expeditions, and historic estate tours. 

All this and more, you can make the most out of your Lake Geneva vacation by trying these activities tailored for any type of visitor.

As a Wisconsinite, I’ve been to this stunning town more times than I can count! I’ve pretty much explored everything there and have put together this list of the top things to do in Lake Geneva so you can spend less time planning and more time having a great time around the lake.

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20 Best Things to Do in Lake Geneva, WI

A woman in a pink coat and floral skirt standing in front of a chandelier inside Maxwell Mansion in Lake Geneva.
This is me inside the Maxwell Mansion in Lake Geneva.

Do a Staycation at Maxwell Mansion

Maxwell Mansion was built in 1856 and is the very first of its kind to be constructed in Lake Geneva. Lush gardens and century-old oak trees surround the luxury estate, while its interiors are decked with antique decorations and furnishings. 

It has an outdoor pool and modern amenities so tourists can have a convenient stay and enjoy the charm of the mansion. (This is where my friend, Shannon, was married a few years ago. I thought the ceremony here was AMAZING.)

Best of all, Maxwell Mansion is conveniently located close to all the fun activities in Lake Geneva. So you can easily explore the town during the day, then return to the comfort and luxury of the mansion in the evening.

If you’re local and just want to enjoy Maxwell Mansion for the day (vs spending the night), head to their Tiki Tuesday during the summer months! From 11 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays throughout the summer they open the pool to the public for Tiki Tuesday. (Must be 21 or over.)

Enjoy Big Foot Beach State Park

If you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, Big Foot Beach State Park is a must-visit. This beautiful park offers a variety of activities for everyone. 

It’s located on Lake Geneva’s shores and is a natural recreation area with campgrounds, wooded campsites with amenities, miles of scenic hiking trails, and a stunning beach with 900 feet of shoreline. 

You can also enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, which is clean and well-kept. The water is clear and refreshing, perfect for a quick dip on a hot day.

For the more adventurous, you can rent a canoe or a kayak and explore the lake. The park also offers camping facilities if you want to extend your stay. You’ll be surrounded by the serene beauty of nature, making it a peaceful retreat away from the city.

Visit Black Point Estate and Gardens

Black Pointe Estate is a Queen Anne-style home with a rich history dating as far back as 1888 and was built by Chicago beer baron Conrad Seipp. The architectural style of this 20-bedroom home is unparalleled and it’s filled with antique furnishings and decors from the bygone era. 

It’s one of the most recognizable historic estates in the area and is currently managed by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Guests will have to take a boat coming here, similar to how Conrad Seipp (owner) and his family did it centuries ago.

For history buffs, the guided tour is a must-do. You’ll learn about the Seipp family, the original owners, and their fascinating stories. After the tour, find a quiet spot in the gardens and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

Black Point Estate and Gardens is not just a trip back in time, but also a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of Lake Geneva.

Explore the Geneva Lake Museum

The museum holds most of Geneva Lake’s and the surrounding communities’ rich history and culture. 

Here, you’ll find a well-preserved schoolroom from the 1890s, a vintage dental workstation from the 1920s, and a fire engine house from the 1890s. 

The museum is also part of the Main Street Historic District, where 700 buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries have been restored. Plus, it also hosts special events and exhibits throughout the year, so there’s always something new to see.

Lake geneva ice castles lit up at night
It’s really cool to see the ice castles lit up at night!
LAKE GENEVA, WISCONSIN - March 2, 2019: Charming female characters dressed as Anna and Elsa from Frozen at the annual ice castles winter attraction

See the Ice Castles in the Winter

Wisconsin in the winter is a magical place to be, and Lake Geneva’s Ice Castles is a must-see! 

Thousands of glistening icicles, larger-than-life ice structures, frozen tunnels, and ice castles make up a winter fantasy world. In addition, there are ice slides and LED-light icicle shows to be enjoyed by the whole family.

The Ice Castles usually open in late December or early January, depending on the weather. They remain open until the ice begins to melt, usually in late February or early March. So, if you’re planning a winter trip to Lake Geneva, make sure to check the Ice Castles’ official website for the most up-to-date information.

The 2024 dates were recently announced, and it’ll be open from January 31. That’s when the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship will begin and go on for 3 days. It’s definitely something you want to consider checking out if you’re in the area.

The Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, a short drive from Lake Geneva.

Visit the Yerkes Observatory

Located in Williams Bay, just a short drive from Lake Geneva is the Yerkes Observatory. Established in 1892, it has historical and astronomical significance as it used to house the largest refracting telescope and was the center of research for over a century. 

Today, the observatory’s 40-inch refractor and the giant telescope are a thing of wonder to locals and tourists who want to spot the moon, Saturn, and Mars up close.

The observatory offers guided tours that are both informative and engaging. You’ll get a chance to explore the grand building, learn about its history, and even peek through the giant telescope. It’s an experience that’s both educational and fun, making it a perfect activity for families.

Don’t forget to check out the observatory’s calendar for special events like stargazing nights and lectures by renowned astronomers. And if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a meteor shower or a passing comet.

Take a Hot Balloon Ride Over Lake Geneva

For a view and perspective of Lake Geneva like no other, a scenic hot air balloon ride does the trick. 

You’ll get front-row seats to incredible sunset and sunrise views over the horizon, as well as panoramic views of the quaint town and lush pastures below. Ideal for romantic couples wanting a unique getaway or for birthday celebrations in the sky.

The hot air balloon ride is also a great way to see the landmarks of Lake Geneva from a different perspective. You can spot the Maxwell Mansion, the Black Point Estate and Gardens, and even the Yerkes Observatory from up in the sky.

Go on a Ziplining Adventure!

A zipline adventure is in order for those wanting a fun and thrilling escapade in Lake Geneva—best experienced by both adults and kids! 

Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures has a nine-line zipline tour set in a 100-acre land, complete with 16 obstacle courses and a four-sided climbing tower. It’s a different but exciting way to explore the sights.

This adventure park is known for its friendly and professional staff, who ensure your safety while you have fun. They provide all the necessary gear and a brief training session before you start, so you don’t need any previous ziplining experience to enjoy this adventure.

Take a Safari in Lake Geneva (Seriously!)

You don’t have to travel to Kenya for a safari, take your own vehicle and tour Safari Lake Geneva! It’s a 75-acre safari excursion where you’ll see exotic animals in their natural habitat. 

It’s home to nilgai antelopes, camels, llamas, and muskrats, as well as a group of Brahman cattle and scimitar-horned oryx. I think this Lake Geneva attraction is SO cool. And don’t worry, the friendly staff provides you with a guide to help identify the animals.

Take a Boat Tour with Lake Geneva Cruise Lines

Marvel at the beautiful historic estates and mansions lining the shores of Lake Geneva through a relaxing cruise. You can choose from a narrated luncheon tour to a Sinatra-inspired dinner cruise. 

Their most popular tour is the US Mailboat Tour, an old form of boat courier service that only a few places still observe including Lake Geneva. You’ll be delivering letters and packages to 75 houses in the neighborhood.

A golf course with a pond at Golf Grand Geneva Resort Golf Courses.

Golf Grand Geneva Resort Golf Courses

A premier destination for golfing—with The Brute and The Highlands taking center stage in the form of 18-hole golf courses. 

The first is the most popular as the course spans in over 7,000 yards of rolling greens with 68 bunkers and sand traps. 

The latter is a Scottish-style golf course with spacious fairways, stunning foliage, and creeks ideal for strategic golfers.

A man riding a bike at White River State Trail.

Bike the White River State Trail

The White River Biking Trail is an 11.4-mile point-to-point trail near Lake Geneva and is the best spot for avid bikers wanting to explore its natural beauty. 

A scenic trail lined with beautiful floras greets bikers as they pass through this moderately trafficked trail best experienced from April to October.

The trail is well-maintained and flat, making it perfect for bikers of all skill levels. You can either bring your own bike or rent one from a local shop. 

Watch the Dancing Horses

A stunning display of equestrian artistry can be seen at The Dancing Horses Theatre where a talented team of professionals with a wide range of horse breeds dance together for a magical performance unlike any other. 

This live show is performed in a modern 300-seat theatre that offers a bird show and a petting zoo experience as well. It’s perfect for families look for a fun night out!

Two people paddling in a kayak on Lake Geneva, WI.

Get Your Adventure on with Clear Water Outdoor Sports

Watersports are plenty in Lake Geneva—paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing—you name it, they handle it. 

Clear Water Outdoors gets you a front seat in exploring the pristine waters of Geneva Lake and its natural wonders through these sports. They accept reservations online and through direct bookings in the shop.

If you prefer to stay on land, they also offer bike rentals. The White River State Trail is a popular biking route with its scenic views and easy terrain.

Ski The Mountaintop at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

A great place to take the family out on some ski fun, The Mountaintop features 20 ski runs including beginner courses for kids learning how to ski for the first time (or adults like me who are still trying to get the hang of it, haha). 

The resort has some of the best ski hills in the state with terrains primed for sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and more.

After a day on the slopes, there’s nothing better than relaxing at the resort’s spa. It offers a range of treatments designed to soothe tired muscles and rejuvenate the spirit.

A brown horse looking out of a wooden stall at Dan Patch Stables.

Ride (or Just Pet) the Horses at Dan Patch Stables

A family-friendly and year-round establishment located in Lake Geneva’s Grand Geneva Resort. 

Well-trained and gentle horses along with an expert guide allows you to see the scenic countryside in a special way, as opposed to just driving through the routes. Dan Patch Stables also has a petting zoo, carriage rides, and pony rides for the kids.

Go for a Spin with Lake Geneva Scooter Tours & Rentals

This top-rated attraction is a must-try for anyone or a group of friends to explore Lake Geneva’s delightful spots. The open-air, rolling hills, and charming lakeside paths make for an unforgettable riding experience. 

The rental shop offers a variety of scooters that you can hire for the day or even for a couple of hours. Joiners are given a helmet, a map, and a comfortable automatic scooter to start their journey.

Not only does this provide a fun and unique mode of transportation, but it also allows you to enjoy the beautiful environment at your own pace. You can zip around the lake, explore the city’s charming streets, or even take a tour into the nearby countryside.

Two pictures of a woman getting a massage at Avani Spa and Well Spa.

Relax at Avani Spa or Well Spa & Salon

Unwind and relax at Lake Geneva’s best spa destinations—Avani Spa and Well Spa—both offer the perfect avenue for rejuvenating treatments. 

Avani Spa, located at The Abbey Resort, offers a serene environment where you can relax and rejuvenate. Their menu of services includes massages, facials, and body treatments. The spa also features a pool, whirlpool, sauna, and steam room, making it a perfect place for a day of relaxation.

Well Spa & Salon at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is another haven for relaxation seekers. Here, you can indulge in a variety of treatments, from classic massages to innovative therapies. They also offer salon services, so you can get a new look for your Lake Geneva adventure.

See a Show at The Tristan Crist Magic Theatre

The Tristan Crist Magic Theatre is a favorite among magic enthusiasts for its mind-blowing tricks and illusions anyone will be able to see up close. 

The magician, Tristan Crist, is known for his engaging performances and his ability to connect with the audience. The theatre is perfect for all ages, making it a great family outing. Just remember to book your tickets in advance, as the shows tend to sell out quickly. 

The 51-seat theatre offers an hour-long live magic show with a bit of comedy and is located on Main Street. The Tristan Crist Magic Theatre also hosts shows at other venues for a larger audience reach.

Winter picture of "Baker House" Restaurant with Snowy-covered roof , Lake Geneva WI , 01/27/2019

Visit The Baker House

A Queen Anne-style home with 13 originally-tiled fireplaces, hardwood floors, and detailed carvings. Its construction finished in 1885 and it has become an iconic landmark in Lake Geneva to date. 

It now functions as a boutique hotel and restaurant with modern amenities but the house is still decked with original antique decorations.

Plus, the Baker House also hosts a variety of events throughout the year. From their famous Sunday Champagne Brunch to their Wine Tasting Wednesdays, there’s always something going on. 

And if you’re in the mood for some relaxation, head up to their rooftop lounge. It offers stunning views of the lake and is a perfect spot to unwind after a day of exploring.

Where to Eat at Lake Geneva

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / USA - January 26th, 2020: Popeye's Casual Dining on Lake Geneva. Quirky, venerable landmark with lake views & a menu of roasted meats, sandwiches & seafood entrees.

Popeye’s on Lake Geneva

When you’re in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, dining at Popeye’s is a must. No, not the fast-food chain! Popeye’s on Lake Geneva is a local favorite, offering a unique dining experience with a stunning view of the lake. This family-friendly restaurant is known for its delicious, hearty meals and welcoming atmosphere.

Their menu is diverse, offering something for everyone. From seafood to steaks, salads to sandwiches, and of course, their famous rotisserie chicken, there’s a dish that’s sure to satisfy your cravings. 

And let’s not forget about their appetizers! The cheese curds and onion rings are crowd favorites. The restaurant’s rustic charm, combined with its warm, friendly service makes the experience even better.

Oakfire Lake Geneva

Situated right next to Popeye’s is a great restaurant that specializes in wood-fired pizzas. You can also get delicious salads, sandwiches, and even gluten-free pizza crusts here. 

And if you have kids, they’ll love the Mickey mouse-shaped pizzas that are always a hit with the little ones!

The Grandview Restaurant

Located at The Geneva Inn, The Grandview Restaurant provides a fine dining experience like no other. 

The menu is a mix of American and French cuisine, with dishes like filets, lobster bisque, and crème brûlée. The panoramic views of the lake make every meal here a memorable one.

Simple Café

If you’re looking for a place to have a cozy breakfast or lunch, Simple Café is the place to be. This restaurant prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients in their dishes. 

From their hearty omelets to their delicious sandwiches, there’s something for everyone at Simple Café.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Lake Geneva? Let me know in the comments!

20 Fun Things to do in Lake Geneva by a Wisconsinite

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