For years, Texans in the know have vacationed in the northeast seeking the cooler weather of the Great Lakes region. When temperatures hit triple digits in Texas and are likely to stay there for several more months, it is time to seek out cooler destinations. Lake Geneva, a popular summer vacation spot nestled in the southeastern part of Wisconsin, is less than two hours from Chicago and one hour away from Milwaukee, making it an easily accessible travel locale.
In the early 1900s, this sleepy midwestern town with miles of beautiful shoreline became home to sprawling multi-million dollar lakefront estates owned by wealthy Chicagoans like the Wrigley, Sears and Schwinn families. The grand estates are ever-present, and most recently, the 14,145-square-foot Driehaus Estate that sits on 40 acres along Lake Geneva sold for a cool $36 million making it the most expensive home sale in Wisconsin history. In addition to wealthy Chicagoans, Lake Geneva was handpicked by Hugh Hefner as a location for his famed Playboy Club and Hotel in 1968. The bunny resort basked in the celebrity spotlight and was visited by stars including Bob Hope and Sonny and Cher until it eventually closed in 1981.
Visitors to Lake Geneva can get a history lesson and tour of the spring-fed lake aboard Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s U.S. mailboat tour. Lake Geneva mailboats were born out of necessity in 1916 when rural roads were too hard to access. Mail jumpers deliver mail by jumping from the passenger-carrying mailboat onto docks, where they run to the mailbox and then hurry back to jump onto the boat as it floats by. While watching this feat of agility and athleticism, which happens seasonally from June until September, passengers learn about the history of the lake and its inhabitants.
Complimentary lake-fed breezes come with every outdoor activity in Lake Geneva, and while patio season is short in Texas, luxuriating outside is par for the course in Wisconsin. The lake itself offers an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation such as kayaking, jet skiing, boating and more. Outdoor equipment rentals are also easy to come by at various locations in the city, including Clear Water Outdoor for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards and Avant Cycle Cafe for e-bikes. However, no equipment is necessary to traverse the Lake Geneva Shore Path, which boasts over 20 miles of walking trails around the lake. For those looking for more excitement, Lake Geneva Canopy Tours features multiple zip lines and sky bridges for a thrilling time.
Eats & Drinks
Lake Geneva is home to a wealth of delicious food and drink options - many with gorgeous indoor and outdoor seating with lake views. Foodies can enjoy everything from breweries and wineries to USDA prime steaks at Geneva Chophouse or woodfired pizza at Oakfire. Opus at The Belfry House, a recently opened fine-dining restaurant, offers a decadent multi-course French dining experience from notable chef Phillipe Chevalier.
Sleep & Relaxation
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is the largest full-service resort in Lake Geneva, where guests can relax at the spa or hit the links of one of its two championship golf courses. On 1300 acres of beautifully manicured grounds, the resort has 600 rooms, a fitness facility with 50 exercise classes per week and three restaurants and bars. For those looking for a bespoke escape, the Belfry House offers an exclusive twelve-room boutique hotel experience. Each room is equipped with a soaking tub, fireplace and custom furnishings to create a one-of-a-kind experience.