25 Best Things to do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
A travel guide to Lake Geneva, WI with the best places to stay, activities and best restaurants in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Lake Geneva, WI is one of the best weekend getaways with fun and exciting activities like zip-lining, boat cruises, hot air balloon rides, magic shows in a renowned theatre, hiking, camping and skiing!
It’s known for the historic mansions and estates that were built in the 1800s, and give the area a unique picturesque touch. It’s a great place for honeymooners, families, and friends alike.
So, choosing Lake Geneva is thus the ideal weekend trip in Wisconsin! Wondering why? Just have a look at all the amazing things to do here!
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Useful Travel Information for Wisconsin
Where to stay in Lake Geneva, WI
In-depth guide: The Best Hotels in Lake Geneva, WI
How to Get to Lake Geneva
How to get from Chicago to Lake Geneva?
There are three ways to get from Chicago to Lake Geneva:
- Take the train from Chicago Union Station to Fox Lake, then take a taxi from Fox Lake to Lake Geneva (2 h) – Check trains here
- Take the train from Chicago OTC to Harvard, then take a taxi from Harvard to Lake Geneva (2 h, 20 min) – Check trains here
- Go via car (1.5 h)
How to get from Milwaukee to Lake Geneva?
You can either drive from Milwaukee to Lake Geneva (1 h) or you can take the bus from Wisconsin Ave & 7th Street to Mukwonago Park & Ride. From there, you take a taxi from there to Lake Geneva (1 h, 10 min).
Lake Geneva is easy to reach from Milwaukee, and it’s thus perfect when looking for a day trip from Milwaukee.
1. Visit the Geneva Lake Museum
The Geneva Lake Museum is a wonderful representation of Lake Geneva’s past. It contains various relics and buildings that bring the area’s history to life. The museum walks you through various shops and artifacts from the 1800s.
You can check out old car models, train models and other interesting artifacts. There’s a replica of the old fire station, as well as a classroom!
There are many docents who will guide you through the museum and give you a detailed history of every artifact. You can also turn this into an educational tour with your children!
- Adults: $9
- Seniors: $8
- College Students: $8
- Active military personnel: free for the person and up to 5 family members
- Members: free
2. Explore Downtown Lake Geneva
Downtown Lake Geneva is a food hub with many restaurants, bars, and shopping malls.
A great way of exploring Downtown Lake Geneva is to rent a scooter and explore the area on your own! You can also walk around and explore the area on your two feet.
Here are a few things to do in downtown Lake Geneva:
- Chill at Flat Iron Park
- Explore the bars in Downtown Lake Geneva: Fat Cats, Hogs & Kisses, and Champs Sports Bar & Grill.
- Go shopping! Browse through antiques at the Cornerstone Shop & Gallery and shop for souvenirs at Geneva Gifts.
- Check out Geneva Lake Museum
You should definitely consider satisfying your taste buds at Downtown Lake Geneva Restaurants. Here are some of the best restaurants in Lake Geneva:
- Lake-Aire Restaurant – their all-day breakfast menu is delicious!
- Oakfire – this lake-front bistro serves delicious food with a wonderful view. Try their calamari, buffalo mozzarella pizza, and burrata (appetizer).
- Egg Harbor Café – this is one of the best downtown Lake Geneva restaurants for breakfast and brunch. They have a separate gluten-free menu, too.
- Popeye’s on Lake Geneva – serves amazing fried seafood and rotisserie chicken!
3. Visit the Yerkes Observatory
Update July 9th 2020: The Yerkes Observatory is currently closed!
If you’re looking for an extraordinary architectural, historical and astronomical experience, head over to the Yerkes Observatory! The 40-inch refractor and the huge telescope are fascinating and interesting.
On a good day, you’ll be able to spot Saturn, Mars, and the Moon!
The Observatory was established in 1892, giving it immense historical significance. At that time, it was home to the largest refracting telescope.
The Yerkes Observatory was the centre of astronomical research for over a century! Take a tour of the Observatory with a guide to learn all about its history.
Entrance fee: $10
4. Hit the best beaches near Lake Geneva, WI
Bathe under the sun at the beach, go swimming, play beachside volleyball, and have a picnic with your family!
Take a day off from your busy routine and de-stress yourself at the beach. Considered as some of the best beaches in Wisconsin, the area is perfect to cast away your worries and enjoy your vacation.
Here are some of the best beaches near Lake Geneva, WI:
- Lake Geneva Public Beach – it’s a busy beach with a good family-oriented crowd!
- Big Foot Beach State Park – you can camp, fish, swim and go on a boat ride here!
- Riviera Beach – Riviera Beach is a beautiful and clean beach where you can also get boat rentals in Lake Geneva. You have to pay an entrance fee for the beach, though.
- Fontana Beach – a beautiful, family-friendly beach where your kids can have a picnic and play around! The entrance fee is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
- Williams Bay Beach – a well-maintained beach that has picnic tables, clean bathrooms and a great walking trail.
5. Enjoy the best restaurants in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
There’s no better way to explore Lake Geneva than to go restaurant hopping! Lake Geneva is home to wonderful restaurants that serve delicious food.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Lake Geneva, WI that you must try:
- The Next Door Pub & Pizzeria – Try their cheese curds, giant pretzels, and mac and cheese pizza! It’s one of the best restaurants in Lake Geneva WI.
- Joni’s Diner – This restaurant brings back the 50s vibe. Great place for breakfast and lunch!
- Anthony’s Steakhouse & Seafood – one of the best restaurants in Lake Geneva Wisconsin. They serve delicious, scrumptious dinner. Try their prime ribs and fish fry.
- Tuscan Tavern & Grill – their ribeye is delicious!
6. Wander at the Lake Geneva Shore Path
Start your morning by hiking at the Lake Geneva Shore Path, which stretches for over 20 miles. Scroll through the backyard of historic mansions and spot magnificent buildings on your way.
There’s nothing more soothing and relaxing than walking the Lake Geneva Shore Path.
It’s just you and nature here! Check out Black Point Estate, The Echoes (a beautiful mansion), and have a cocktail at the Pier 290.
You can also take your dog with you, but make sure you have a leash and clean up after your dog because the path crosses private property at multiple points. Also, don’t trespass!
7. Stay in a historic mansion
The Maxwell Estate is home to the historic Maxwell Mansion, the first mansion constructed in Lake Geneva. The Maxwell Mansion was constructed in 1856 and is one of the best places to stay in Lake Geneva.
The mansion is surrounded by magnificent gardens, oak trees (some of which are over a century old!), and an outdoor pool.
If you are planning a luxury getaway, make sure to have a look at my guide with the best luxury resorts in Wisconsin.
8. Rent a romantic cabin in Lake Geneva, WI
Plan a getaway with your darling and spend quality time in Lake Geneva. Explore nearby restaurants, have a candle-light dinner, and get cozy in romantic cabins surrounded by raw nature.
Here are some of the best romantic cabins in Lake Geneva, WI:
- The Bay House – a luxurious cabin, perfect for a romantic honeymoon! – Check reviews here
- Seven Oaks Bed & Breakfast – contains one of the best romantic cabins in Lake Geneva, WI with whirlpool tubs and heated floors. It is one of the most romantic cabins in Wisconsin. – Check reviews here
- Williams Bay Home w/Fire Pit – perfect for those who are looking for a luxury getaway in Lake Geneva, WI. The views are gorgeous! – Check reviews here
9. Get a spa treatment
Unwind at the end of a long and tiring day after exploring Lake Geneva by getting a spa treatment! It’s one of the best things to do in Lake Geneva, WI.
Sit back, relax, and let your masseuse ease the tension in your muscles while you sip on a cocktail or wine.
Here are some of the best spas in Lake Geneva:
- Element Massage Studio
- Jasmine Salon & Spa
- Loosen Up ltd – try their couples massage therapy with your sweetheart!
- Clear Waters Salon and Day Spa
10. Visit the Safari Lake Geneva
Get an authentic safari experience in the comfort of your vehicle or get aboard one of the Safari Lake Geneva’s guided vehicles!
In Safari Lake Geneva, you stay in your car and drive through the routes while the animals around you are free to walk wherever they want. This gives a great experience and makes this place a great place for a vacation in Wisconsin.
The animals you can spot include camels, zebras, llamas, alpacas, miniature horses, bison, water buffaloes and yaks!
11. Go Zip-Lining
Zip-Lining is a thrilling and adventurous experience that gives you an adrenaline rush!
Overcome your fear of heights and go Zip-Lining at Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures. They have a 100-acre land that’s ideal for zip-lining.
Zip-lining is one of the best activities in Lake Geneva. They have a total of 9 ziplines for you to explore! It’s a fun outdoor activity for adults and kids.
- Short course zipline tour: 4 zip lines for $49.99 per person!
- Full course zipline tour: 9 ziplines, 5 sky bridges, 3 spiral staircases for $99.99 per person!
Group discounts and discounts for kids are available.
12. Attend a show in Dancing Horses
If you’re a horse lover, head over to The Dancing Horses theatre! Watch a splendid live show of horses and trainers performing tricks. Different breeds of horses come together and display their dazzling performances.
It’s a great way to keep your kids entertained too! You can also observe the horses up close to appreciate how beautiful they are.
Ticket price: $32.50
13. Enjoy the best bars in Lake Geneva
Head over to Lake Geneva’s best bars and try their famous drinks! There are many upbeat bars that offer a lively and wild nightlife for you to have fun! You can also hang out with your friends and watch your favorite sports while sipping on cocktails.
Here are some of the best bars in Lake Geneva:
- Barrique Bistro & Wine Bar – try their wine flights!
- Thumbs Up – a wild and lively bar where you can dance to the upbeat music!
- Fat Cats – a lively dive bar with a laid-back atmosphere!
- Hogs and Kisses – a great place for a bachelorette party.
14. Visit breweries in Lake Geneva
If you’re up for having a conversation and socialize, head over to one of the many breweries in Geneva. Have a beer, chill out with friends and unwind at the end of a stressful day!
Here are some of the best breweries in Lake Geneva:
- Geneva Lake Brewing Company
- Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub – they have their own microbrewery! Try their Mai Bock and Special Amber.
- Topsy Turvy Brewery
15. Do a boat tour in Lake Geneva
There are many boat rentals in Lake Geneva that let you explore the beautiful lake. Take a boat tour and let the waves of the Lake soothe your mind. Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers exceptional boat tours in Lake Geneva, WI.
Explore the beautiful mansions and estates along the shores. It’s a great way to spend some quality time with your friends and family. You can even have a cocktail boat tour!
You also have a variety of Lake Geneva boat tours available to choose from. You can choose to explore the entire lake or just the Bay, depending on how much time you have.
Here are other boat rentals in Lake Geneva:
- Marina Bay Boat Rentals
- Lake Geneva Boat Line
- Jerry’s Majestic Marine Rentals
16. Do a day trip to Lake Como, Wisconsin
Located at a drive of 10-15 minutes away from Lake Geneva, Lake Como is a wonderful place for a day trip. It’s known for its dive bars, like Freddie’s West End and DJ’s In the Drink!
The Geneva Lakeshore isn’t populated at all, so it’s a perfect place for a picnic with your family, away from the crowds. You can also arrange a candle-light dinner by the shore here for your significant other!
17. Indulge in Lake Geneva Pie Company
Lake Geneva Pie Company is one of the best places in Lake Geneva, WI for breakfast! Their berry pies and coconut pies are out of the world: fresh and heavenly!
They have many crust options for you to choose from so that you can get the perfect heavenly pie for yourself. Moreover, you can also get frozen pies to eat back home whenever you want to!
Their breakfast quiche is also to die for!
18. Be blown away at the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Lake Geneva, WI, head over to the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre to get your mind blown!
Watch Tristan Crist perform incredible magic tricks and illusions that will keep your eyes glued to the show! Yes, I’m talking about high-end magic tricks like cutting a lady in half.
The Tristan Crist Magic Theatre is one of the top Lake Geneva attractions and provides great entertainment for kids and adults alike!
Entrance fee: $35 plus tax per person.
19. Visit a winery near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Love tasting wine? Head over to Studio Winery and Geneva Lake Distillery! Sip on Lake Geneva’s finest wine, relax and soak up the amazing atmosphere while listening to live music.
Studio Winery also has an art studio and a music studio. It’s a great place to take your significant other on a date! If you’re going in a group of 7 or larger, make sure you reserve your wine-tasting seats in advance.
Price: The price ranges from $25 to $50 per person, depending on which package you choose!
20. Go camping near Lake Geneva, WI
Camping near Lake Geneva, WI is fun and thrilling. You get to enjoy all the wilderness that nature has to offer. Take a retreat from your stressful routine, and spend some quality time with your family while camping!
Here are some of the best camps in Lake Geneva Wisconsin:
- One of the best camps in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin can be set up in the Big Foot Beach State Park. It’s a beautiful park with tent sites, electric sites, shower facilities, amazing hiking trails, a nice beach, and picnic areas.
- Coachman’s Terrace – great area for RV camping! – Check RV rentals here
21. Go hiking in Big Foot Beach State Park
The hiking trails at the Big Foot Beach State Park aren’t that challenging, so you don’t need to be super-fit to go on a hike here.
The Park offers about 6.5 miles of picturesque hiking trails!
The orange hiking trail is prettier than the others. The green trail is the longest hiking trail. Visit at the end of the fall season to witness a peak of colors at the park!
22. Enjoy fall foliage near Lake Geneva, WI (in autumn)
Lake Geneva has one of the most spectacular and long-lasting autumn fall foliage!
The mansions and estates built in the 1800s only add to the beauty of the foliage, giving you picturesque views. No wonder that it is considered one of the best lakes in Wisconsin!
You can explore the fall foliage on foot, land, bicycle or even with your car.
Here are some of the best spots to get the best fall foliage views:
- Take a walk along the Lake Geneva Shore Path – you get to witness the beautiful fall foliage with mansions and grand estates in the backdrop!
- Take a drive through Snake Road
- Go on a cruise in Lake Geneva
23. Go skating at the Ridge (in winter)
The Ridge Hotel *** has an outdoor ice-skating rink that’s the perfect outdoor winter activity! There’s a rental available too where you can rent the equipment or you can even bring your own.
There’s also a fire pit near the rink where you can absorb some heat and bite on some s’ mores!
It’s thus a great thing to do in Wisconsin in winter in order to spend the coldest season.
24. Go skiing at The Mountain Top Ski & Adventure Center at Grand Geneva
With 20 different ski runs, this skiing center is the best place to take your kids and have some fun! Beginner courses are also available for your kids if they want to learn how to ski.
It’s a great place for the family and one of the most fun things to do in Lake Geneva, WI.
You can also try ice skating and sledding here!
25. Attend Lake Geneva Winterfest (in winter)
Attending the Winterfest is one of the most fun things to do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It’s an exciting 5-day winter event that many await every year! It’s a thrilling and fun event, perfect for all age groups.
Here are some highlights/activities of the event:
- US National Snow Sculpting Championship – every year, artists display their work in the form of ice sculptures! The sculptures are displayed and you can even cast your vote as to which you think is the best!
- Outdoor activities – human dog sled races, skiing, snowboarding, torchlight parade and many other outdoor activities are available!
- Free film screenings
- A performance by fire spinners
- The Winterfest Ball – dance to the music and sip on cocktails!
- Explore the ice castles at Geneva National
Lake Geneva Winterfest has a lot to offer and it’s one of the best events of the year. Don’t miss out on it!
Short FAQ about Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
You can enjoy skating at the Ridge, attend Lake Geneva Winterfest, human dog sled races, skiing, or snowboarding in the winter season.
You can visit Geneva Lake Shore Path with free entry, Paradise Golf Park and enjoy the free beaches in Lake Geneva, WI.
You can go to Aerial Stunt Kites, Cornerstone Shop & Gallery etc. for the best shopping experience in Lake Geneva, WI.