Whether you’re a new visitor to the Lake Geneva region or a loyal follower returning year after year, here is a convenient checklist of the things that make Lake Geneva, the place to visit.
1) A Classic Lake Cruise
The narrated boat tours by Lake Geneva Cruise Line give you the history of all those magnificent mansions that rim the shoreline. There’s also an evening dinner cruise and the famous U.S. mailboat tour with mail “jumpers” delivering the mail to piers with the boat never slowing down. Also add to your lake cruise checklist a tour of Delavan Lake aboard the double-decker Lake Lawn Queen. (Did you know there are five Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes on Delavan Lake?)
2) The Thrill of the Lakes
There are plenty of opportunities for skiing, wakeboarding and, the latest sensation, wake surfing. Gage Marine’s Wake Experience even includes private lessons. Gordy’s Marine also has great boats to practice wake boarding and wake surfing, with pilots who are experienced coaches for these watersports. If paddling is more your pace, consider stand-up paddleboard and kayak rentals from Clear Water Outdoor. In the winter, enjoy a hovercraft ride on the frozen water of Geneva Lake from TLS WindSled.
3) The Historic Geneva Lake Shore Path
At 21 miles, it’s best to break up your walk into segments so you can slow down and soak in the million-dollar views of the estates built after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 by the likes of Chicago’s rich and famous, including the
Wrigleys, Maytags and Schwinns. These summer “cottages” will take your breath away and you’ll get to walk through the front yards of them all. Enjoy the lush garden views to one side and the tranquil water views to the other as sailboats and excursion boats glide across the crystal-clear waters.
A safari. Dancing horses. Yes, we listed three attractions with this one, but they all fall under the category of “things to do that will make you feel like a kid.” The Tristan Crist Magic Theatre is home to illusionist Tristan Crist,
who’s known for his large-scale illusions performed up close and personal. Safari Lake Geneva is a wildlife preserve that’s home to animals from around the world roaming free while visitors traverse the grounds “safely caged” in their cars. The marquee show at The Dancing Horses Theatre is full of pageantry, music and a cast of performers (both horses and trainers) in exquisite costumes.
6) Lakeview Dining
With three lakes in the area — Geneva Lake, Delavan Lake and Lake Como — the lakeview dining options are plentiful. Ask for a table upstairs at Oakfire, on the beach deck at Mars Resort, at a window seat at The Grandview
Restaurant or right on the beach at Pier 290.
7) A Walk Through the Flora and Fauna
Hidden gem Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy reveals rolling creeks, mirror-like ponds and lush fall colors to satisfy the senses. Stroll the boardwalk that hovers above the wetland or walk the trails that crisscross the 231 acres of forests and prairie. The Geneva Lake Conservancy is another organization dedicated to he preservation of environmentally sensitive lands, tending to five preserves, including the Helen Rohner Children’s Fishing Park. The family-friendly Linn Nature Park offers half- and 2-mile trails surrounding ponds, bridges and historic silos.
8) A Ride in the Clouds
Get a bird’s eye view of Lake Geneva with a sunrise or sunset hot air balloon ride courtesy of Lake Geneva Balloon Company. In 2021, U.S. News & World Report named it one of the “18 Best Hot Air Balloon Rides in the World,” alongside other notable offerings in Tanzania, Turkey, Switzerland, France and Italy.
9) Legendary Golf
Golfers are spoiled for choice in Lake Geneva. Two 18-hole courses at Grand Geneva Resort present the kind of challenge golfers relish, thanks to the contributions of original designers Jack Nicklaus and
Pete Dye. At Geneva National Resort, golfers can put their skills to the test on 54 holes of award-winning golf designed by legends Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. For more details>
Considered the birthplace of modern astrophysics, Yerkes Observatory nearly defies description, with its ornately carved entrance, three domes — including the Great Dome housing the world’s largest refracting telescope — and tree-lined grounds born from plans by the famous landscape architectural firm of Frederick Law Olmsted. A valiant preservation effort of the 1897 observatory is now completed and once again is open to the public for academic pursuits and tours this year.