By Stephanie Klett and Bill Barth
Let the show begin.
There are many benefits to living in or visiting the Lake Geneva region or, indeed, the state of Wisconsin, but prominent among them surely is the opportunity to get outdoors and marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors nature puts on display every autumn.
Summer brings a tsunami of people to the area to enjoy the sunshine, the lake and all the amenities of this world-class tourist destination. But that’s just the beginning. The Lake Geneva region is a four-season attraction, not least of which is fall when Mother Nature paints the landscape in bright, vibrant colors. Peak times for viewing are just arriving. Now is the time to plan your trip.
For Bill, a native downstate Illinoisan, the natural beauty of Wisconsin – with particular emphasis on fall colors – always has been part of the reason he relocated north and chose to stay.
“Where I came from the land is flat. Great for farming, our family business for generations, but not necessarily so good for admiring the artistry of nature,” he said. “Part of being the breadbasket of America is acknowledging that a tree is just an impediment to the plow. Miles and miles of cropland is sparingly interrupted by an occasional small stand of trees. So the explosion of fall colors here is a feast for the eyes, for Flatlanders like me and definitely for all those urban dwellers accustomed to the concrete expanses in Chicago and elsewhere.”
Lake Geneva is blessed with all sorts of ways to maximize the experience. The lakes, outdoor nature spaces, rustic roads, walking paths. All combine to create extraordinary options for enjoying the crisp autumn air and the annual display of beauty.
Here are some recommended ways, courtesy of Visit Lake Geneva, to enjoy autumn in the place we call home.
- One of the best places for viewing is the 21-mile Geneva Lake Shore Path. The blue waters, contrasted against the colorful wooded shoreline, are a delight for the eyes.
- The viewing may be even more spectacular from the lake itself. The Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers a variety of sightseeing options to tour the shoreline, with views of the many estates and the colorful turning of the season. Nearby, the Lake Lawn Queen at Lake Lawn Resort offers beautiful touring and viewing opportunities along Delavan Lake.
- Golfers know there’s more to fall play than just striking the ball. Lake Geneva area courses occupy incredible terrain surrounded by colorful woods.. Remember the “leaf rule.” If a pile of lovely leaves swallows your ball, drop another and play on.
- Bicycling is another great way to view the display, with the region boasting a number of beautiful trails. Harley-riding Bill also recommends cruising the cycle around the countryside. Just try to keep one eye on the road.
- Why look at the colorful trees when you could be among them? Lake Geneva Ziplines will take you high into the canopy for the most thrilling way to experience autumn up close and personal.
- Rustic roads allow travelers to experience the countryside and colors from the comfort of their vehicles. There are several in the broad Lake Geneva region. Snake Road, for one example, is not to be missed.
Among activities to be enjoyed in the fall-color season is a visit to wonderful outdoor properties catering not only to the views but also the tastes of autumn.
In recent columns we have highlighted a few places. It’s worth a brief repeat:
- The Apple Barn Orchard and Winery, at W6384 Sugar Creek Road near Elkhorn, is a great stop for, of course, apples and cider and caramel wonders and treats of all kinds.
- Hafs Road Orchard, W632 Hafs Road in the Bloomfield area, is a traditional farm with a wide selection of apples, gourds and other items. By the way, the twisting drive is part of the charm.
- Pearce Farm Stand, W5740 N. Walworth Road between Williams Bay and Fontana, is the place to go for all sorts of food items, pumpkins and more, along with features such as the popular “jumping bales.”
“At Visit Lake Geneva we are privileged to work with so many visitors all through the year,” Stephanie said. “The autumn season grows as an attraction every year because this area literally is bursting with beauty. It can take simple form, like hikes through the natural areas around the lake. Or, for the more active and adventurous, there’s ziplining and golf and cycling. There’s something for everybody.”
The peak season in the Lake Geneva area for autumn colors is usually from mid to late October.
More information is available at visitlakegeneva.com and at travelwisconsin.com for the 2022 peak map.
Stephanie Klett is the President and CEO of Visit Lake Geneva, and the former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism. Bill Barth is the former Editor of the Beloit Daily News, and a member of the Wisconsin Newspaper Hall of Fame.