By Stephanie Klett and Bill Barth
It’s the beginning of a new year, a time when winter-weary families begin puzzling over the what-and-where of vacation plans. So let us be helpful. Around the beautiful state of Wisconsin few vacation spots match the charm and amenities of the Lake Geneva region. Since it’s our backyard we decided to put together a list of five great opportunities for fun-seekers. There’s even a name for this exercise. It’s called a “listicle.” Sounds silly. Blame Bill’s long career as a journalist, so let’s take a sideways sojourn into what it means. Wikipedia – yes, a sometimes-suspect reference source but it will have to do – defines “listicle” as this: “In journalism and blogging, a listicle is an article that is structured as a list, which is often fleshed out with additional text relating to each item. … The word is a pontmanteau derived from list and article.” Well. Couldn’t resist the quote just to find an excuse for using “pontmanteau” in a sentence. Dictionary.com says that it means “a word blending the sounds and combining the meaning of two others.” Bet you didn’t know that. Here’s another: Podcast, which combines the words iPod and broadcast. Enough wandering through the word forest. Let’s get to our “listicle,” and five great things to do for 2023 in the Lake Geneva region, in no particular order.
Tristan Crist Magic Show
The setting is intimate, with seating that makes each show-goer feel as if they are close enough to catch the magician’s tricks. Good luck. Tristan Crist was not named Illusionist of the Year in 2021 by the International Magician’s Society for nothing. His magic ranges from the up-close and personal to grand illusions on a scale that will leave the audience gasping and applauding. With a personality to match the magic, Tristan banters with the audience and keeps young and old mightily entertained. Here’s a hint. Book ahead. This show is popular and performances sell out quickly. Learn more >
Safari Lake Geneva
A lovely drive through the countryside delivers one of the area’s best experiences, and very close encounters with a wide variety of animals. Owned and operated by exotic animal expert Jungle Jay Christie, Safari Lake Geneva is a unique experience just minutes from Lake Geneva. Don’t think of it as a zoo. The animals are not behind thick glass in walled-up cages. They freely roam the spacious acreage. Jungle Jay’s idea was to bring the people to the animals, not the other way around. Visitors stay in their vehicles and slowly drive a meandering path through the grounds. Animals are used to it, and approach closely. Don’t be surprised if a friendly critter noses right up to the windows. What kind of animals? Giraffes. Bison. Alpacas. Camels. Emus. Zebras. Water buffalo. And many others, including rare animals like the scimitar-horned oryx and lowland nyala. Trust us, the kids will love it. (So will you.) Learn more >
Himalayan Salt Room
After a long, satisfying day of exploring there’s no better way to revive the body and spirit than a visit to the spa. One of the best is located at The Abbey Resort in Fontana, home to the newly renovated 35,000 square foot Avani Spa. The spa itself has all the amenities one might expect, and the pampering is spectacular. But when we heard about the Himalayan Salt experience our reaction was immediate. “The what?” Here’s what it does. Taking in the room’s salt air not only encourages a sense of calmness and relaxation, it provides a detoxifying experience that can help with lung function and provide relief for respiratory problems. Adherents say it also strengthens the immune system. Mind you, we’re just a couple of novices, so all we can say is it’s fun and feels good. Learn more >
1878 on the Lake
The broader Lake Geneva region is home to a bevy of outstanding places to eat, from quaint diners to traditional supper clubs to high-end gourmet restaurants. One of the newest is the 1878 restaurant at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan. The name derives from the roots of the resort itself, which traces its hospitality history to the first facility opened at the site in 1878. The first thing visitors will notice is the panoramic view of Delavan Lake from the wide expanse of windows. That alone is worth the trip. But don’t forget to eat. The menu is creative. How about a Rockefeller Gratin appetizer with spinach, artichoke, cream, parmesan and smoked provolone, served with Native American fry bread? Or an entree of Duroc Pork Chop, apple cider pickle brined, with vichy baby carrots, rutabaga and sweet potato maple mash? Save room for the Apple Crisp, with baked granny smith apples, streusel of basswood honey, butter and cinnamon, with vanilla ice cream. Oh, my. Learn more >
The Miracle Path
After all that eating it’s a good idea to take a walk. The Miracle Path portion of the famous Geneva Lake Shore Path is recommended. For newcomers, the shore path circumnavigates Geneva Lake and runs 26 miles. The path takes walkers by the lakeside and across the back yards of the incredible shoreline homes, many built by famous families with household names. The Miracle Path is the brainchild of entrepreneur Carolyn Gable. She made a bundle in business and has always believed in the power of beauty and inspirational quotations. She combined the two to create the Miracle Path. Walkers find a beautiful fence along the path, brightly painted with a wealth of inspirational sayings. It’s a peaceful place. Views of the lake are incredible. People pause to read and reflect. There’s a bell to ring, and a book to record one’s thoughts. Tens of thousands of people have done so. The path is accessed along the southeast shoreline, heading west from Big Foot Beach State Park. Learn more about the Geneva Lake Shore Path >
And there you have it. Five great additions to your 2023 plans. Do it first. Thank us later.
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.