When I think of a winter wonderland, I think of a quaint city filled with outdoor winter adventures and great food. Well, let’s just say that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin did not disappoint on our family ski vacation. As a Wisconsite, born and raised less than one hour away, I’m a bit bummed that this was my first time experiencing the beauty of a Lake Geneva winter. For this reason, I compiled 5 reasons it’s perfect to visit Lake Geneva during the winter season.
Lake Geneva Has All Winter Activities in One Location
I was shocked to learn that Lake Geneva offered so many winter activities. This quaint city offered more than enough fun to keep our weekend filled with adventure and longing for just a little more time there when we had to leave. One of the most unique experiences Lake Geneva has to offer is Ice Castles.
Ice Castles embodies the essence of a winter wonderland with the creation of must-see structures made of hundreds of thousands of icicles. This breathtaking exhibit is only available in four states within the US – Utah, Colorado, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. Lake Geneva is home to the Wisconsin exhibit – the only one in the Midwest.
The Ice Castles is a pretty extraordinary experience, especially for kids. Each structure is interactive, from being able to crawl or walk through to actual slides and tunnels made of ice. At night, the ice structures are lit with various colored lights, making for an extraordinary experience.
Word to the wise, tickets sell out quickly. Therefore, if the Ice Castles are on your bucket list, purchase tickets in advance. Personally, we went through a third party vendor as tickets were sold out by the time we went to purchase.
Winter Sports Galore
The convenience of having access to basically every winter sports activity in one location is not necessarily the norm. The Grand Geneva Mountain Top offers skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice skating and sledding all in one location. This makes it super convenient for those looking to participate in multiple winter sport activities without much additional effort.
In addition to Lake Geneva offering a plethora of winter activities, they also have ski and snowboarding lessons. My family and I took skiing lessons and they were absolutely wonderful. The teacher was extremely patient and broke down each movement to a level that a kindergartener could understand. As a group of seven, we fell a cumulative total of three times. I would say this is pretty impressive as I also took skiing classes in Breckinridge, Colorado and lets just say our group of about the same size was dropping like flies.
A Waterpark In the Middle of Winter
A waterpark in the middle of winter in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin? Sign me up!
We decided to stay at the Timber Ridge Lodge which is home to an indoor waterpark. The best part is that it’s located on the same property as The Grand Geneva. They offer a trolley between Timber Ridge Lodge and Grand Geneva making it very convenient to get from one location to the other.
Since we traveled with my mom and her husband, the boys were able to enjoy the various activities the waterpark has to offer, including an arcade and kid’s activity center, while my husband and I skied.
The next day, the family spent the morning at the waterpark, which the boys absolutely loved. There is a designated area for toddlers which include activities, slides, and swings. The boys probably stayed in this area for over an hour.
Before we left, we spent some time playing basketball in the big kids area and relaxing on the lazy river. The boys thought the lazy river was the coolest thing ever.
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Nothing screams vacation like delicious food. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the yummy food we had while in Lake Geneva.
Tuscan Tavern & Grill
This delicious restaurant located right off the main street of Lake Geneva’s downtown offers delicious food ranging from steaks to seafood to brick oven pizzas. The husband and I both had seafood which was absolutely delicious. I mean, the seasoning was superb and everything was super fresh. If you’re in Lake Geneva and looking for a higher-end restaurant, look no further than Tuscan.
Turf Smokehouse is located on the same property as the Ice Castle, Geneva National Resort & Club. In fact, in order to exit the exhibit, you have to walk through the restaurant. Well, we’re glad that we did.
First, who would have thought of a higher-end BBQ restaurant in Lake Geneva? Not me. Not only did the menu itself sound tasty but the food matched. We ordered the burnt ends appetizer along with three sandwiches. Every single thing was absolutely amazing. I mean lick-your-fingers good. A must try indeed.
There is something special about the charm of a quaint city, from the cute downtown filled with delicious restaurants, ice cream parlors, and boutiques to being within a short walk or drive from one destination to another.
Lake Geneva is no different, especially if you stay on the Grand Geneva/Timber Ridge Lodge property. There you are within a trolley ride of basically all winter outdoor activities and the indoor water park. In addition you are within a five minute ride to downtown Lake Geneva and less than twenty minutes from the Ice Castles.
Close to Major Airports
Unfortunately, some ski towns are located several hours from a major airport. One of the reasons Lake Geneva was so attractive to visit is that it’s only about a one hour drive from Milwaukee International Airport and Chicago O’hare Airport.
It’s the perfect location to fly in/out of one of these major cities and take a short drive up to Lake Geneva. In fact, it would be the perfect addition to visit any one of those cities if you happen to not live in the area.
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A Note About COVID
We visited Lake Geneva in late February 2021. At that time the COVID infection rate was about 7%, which made us feel comfortable visiting. While there we felt that the attractions and city were doing their part to try to keep everyone safe. Masks were required everywhere – including skiing and all outdoor activities. At the lodge, masks were also required, except for within the waterpark area, although some people, including myself, chose to wear ours. Similarly, all places offered hand sanitizer and encouraged social distancing.
I cannot preach enough about how much Lake Geneva is a must-visit in the winter. It offers it all – winter activities, an indoor water park, a convenient location and a charming city feel. It truly makes for a perfect family ski getaway.