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As a Wisconsinite, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is one of those perfect summer getaways that rivals the lake vacations you see on tv.
This hidden gem has everything you need for a fun and relaxing summer vacation. You’ll find everything from beautiful beaches and water sports to delicious wine and unique dining experiences.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or family fun, Lake Geneva has something for you.
So pack up your sunscreen and swimsuit! Get ready to explore all the best things to do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the summer!
Things to Do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the Summer
Centrally located about one hour from both Milwaukee and Chicago, Lake Geneva is an amazing, easily accessible year-round destination. But there’s something special about it in the summer. Even die-hard fans of the snow won’t be able to get enough.
Summertime here is all about slowing down, soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying simple pleasures. The laid-back vibe of this charming lakeside town is infectious.
Evening walks through the mellowing summer sunshine and stops at the Frosty Moose for the best ice cream on the planet will make you wish it was summer year-round.
You’ll have no choice but to embrace the relaxed pace of summer living in Lake Geneva. Here are a few ice cream-free ways to do that.
Outdoor Activities in Lake Geneva in the Summer
Getting outdoors as much as possible in the summer is the goal. See how easy it is:
1. Attend the Venetian Festival
The festival is one of the most anticipated Lake Geneva summer events. This five-day extravaganza is held every August and offers all of your festival favorites.
The centerpiece is the carnival, with the midway rides and games that you grew up with. And of course, there are funnel cakes, corn dogs, and cotton candy, plus a craft fair featuring local artisans and vendors.
In addition, for the adults there’s an Entertainment Pavilion, aka beer tent, serving up cold brews and live music. You’ll hear everything from rock and country to jazz and blues.
One of the highlights of the Venetian Festival is the Boat Parade and Fireworks on Sunday evening. Dozens of boats decorated with colorful lights cruise along the entire waterfront, creating a spectacle you’ll never forget.
2. Take a Lake Geneva Cruise
Hop aboard one of the many boats that cruise Lake Geneva, and enjoy breathtaking views of the lake and its shoreline. Cruise Lake Geneva is just one of the great companies you can cruise with.
View the town from a whole new perspective on one of a great selection of cruises. You can choose one that includes a hike, a tour of a local mansion, or even live music and a meal.
You’ll see everything from sprawling mansions and historic landmarks to secluded coves and peaceful beaches.
3. Fly Through the Trees on a Zip-Lining
This is a popular adventure for visitors to the lake. If you love an adrenaline rush, head to Lake Geneva Zipline and Adventures and ride a zip line through the forest.
Experienced guides will lead you through the course, keeping you safe and providing interesting information about the local flora and fauna.
And there’s more than just zip-lining! You can hike or go mountain biking, too, and you’re just a few minutes from the center of town.
4. Go Kayaking or Stand-Up Paddleboarding
If you’re always looking for a great place to kayak when you’re near water, Lake Geneva is perfect. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the lake at your own pace.
Kayaking and paddleboarding are accessible to people of all skill levels, and there are a variety of rental options available. Paddling around the lake, you’ll get to take in the stunning natural beauty, as well as the historic homes and landmarks along the shoreline.
This is a fantastic way to spend a day, or even just half a day, out on the water, enjoying the sights and sounds of the lake.
5. Go Horseback Riding
Saddle up and explore the stunning forests and meadows surrounding Lake Geneva. Local stables offer guided horseback riding tours, allowing you to take in the stunning natural beauty of the region while enjoying the thrill of horseback riding.
The horses are well-trained and the guides are experienced, making these tours perfect for both beginners and experienced riders. From peaceful trails through the woods to breathtaking views of the lake, this is a unique and unforgettable experience.
The nearby Dan Patch Stables has gorgeous trail rides, and if you love horses and are after a new way to see the area, this is perfect for you. (Remember, you have to pay cash!) They’ve also got a petting zoo!
6. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Yes, you can ride a hot air balloon in Lake Geneva! Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Lake Geneva and its surroundings. Especially if you’ve never done one before, go for it.
Once June rolls around, the Lake Geneva Balloon Company has some great options for different flight packages to suit everybody. This is a heart-stopping way to see the area from the sky!
7. Explore the Black Point Estate and Gardens
The historic mansion that sits on the shores of Lake Geneva was built by a Chicago beer mogul as a family getaway.
Board a boat to transport you to the estate the same way that guests arrived all those years ago. Catch a glimpse into the lives of Chicogo’s wealthy, turn-of-the-century elite.
You’ll not only get a guided tour of the mansion’s luxurious living quarters, servants’ areas, and other functional areas of the home. You’ll also get to wander through the stunning manicured gardens.
8. Cast a Line or Two
Fishing is a favorite activity for people of all ages in Lake Geneva. You’ll find a variety of fish species, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and panfish. The lake is even stocked with brown and lake trout.
Arrange a fishing trip with a charter company like The Hook Up Guide Service, and let them take care of everything you need. Or, grab your favorite fishing pole and fish from shore!
This is a great opportunity to teach the kids how and let them catch their first fish.
9. Try Your Luck on the Links
Wisconsin is a golfer’s paradise, home to some of the very best public golf courses in the entire country.
Lake Geneva boasts several world-class golf courses, including the Geneva National Golf Club, Grand Geneva, and *Hawks View. Whether you’re already at the top of your game, or you’d like to step it up with a few lessons, this is the place for you.
* If you decide to take on the Hawk’s View course, try to make it on a Friday, and plan to stay for their famous fish fries. You can thank me later!
10. Visit the East Troy Electric Railroad
Take a ride on a historic train through the scenic countryside. Located just 15 miles, or 24 km north of the town of Lake Geneva, the railroad is a fun and unique experience for people everybody.
Travel on the railway’s vintage electric trolley cars and historic steam locomotives through the beautiful Wisconsin countryside. You can choose from a dinner ride or night photo ride, or even a family picnic ride, with all of your favorite al fresco, treats.
Summer visitors look forward to Railroad’s June Railfest! The event includes face painting, model train displays, ham radio demos, and of course free popcorn at the depot.
Need I say more? The Lake Geneva Pie Co. in Geneva Square will have you extending your stay in Lake Geneva. And the sublime cream, fruit, and other dessert pies and crumbles aren’t all they have in store for you.
Make your stay “all pies all the time”, and pick up some amazing pot pies and quiches, too. And of course some cookies and muffins for between-meal snacks. Calories don’t count when you’re on vacation.
12. Get Your Groove on – Attend a Summer Concert!
Every summer, the music comes to Lake Geneva. Whether you love your music outdoors, indoors, or just anywhere you can find it, this is the perfect spot to be in.
Each year, Flat Iron Park on Geneva Bay plays host to a multitude of spectacular musical guests – known as Concerts in the Park! Studio Winery also welcomes great musical talent from surrounding areas to an intimate venue with outrageous sound.
And if symphony, big band, and classical are what you like, visit George Williams College for Music by the Lake. Enjoy the perfect outdoor venue with like-minded fans.
Attending these seasonal concerts is one of the locals’ favorite things to do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the summer. I have a feeling it’s going to be yours, too!
Free Things to Do In Lake Geneva in the Summer
13. Visit the Geneva Lake Shore Path
This scenic walking trail stretches around the entire perimeter of the lake, covering a total distance of 26 miles. That’s 5 miles longer than the perimeter of the lake itself, as it winds in and around the trees along the water.
The history of the shore path dates all the way back to 2500 BC when it was used by Native Americans to travel from one village to another.
Today the property owners along the lake maintain the path as it crosses their land. Each family adds their own brand to their section of the path. These unique touches are a part of the fun as you follow the trail.
Along the path, you’ll see historic old homes, many of which have been beautifully preserved and restored over the years. They offer a glimpse into the lavish lifestyles of the wealthy families, many from Chicago, who once summered here.
14. Taste Some of the Local Wines
Lake Geneva and the surrounding area are home to several wineries, offering tastings and tours of their vineyards. You may even be able to pick seasonal fruit after your tasting, or learn to pair wine and chocolate!
Start at Studio Winery right in Lake Geneva, and enjoy their wines, moonshine, and other spirits. They offer live music, too, as well as art and jewelry created by their own artist, and art classes if you feel inspired.
From there, visit the nearby Apple Barn Orchard and Winery in Elkhorn. Or any of the others scattered around the picturesque Wisconsin countryside. Take a day to visit a few, or spread the fun out over your stay and go back to your favorites.
15. Check out the Farmer’s Market
There’s nothing better in the summer than a farmer’s market full of baked goodies, fresh produce, and artisan crafts.
Every Thursday morning throughout the summer you’ll find Lake Geneva’s Farmer’s Market right outside the Horticultural Hall.
This easy-to-find location is right downtown, and I’m sure it will become a weekly stop for you for as long as you’re here.
What to Do on a Rainy Day in Lake Geneva
Like it or not, there may very well come a day when the weather doesn’t cooperate with your outdoor plans. Just make a new plan! Check these out:
16. Attend the Dancing Horses Theater
A dazzling “Vegas-Style” horse show that is just stunning to watch. The show is a family-friendly event that’s perfect for everybody.
These astounding performances, lively music, and engaging atmosphere should be a part of your itinerary, rain OR shine.
Kind-hearted people like to know that activities like this one involve animals that are cared for and treated ethically. You can rest assured that the Dancing Horses live lives that you and I can only dream of!
17. Pander to Your Inner Astronomer at the Yerkes Observatory
Just 6 miles, or 10 kilometers from town in Williams Bay, grab the opportunity to visit the historic observatory! It’s home to the world’s largest refracting telescope.
You can tour the observatory and see the giant telescopes used by astronomers to study the stars and planets. The observatory also offers fascinating exhibits on astronomy and the history of the facility.
Even if you’re not an astronomy geek, you’ll be spellbound as you walk through this facility, learning its history and purpose. You may end up wondering if it’s ever too late to become an astronomer yourself.
18. Step Into the Past at the Lake Geneva Museum
Learn about the history of the town and its surroundings at one of the premier museums in the area.
Far from being a boring room full of dusty artifacts, the Lake Geneva museum allows you to take the brick-paved Main Street into the past. Experience the town as it was as far back as 1830 with full-size exhibits, as well as miniature ones.
See the Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel, an old blacksmith shop, and Native American lodgings, to name just a few of the star attractions.
19. Indulge at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa
You don’t need to stay at the resort to take advantage of the blissful offerings at the Grand Geneva Spa.
Spend a rainy day getting pampered with a massage, body wrap, or facial. Or all three! Choose from a selection of these and other decadent spa treatments, and finish off with a fabulous new hairstyle at the salon.
And if you’re looking for things to do in Lake Geneva for couples, a trip to the spa is perfect. Have a look at the Couple’s Retreat Package for a dreamy indulgence for 2, or simply enjoy a couples massage to let go of all of life’s stressors.
20. Question Reality at the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre
Witness famous illusions and new tricks that will boggle your mind. This intimate venue offers live magic shows that are fun for anyone. You’ll see mind-bending illusions and sleight-of-hand tricks that you’ll find yourself trying to recreate at home!
This incredible show is the number one activity in the area. You might not want to wait for a rainy day to catch it.
Things to Do in Lake Geneva with Kids
The littles want to have fun too! Fortunately, fun things aren’t hard to find here in Lake Geneva.
21. Splash Around at One of Lake Geneva’s Own Beaches
Whose kids don’t love playing in the sand? There are a couple of great beaches to choose from, and I suggest you try them both out to find your favorite.
Riviera Beach is a designated child-friendly beach, with lifeguards on duty and fairly clean restrooms. There’s a daily fee of approximately US $10, but kids under 6 are free. Or check out the seasonal pass!
Big Foot Beach State Park even welcomes your pets. Besides having a sandy white beach for swimming, there is also a playground, camping facilities, and 5 miles of hiking trails.
22. Visit the Adventure Center
The Grand Geneva Adventure Center is full of activities for the kids. It’s located in the same spot as the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa mentioned above.
Practice archery, try out frolf (frisbee golf, or disc golf if you’re more refined), or work on your serve on one of the 2 sand volleyball courts.
23. Ride the Safari Lake Geneva
This is a great chance for your kids to see some epic wildlife in person. This safari tour allows you to drive through a wildlife park as many times as you’d like. See a variety of exotic animals, such as giraffes, zebras, and ostriches.
While you’re here, learn about the conservation programs they support. You and your kids can even become FrogWatch USA Volunteers!
24. Challenge Each Other on the Mini Golf Course
The family-owned and operated 18-hole miniature golf course is a popular spot in Lake Geneva in the summertime.
Pit family members against each other, or just enjoy a fun day in the sunshine.
25. Explore Moose Mountain Falls Indoor Water Park
Have your little ones experience the fun of water play no matter the weather outside. Moose Mountain Falls, located inside Timber Ridge Lodge, is the perfect kid-friendly activity while visiting Lake Geneva.
Featuring an indoor/outdoor waterpark, guests of the lodge can enjoy the entire day at the park, or just jump in for a quick splash.
Have fun on the twists and turns of the waterslide or practice your backstroke in the heated pool. There’s even a Tiny Timbers area for the wee ones, safe from all the crazy fun.
Please note you have to be guests of the lodge to enjoy the waterpark.
Conclusion – Things to Do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin in the Summer
Lake Geneva, WI is a real gem of a summer destination! It offers a wide range of activities and attractions to keep everybody happy.
Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure, relaxation and pampering, or fun for the kids, Lake Geneva has something for you.
With its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and welcoming local community, Lake Geneva, WI is the perfect place to create memories and enjoy an unforgettable summer experience.
Similarly, if you love a good winter getaway, Lake Geneva winters rival its summer fun with an endless list of things to do in Lake Geneva in the winter.