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M traveler: Lake Geneva

BY JOAN ELOVITZ KAZAN

Jan. 2018

 

Photo courtesy of Grand Geneva
Resort & Spa

Picture this: The sun is glistening of the pristine lake, and waterfront mansions dot the shoreline as families frolic on a nearby beach. It’s a beautiful summer day in Lake Geneva. Now, subtract 60 degrees, add snow, and watch Lake Geneva transform from a summertime retreat to a winter wonderland; for many cold weather fans, this makes for an even better getaway.
 

Where to Stay

For a true escape, check into the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa and discover why this former site of the Playboy Club won the 2017 Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Award. Back in the day, Hugh Hefner’s bunnies roamed the sprawling grounds, but today Grand Geneva is a family favorite, from the slides and lazy rivers at Timber Ridge Lodge & Water Park to the on-site child care. Drop the kiddos off, then head to Grand Geneva’s spa for a delightful massage and relax in the spa lounge, where serenity envelops you as happy staffers serve up mimosas, hot tea or beer.

Photo courtesy of Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

Not a fan of a big resort? Try an intimate B&B. At the Baker House 1885, step back in time to a bygone era, when Saturdays meant enjoying afternoon tea, and admire the grandeur of this authentic Victorian mansion. If tea isn’t your, um, cup of tea, you’ll love the historic hotel’s stately rooms and Sunday brunch.
 

What to Do

Dubbed the Newport of the Midwest, Lake Geneva was originally founded as a retreat for wealthy Chicagoans who built mansions along Geneva Lake’s sparkling shores. Bundle up for a winter hike on any segment of the 23-mile path lining the lake and weave through the backyards of some of the biggest and most impressive homes in the state. Hate hiking? There’s always shopping. Independently owned shops with unique finds, from smartly curated antique and home accessories stores to high-end clothing boutiques stocked with brands like Free People and Barefoot Dreams, will have you asking, “Mall? What mall?”
 

Where to Dine

Move over, cheese curds and brats — Lake Geneva’s dining scene goes beyond typical Wisconsin fare and is well worth the hourlong drive from downtown Milwaukee. Diners from the north and south flock to two popular bistros. Sopra Bistro serves beautifully prepared Italian classics alongside eclectic favorites. Try the fresh and flavorful tuna tartare appetizer, the perfectly cooked and generous portion of lamb chops and desserts to die for (tiramisu, anyone?), plus an impressive variety of beers and specialty martinis. Medusa is a Mediterranean-inspired bistro — and here flavor meets fun. Grab a seat at the bar and watch a live feed of the chefs at work as they incorporate seasonal ingredients into Greek-inspired classics like a beet salad with feta cheese, fresh fish and scallops. Bistros are great, but sometimes you just need a slice. The homemade, wood-fired pizza pies at Oakfire will please even the pickiest pizza connoisseur, with a view overlooking Geneva Lake to boot. Authentic Italian toppings include freshly imported Buffalo mozzarella, hot soppressata and prosciutto di parma.
 

What’s Next

Photo courtesy of Winterfest

Lake Geneva’s Winterfest is the perfect reason to bundle up and brave the elements. Scheduled for Jan. 27 through Feb. 4, the festival also hosts the U.S. National Snow Sculpting competition, and it’s a week of (hopefully!) snowy celebrations. Watch more than one dozen teams of snow sculptors create their masterpieces, then catch the fun of a human dogsled race (no humans will be harmed in the making of this race), the craziness of an abominable snow race, and more.





 

This story ran in the Jan. 2018 issue of: