Lake Geneva may be well known as a summer destination, but the area’s festive events and outdoor activities make winter a special time to visit, too. For starters, one of the state’s marquee winter events, the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition, occurs annually during Lake Geneva’s Winterfest. Whether you’re visiting for the event or just for a winter weekend getaway, here’s how to make the most of your trip!
Arrive at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa or Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark, which are next to one another, for excellent family-friendly lodging options. The Grand Geneva offers plenty of room choices, places to eat and even a ski hill and ice rink to get your skate on. Conversely, Timber Ridge’s indoor, heated 50,000-square-foot waterpark will make it feel like summer in the middle of a cold day. With distinct areas for little tots up to teens, plus a lazy river and hot tub, parents can relax and grab a drink at the Hungry Moose Food Court.
If you and the gang want to venture out for dinner, Tuscan Tavern & Grill in downtown Lake Geneva offers a delicious menu of Italian favorites (and tons of dessert options) but is still kid-friendly. For a genuine supper club atmosphere, Mars Resort on Lake Como has an old-school look and feel with family favorites for everyone (fish fry, chicken dinners, seafood) and killer lake view.
If you’re in town during Winterfest, the Abominable Snow Race, one of the starting events, takes place at the Grand Geneva’s Mountain Top ski area. Watch competitors conquer a four- to six-mile snowy obstacle course to see who’s king or queen of the hill.
After, head over to Egg Harbor Cafe, one of downtown Lake Geneva’s legendary breakfast cafes, for a mind-boggling array of tasty breakfast options (lobster scrambler, waffle berry roll-up or quinoa breakfast bowl, anyone?) Downtown has plenty of shops to duck into to ward off the chill on your way to the lakefront area, where you can watch the Human Sled Dog Race or the final judging of the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition.
For a dreamy nighttime family memory, both The Abbey Resort and The Ridge Hotel have outdoor skating rinks that are open to non-guests, skate rentals available. The Abbey’s Harbor Patio welcomes visitors to partake in fireside s’mores on Friday and Saturday nights and The Ridge also has firepits, coffee drinks and snacks available for skaters. Famished after your skate? Each resort also has notable restaurants that are family-friendly, including 240 West and The Waterfront at The Abbey and the newer Crafted Americana at The Ridge.
Start your day with breakfast at one of Grand Geneva’s dining options, such as Smokey’s Bar-B-Que House, the Grand Café or the Geneva ChopHouse’s Sunday brunch. Or, head over to Simple Café in downtown Lake Geneva for house-baked pastries and breads and healthy breakfast dishes. If you and the gang would like to wind down after a busy weekend, check out a movie at the recently renovated Geneva Theater, a 1928 historic landmark. Kids will also enjoy a magic show at the new Magic Morgan’s Little Magic Theatre.
Before you head out of town, don’t miss lunch or a late afternoon bite to eat at Oakfire, which serves Neapolitan-style thin-crust pizzas, salads, paninis and more, paired with one of the best views of Geneva Lake in the region. The sleek, modern atmosphere and affordable menu make it a best bet for everyone in the group.