During the summer, families retreat to Lake Geneva for boating, fishing, beaches and other lake activities. But come winter, Lake Geneva transforms into a different kind of getaway spot — one where you can take a sled ride down a mountain, ice fish on a frozen lake or cozy up to an outdoor fireplace. Whether you’ve been to Lake Geneva before or you’re looking for a new favorite winter getaway, here are 11 of the top things to do in the winter in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
1. Skiing, Snowboarding and Sledding
Where: Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
Enjoy your favorite downhill winter sports at the Mountain Top at Grand Geneva, perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Lessons are offered on the premises, and for the more seasoned skier looking for adventure, there’s even a nighttime ski. For those traveling with small children, sledding offers the perfect family-fun option.
2. Cross-Country Skiing
Where: Big Foot Beach State Park, Grand Geneva Resort
Once the snow begins to fall, visitors can cross-country ski at Big Foot Beach State Park and Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. Equipment is provided at both locations, where skiers can take off on designated cross-country trails. All trails are maintained daily.
3. Ice Skating
Where: Grand Geneva Resort, The Abbey Resort, Lake Lawn Resort, The Ridge Hotel
A number of Lake Geneva’s best resorts feature ice skating rinks during the winter. The skating rinks are open during the day and evening. Afterward, the resorts offer special activities, such as The Abbey’s hot cocoa for skaters, which can be enjoyed next to a warm fire. Ice skates are available for rent.
Where: Grand Geneva Resort, The Ridge Hotel and Big Foot Beach State Park
Trek along the snowy landscape with snowshoes. Easy to learn, snowshoeing is one of the best ways to explore the snowy backcountry and other areas of Lake Geneva. Snowshoes are available for rent at The Ridge Hotel, Grand Geneva, Big Foot Beach State Park and Clear Water Outdoor.
Where: Various locations throughout Lake Geneva
From Feb. 3-13, Lake Geneva hosts its most popular cold weather event, Winterfest. Consisting of various contests, from the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition to the Human Dog Sled Races, the festival also includes helicopter rides, a cocoa crawl, chili cook-off, ice bar and more. While visiting, guests can enjoy all the unique shopping and dining options in downtown Lake Geneva.
6. Spa Pampering
Where: Area Resorts and downtown Lake Geneva
From hot stone massages to facials, enjoy luxurious pampering services at various local spas in the downtown area or at one of Lake Geneva’s famed resorts and hotels. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, a relaxing spa treatment such as a body wrap, pedicure, soothing massage or foot rub will hit the spot. Research in advance for your ideal spa service and location before making an appointment.
At Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, guests can go zip lining year-round for a sky-high adrenaline rush. Take a two-hour guided tour, with eight zip lines and five sky bridges, soaring through 100 acres of snowy winter wonderland.
8. Lounging by the Fire
Where: Outdoors at The Ridge Hotel, Grand Geneva and Lake Lawn Resort; Indoors at The Abbey, Grand Geneva, The Ridge Hotel and Lake Lawn Resort
Many of Lake Geneva’s resorts have cozy indoor or outdoor fireplaces for lounging or enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or a cocktail. For that special ambiance, there’s nothing like your own suite with a fireplace, available at many locations.
9. Ice Fishing
Try your hand at ice fishing in Lake Geneva. There are two ice fishing rental shops in the area: Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle and Lake Geneva Fishing Guide. Both can provide you with bait as well as a guide knowledgeable on safety and fishing methods. Ice fishing takes place on Lake Geneva and other neighboring lakes.
Whether you’re shopping for yourself or getting a gift for someone else, Lake Geneva offers a variety of boutique and one-of-a kind shopping experiences, many in the walkable downtown area. Shoppers can browse antique stores, art galleries, wine shops, exclusive clothing boutiques and much more.
11. Catch a Show
Looking for live entertainment? Lake Geneva has a variety of options. There’s Tristan Crist Magic Theatre, which specializes in magic and comedy; Dancing Horses, which features elegant horses performing tricks; and Rosewood, known for its cabaret-style dinner theater. And at the resorts, you’ll find a variety of live entertainment offered at various times throughout the year, from rock bands, to pianists, to improv comedy.