North America

24 Hours in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: A Girl’s Guide – Part 1 of 2

Go Girl Travel Network visits Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

If you’re not a Midwesterner, you probably had no idea that the United States has its own Geneva. Yet instead of snowy Alps and many international headquarters, this one has a much quieter lakefront, deep dish and summer shopping.

We were lucky. We got to spend 24 hours in Lake Geneva — and we didn’t look back.

Lake Geneva is literally nestled in Chicago’s backyard, just 60 miles north of the Windy City. It’s a vacationer’s paradise so full of Chicago tourists (a waiter told us anecdotally that he suspects about 90% of the region’s tourists to be from the Chicagoland area) that you might even be surprised if we told you that it’s in Wisconsin.

When we stopped in a cute little wine shop and asked if they had anything local, the woman at the front desk scoffed. “Wrong region,” she said.

We didn’t buy anything.

Yet for such a small town, we were wowed at how well Lake Geneva could plan a vacation. As early as high school, local residents are groomed to deeply understand the tourism industry and its importance to the area. Every resort, spa and restaurant is freshly stocked with bright young faces and big smiles. And if it’s a vacation you’re looking for, Geneva’s got it.

Thanks to the Lake Geneva tourism board, the Go Girl team got to see for ourselves what a true visit to Lake Geneva is like, girls’ getaway style. Here are some of our best picks:

Where to stay: The Abbey Resort in Fontana, WI

The Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wisconsin, near Lake Geneva

If you’re anything like us, you’re not the resort type to begin with. They seem too big, too all-inclusive, and too generally consuming to appeal to the tastes of a locally minded traveler.

The Abbey Resort changed our minds about resort life. It was perfect.

The resort, located just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Lake Geneva, is the only full-service resort located on Lake Geneva’s shores. It feels like a small town itself, with various restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, wifi, and a 35,000 square foot spa.

Upon entry, we were transported to an adorable nautical getaway by the lake. White wooden beams with shabby chic décor. The most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in, cross my heart. And it didn’t hurt that we had a harbor front view, which compelled us to fling open our door and windows to let the lake breeze sweep in.

Café Latte, just off the lobby, feels less like a hotel café and more like a cozy coffee shop in the middle of a brick-laid port town: wide community table, chalkboard menu, white shutters. We were surprised to find that it served Starbucks coffee, despite its local feel.

Cafe Latte in the Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wisconsin

The Avani Spa, in addition to its ridiculously amazing massages (in a facility complete with steam room, whirlpool, swimming pool, and a fireplace room that we nestled in for what felt like hours) also offers $85 “paddle and pedicure” packages, starting with two hours of paddleboarding and followed by a pedicure at the salon. Adventure AND luxury? This was beginning to sound like our kind of getaway.

Avani Spa at the Abbey Resort in Fontana, Wisconsin

Dying for tips on where to eat and what to do when you get there? Don’t miss the second part of our “24 hours in Lake Geneva” guide, coming at you first thing tomorrow!

Beth Santos
Founder and CEO of Wanderful, creator of the Women in Travel Summit, enthusiastic lover of ice cream, picnics and art.

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