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Things to Do in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Updated on April 20, 2018
Geneva Lake Association. Photography by Bruce Thompson
Geneva Lake Association. Photography by Bruce Thompson
A nice August Saturday on Geneva  Lake shore.
A nice August Saturday on Geneva Lake shore.

Lake Geneva or Geneva Lake?

18,000 years ago the last of many glaciers gorged out and depressed the lake basin, and left a moraine of rolling, gravel hills. Then it moved back to the North.

The earlier inhabitants of this area were ancient Oneota Tribes of the lost Hopewell Culture Indians. Later, the migrating forest tribes, who were hunters and fierce warriors, drove out the agricultural people of Oneota Tribes. This area was not on the river and lake highways of the earlier frontier period and stayed undiscovered for many years.

Much later the native inhabitants were moved away by the United States Army.

The city was settled around 1835-36 and was named after Geneva, NY. After the American Civil War (1861-65) Lake Geneva became known as "the Newport of the West", a popular year-round resort for wealthy Chicago residents who built summer homes and estates on the lake and in the wooden hills.

Just to make it clear: the city is Lake Geneva, the lake is Geneva Lake. This is the second deepest lake in Wisconsin (135 feet deep and 21 miles around) which is the focal point of a popular resort area.

Lake Geneva is a town in southeastern Wisconsin on the northeastern shore of Geneva Lake, about 45 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

Another great destination for your family vacation. Choose what to do in Lake Geneva!

“The only way to legally walk through the yards of rich and famous”

This was a special path with inspirational notes, soft music and obviously good people living there. But some time ago the house was sold and the new owners took off all these nice things. What a shame!
This was a special path with inspirational notes, soft music and obviously good people living there. But some time ago the house was sold and the new owners took off all these nice things. What a shame!
This one is a gloomy "Stone Manor", with muddy paths, as if with a message of "Know your place, you, low peasants".
This one is a gloomy "Stone Manor", with muddy paths, as if with a message of "Know your place, you, low peasants".

Lake Geneva Shore Path.

The 21-mile Geneva Lake shore path allows hikers to literally walk through the back yards of amazing century-old mansions. The path was created by the region’s earliest settlers who determined that the 20 feet of land directly up from the shoreline is granted to be public domain. Today, their decision provides walkers with an extraordinary view of some of the most beautiful homes and landscaping in the Midwest. On the way to Lake Geneva you may stop at any gas station or local shop and pick up booklets that provide a description of the Geneva Lake shore path and serve as terrific aids as you walk the shoreline. You don’t have to walk the whole 21 miles of the path; there are 3 miles trails that you can get satisfied with. But if you are daring enough, you should experience it in full.

A walk along the shore path is a must for visitors. You will walk through magnificent gardens or simply across grass, gravel, or a few stepping stones. You will go up and go down with the path. You might see turtles, badgers, chipmunks, raccoons and other small Wisconsin inhabitants. It depends how fast you walk, but the trail might take the whole day, so pack a picnic basket. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes, carry water and bring a camera for snapshots of the beautiful surroundings.

The Geneva Lake shore path is also referred as “The only way to legally walk through the yards of rich and famous”. Most of the homes are just summer vacation homes, the paths are not equally maintained, some areas are just dirt and gravel, but others are very welcoming.

You literally walk through their backyards.

Lake Geneva Cruise Line

Lake Geneva Cruise Line is one of the main attractions of the area - a must experience when in Lake Geneva. Several boat tours are available, all offer an in-depth historical narration about the many estates and mansions that line the shores of beautiful Geneva Lake.

Tours operate from mid-April to mid-November from the Riviera Docks in downtown Lake Geneva. Sightseeing tours include: Geneva Bay Tour, Full Lake Tour, Ice Cream Social Tour, Sundowner Cruises and the famous US Mail boat Tour. Lake Geneva Cruise Line also offers several dining cruises such as a Luncheon Tour, Champagne Brunch and Evening Dinner Cruises. The unique Black Point Estate and Boat tour is also available - tour an authentic 1888 lake estate!

People of any ages will enjoy the cruises, especially Mail Boat Tour, where you get to watch the mail-delivery girl or a boy jump off and on the boat, to deliver mail to homes around the lake! If you are lucky, you see a dog at one of the homes who meets the boat and takes the mail in its mouth up to his house.

Geneva Lake Museum of History

Geneva Lake Museum is a must-see for history buffs and for those looking to take a step back in time via the Museum’s authentic main street depicting days gone by.

Housed in the former Wisconsin Power and Light classic red brick building constructed in the 1920s, the Museum currently occupies nearly 10,000 feet with plans to expand in the coming years.

Besides displays and exhibitions, there is a replica of and Old Main Street. Main Street Lake Geneva depicts the area in the late 1800s with a red brick street which was constructed entirely by local volunteers. Visitors to Main Street can stroll through artifact laden structures including a creamery, log cabin, blacksmith shop, general store, post office and telephone company. A 19th century firehouse featuring an authentic 1890 and 1947 fire truck completes the gallery.

I became a local of Lake Geneva, WI

Several years have passed since I wrote this hub about Lake Geneva, WI.

I was planning to move to South Wisconsin, but didn't have any friends there. So, after considering several options, I made my clear choice- Lake Geneva!

Yes, just like this, from researching this city on the internet and writing a hub about it, I fell in love with this amazing place.

So, I became a local here. You can be a local, a summer person or a tourist in lake Geneva, depending on how you live there. If you live here year round, you are a local. If you come for a summer and live in your lake house from May till September, you are a summer person. If you come for weekends, you are a tourist.

So, now I am a proud local of the best city in Wisconsin.


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    • ReuVera profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from USA

      Thank you, GmaGoldie, for your comment. It is so nice to get a comment from someone who knows the place.

      I didn't know the name of a person who was behind the beautiful Expect a Miracle walkway, but only from the style you may say for sure that this person has a special kind soul.

      Last time my son drove through this area in September and he stopped just for a short walk there (most of the pictures are his).

    • GmaGoldie profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      9 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great Hub! Great photos and things to do. Love the Expect a Miracle walkway! Caroline Gable is so generous - both with the walkway and with her charities.

      My husband and I had part of our reception on the boat cruise - very memorable - highly recommend the boat cruises - charted or just the public cruises.

      Lake Geneva rocks! Thank you for sharing the celebration of this great destination resort area!

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 

      9 years ago from HubPages, FB

      ReuVera, great hub, thank you.


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