Midwest

9 Lake Geneva Resorts Ranging from High-End Luxury to a Golfer's Escape

Local writer Jennifer Billock takes you through the top Lake Geneva resorts in Wisconsin for taking a break and making some family (or couple) memories.

The pink streaks of a Wisconsin dawn shoot across the sky reflected on Lake Geneva’s still water. It’s going to be a warm day, and I’ve already been on the beach for several hours, taking an early morning dip in the lake with my friends.

Now, we’re watching the sunrise before heading across the road to catch breakfast. Our ultimate goal is to be on the morning mailboat tour, a Lake Geneva tradition of riding along as a swift postal worker delivers mail by leaping from boat to dock and back at 75 homes on the lake. The homes along the shore have received their mail this way for more than a century. We can’t deliver the mail ourselves (which is what most people ask) but I do feel a burst of excitement as I wonder, every time, whether the postal worker will make it to the dock and back to the boat on time. It doesn’t stop moving to let them off and on, so they’ve got to be fast. Plus, there’s a great view from the lake of all the mansions lining the waterfront. (The town was once a playground of Chicago’s elite, now turned into a thriving lakeside community.)

Later, we’ll enjoy a typical summer day in the historic downtown, shopping for antiques and quirky boutique finds and grabbing ice cream at mainstay Kilwins. Downtown butts right up to the lake, so we won’t need to go far to watch the jet-skiers and sailboats enjoy the sparkling sun and clear water.

Summer isn’t the only season for fun in Lake Geneva, though. In the fall, the brilliantly colored leaves make hiking a treat. Winter brings snowmobiling, ice carving, ice fishing, and snowshoeing, and the town welcomes brightly colored flowers and early-season fishing in spring. Really, any time of year is a fantastic time to visit Lake Geneva and its historic downtown. These nine Lake Geneva resorts are a great home base for a lakeside getaway.

"An Escape to the Rolling Hills"

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Three miles outside of downtown Lake Geneva, the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa is an escape to the rolling hills on the outskirts of town that offers everything you need to enjoy all four seasons of Wisconsin weather. When you get there, you’ll understand why the distance is needed from the city proper: there are more than 350 rooms and 29 villas, two 18-hole golf courses, an entire ski and snowboard park, a spa, meeting and convention space, and three restaurants. The Grand Geneva has some colorful history, too. (It was once the original Playboy Club.)

If you end up getting too sore from horseback riding across the extensive grounds or working your muscles on the climbing wall, hop into one of the pools or try a seasonal treatment at the spa. The FarmHouse Fresh massage pulls in seasonal ingredients to the spa routine, like dried magnolias, and local honey.

After the spa, head to one of the award-winning restaurants for a local steak (at Geneva Chophouse) or Italian with fresh ingredients flown in daily direct from Italy (at Ristoranté Brissago). Or, if you and the family want to stay in for dinner, try the grocery service. You can have everything delivered directly to your room.

Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

Top rated
8.5 Excellent (1967 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Just Outside of Lake Geneva

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Located just outside of Lake Geneva in Delavan, Wisconsin, Lake Lawn Resort is on two miles of shoreline on its own lake, Lake Delavan. Native Americans originally inhabited the land, and more than 40 effigy mounds are still on the resort’s property. When the town itself was founded, the original homesite was near the fourth hole of the golf course. In 1847, Mabie’s Circus took over the land and used it as their home base until 1878 when the circus dissolved. One of the Mabie daughters took over and, in 1883, Lake Lawn Resort officially opened.

Depending on the season, guests can enjoy outdoor entertainment from local bands or rent wave runners, a boat, snowshoes, ice skates, and even shuffleboard equipment. The pool is a bit smaller than other resorts and tends to get crowded, so go in the lake instead or grab some pizza at the on-site Isle of Capri Cafe. Two more dining options (ranging from traditional Wisconsin pub grub to locally made American comfort food), plus a gym with lake views, a full spa, a calendar of recreation activities for kids (they can even join a Quidditch game), and a championship golf course will keep everyone in the family busy.

Lake Lawn Resort

Top rated
8.7 Excellent (2155 reviews)
Excellent Breakfast 9.1 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
Hotel CTA

A Bit of the Wisconsin Dells

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Head back to the grounds of the Grand Geneva, and you’ll find Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark, a family-friendly experience that brings a bit of Wisconsin Dells down to Lake Geneva. All of the rooms are suites, designed with families in mind. The indoor/outdoor waterpark makes it a year-round destination. It offers a splash pad and other activities for younger children, a pool specifically for kids aged 7 to 10 that has a water basketball court, a lazy river (grab a double tube to ride along with your kids or your partner), an indoor/outdoor hot tub, and two 30-foot-high waterslides for the bigger kids. One of the larger slides has music and colored lights for a full-on concert experience on your way down.

After a day of play in the waterpark or pony rides at the on-site petting zoo, grab BBQ or pizza with the kids at Timber Ridge’s restaurants: Smokey’s Bar-B-Que House and Hungry Moose. Or, if the little ones are totally tuckered out, drop them at the childcare facility and take the complimentary trolley over to the Grand Geneva for a fine dining experience at Geneva Chophouse or Ristoranté Brissago.

Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark

8.4 Very good (1480 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
Hotel CTA

A Mansion on the Lake

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This historic mansion, built by Chicago surgeon Dr. Philip Maxwell, was the very first manse in Lake Geneva. The lakefront property (which is now two blocks from the lake) has three pet-friendly lodging options: the mansion itself, the carriage house, and the stables.

When Maxwell Mansion was built, Maxwell called it The Oaks thanks to the ancient oak trees on the property. The mansion also has an on-site garden stocked full of herbs used in cocktails in The Apothecary Bar, named to pay homage to Maxwell’s medical past. Notable guests have included General Grant, and Nancy Davis and Ronald Reagan while they were just beginning to date.

The hotel has a bonafide speakeasy—but you need a password to get in, only released to guests and Facebook fans. But once you get into the basement lounge, you can go in and out of secret bookshelf doors to find more tables, sit on tufted red sofas, and drink throwback cocktails, like a Tom Collins or Wisconsin’s traditional Brandy Old Fashioned. Afterward, ward off any lingering Wisconsin chill around the fire pit outside the stables.

Maxwell Mansion 1856

8.6 Excellent (135 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

A High-End Resort

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In 2016, what was once known as the Geneva Ridge Resort went through a complete overhaul and reopened as The Ridge—an ultra-modern hotel with a coffee and wine bar, a tech-enhanced lobby, and a casual Americana restaurant. But the transformation didn’t remove the amenities you would expect at a high-end resort, and guests can still enjoy a full spa and gym and three golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino.

In the warmer months, grab a complimentary bike rental and enjoy the resort’s nature trails. When it’s colder, pick up a pair of skates and check out the onsite ice skating rink. The resort also has a new marina allowing guests to rent kayaks, paddleboards, and pontoon boats.

The Ridge Hotel

8.0 Very good (905 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

The Only Full-Service Resort on Lake Geneva

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On Lake Geneva but located in nearby Fontana, the Abbey Resort is the only full-service resort right on the lake. It sits on 90 acres — where it’s been for the last 50 years — and boasts two outdoor pools (one of them is adults only) and one indoor, a disc golf course, regular bonfires, bike rentals, trails, a spa and gym, and even car charger parking spots.

For couples looking to get away from it all, try the Sweet Retreat package. It comes with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, wine and chocolate pairings, a $100 credit for a romantic dinner at the on-site restaurant 240° West, and locally-made truffles. And if you absolutely can’t find a sitter, don’t worry — the Abbey offers childcare for guests.

For those of you traveling with the family, step into a virtual reality world at Immersion, the resort’s virtual reality gaming center and the only one of its kind in the area. You and your kids will don display headsets and grab a controller for each hand so you can play an actual role in Immersion’s continually updated library of arcade games.

The Abbey Resort

8.4 Very good (1735 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
Hotel CTA

Family-Friendly Ethos

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Holiday Inn remains true to its family-friendly ethos at the Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Lake Geneva Resort where every room is a one or two bedroom condo-style villa complete with a washer and dryer and a full kitchen stocked with cookware, dishes, and silverware. Guests get access to everything at the Grand Geneva Resort, including the ski facilities, gym, spa, waterpark, golf courses, and restaurants.

It’s important for potential guests to know that check-in and most amenities are located at the Grand Geneva, and all the room entrances are outside, which can be tricky in the winter. There’s a free trolley, though, that will take you anywhere you’d like to go on the grounds.

Holiday Inn At Lake Geneva Resort

8.4 Very good (586 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.5 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

A Golfer's Retreat

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The Inns of Geneva National‘s location is true to its name. The six spacious villas that make up the property open up to the 18th fairway on the Geneva National Golf Club’s signature course. Golfers will love this resort even more when they find the Inns’ exclusive putting green for guests. The best option is to go with a group of friends or family for a golf outing or wedding, as each villa has six private guest rooms that all share common spaces: the living room, dining room, full kitchen, and recreation space in the basement.

Guests at the Inns have access to everything at the Geneva National Golf Club, including the courses, the wellness center, the pool, and the racquet club. The clubhouse is a peaceful 400-yard walk away. Around the holidays, come back to your villa to a lit fireplace and pre-decorated Christmas trees.

Inns Of Geneva National

7.8 Good (104 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Craft Beer and Cabanas

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Located right downtown, The Cove of Lake Geneva is a family-friendly resort with indoor and outdoor pools and cabanas, an arcade, tennis and basketball courts, and a gym. Each suite has a full kitchen and a fireplace. A major bonus is that when you stay at The Cove, you’re walking distance to both the beach in downtown Lake Geneva and all of the shops and cafes around town.

Be sure to end your day with a meal and drink at adjoining Sprecher’s Restaurant and Pub, where you can try craft beer and soda made by Sprecher, the first craft brewery to open in Wisconsin after prohibition ended. The root beer is especially famous throughout the state as a home-grown brew, using local Wisconsin honey to sweeten the treat.

The Cove of Lake Geneva,Private Luxury Suite, Pool View & Exclusive Offers

7.8 Good (894 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.4 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Gym
Indoor swimming pool
Hotel CTA

Feature photo courtesy of Visit Lake Geneva