Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
has nothing to do with Switzerland in fact it is named after a town in upper state New York near Lake Seneca
. Nevertheless this charming town could fool one into thinking that you were at a Swiss or French ski resort in the Alps. The mountains are more hills mind, but it has a cozy feel to it and the shimmering Geneva Lake with it's tree-studded shores and a 21-mile path dotted with huge mansions around I'd imagine is summer haven.
Despite the 50F (10C) temperatures, it was
winter this last weekend and the place was deserted except for the small town itself with it's cozy cafes and camping shops.
Despite being situated in the state of Wisconsin, Lake Geneva is only 80 miles from Chicago and the lifeless homes on the lake led us to believe that wealthy Chicago families consider this to be a summer extension of the city, with Bears
news dominating the networks and the Tribune
being sold in newsagents.
There are an incredible number of beautiful historic and contemporary mansions on the lakefront, the Great Chicago Fire brought increasing numbers of Chicagoans into area, many stayed but most just kept a house there and some of these are hugely nice, such as the 18,000 sq. ft St
one Manor (below). The estate was built in 1901 by Otto Young, a man who made his fortune buying real estate along State Street in Chicago following the great fire at a cost then of $1m complete with indoor bowling alley and a 3rd floor miniature golf course!
The best thing about Lake Geneva is that everything is outdoors. In the summer there are beaches, hot-air ballooning
, horse riding
plus every water activity you can think off, then skiing
in the winter, although if you have actually been to the Alps, you may laugh at the ski-resort here (above).
It is no surprise that Chicagoans discovered this place because the countryside is everything the suburbs of Chicago is not, and as such the best activity of all is plain old walking, no
t only around the lake path but the 270-acre Big Foot Beach State Park
nearby and the surrounding villages of Fontana
, which 10 miles to the west and Williams Bay
just a bit closer.
We looked around a few places to stay for the one night we were there, but fell in love with The Geneva Inn
, perched right over the lake and dinner in their restaurant, The Grandview was excellent. And if it's some local cheese and wine you are after then pop into see the friendly ladies at The Cheese Box
, but don't mention me as we promised to go back and didn't!Photos L to R: Geneva Lake; Deserted country lanes; Big Foot Beach State Park; Andy Gump statue, the cartoonist was from Lake Geneva; Another beautiful lake house.