Area Attractions

Did you know the Lake Geneva area was a popular vacation spot for gangsters such as Al Capone and Babyface Nelson in the 1920s and 1930s? We can understand why. With the second deepest lake in Wisconsin, miles of hiking trails, and a plethora of shops and restaurants, going on the lam around here is anything but boring.

Here’s a quick introduction to the area’s main attractions.

Feeling the need to nosh?

If you’re a foodie, you’ve come to the right place. The area boasts more than 40 restaurants from casual cafes in which to study to fine dining along the lakeshore. A few of our favorites, include:

Take in the fresh air.  

The outdoors is a major contender for ways to occupy one’s time in Lake Geneva. The lake provides hours of recreation from swimming, boating, and fishing to parasailing and waterskiing. There also are miles of trails to hike and bike in the many nature conservatories and parks, which include:  

For those interested in alternative modes of transportation, try horseback riding at one of the many local stables, take a cruise with the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, or swing through the trees with Lake Geneva Canopy Tours.

History on display.

Lake Geneva is known for its many historic mansions that sit along the lake. Built in the late-19th century, many served as the summer homes of the Chicago elite. The Geneva Lake Shore Path, a 21-mile walking path around the lake, is a lovely way to take in these beautiful homes. To walk the entire path would take approximately 10 to 14 hours. Many visitors opt for the 6.5-mile route between Williams Bay and downtown Lake Geneva.

A sundry of souvenirs.

With a multitude of stores carrying everything from art and antiques to fashion, jewelry, and home décor it’s hard to leave Lake Geneva empty handed. You can outfit your dorm room, pick up a birthday gift for Mom, and even score a sweet paddleboard to zip around the lake. 

Stargazing and the sound of music.

If you’re a stargazer, you’re in luck. Williams Bay is home to “the birthplace of modern astrophysics.” Yerkes Observatory, founded in 1897 and operated by the University of Chicago, has the largest refracting telescope used for astronomy and a collection of more than 100,000 photographic plates. It is open for free public tours every Saturday throughout the year.  

Summer visitors may enjoy George Williams College’s own Music by the Lake series. Take in live performances from classical and rock to oldies and opera in our refurbished Ferro Pavilion. Past season highlights included a performance by members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; the opera, “La Triviata;” and a show by legendary rocker Peter Frampton.

Looking for lodging?

Students beware: With so many options for lodging, parents have a hard time leaving George Williams College. Guests may choose from waterfront inns, bed and breakfasts, cottages, or campgrounds. Below are just a few of the myriad choices:

Take a road trip.  

If you’re craving an urban experience you’re in luck. George Williams is conveniently situated among the cities of Chicago (two hours away) and Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, (one hour each). Enjoy the big-city lights, see the Cubs play Wrigley Field, take in a show at the Milwaukee Theatre, or stroll up Madison’s famed State Street.

For more resources visit:

Geneva Lake West Chamber of Commerce

Wisconsin DNR

Travel Wisconsin

Wisconsin Historical Society