Warm days, cool breezes, long sunsets – these waning days of summer are a time to savor. So, why not spend them outdoors, in the company of family, while you still can?
Whether you’re craving a day trip or a weekend away, some time along the lake yields a much-needed change of scenery.
Lake Geneva, Wis., and its surrounding communities are close to home but far enough to feel like you’re getting away.
Get a good taste of lake life aboard the always-popular Lake Geneva Cruise Lines. Tours depart daily from the Riviera Docks in downtown Lake Geneva. This longtime summer favorite is still offering its most popular tours this year, including sightseeing expeditions along the lakeshore, dinner and lunch cruises, sunset cruises, and the one-of-a-kind mailboat cruises, where you’ll see mail delivered to each dock.
Plan ahead, as boats are running at reduced capacity this year. Special pod seating ensures that families can stay together while still enjoying their tours.
Once you’re back on dry land, head to Williams Bay and the home dock for Lake Geneva Cruise Lines, where you can make a reservation at Pier 290. Gage Marine’s restaurant is open daily at 11 a.m., with seating at the indoor dining room or outside on the patio. Takeout is also available.
Family entertainment comes in many forms around Lake Geneva, and one of the area’s top-rated attractions is the Tristan Crist Magic Theatre. The Vegas-style magic show comes with awe-inspiring illusions presented in an intimate, 175-seat theater. Watch in amazement as ladies are sawn in half and a full helicopter appears out of thin air, among other fun illusions.
Owner Tristan Crist continues bringing new tricks to his show, and he’s upped the “intimacy” of the space this year, taking extra precautions to make guests feel comfortable indoors. The guests have been coming in droves all summer, eager for a taste of live entertainment.
“My job is entirely based on fooling people and creating these crazy things that you know, deep down, aren’t really true,” says Crist. “But when a helicopter appears in front of your eyes in 3 seconds, it’s crazy and you still can’t believe it. I think, right now, that’s exactly what people need. It’s an escape from reality and the opportunity to really believe in magic again, to believe that anything is possible.”
Crist hosts shows year-round, with most September and October performances happening on weekends. Purchase tickets at lakegenevamagic.com.
Of course, there’s plenty to see and do around the Lake Geneva area. Check out zip lines, lush resorts, golf aplenty and a thriving downtown filled with homegrown shops, to mention just a few destinations. Dining opportunities abound, with casual eateries located right off the water in Lake Geneva, and several fine dining opportunities at places like Grand Geneva Resort, The Abbey Resort, and Geneva National Resort. The luxurious Geneva Inn is one of the only hotel/restaurant combinations on the waterfront.
Explore a wide range of offerings online at visitlakegeneva.com.
Closer to Home
For those who aren’t yet ready to venture out-of-state, there are still ways to enjoy a day on the lake. Head to Chain O’Lakes State Park, in Spring Grove, and enjoy a hike in the woods or an overnight stay at one of two campgrounds. You’ll find many cozy lakeside pubs scattered across this corner of northeast McHenry County.
Speaking of which, it’s not exactly a lake you’ll find in the city of McHenry, but the waterfront there is still scenic this time of year, as boaters wrap up their season on the Fox River, where it emerges from the Chain O’Lakes. Spend some time along Miller Point downtown and walk the McHenry Riverwalk before grabbing a bite to eat at places like D.C. Cobb’s, which boasts rooftop dining at the newly renovated cinema (yes, movies are playing there again). Just downriver, The Snuggery is a favorite among locals and beloved for its dockside dining.
Another lakeside favorite, downtown Wauconda, packs it all into a few city blocks, and the views at sunset aren’t to be missed. Start with dinner at Lindy’s Landing and enjoy views right from the marina. Across the street, Slyce Coal Fired Pizza has earned high marks for its uniquely baked gourmet pizzas. Meals aside, stroll the main drag and find a women’s boutique, wine specialist and antique store, among other attractions.
However you choose to spend these relaxing summer days, local restaurants, attractions and retailers are eagerly welcoming customers once again. ❚