Lake Geneva is one of the best places to plan a trip in southern Wisconsin. This small lakeside town in Walworth County boasts breathtaking views, boating galore, and beach vibes that rival the ocean. I first visited when Tyler invited me to his family’s cabin on our first date! Needless to say, I come back again and again.
While I have traveled to Lake Geneva many times, I have never stayed in town longer than a weekend. This is mainly because Lake Geneva is a great Wisconsin staycation that I can drive to and enjoy on my days off. Lake Geneva is a convenient day trip from Milwaukee, Madison, Rockford, or Chicago. If you are just in town for a short visit, here are some ideas for how to spend one day in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
Located in the neighboring lakeside town of Williams Bay, everyone will love this unique Wisconsin restaurant! Daddy Maxwell’s Antarctic Circle Diner is, in fact, igloo shaped. Thanks to “advances in ice sculpting technology,” you can visit this special place year-round. The diner serves breakfast and lunch daily, plus a classic Wisconsin fish fry on Friday evenings. Their menu is packed with great options, but any breakfast order pairs nicely with one of their homemade donuts. While the restaurant is often packed on weekends in the summer, they fly through the waitlist at admirable speed. Note that they do not take credit or debit cards, so have cash on hand when you visit.
Lake Geneva’s Big Foot Beach State Park is one of the easiest state parks to get to from Milwaukee. It lies along South Lake Shore Drive just south of town. The park has eight trails of varying lengths that are great for hiking. They weave through both the forest and prairie ecosystems so iconic to southern Wisconsin. Just across the road lies Big Foot Beach, where you can swim and take in the views of Wisconsin’s second-deepest lake. This is a great place to camp near Lake Geneva if you ever have time for a longer visit. While I do not know how much it costs to camp, daily park admission costs $8 per car.
Popeye’s offers a great view of the lake and a lot of city history. It has stood the test of time in downtown Lake Geneva since 1971 and remains a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. It was first opened by the Nick and Veronica Anagnos and remains family owned. They offer an extensive menu, but are best known for their burgers. On warm and sunny days, guests can enjoy the option of outdoor seating.
Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers a variety of cruise options with multiple departure times throughout the day. Tyler and I took the Black Point Estate Tour at 12:30 PM. I loved that the tour allowed us to learn history about both the lake and the estate! After leaving the Riviera Docks, a guided boat tour to the estate begins. Many historic mansions surround the lake and the stories behind them are all unique. Once you arrive at Black Point Estate (which is one of ten Wisconsin Historical Society sites), you will take a guided tour of the property. It is beautiful inside and out! The boat picks you up after the tour to return to Lake Geneva. As this site can only be accessed by boat, you’ll want to make the most of this opportunity!
Lake Geneva’s close proximity to Chicago means that it inherited some of the city’s legendary deep dish pizza. Gino’s East is my favorite place to order pizza in town! While deep dish is their specialty, thin crust options are available, too. Everything on their menu absolutely blows my mind, but some of my personal favorite add-ons are the mozzarella sticks and deep dish brownie. The restaurant sits just across the road from the lake and is a great place to watch the sunset and end your day in Lake Geneva.