Lake Geneva lies just 85 miles to the north of Chicago and sits very close to the Illinois/Wisconsin border. As a Chicagoan, when I think of Lake Geneva I typically think of it as a summer beach town. I wouldn’t have thought of it as a winter getaway; however, it is. Families are often pressed for vacation time or restricted in their time by school schedules. Lake Geneva is an excellent place for a 2-3 day weekend getaway given its proximity to Chicago, and there are plenty of things to do in Lake Geneva with kids, in the winter.
I’ve been to Lake Geneva twice, both in the winter, and both times we had a blast. The following is a list of ideas of things to do in Lake Geneva with kids, in the winter.
1. Hang Out at the Resort or Hotel
First and foremost you can hang out at your hotel or resort. Many of the resorts located around Lake Geneva offer tons of activities for families.
The Abbey Resort, for example, offers an indoor pool with a kiddie pool, a games area, a virtual reality experience, ‘Rainbow Point’ which offers seasonal crafts and activities, daily movies, a place to check out board games, an ice skating rink, and Fireside S’mores. Click here to see a list of their ‘Indoor Activities.’ Click here to see their Weekly Activity Schedule. Additionally, for adults, the Abbey Resort offers an adult only pool and a full-service Spa.
Another example of a resort located on Lake Geneva, that has a good selection of activities for children is the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. You can rent board games from the front desk, go skiing, sledding, ice skating, and they have an extensive list of daily activities. Click here to see their Weekly Resort Activities. Some of the activities have a fee, and some are free; check the activities page for more information. You should also note that the Grand Geneva has a reciprocation agreement with Timber Ridge Lodge so you can use their arcade, watch movies or use any other amenities. You can also purchase a day pass to use the Water Park at Timber Ridge. Please note that the Grand Geneva does not have an indoor kiddie pool. For adults, the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa offers a full array of spa services.
Another example of a resort with a good selection of indoor activities for families is the Lake Lawn Resort, in Delavan, WI. Lake Lawn offers board games for check out, an arcade, laser tag, ice skating, daily activities, and a Kid Zone with board games, movies, crafts, ping pong, and foosball. Check out their website or give them a call for a list of their upcoming activities. Please note that Lake Lawn does not have an indoor kiddie pool. For adults, the Lake Lawn Resort offers a complete array of spa services.
2. Annual Winterfest
Winterfest is a yearly event that takes place at the end of January –beginning of February, for a week and a half. There are dozens of daily activities, in downtown Lake Geneva and also at the individual resorts. Click here for more information about Lake Geneva’s annual Winterfest.
One of the most notable events is the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship; 2019 saw 15 teams from around the country compete for the championship. The competition is open to the public so you can watch as these artists sculpt their masterpieces from a block of snow.
Other family events include kid’s snow sculpting lessons, a Cocoa Crawl around town, Winterfest Music Fest, and Winterfest helicopter rides. Coinciding with Winterfest is a Winter Carnival at the Mountain Top at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, which is open to the public. The Winter Carnival includes activities for kids, games, competitions, and fireworks.
3. Visit the Ice Castles
The Ice Castles is one of the more impressive things to do In Lake Geneva with kids, in the winter. The Ice Castles are an awe-inspiring, magical feat of frozen water, lights, and imagination. The exhibit boasts tunnels, slides, archways, canyons, ‘fountains,’ and a snow princess, all made of ice (well, not the snow princess). The formations are created by growing thousands of icicles and then hand-placing them throughout the Castles. The icicles are misted with water and along with wind and temperature grow the ever-growing Ice Castles. Typically the Castles are open from late December/early January through late February/early March; however, open and close times are wholly dependent on the weather. Visit their website for more information and daily weather conditions.
4. Go Ice Skating
Ice Skating is a great outdoor activity for adults and children alike. There is a public skating rink downtown Lake Geneva, and there are four resorts with rinks open to the public.
In downtown Lake Geneva you will find a public rink at Flat Iron Park. Flat Iron Park is located at Wrigley and Center streets about two blocks south of Main Street. Skating is free, but you must bring your own skates.
Additionally, you’ll find skating rinks at the following resorts:
- The Abbey Resort: The rink is free for public use, complimentary skate check-out for resort guests, $2 for non-guests.
- Grand Geneva: The rink is open to non-resort guests and is located outside of the Mountain Top Lodge at the ski hill. There is no minimum age for ice skating; however, the smallest skate rental is a 10 in toddler. Ice skate rentals are $10 per hour; use of the rink is complimentary with your own ice skates.
- The Ridge Hotel: The rink is open to non-hotel guests. Skate rental is complimentary for hotel guests and $5 for non-hotel guests. The hotel encourages you to call 262.249.3800 for the most up to date rink conditions.
- Lake Lawn Resort, in Delavan, WI; Call 262.728.7950 for more information.
5. Go Sledding
There are three sledding hills in and around Lake Geneva:
- City of Lake Geneva Sledding Hill: located at Sage St & Mill St, Lake Geneva, WI 53147.
- The Mountain Top at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa: Non-resort guests may use the sledding hill, and there is no minimum age for sledding. Sled rentals are $10 per hour, and use of the slope is complimentary with your own sled.
- Rudy Lange Sledding Hill: Delavan, WI, is located at Washington St & Terrace St., Delavan, WI 53115.
6. Go Skiing
The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva has 20 downhill ski runs sprawled over 30 acres. They offer trolley transportation from the Grand Geneva, lift tickets, lessons for kids, ski rentals, night-skiing, and food and drink at the Leinenkugel’s Mountain Top Lodge. The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva also offers snowboarding. Check out their website to see which activities are open on any given day.
Cross Country Skiing is available at the following locations:
- Big Foot Beach State Park (located on Lake Geneva): no ski-rental, and vehicle admission sticker required. Call 262-248-2528 for details.
- Duck Pond Recreation Area: no ski-rental available.
- For Big Foot Beach State Park & Duck Pond Recreation Area you can rent skis at Clear Water Outdoors; click here for more information.
- The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort: check out their website or call (262) 248-8811 for details.
- Lake Lawn Resort: Call 262.728.7950 for details.
7. Visit the Water Park
Moose Mountain Falls Water park is located at Timber Ridge Lodge. When you book a one or two bedroom suite (these are the only two room types) you receive four or six free water park passes, respectively. The water park has different pools for different ages so that little ones can play safely; they also have a lazy river for floating and relaxing. Guests of the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa can purchase day passes for the water park.
Timber Ridge also has options for a “Daycation” where you rent a room for the day; this is available Mon-Thurs, depending on occupancy, and includes five waterpark passes, and all day access. Check the website or call reservations at 866-636-4502 for details.
8. Geneva Lake Museum
The Geneva Lake Museum is a quaint museum showcasing the history of Lake Geneva. The museum has a ‘Main Street’ running through the middle and guests can walk down the street and get a feel for what life was like at the turn of the century. You can walk into the storefronts off of the ‘Main Street,’ and it feels like you have entered a time machine. Some of the replicas include a log cabin, blacksmiths shop, firehouse, spring house, dentist’s office, general store, and a school room. Besides the shops along the ‘Main Street,’ you can explore other facets of Lake Geneva history and its old school way of life. The museum is suitable for children in that children are not discouraged from touching or interacting with the exhibits.
9. Go Bowling
There are three bowling alleys in and around Lake Geneva:
- Lake Geneva Lanes: Call for hours, shoe rental prices, and information on bowling for small children.
- Phone: (262) 248-4805
- Address: 192 East Main Street, Lake Geneva, WI 53147
- Delavan Lanes: Call for hours, shoe rental prices, and information on bowling for small children.
- Phone: (262) 728-9477
- Address: 509 S. 7th St., Delavan, WI 53115
- 10 Pin Pub: Call for hours, shoe rental prices, and information on bowling for small children.
- Phone: (262) 394-4300
- Address: 121 Kenosha Street, Walworth WI 53184
10. Go Shopping
Lake Geneva is a quaint little town with a decent sized shopping district. The shopping district covers about a 6-7 square block area, so it’s not too overwhelming. Lake Geneva has an eclectic array of shops including clothing, chocolate, candy, antique, gift, home, art, sporting goods, and toy shops. There is something for everyone. Shopping may not be enjoyable on the coldest of days, but on days where the weather is mild popping in and out of warm shops may still fit the bill. You can find a list of all of the shops in Lake Geneva, here.
11. Eat Out
There are lots of restaurants in Lake Geneva, and you can find the full line-up here. There was one restaurant, in particular, that we really liked and that was Oakfire.
Oakfire is a pizzeria located across from Lake Geneva itself, in the heart of downtown. We ate there for lunch, and my husband and I each got our own 12” pizza and took the leftovers back to the resort for dinner. The pizza was mouthwatering. They also have vegan and vegetarian options. We ordered our son the ‘famous mickey mouse pizza,’ and although he was unimpressed, we thought it was cute. Check out Oakfire’s menu here and if you do end up visiting Lake Geneva (at any time of year), definitely check them out!
I hope that I have convinced you that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is worth the trip. There are tons of things to do in Lake Geneva with kids, even in the winter. It really is a winter wonderland and makes for a great three-day getaway! If you have been to Lake Geneva yourself and have any other ideas, please go ahead and leave them in the comments! You can check out the official Lake Geneva website here if you’d like more information.
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