Lake Geneva – An Adventure-Rich Playground

Stand up paddleboarding is the perfect way to spend a morning on Lake Geneva.

Not far from Indiana is a special region that is favored by the rich and famous, and for good reason. The area is rich in exciting and adventurous destinations! While many influential people “summer” on the lake, word is spreading about everything Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva and Walworth County has to offer during all seasons. We decided to spend the weekend there to see what all the fuss was about.

She said: The hardest part about planning a trip is finding things that everyone will enjoy. I recently stumbled upon what I can only describe as the perfect playground; a weekend at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

He said: I had some mixed feelings as we headed north for Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. I heard buzz words like “fantastic shopping, boutique shops, and fine dining”. I reminded myself that Wisconsin is also home to some of the best deer, bear, and ruffed grouse hunting in the country.

She said: Alan would love nothing more than to sit on a lake all day and fish to his heart’s content. I on the other hand, like “catching” not so much “fishing.” And his idea of shopping is the local outdoor store, whereas I could spend the entire day at the mall! So compromise has been a very big part of our lives – until this trip!

He said: I love fishing for walleye, northern pike, and muskie and the best thing I like about shopping malls is the exit sign.

She said: We arrived late Friday night at Lake Lawn Resort which is a beautiful sprawling resort along Delavan Lake. The resort offers an 18-hole golf course, full service spa, restaurants, lounges, indoor and outdoor pools, a marina and conference facilities.

He said: I prefer a rustic fish camp cabin over posh Manhattan-style hotels but Lake Lawn Resort is neither. The resort was quiet and laid back but yet easily the nicest place I have ever stayed. And since it is on the shores the great walleye fishery of Lake Delavan, I could see myself getting used to this level of comfort.

Nothing beats an early morning largemouth bass.
Nothing beats an early morning largemouth bass.

We meet fishing guide, John Reddy right in front of the resort. The plan was to go after walleye but a cold front had moved through so I assumed the bite would be tough. Wrong. Reddy knew the lake and knew what would elicit strikes from the moody fish. We netted some of the best walleye of our lives as well as huge bass!

She said: No compromise here! We were fishing AND catching. We both learned some new techniques, caught several varieties of fish and enjoyed the company of a very knowledgeable and patient guide.

He said: As we fished Reddy told me a few more surprises, like what a great smallmouth fishery nearby Lake Geneva was. Anyone that knows me knows I love feisty smallmouth bass.

She said: After a wonderful lunch from Lake Geneva Pie Company (whose oatmeal raisin cookies were superb), we crossed the road to the Lake Lawn airstrip for a helicopter tour of the area with Don Voland of Aero Optics, Inc. My fear of flying was quickly replaced with confidence in our pilot and awe of the beautiful fall colored landscape below.

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“Co-pilot” Alan Garbers ready for take off.
Being airborn really shows the abundant hunting and fishing habitat in Walworth County.
Being airborne really shows the abundant hunting and fishing habitat in Walworth County.

He said: Pilot Don Voland works with the DNR to count deer in the winter and he wanted to show us the vast hunting possibilities of northern Walworth County. As we flew over lake after lake and watched the miles of forest stretch away to the horizon, I started wondering what it would take to convince Dianna to move here. As I pondered talking to a real estate agent, we landed and headed for the town of Lake Geneva, proper.

She said: It was apparent right away that Lake Geneva is a destination in itself and many of the restaurants, shops, and attractions looked interesting. I was not disappointed. We spent that afternoon swinging through the tree tops at the Lake Geneva Canopy Tours high-ropes course. If you like adventure, excitement, and a challenge, give it a try. It’s all safe and good for building teamwork.

The better half of Team Garbers loved the high ropes.
The better half of Team Garbers loved the high ropes.
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Dianna Garbers getting crazy thirty feet in the air.

He said: After learning the finer points of negotiating cables strung through trees, we headed for the shopping of downtown Lake Geneva. Admittedly, I enjoyed looking at the shops, especially those that sold camping, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and paddle board gear. But with the clear waters of the lake just a block or two away my thoughts kept returning to smallmouth bass fishing.

She said: Dinner was easy to find because the downtown waterfront is prime restaurant country, all of which have great menus and harbor sunsets. After dinner our friends wanted to show us a special treat, as if we weren’t in sensory overload already.
For those that have never been, Lake Geneva is surrounded by upscale homes of the rich and famous going back to the mid 1800s. Realizing what a treasure they had the locals made it law that every lake front property had to maintain a walking path that encircles the lake. You read that correctly. You get to walk through the yards of opulent and historical homes that are unmatched anywhere we have seen. Looking for a great hike? How about twenty-two miles around Lake Geneva in the fall?

The Lake Geneva walking path takes you past beautiful homes on well-groomed walkways...
The Lake Geneva walking path takes you past beautiful homes on well-groomed walkways…
and sometimes the path is a little more rustic.
…and sometimes the path is a little more rustic.

He said: The next morning we started by dining at the locally famous Baker House. Now I know I implied I wasn’t into foo-foo stuff but hear me out. Baker House is a historic mansion, overlooking the lake of course, that serves meals worthy of a king, but there is a twist. All of the employees dress in period garb harkening back to the Roaring Twenties and you get to play along.

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Selecting a perfect dining hat is part of the fun at the Baker House.
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Baker House treats delight the taste buds and the eyes.

She said: Scattered around the restaurant are hundreds of hats of all shapes, styles, and sizes. It is tradition that patrons choose and wear a hat while dining! If that isn’t enough, the house is trimmed and decorated as it was 100 years ago with intricate woodwork, stained glass windows and fireplaces with built-in brandy glass warmers! Did I mention the food is fantastic?

He said: Our amazement didn’t stop after Baker House. After strolling a few blocks we boarded one of the Lake Geneva Cruise Line passenger ships that ply the waters of Lake Geneva and went sight-seeing. While we cruised past mansion after mansion I kept eyeing the lucky anglers that were targeting the many boat docks and sea walls that held the huge smallmouth bass I had heard rumors of.

Multi-million dollar homes line some of the best smallmouth fishing in the Midwest.
Multi-million dollar homes line some of the best smallmouth fishing in the Midwest.

She said: As we cruised we also learned that the passenger lines offered hikers an option if they didn’t want to walk all the way around the lake. They called it the feet-eat-seat cruise. Meaning you hike from launch point to launch point such as downtown Lake Geneva to Fontana, eat lunch at one of the fabulous cafes, and then cruise back to the starting point.

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Step back in time and enjoy life as they did a hundred years ago.

He said: Our exploring took us to the western end of the lake and the town of Fontana. We wanted to try paddle boarding and kayaking and went to the experts at the Fontana Paddle Company. While the lake is busy with speed boat traffic in the summer, fall and spring belong to the quiet sports. The Fontana Paddle Company regularly hosts canoeing, kayaking, and paddle board day trips to various places on the lake to enjoy at the many scenic vistas. I quickly came to realize that if you’re bored in Walworth County, it’s your own fault!

Stand up paddleboarding is the perfect way to spend a morning on Lake Geneva.
Stand up paddleboarding is the perfect way to spend a morning on Lake Geneva.

She said: Our weekend ended too soon but Walworth County and Lake Geneva is one place Alan and I won’t need to argue about because we can hardly wait to go back, to visit or to stay!

Additional Information:

www.reddyguideservice.com – Reddy Fishing Guide Service
www.lakelawnresort.com – Lake Lawn Resort
www.lgpie.com – Lake Geneva Pie Company
www.bakerhouse1885.com – Baker House Hotel and Restaurant
www.cruiselakegeneva.com – Lake Geneva Cruise Lines
www.lakegenevacanopytours.com – Lake Geneva Canopy Tours
fontanapaddleco.com – Fontana Paddle Company
www.visitwalworthcounty.com – Walworth County
www.aerooptics.com – Air Taxi and Helicopter Services
lakegenevawi.com – The Town of Lake Geneva
dnr.wi.gov/lakes/ — Wisconsin lake information

Alan Garbers
Alan James Garbers – Alan is passionate for the outdoors. He enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, photography, writing, woodworking, and more. He loves exploring the BWCAW in northern Minnesota, roaming the deserts of Arizona, or hiking the mountains of Colorado. He has lived in Minnesota, Hawaii, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and Indiana. From hunting rattlesnakes to black bear and fishing for catfish to muskie, he loves it all. Since 1989 his writing credits have included Indiana Outdoor News, Indiana Game & Fish, Muzzle Blasts, Outdoor Guide Magazine, Fur-Fish-Game, Boundary Waters Journal, Boys’ Quest, Fun For Kidz, Mother Earth News, Cricket, Small Farm Today, American Careers, Arizona Hunter & Angler, Old West, and others. Fiction credits include StarTrek Strange New Worlds Anthologies IV, V, and 08. Alan recently complied an anthology of his popular column, Behind The Badge: True Stories of Indiana’s Conservation Officers. It is available in e-reader format and found at Amazon and other on-line book retailers. Alan is a member of AGLOW and HOW.

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