By Nat Wexler | Photos by Holly Leitner
Back in 1997, the world was a very different place. The Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots. The hit movie “Titanic” premiered in theaters and remained the highest-grossing film of all time for the next decade. The most popular TV shows playing on home television (not streaming!) were “Seinfeld” and “ER.” And that fall, At The Lake Magazine debuted on local stands.
In the 25 years since, we have showcased the people, events and places that make the Geneva Lake area what it is, and we are excited to kick off a year of celebrating this landmark anniversary. While so much has changed in the last 25 years, one thing has remained the same: Lake Geneva is a special place that brings people together to create lasting memories over food, scenery and activities. To honor 25 years of being “at the lake,” we’ve rounded up 25 ways to experience and celebrate autumn in the Geneva Lake area.
- Go apple picking. Take advantage of the crisp fall weather by picking multiple apple varieties at local orchards like Elkhorn’s The Apple Barn Orchard and Winery and Genoa City’s Hafs Road Orchard. While you’re there, be sure to stock up on donuts and apple cider!
- Read by the water. Pick up one of the books on your autumn reading list (check out our “At The Library” article for suggestions!) and head to the new patio at the Lake Geneva Public Library to read under the fall foliage.
- Fill your plate with flapjacks. Head to one of the classic local diners for a hearty fall breakfast with a side of kitsch. Try Daddy Maxwell’s igloo-shaped restaurant in Williams Bay or Lake Geneva’s iconic diners: Grandma Vickie’s Café, Lake-Aire Restaurant and The Olympic Family Restaurant.
- Shop local in downtown Lake Geneva. If you didn’t pack a heavy enough sweater for your trip to the lake, swing by the local boutiques lining the main streets in Lake Geneva to acquire one. You can also shop for gifts and other souvenirs while you’re there!
- Have dinner at a restaurant by the water. When the temps get too cold to go for a swim, enjoy a warm meal while gazing at the lake from local restaurants like Chuck’s in Fontana, Pier 290 in Williams Bay or The Boat House Bar and Grill in Lake Geneva.
- See a magic show. Head to Lake Geneva’s Tristan Crist Magic Theatre and watch how fast time can disappear when your mind is blown by Crist’s popular magic show.
- Create your own beer tasting experience. For those over 21, taste the different flavors of beer on tap at the area’s local taprooms and microbreweries, like Lake Geneva’s Topsy Turvy Brewery or the Geneva Taphouse (in the old movie theater!), as well as Elkhorn’s Duesterbeck’s Brewing Company and the East Troy Brewery. If you like what you try, pick up a growler to bring home.
- Play a round of golf. There are several world-class golf courses in the area. Play a few more holes in the fall sunshine and enjoy the natural beauty of the area before the snow flies.
- Go on a cheese curd crawl. Take advantage of the fact that cheese curds can be found on many menus around the area and try as many as you’d like! To start off your crawl, check out Legend’s Food and Spirits or Mars Resort, both located on the shores of Lake Como.
- Hike the Shore Path. Enjoy different vantage points of the fall foliage around the lake as you hike around its perimeter on Geneva Lake’s famous Shore Path. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring water!
- Learn how to knit. If you’re looking to make a scarf for the impending winter weather, head to The Cashmere Cape in Williams Bay or Brick Street Yarn in Delavan to pick up some yarn and knitting needles.
- Soar through the fall foliage. Who said the only way to enjoy the leaves was by jumping into a pile? Fall is the most beautiful time of year to fly through the trees by ziplining at Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures.
- Take a train trip to the Elegant Farmer. This popular orchard and local food market is just a short drive from Lake Geneva, but it’s even more fun to arrive by train. On Saturdays and Sundays, take the Fall Harvest Train from the East Troy Railroad Museum to the Elegant Farmer for an old-fashioned ride on the rails.
- Spend a day unwinding at the spa. Relax after you go biking, hiking, apple picking or anything else with a relaxing trip to one of the area’s luxury spas. Choose between facials, manicures, pedicures, massages and more for as much pampering as your heart desires.
- Paddle the lake. Although Geneva Lake starts cooling off shortly after Labor Day, you can still enjoy the water from the inside of a kayak. Rentals are available through Lake Geneva’s Clear Water Outdoor and the Williams Bay Recreation Department. Don’t forget your life jacket!
- Visit a traditional Wisconsin supper club. Travel back in time to a classic era of Wisconsin dining by visiting a supper club such as Lake Geneva’s Anthony’s Steakhouse & Seafood, the Big Foot Inn south of Walworth or The Duck Inn Supper Club in Delavan.
- Learn new cooking skills. After a hands-on (and tastebuds-on) class with Chef Bogan at the Lake Geneva School of Cooking, you can impress your friends and family with your newly acquired cooking skills.
- Find the perfect pumpkin. At Pearce’s Farm Stand west of Williams Bay, you can pick your own pumpkin or choose from their huge selection of pre-picked options. If you’re looking to pay homage to the area, take it home and carve the outline of Geneva Lake on your pumpkin.
- Marvel at acrobats on horseback. Head to the Dancing Horses Theatre in Delavan to spend the afternoon watching equine feats and amazing acrobats.
- Enjoy a Friday night fish fry. Almost every restaurant in the area offers this beloved meal on Friday nights, so refuel yourself with fried cod, potato pancakes, coleslaw and maybe even a slice of cheesecake for dessert.
- Get on the lake. Fall is a fabulous time to enjoy the foliage and architecture along the lakeshore from the comfort of a boat. Take a tour with Lake Geneva Cruise Line or rent a boat from one of several boat rental options around the lake.
- Pack a fall picnic. Pack up your picnic basket (or order takeout from any local restaurant) and enjoy a picnic at one of the area’s many lakeside parks before the cooler temps send outdoor dining into hibernation for the winter.
- Go for a bike ride. Grab your helmet and hop on a bike for an autumnal ride around the Geneva Lake area.
- Admire the sunrise over the lake. As the days get shorter and the sunrises come a little later, you can get out and enjoy the dawn of a new day on Geneva Lake. Try a sunrise yoga class or a take a morning walk to bask in the natural beauty of a fall sky.
- Watch the big game. Autumn means the beginning of the NFL, NHL and NBA seasons, along with the end of the MLB season. Enjoy bar food and a game at one of the many beloved sports bars in the area: Champs Sports Bar and Grill in Lake Geneva, DJ’s In The Drink in Lake Como, Harpoon Willie’s Pub & Eatery in Williams Bay or Delavan’s Ol’ Wisco Bar and Grill.