One of the most popular activities in the Lake Geneva area is one of the simplest and most timeless: swimming in the lake. Whether you just want to take a dip to cool off or are looking to challenge your stamina with a swimming workout, there are plenty of great spots open to the public. (A word on safety: swimming in big water and navigating the waves created by wind and powerboat wake can be difficult for even experienced swimmers. Exercise caution at all times, including the use of Coast Guard-approved life jackets for children and inexperienced swimmers, and take frequent breaks if you feel fatigued.) Some of these public swimming areas are located on municipal beaches, while others provide access to a swim pier via public parks or boat launch areas. While the water quality in Geneva Lake is generally very good, certain areas around the lake are susceptible to crop runoff from nearby farms. To check the water quality of at the various beaches, visit Wisconsin DNR website’s beach advisories page.
Below, we’ve put together a list of all the places where you can enjoy a swim in Geneva Lake.
Big Foot Beach State Park, Lake Geneva
Cost: $8-$11 for a vehicle admission sticker if parking a vehicle in Big Foot Beach State Park
While the “beach” portion of Big Foot Beach State park is quite petite (really just a thin strip of sand between the road and the water), there is a long shoreline here that provides plenty of space for wading and relaxing in the lake. The water in Buttons Bay (where Big Foot Beach State Park is located) is quite shallow near the shoreline, making it a good choice for those who are looking to wade rather than swim. This is also a popular spot for powerboats to anchor and raft up, so take caution around boats and don’t be surprised if the area is quite busy, especially on weekends. Note that there are no lifeguards on duty at this spot. Restrooms are located directly across from the beach inside the state park; showers can be accessed in another area of the park.
Riviera Beach, Lake Geneva
Cost: $10 per person ages 7 and up, children ages 6 and under are free. Seasonal passes are available for $100 per year. Purchase daily beach passes by downloading the VIPLY app on your smartphone or paying at one of three beach kiosks located near the beach entrance during regular beach hours. The kiosks accept debit cards, credit cards and bills no larger than $20 and do not give change. However, change can be obtained from the beach house with proof of purchase. Upon payment, the kiosks will issue a voucher that is redeemable at the Beach House for admission wristband(s). The beach attendants are available to assist.
Lake Geneva’s public beach provides a wide and expansive sand beach with very little natural shade. There are two swimming piers available, and the entire space is protected by Water Safety Patrol lifeguards from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The depth of the water transitions from very shallow at the shoreline to about 8 feet deep at the end of the swimming piers. To ensure safety, swimmers should stay within the designated swim areas. Floats and other inflatable water toys are only allowed within the shallow areas (indicated by a row of buoys.) Restrooms and showers are located at the entrance. Due to its location in downtown Lake Geneva, this beach gets quite busy — finding parking (paid or unpaid) anywhere near the beach can be quite challenging, so prepare to carry your beach supplies a long distance.
Williams Bay Beach, Williams Bay
Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-11. Kids 5 and under are free.
The public beach in Williams Bay is located along a section of the village’s significant public shoreline, which also includes a public picnic area, public boat launch, public kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals and Edgewater Park. The beach features both sand and grassy areas, and includes some natural shade. Similar to the Riviera Beach, there are two public swimming piers, with lifeguards on duty between 9:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Due to the smaller size of Williams Bay itself, the water at this beach tends to grow more seaweed. Floats and inflatables must be kept in the shallow areas, designated by a row of buoys. Restrooms and showers are located inside the beach house. The parking areas closest to the beach are reserved for Williams Bay residents with parking tags, but there is free visitor parking available in a lot across the street from the beach, near the entrance to Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy.
Fontana Beach, Fontana
Cost: $12 for adults, $6 for kids ages 6-11. Kids 5 and under are free.
The largest public beach on Geneva Lake, the Fontana Beach features a wide and deep sand beach with a wide grassy area behind it that includes volleyball courts and picnic tables. Note that there is very little natural shade here. The beach is guarded by Water Safety Patrol lifeguards from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a single public swim pier, and as with other beaches, floats and inflatables must be kept in the shallow areas which are designated by a row of buoys. (The pier for the private Country Club Estates subdivision beach, located immediately to the south of the Fontana Beach, is reserved for members only.) Due to several natural springs near the Fontana Beach, the water tends to be coldest at this location. Restrooms and changing rooms are available at the beach entrance. A paid parking lot is located across the street, but it can often fill up early on hot summer days.
Linn Pier Road public swim pier, Lake Geneva
This public park, boat launch and swim pier on the lake’s south shore does not have a beach, but it does offer a small grassy area and picnic area. You can access the lake from a set of steps from the park into the shallow end, or you can jump off the pier into a designated deep-water swim area on the east side of the pier. More than other locations, the Linn Pier Road swim area has a rocky bottom with many sharp zebra mussels growing on them — water shoes are an absolute necessity to enjoy the shallow area at this location. There is a lifeguard on duty from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., however there are no restrooms or changing facilities other than a single portable toilet. A limited number of public parking spots are available; if those are full, there is no alternate parking area; parking on the road is prohibited as well.
Hillside Road beach, Lake Geneva
Another public boat launch with a small swimming area, the Hillside Road beach is located in the Robinson Hillside subdivision, but open to the public. Note that there are no lifeguards at this location, and no changing facilities or restrooms other than a portable toilet. Like Linn Pier Road, this spot also offers very limited parking, and once it is full, there are no alternate parking areas, and there is no parking on the private roads of the Robinson Hillside subdivision. Following periods of heavy rain, check the water quality at this location.