Lake Geneva Favorites

By Anne Morrissy | Above photo by Kelley Brady; other photos by Holly Leitner

The Lake Geneva area is beautiful in every season, but there’s just something about summer here — a certain magic that is hard to put into words. Perhaps it is the indulgence of sitting in a gently rocking boat, cocktail in hand, enjoying a perfect view of the lake. Or maybe it’s the invigorating feeling of a long walk on the Shore Path, admiring architecture that ranges from Victorian to neoclassical to ultra-modern. Or is it the joy of spending a day relaxing on the beach?

We wanted to know what our readers considered their favorite things about summer in Lake Geneva, so we decided to go straight to the source and send out a reader survey. The large number of responses told us something we already knew — lots of people love Lake Geneva in the summer. The survey reached a wide range of you, our readers … from lifelong locals to those who have spent every summer in Lake Geneva to those who have visited once and can’t wait to return. We asked you to choose some of your favorite local sights, locations and activities for summer.

While it is true that it can be difficult to capture the magic of summer in Lake Geneva into words, it’s easier to do so in pictures. Here, presented with some of our favorite photos from our extensive archives, are the winners of the At The Lake 2022 Summer Survey. Did your favorites make the list?

What is the Most Iconic Lake Geneva Location?

  • 45.45% The Riviera Ballroom
  • 37.88% Yerkes Observatory
  • 7.58% Black Point Estate
  • 5.30% Wadsworth Hall (formerly the Driehaus Estate)
  • 0.76% The windsurfing sculpture at the Fontana beach
  • 3.03% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: The Fontana Frog)

Since 1932, this Mediterranean-inspired building has been synonymous with Lake Geneva. Standing sentinel over the east end of the public beach, the Riviera Ballroom has played host to generations of Lake Geneva residents and visitors, from its heyday as a Big Band ballroom to its current role as one of the most popular event venues in the area. A recently completed renovation has updated the space and restored some of architect James Roy Allen’s original vision, while ensuring the Riviera will remain an iconic Lake Geneva landmark for years to come.

Which Lake Geneva spot has the most beautiful views?

Photo by Kelley Brady
  • 28.41% Williams Bay
  • 21.59% Geneva Bay
  • 14.39% Fontana
  • 15.53% Conference Point
  • 14.02% Buttons Bay
  • 6.06% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: Maytag Point and Big Foot Beach State Park)

Williams Bay’s downtown lake frontage was once owned by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad, but today it belongs to the village, reserved for public use. This ensures unobstructed views of the bay from every angle. Two small, spring-fed creeks empty into the lake from the nearby Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy, and the bridges over these creeks provide a beautiful spot to take photos. Our readers know a good thing when they see it — plentiful parking, public restrooms, a large public park and a popular beach and boat launch make the Williams Bay lakefront an ideal place to take in lake views.

What is the most thrilling Lake Geneva activity?

  • 37.85% Tubing on the Lake
  • 18.33% Hot air balloon rides
  • 18.33% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: Water-skiing in the early morning)
  • 9.16% Zip lining
  • 8.37% Waverunning
  • 7.97% Sailing on foils

The Lake Geneva area has no shortage of exciting activities, but when it comes to experiencing thrills on the lake, tubing is a longstanding family favorite, so we weren’t surprised that more than a third of our readers chose it as their favorite. Whatever your preferred brand of inflated tow- able, or how many riders it can safely hold, pulling kids around the lake behind a speedboat is sure to provide lots of laughter and thrills. Remember to brush up on your boating safety rules first and make sure each tuber is outfitted with a well-fitting, Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Then start your engines and hit the throttle!

What is the most romantic date spot in Lake Geneva?

  • 49.05% Watching the sunset from the end of a pier
  • 31.56% A ride on a vintage yacht
  • 12.17% Drinks around a firepit under the stars
  • 5.32% A picnic on the lakefront
  • 1.14% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: Sharing ice cream at Norman B. Barr Camp)
  • 0.76% A walk through Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy

There are more than 900 piers on Geneva Lake: private piers, subdivision piers, camp piers, public piers. For over 100 years, the vast majority of these piers have been custom built out of timber and then painted white, a local tradition that dates back to the 19th century. Watching a sunset from the end of one of these many Geneva Lake piers won our readers’ hearts for the most romantic date spot. Grab a couple of glasses and a bottle of wine and snuggle up to watch the sun sink behind the tree line.

What is the most relaxing wellness activity?

  • 75.95% Walking the Shore Path
  • 8.02% Kayaking
  • 6.49% Sunrise yoga on the lake
  • 4.96% Stand-up paddleboarding
  • 2.67% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: Golfing!)
  • 1.91% Cycling around the lake

No contest here! At The Lake readers overwhelmingly chose a walk along the Shore Path as their favorite relaxing wellness activity. And how could they not? This footpath, originally created by Native Americans, extends around the perimeter of the lake for more than 20 miles, and offers not only stunning lake views but a front- row glimpse of some of the most luxurious homes in the state. Lace up your walking shoes and fill up your water bottle! The more adventurous can complete the entire path in a day’s hike, or for those looking for lower intensity, try tackling the path in sections. With either option, it’s a great way to get your fresh air and exercise while enjoying a truly one-of-its-kind hike.

What is the most fun Lake Geneva activity for families?

  • 45.83% Spending a day at the beach
  • 33.71% Watching fireworks over the lake
  • 8.33% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: A day on the lake in a ski boat!)
  • 5.68% Visiting Lake Geneva’s historic downtown
  • 5.68% Fishing
  • 4.17% Sailing

Sunscreen? Check. Beach towels? Check. Cooler of snacks and cold drinks? Check. When it comes to family fun in the Lake Geneva area, nothing tops a day at the beach. Whether you’re eating a hot dog at the Williams Bay beach, playing volleyball at the Fontana Beach, watching the historic excursion boats come and go from the Riviera Beach or wading in the shallow waters off Big Foot Beach, everyone is sure to have a fantastic day in the sun. Isn’t that what summer is all about? Our readers sure think so.

What is the most fun thing to do with your dog?

  • 38.06% Take them to the park
  • 20.65% Take them to a dog-friendly public pier
  • 15.38% Take them on a boat ride
  • 13.36% Take them to a dog-friendly bar/restaurant patio
  • 8.10% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: Duck Pond in Fontana)
  • 4.45% Take them paddleboarding

There are plenty of fun things to do with man’s best friend in the Lake Geneva area — which is why we choose a new cohort of “Lake Dogs” to feature every autumn in At The Lake! When it comes to our readers’ favorite activity, however, a classic trip to the park won over man and pooch alike. For lake views, try Library Park in Lake Geneva, Edgewater Park in Williams Bay, Reid Park in Fontana or Big Foot Beach State Park. A little further inland, local dog parks in Lake Geneva, Williams Bay and Linn Township offer leash-free opportunities for dogs to roam.

What is the most beautiful time of day to view the lake?

  • 45.83% Sunset
  • 23.48% Early evening
  • 20.45% Sunrise
  • 4.92% Nighttime
  • 4.92% Other (BEST WRITE-IN RESPONSE: All of the above, but also when a storm is brewing!)
  • 3.79% Late morning/ Early afternoon

When you’re in a place as naturally beautiful as the Lake Geneva area, it can be hard to choose a favorite time of day. Certain locations around the lake lend themselves to stunning sunrises, while others are perfectly situated to maximize the golden glow of early evening. When it comes to our readers’ favorite time of day, however, sunset was tops. Whether you’re taking in the scene from a boat, sitting outside at a local bar or restaurant or enjoying a view of the western sky from a park bench, our readers say you can’t beat the late, lingering summer sunsets.

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