The Ultimate Girls Trip to Lake Geneva – Celebrating friendship on a girls trip to this bustling resort town located right on the lake offering boat tours, innovative dining options, shopping, golf and so much more.
There is something so very special about having girlfriends. The ones who know your deepest secrets, support your hopes and dreams and make you laugh till you cry. When our crazy, busy lives get in the way of friendship, we know we have to make a plan to get everyone together and reconnect. Best way possible is a girls trip where our real lives are temporarily left behind and new memories are created.
With everyone now scattered all over, we wanted to find a spot that was centrally located from airports and easy drive time. Luckily, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, became the ideal spot for us to gather to celebrate each other and just be.
Lake Geneva is a resort town located near the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, offering visitors both cold and warm weather activities. The downtown area is a quaint walking town filled with shops, restaurants, cooking school, farmer’s market, spas, winery, art gallery and so many other spots to check out.
This is a town right on the water making no shortage of activities you can do on, in or along the side of the lake. Boat tours, fishing, paddle boarding, relaxing along the beach, walking the shore path, biking and just breathing in the peacefulness of the area are all available to you. In the winter, snowmobiling, ice skating, skiing, and other cold weather activities occur with blazing fire pits lit to warm you during the chilly months. The best is really the warmth of the people that welcome you to their town. They tell you about their favorite hangouts and activities so you love the area as much as they do.
Lake Geneva is just an hour and a half drive from Chicago, quickly going from city to vacation speed about 60 minutes in to the car ride. Our goal was to find a spot that offered comfort, relaxation, good food, activities and a feeling of escaping our real lives – even momentarily. Mission accomplished.
Where We Stayed
Since the purpose of our trip was to spend quality time together, finding accommodations that would fit our group was important to us. For that reason, we stayed at the Inns of Geneva National.
Located about 15 minutes from downtown Lake Geneva, Geneva National is made up of three different accommodation styles. If staying in a hotel is your desire, then choose the newly remodeled The Ridge Hotel just around the corner from The Inns of Geneva National. For families interested in staying in the heart of downtown, The Cove of Lake Geneva will be a good choice.
For our girls trip, it was the design and layout of The Inns of Geneva National that won us over. A villa complete with 6 bedrooms with private bathrooms, two living rooms, fireplaces, dining room, kitchen and outdoor patio complete with Weber Grill. There was also plenty of parking available as my Lexus was soon joined by more vehicles. There are 6 total villas to choose from which makes this a great idea for family vacations, weddings, corporate events and group gatherings.
The villas are fully furnished with individual rooms being over sized and accommodating king size beds with a day bed.The main living area is so comfortable with plenty of seating and a large dining room table. While you have a full size refrigerator in the kitchen, the rooms also have their own refrigerator for personal use. As this resort is focused on providing the highest level of service, they also offer a menu to choose from to stock your kitchen and bar with the freshest of groceries. We came prepared with the items we would need but loved this option.
Ready for the boat ride and beach with bottles of Essentia water.
Coffee is a necessity for us, so we brought our favorite tools including the Espro French Press and Bialetti pour over cup and of course, Colectivo coffee.
We all love to cook, so a few food magazines to read with a glass of Folie a Deux wine, made for an entertaining time.
Ready for some golf and a sunny day.
Celebrating our friendship with Moet & Chandon Rose overlooking the golf course and the countryside. Feeling so fortunate.
While this is a golf resort, we were able to relax by the pool, ride bikes or workout at the gym if we chose. We decided to hit the course for some golf as we were a little early for the pool weather-wise. Now that we had the chance to see the grounds up close, our next trip will include a bike ride around the trails in the area.
Staying at The Inns of Geneva National made it very convenient to spend some time on the course and driving range. Definitely a fun experience for us as we questioned our golf skills at every turn.
Entering the grounds of Geneva National after passing through the gates is a lush landscape of greenery and flowers. An inner drive of curves with hints of the golf course draws out your busy life stress and starts the relaxation process. Thanks to Lexus for designing their 350IS F-Sport sedan with its superb Mark Levinson sound system that set the tone for each adventure we were on as well as the voice activated navigation system that seamlessly moved us from place to place and ultimately, for a very fun driving experience on those curves and long country roads.
The resort itself is made up of three golf courses designed by the masters, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. 54 holes of meticulously manicured tees carved out of the rolling hills of the countryside. They welcome all – novice or pro – which was a good thing for us.
Views from the Clubhouse span out over the greens and Lake Como making for a simply beautiful view from sunset to sunrise.
We met some ladies who have been celebrating their friendship for years over a game of golf. We loved this tradition and decided that was going to be us!
We knew that coming to Lake Geneva in May probably meant sun bathing wasn’t going to happen. But, hanging out on the water was very doable.
From the beach, you can see homes dotting the shoreline. Some were new and some were very old but very well maintained. As we made our way to the waterfront area, we saw the Riveria. Now, this may be Wisconsin and not France, but the sights are still breathtaking.
Since it was too cold to actually get in the water, we decided to take the Lake Geneva Cruise Line tour that showcased the beautiful and historic homes along the waters edge.
This was a two hour education from a knowledgeable host about the very long history of the cities surrounding Geneva Lake, where and who the homeowners were, who lives there now and their impact on the community. Even how mail delivery is done! Ask this one for yourself. The answer is surprising….
Well-known business magnates like Wrigley (gum) and Crane (plumbing) have compounds along the shoreline. Fascinating to see the renovations, old and new designs, docks going in for the season, parts of a former walking path along the water’s edge and Gage Marine where boats are cared for and stored.
Truthfully, we would need to go on this tour multiple times to really capture the volume of information shared. It was that fascinating!
Now, for us, this one caught our attention when we were making our initial plans for the trip as we all love to cook. The Lake Geneva School of Cooking offered a cooking class that started with a visit to the Farmer’s Market to gather our supplies and then back to the kitchen to do some cooking. And then eating!
This is Chef John Bogan. A character, teacher and all around fun guy. For a more detailed description of our experience, check out the upcoming post on our culinary experience in Lake Geneva.
What can be more entertaining for us on a beautiful day, on vacation, and with our besties, than shopping! The drive from our villa is an easy one. Lots of available parking downtown but plan ahead if you are coming in high season as it may take a little longer to find a spot. There are several streets in the heart of the city that are filled with shops from clothing to home goods to food to touristy items to sporting equipment.
One we literally spent hours in without realizing it, is called Cornerstone Shop & Gallery. This festive and colorful store is filled with decorative items for the home whether city or lake home, gift ideas – their wedding section is innovative and fun, perfect spot to pick up a “thank you for hosting us for dinner gift” and a million (literally) gift ideas for any reason you may need – clothing, jewelry, kids, garden art and many other must have items. Some brands they carry include Nambe (platters, trays), Michael Aram (candles, decor, kitchen), Lizzy James (bracelets) and the list goes on.
The team at Cornerstone is extremely knowledgeable about their merchandise making them the ideal people to ask if you are looking for a gift, something for yourself or for any other purpose.
Even if you are not able to stop in the store, reach out to them and they will send your perfectly wrapped gift to the recipient. We wanted to bring a thank you gift to some friends and asked Cornerstone to arrange it for us. How creative is this beautiful basket?!
We discovered a couple culinary stores that we had enjoyed exploring including those for olive oil and herbs and spices. Plus, a little clothes shopping at Jayne’s got us excited for summer weather style.
Located directly across from Geneva Lake is the Heartland Spa & Fitness Retreat in the Bella Vista Suites hotel. Treat yourself to any of the relaxing services like the Himalayan salt sauna or attend classes with their trained instructors. We went for the relaxing massage, leaving the spa rejuvenated and with a need to shop!
Popular Studio Winery is an urban winery that is totally unpretentious and completely welcoming. To learn more, visit the upcoming post on the food and wine experiences in Lake Geneva.
Where We Ate
We discovered so many options for restaurants from casual to fine dining in Lake Geneva. There were, of course, the al fresco options so diners are able to take advantage of the warm weather and views of the lake. In the next post, you will find more details on the culinary experiences we had. In the meantime, here is where we ate:
Oakfire – Neapolitan pizza made the Italian way
Sopra Bistro – Italian-American food with a focus on seasonally driven, globally infuenced dishes
Hunt Club Steakhouse – Fine dining steakhouse with a casual feel and innovative menu that serves fresh seafood alongside a top-of-the line steak menu
Hazel’s Restaurant, Baker House – Old world decor with a gorgeous view of Geneva Lake
Scoops – Ice cream shoppe
Kilwins – Chocolate, peanut brittle and other sweet treats
This trip has been a reminder of the importance of the people in our lives. In particular, our friends who bring such joy, laughter, support, kindness, education, adventure and happiness to our world. We became friends for a reason. Something we are reminded of as the conversations become more detailed. Whether new friends or long time cheerleaders, never take them for granted. So, our advice to you is this: grab your girlfriends and plan a trip to Lake Geneva. We guarantee you will end the vacation closer than you ever were, with new memories and stories to tell for years to come.
Thanks, Lake Geneva, for your charm and warm welcome. We will be back.