Best 5 Things to See & Do in Lake Geneva with Kids

My visit to Lake Geneva was complimentary, however all opinions are my own.

Nestled between Milwaukee and Chicago is the summer destination town of Lake Geneva. Full of quaint homes, shimmering waters, friendly locals, a vibrant downtown and lots of family-friendly things to do, Lake Geneva has long been a point of interest for those from Chicago. Traveling from Minneapolis the boys and I recently made our first visit to this pocket of Wisconsin. 

We were eager to discover all the town had to offer and we were not disappointed. We conveniently stayed at The Cove of Lake Geneva which easily allowed us to walk to most of the attractions. {More about The Cove in an upcoming post.} I’ve outlined below what I consider to be the the top 5 things to do with kids in Lake Geneva. As a whole what is so amazing about these things is how distinct and unique they are. Most of these attractions are not the typical must-see items that one might see appear on many town lists. Lake Geneva offers uncommon activities that make for family fun that standout from other resort towns. 

1. Tristan Crist Magic Show

The first must-see thing in Lake Geneva is the Tristan Crist Magic Show. I’ve never seen such high quality illusions performed on such an intimate stage. Come to think of it I’ve also never seen such high quality illusions performed live, period.  This illusion show is truly a gem. I was downright puzzled by the tricks and dazzling displays of magic performed right before my eyes. 

The show was well-paced, funny, touching and completely captivating. My three little fellas tried to explain some of things we saw and were convinced their theories were sound. But for sure we still have no idea how he made objects appear out of nowhere, divided a lady into two just a few feet from our seats or predicted various number results. Prior to this visit my oldest son had researched some of the tricks of the magic trade, but the explanations of those illusions couldn’t explain the things that Tristan did. 

{prior to showtime} 

I remain perplexed and I like that. There are so many dazzling forms of electronic stimulation available for families these days, I feel like this show was a dip back into true entertainment. A live performer with assistants on the stage, just a few feet from my seat~ this is how family vacations should be spent. 

2. U.S. Mailboat Cruise

Sometimes seeing is not just believing, but understanding. Prior to our visit to Lake Geneva I checked out the U.S. Mailboat Tour online. If you visit the link you’ll see an image of a person jumping from a boat onto a dock. I must have been distracted when I visited the site, because I thought, “why in the heck would they have to jump off the boat?”. It made no sense to me. What I failed to understand, until the tour started, is that two runners actually deliver the mail from the tour boat. They jump off our boat onto a dock and with speed and little room for error deliver the mail. It’s crazy. 

Usually they place the mail in mailbox on the dock, but sometimes they are greeted by home owners leisurely enjoying the lake on their dock. In other instances the jumpers delivered the mail to a small cheering crowd waiting to watch this unique event or a trusty pup who finished the journey off the dock to the house to deliver the mail. 

With camera’s strategically placed on the boat all passengers can easily watch as these young college kids take the quick leap on and off as the boat keeps moving. For the record the lady above took a little spill on a slippery dock and we did go back for her when she wasn’t able to the jump back on in time. 

One other aspect of this tour that truly impressed me was how often people waved to us. Even “fancy” people in their ginormous homes gave a big wave to the mailboat as it came near. It might be the unique aspect of the mailboat, but based upon what I saw in my limited time in Lake Geneva is that people are just friendly. As a Minnesotan I found this friendliness in line with my natural disposition and left me feeling welcomed. 

While watching the mail being delivered this way is slightly nail biting and entertaining, this is only a portion of the fun on board. If you are looking to view the amazing mansions {new and old} built by some of the most wealthy Chicagoans this tour is a must.

I’ll confess the boys were a little less interested in this aspect of the tour than me, but they were propelled by the narrative explaining the importance of the house and by the grandeur before their eyes to keep prompting me to make sure I got a good picture. 

 

Before you take the tour make sure to plan for the 2 1/2 hour trip. A lady next to me was well prepared. She had a snack tray of grapes, olives, cheese, crackers and almonds. She even had homemade Rice Krispie bars. I like to think I’m prepared for most things, but she clearly put me to shame. They do sell drinks on board the boat, but no snacks. That lady was clearly a pro, I recommend taking a play from her book. 

There are other tour boats available to take around the lake. While on our tour we saw a paddleboat on the lake. 

3. Dancing Horses Theater Experience

This next must-see item is titled an experience, because while there is a Dancing Horses show, there is really an entire evening of three separate activities that make for the entire experience. Our evening started with a Bird Show, then proceeded with a petting farm venture, and ended with the epic Dancing Horses Show. 

The tricks the birds performed were cute and entertaining. My boys were amazed by rollerskating parrots and the famous singing parrot, Echo. What I found most interesting was the trainer, Sarah, interacting with the birds and explaining their personalities. Sarah is a long time employee of the attraction and is a horse trainer in addition to bird trainer. It was quite clear she has a relationship with each bird and through her we were able to see understand the distinct personalities of these long living animals. 

After the approximately 30-minute bird show we headed outside to interact with some animals on site. Goats, rabbits, and kitties were the stars of this interactive part of the night. My littlest guy absolutely loves being able to touch and see animals up close. He was enamored with all of the them!

One we were finished with the petting zoo area we headed over to the Dancing Horses Theater to nab our seats for the show. One aspect that makes this attraction so unique is that it is quite obviously a labor of love for all employees involved. There is a huge amount of respect and love that is displayed about horses. 

Essentially the show is different themes set to music with accompanying horse training tricks or skills. Sometimes the trainers complete acrobatic feats on top of the moving horses while other times the horses display their attention to skill without a rider. 

{special tricks on display in an array of bubbles} 

Like you might expect from a show of this nature the customs for both rider and horse were magnificent. Little girls with an affinity for elaborate dresses will especially like some of the outfits, that being said there were more boy friendly acts as well. My fellas especially liked a “Fire” themed performance that utilized black light and fluorescent blaze patterns. 

After the show guests can come and meet horses and riders. Once again my littlest guy was all about seeing these impressive animals up close. The Dancing Horses Theater is such a unique family-friendly attraction. Once again I was impressed by Lake Geneva’s offerings that are timeless and distinct. 

4. Sprecher’s 

Okay, okay~ Sprecher’s isn’t an attraction. But it is a must-do sort of thing when in Lake Geneva for my fellas. Why? It’s all about the root beer. We are something of root beer aficionados. I don’t let my guys drink soda on the regular, but there is something to be said about a good glass of root beer. I think my youngest son might dream about rivers of root beer, he has a perpetual sweet tooth. 

There are a multitude of root beer flavors to select from at Sprecher’s, but I always like the standard root beer flavor the best. This particular Sprecher’s is actually connected to The Cove at Lake Geneva which means it’s super handy to have a nice meal with the family. While our main focus at Sprecher’s is the root beer, I can’t deny the food and beautiful decor also help round out the experience. 

{breakfast burger}

{nachos…I might have ordered it for the guacamole & jalapeños} 

{kid’s cheese pizza}

{kids chicken strips}

With bellies full of a good lunch and tasty root beer my crew was ready to checkout more of Lake Geneva! 

{his best impersonation of the Sprecher’s bird} 

5. Moose Mountain Falls Waterpark 

I’ll have another post soon completely dedicated to this Lake Geneva water offering, but I couldn’t pull together a list of this nature and not include Moose Mountain Falls. It’s quite simple, water park adventures provide kids with lots of physical fun. By far my fellas favorite area was the rope climb. Each one took numerous turns crossing this tricky pathway. 

Moose Mountain Falls is great because while it provides enough variety to keep kids entertained it isn’t enormously big that you’ll lose each other inside. My older two boys loved the larger slides, while everyone loved the open basketball area. 

While these are the top five things I recommend a family with kids makes sure to see in Lake Geneva there are, of course, many more things to do. If you have more time beyond these five must-see items also be sure to indulge in some ice cream at Kilwins, spend some time at the beach, hike around the lake or partially around {it’s a big lake, but there are trails allowing everyone to hike near the shore} and checkout the amazing view from the beautiful lakefront library. 

Or you could just spend a leisurely day exploring the Lake Geneva downtown and park areas! Have you visited Lake Geneva, Wisconsin? If so, what is your favorite must-see destination? 

Comments

  1. Barbara Karabas says:

    Sounds like a great trip, Ali! Thank you for all your insights — especially the tip about added snacks on the boat tour. Can’t be caught without those!

  2. Michael Dustman - A Cheerleader for Lake Geneva says:

    Terrific write-up, Ali. I’m a “local” who moved here 36 years ago. I met my wife here….we raised 2 daughters here (both graduated from UW-Madison)….and we’re STILL amazed that we actually live where others go for their vacations.

    Most travel-related articles about LG focus on it as a getaway destination for adults/couples….which it certainly is. So it was refreshing to see your blog from the perspective of a parent hoping that her kids would be as entertained as the adults who come here….and it appears they were!

    Nicely done.

    • Thanks Michael! I can see how Lake Geneva is a destination for couples, but there is just as much fun for kids too! Your kind comment is so aligned with my experience there, everyone is so friendly and nice!

  3. jennifer bowen says:

    wow i did not know they had all that there lol and well i go there a lot since well its like right over in the next town from where i’m from next time i go there i have to look for some of this stuff

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