Summer arrives like the start of a race — ready, set, GO! This is even more true this summer, when it’s been actual years since we’ve all been able to roam freely and vacation without worry. There’s a lot of lost time to make up for this summer, so why not plan multiple getaways to someplace close enough for a day trip, but far enough away to offer a completely different feel? Here’s the perfect place: Walworth County, Wisconsin.
Just a smidge over an hour by car from Chicago, Walworth County is home to Lake Geneva, but it’s also a unique spot where several little towns converge — and each has its own fun stuff for families to do, explore, eat and enjoy, says Tessa Springer, proud lifelong resident of Walworth County and Treasurer at Walworth County Visitors Bureau.
“We know Lake Geneva is a draw and it’s a beautiful resort town, but there’s so much to do in all of Walworth County and everything is so close together, you can visit several towns in one day, no problem,” Springer says.
From an insider perspective, all of Walworth County — or #WalCo, for those in the know — has a small-town vibe that means your family will always feel welcome. “We are known for our small-town hospitality and you are a friend when you visit our restaurants and a friend when you check into our hotels,” Springer says. “I’m so excited when people come to experience what we have to offer here. It’s very much an ‘Up North’ for people in Chicago.”
With a ton of green space to explore — “Five miles in each direction and you’re at a park!” Springer says — WalCo also embraces a slower pace of life that is a refreshing departure from the hustle and bustle of even Chicago’s suburbs. “Come and be part of our hometown. You’ll see why we love this area so much,” she says.
Family fun in Walworth County
One of the best things about WalCo, Springer says, is that you can come for a day trip and know as you leave that there are still so many things to come back to experience. WalCo is perfect for a weekend trip, too.
Here, Springer shares high praise for a few of her favorite things to do. Dig in and make your own family plans to visit WalCo — and hit up #WalCo’s website for additional ideas and tips!
Pizza on the Farm
Throughout summer and even into fall, this Fridays-and-Saturdays event at Grassway Organics in East Troy is a blast for organic wood-fired pizza lovers and farm lovers, too. “There’s live music, tours and a super-cool feel for those who want a little getaway from the city,” Springer says. “There are tables and chairs, but people bring blankets and a full spread to make a whole night of it.”
Apple Barn Orchard and Winery
Head to nearby Elkhorn to pick strawberries (and apples and pumpkins in the fall!), but also to sample seasonal wines and local brews. “This is a nice mix and fun for both kids and adults,” says Springer, who has been visiting this local spot since she was a kid. “It’s nice to find places like this that aren’t just geared toward the littles, but also great for middle school and high school kids.”
Pedal & Cup, White River State Trail
Lauded by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy as an “authentic glimpse into what Wisconsin’s all about,” the White River State Trail is best experienced on two wheels. Pedal & Cup rents bikes and provides coffee and ice cream fixes all summer long. Train fans will love the fact that it’s located in an old train depot!
Lake Geneva Cruise Line
“This is the only place in Wisconsin that you can get on board and travel all around Geneva Lake to see the historic mansions,” Springer says. Kids especially love the Ice Cream Social Tour because, for a lot of kids, all historic mansions look alike after the first few and ice cream is a great diversion. There are other specialty tours, too!
Dancing Horses Theatre
The town of Delavan is home to a really unique experience designed especially for those who love horses — or just love to be amazed and entertained at the same time. “The Dancing Horses is a full Vegas-style acrobatics-on-horses show,” says Springer. Pro Tip: The show is inside, so it’s perfect for a rainy day, but there’s also a 40-acre Animal Gardens Theme Park, complete with train ride and interactive petting zoo.
Tristan Crist Magic Theatre
“Tristan Crist is an award-winning illusionist and he is so good! You can’t miss the great variety shows for families that have guest performances, including Vegas magicians, jugglers, unicyclists and trapeze artists,” Springer explains. Be sure to check the schedule and find a show to entertain the whole family.
East Troy Railroad Museum
Score points with the train enthusiast in your family at this museum which features historic rail cars that travel a 10-mile journey. Pair this with a visit to The Elegant Farmer in Mukwonago, which is one of the stops and boarding points along the stretch. “It’s a huge market where you can have lunch, ice cream, even the ‘Best Gourmet Apple Pie in America,’” Springer says.
There’s a lot more to know about #WalCo — and a ton more to do. Visit gowalco.com to learn more and make your own plans.