An easy fall weekend in Elkhart Lake, WI

When the leaves turn gold and you get the itch to explore Mother Nature, pack up the family and head to Elkhart Lake, WI. Just a 2-hour drive from the Chicago area, Elkhart Lake is an idyllic waterfront destination nestled in the heart of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest. Think stunning natural beauty, live music, shopping and phenomenal culinary experiences for the whole family to relish. So let’s plan out that itinerary already …

Where to stay:

The Osthoff Resort

Offering one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, this AAA Four Diamond resort is ideal for families who need a little space and all the comforts of home. With tranquil landscapes, a mix of casual and fine dining, a world-class spa, three pools, saunas, fitness centers, arcade/game room, tennis court, basketball, a cooking school and more, The Osthoff has a little bit of everything to please all age groups.

Have breakfast at:

Off the Rail Cafe

When the early birds (i.e. kids) strike, head out to the whimsical Off the Rail (which looks like a cross between schoolhouse and train caboose). Service is smiley, fast and friendly, and there’s a stack of kid games and reading material should a tantrum strike. Order the Flying Scotsman Bagel and then double-down on your muffin order–they are the best you’ll ever taste.

Treat yourself at:

Aspira Spa

Soothe mind, body and soul at this top-ranked spa which embraces an organic, holistic approach to healing therapies. Facilities include a dramatic meditation room, yoga studio, his/her lounges, sauna, whirlpools and tranquil cafe. The Swedish Tonic Massage was perfect at soothing tense shoulders that frequently pick up children and the masseuse was so astute in his practice that he correctly identified my older injuries and exercise habits as well as gave tips for future care.

Pick up snacks at:

Farmer & Artisan Market

Held every Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., the Farmer & Artisan Market marks a jovial social gathering in downtown Elkhart Lake. Beginning in June and continuing through mid-October, visitors can expect fine produce, baked goods and seasonal items, including organic options. Creative collectibles by area artisans are also displayed and available for sale.

Make reservations at:

Lake Street Cafe

The noise is lively at Lake Street Cafe but that’s only because of the happy bustle of its patrons. Children play arcade games while parents sip drinks at nearby tables and a mix of young and old pepper the crowd. The wood-fired pizzas are outstanding and the service shines just as bright. We had to push back our reservation and deal with a daughter repeatedly throwing a sippy cup, and our server sweetly saved the day.

Where to play:

Quit Qui Oc Golf Course


Road America

Take a lesson, practice your putting, play 9, or just relax in the restaurant/bar of this casual public golf course. Quit Qui Oc is welcoming and encouraging of golfers from new-to-scratch. If you are feeling the need for speed, flee the golf course and head on over to Road America to behold the wonder of a race track and its talented drivers. Racing events are scheduled through fall and into November.

Raid the candy bar at:

Gesserts Ice Cream & Confectionary

For a sweet parting gift before you head home.

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