As a relatively new Chicago-area transplant, I’d never been to Lake Geneva until a Labor Day weekend excursion came together at the last minute. On the drive up, with rows of oak trees and open fields streaming by on either side, I got to thinking for the trillionth time about social media’s influence on our perception of life–our lives and the lives of those we follow, from micro-moments to the big picture. For the most part, what we offer and what we see are the slices, the snippets, the pretty, shiny glints of lives that are otherwise really quite normal.
So, over the course of the weekend, I committed to a mental exercise. For every social media-worthy moment (and they abound in Lake Geneva!), I looked outside the theoretical snapshot to remind myself that even the most glittering moments come with a healthy and often comical dose of reality.
Here are a few of my favorite Lake Geneva memories, along with the maybe not-so-picturesque hilarity that parents know all too well.
Post-worthy: From dress-up and pretend play to high-quality games, science experiments and crafts for kids, Allison Wonderland is a special toy shop that will catch the eye of kids of all ages. We picked up a super-cool ball that bounces on water (because hotel pool).
Not pictured: My 7-year-old boy deciding to chew on said ball after a round in said hotel pool. What happened next? A two-hour stomachache right before bed. His first words the next morning: “I shouldn’t have chewed on that ball.”
Post-worthy: Founded in 1972 as a 60-seat pub, this Lake Geneva institution has grown into a family-friendly restaurant seating over 500. You can sit outside to enjoy across-the-street views of the lake, but that means you’ll miss the wonderfully kitschy nautical-themed interior that will delight little ones.
Not pictured: A colossal and embarrassing miscalculation of time in which our party had about 15 minutes to order, eat and pay for lunch before reservations for a Lake Geneva cruise. The plates had barely hit the table when we asked for to-go boxes before eating in line for the boat. Classy!
Post-worthy: I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for a good tour–on a boat with a full bar, no less! The Lake Geneva Cruise Line offers tours from one hour long to a full-brunch affair, each narrating the highlights of the insanely picturesque historic homes around Geneva Bay.
Not pictured: My son 10 minutes in: “Mom, this is so rad!” My son 30 minutes in: “Mom, I’m bored.”
Post-worthy: Scoops’ old-fashioned parlor feel is the perfect backdrop for over 30 flavors of high-quality ice cream, from quintessential mainstays to creative concoctions. The best part just might be the location: right across the street from the lake and a giant lawn of shade on which to enjoy your treats.
Not pictured: My son absolutely covered in chocolate and strawberry ice cream because his double-scoop cone melted a wee bit too fast for him to keep up. I do mean “covered,” by the way–hair/face/arms/clothes/shoes. The works.
Post-worthy: This adorable inn on the lake is small enough to feel like a bed and breakfast, but with the amenities of a standard hotel (including an extensive spa menu, woot woot). We spent most of our time there at the indoor pool and whirlpool, which is theatrically lit to resemble a pirate’s lagoon (if you’re seven, anyway).
Not pictured: The delightful koi pond that anchors the lobby presented the perfect opportunity for my son to reach in and wake up a fish I told him was probably sleeping. Because what 7-year-old would let any other living thing get some sleep?