Just because Disney and mouse ears aren’t on the docket for Spring Break doesn’t mean missing out on treasured memories with your tykes. Pack up the kiddos, their floaties, fishing gear, and hiking wear and head up to Lake Geneva, Wis., just a 90-minute drive from Chicago (a.k.a. one time through “Moana”). Based on insider intel from local and traveling moms, here are some great ways to play out your stay without breaking your staycation budget.
Enjoy the suite life
If you go
The Cove of Lake Geneva
111 Center St., Lake Geneva, WI 53147
Find Spring Break rates here
In lieu of a traditional hotel room, reserve a one- or two-bedroom suite at The Cove of Lake Geneva, just steps from the beach and downtown. Save money for souvenirs by prepping breakfast in your kitchen, wind down each day with a movie by the fire, and make a splash in the Cove’s bright and spacious indoor pool. Cove Spring Break rates start at just $79, based on availability.
Take a hike
Pick up the Geneva Lake Shore Path across the street from The Cove and trek to the beach, library and back. The path runs 21 miles around the lake, so take on as much–or as little–of this historic mansion-dotted trail as you wish.
Drop a line
Bring your fishing poles or grab some on the way along with some Night Crawlers, available via vending machines at most all area gas stations. Lake Geneva is teeming with pan fish that are easily lured onto your line for those with short attention spans. Public piers at Library Park near the historic Riviera are a hot spot for novice and experienced anglers.
Let the good times roll
Got a kid who loves to SK8? Skateboards, kick scooters and trick bikes wheel up at Lake Geneva’s Dunn Field Park skate plaza (535 Sage St.). This $500,000 concrete park boasts buttery smooth bowls, grind rails, launch ramps and gnarly viewing for spectators.
Be a townie
Head to Lake Geneva’s charming downtown for a trip to the classic Allison Wonderland toy store, pile on the toppings Yogi’s frozen yogurt and catch a flick (“Beauty& the Beast,” please) at the freshly renovated Geneva Theater. (Plan out the bribes from now that you will offer the kids so you can shop the bevy of high-end boutiques and luxe home stores you will pass along the way.)
Step back in time
Traipse down the brick-lined, turn-of-the-century Main Street at the Geneva Lake Museum, open Tuesday-Sunday, and explore the unplugged blacksmith shop, general store, one-room school and log cabin.
The train- (and apple pie-) obsessed must climb aboard nearby East Troy’s historic electric rail cars for a 10-mile round trip to the Elegant Farmer. Back at the station, check out model layouts at depot museum or pop in J. Lauber’s 1920’s soda fountain next store with juke box, retro candy case and, of course, ice cream. Open weekends in March.
Ask the Cove Front Desk for other family-friendly ideas and special offers, including exclusive discounts for the Dancing Horses Theatre, Lake Geneva Canopy Tours, The Clue Room and Clearwater Outdoor, plus area retailers and spas–enough to pack each day and keep even the hyper-schedulers happy.