While the crush of tourists line up at Popeye’s on Lake Geneva and Gino’s East (for the same pizza they can get in Chicago), wily tripsters aren’t fearful of a 10 minute drive to land flavorful finds minus the crowds. https://www.visitlakegeneva.com/
As much as parents seem to need a bar to make it through a family vacay, give kid a pool and everything is copacetic.
Family travelers to Lake Geneva should consider The Cove, a property boasting the largest outdoor pool complex in the resort town with a zero-depth kiddie play area, hot tub and oversized swimming pool. The Cove features live music poolside every Friday and Saturday afternoon as well as daily food service direct from Sprecher’s (a Wisconsin favorite) and a Cabana Bar with snacks, icy drinks and alcohol. Cabanas are available for rent for shade and reserved, comfy seating. Count on various sized suites with full kitchens that are a boon to traveling with a family for obvious reasons.
On Saturdays, push the little miscreants toward the Kids’ Club for craft and game activities. There's also a monthly themed pool party for younger guests - think pirates, mermaids and SpongeBob nonsense. Once monthly, adults get in on wine tastings in the upper lobby, too. The Cove is a few steps from the beach and downtown shops. Book it at http://www.coveoflakegeneva.com.
There are plenty of fancy, schmancy spots in which to dine in the southeastern Wisconsin tourist town but can there be anything more infuriating than dropping serious coinage for a merely mediocre meal? When you want that one elevated dinner in Lake Geneva, try Crafted Americana in the Ridge Hotel and you may revisit before you leave town - it’s that good and reasonable priced. It offers requisite Wisconsin menu items like a slow roasted Saturday night Prime Rib ($26.95-$29.95) and a Friday Fish Fry ($12.95) for two pieces of baked or fried cod, one potato pancake or seasoned fries, coleslaw and house-crafted applesauce and tarter sauce. But Chef Ricky Lund’s technique shines from apps (shrimp n grits with crispy pancetta and stone ground mustard grits for $11 and big enough for two) to perfectly charred Strip steak and a stellar Chilean Sea Bass atop bulgar wheat and charred sugar snap peas dotted with pancetta and a squeeze of lemon for brightness. Entrees range from $15-$38, with big city inventiveness and quality. A winner.
By the way, save more money and hitup the Crafted Happy Hour, Monday to Thursday 4pm to 7pm for half price drinks
Crafted Americana The Ridge Hotel W4240 State Highway 50 (262) 249-3874 https://www.ridgelakegeneva.com/
Mars Resort has existed since the 1920’s and although it isn’t a “resort” with cabins or rooms for visitors, the restaurant oozes old-fashioned Wisconsin campiness from the woozy elderly couples at the bar to its mid century renditions of the catch of the day. The traditional Friday Fish fry offers a variety of options (bluegill, walleye, perch, potato pancakes) and others make the short trek from downtown Lake Geneva for the house specialty - slow roasted beef ribs. It’s dark, dated and fabulous. There’s live music weekends, well-poured cocktails, two-fisted burgers and pretty sunsets on the shores of Lake Como.
Mars Resort W4098 S Shore Dr Lake Geneva, WI 53147-3438 (262) 245-5689 http://www.mars-resort.com/