By Shelby Rowe Moyer
We’re all eager to get back to normal life after coronavirus — whatever that may be. Now that the “Safer at Home” orders are lifted, tourism experts are predicting that regional travel will become more popular (at least temporarily) until people feel more comfortable venturing out farther than a few hours away.
Lake Geneva is a hot tourist destination — especially in the summer months, when Wisconsinites and out of state visitors flock to the area to experience Geneva Lake’s sparkling waters, the downtown shops and surrounding natural areas. Depending on where you depart from the Madison area, it’s only an hour and a half (at the most) drive away — the perfect day trip spot.
“Plain and simple, the Lake Geneva region is stunning. The region is made up of villages and small cities, but in terms of what there is to do, it’s world class. And don’t even get me started on all of the lakes. The biggest, of course, is Geneva Lake, which is spring-fed and eight miles long. Where else can you hike 21-miles around the lake through the backyards of some of the most famous industrialists and businessmen and women in the world? It’s living history,” says Stephanie Klett, president and CEO of VISIT Lake Geneva.
Though many of Lake Geneva’s businesses are open, things aren’t exactly “business as usual,” and Klett explains what visitors can expect when they come to town and how people can enjoy the area safely. After all, who doesn’t want to get out and about, now that we can?
How have the city’s businesses changed their practices to accommodate visitors?
Every business has its own plan. Retailers have UV wands for sanitizing items immediately after they have been tried on. Hotels are using electrostatic sprayers, which use a hospital-grade disinfecting mist. Golf courses are taking reservations and payments online, so you don’t have to touch anything but your own computer. Restaurants and businesses are sanitizing high-touch areas every 30 minutes, whether used or not. Plexiglas is being used as a barrier at various establishments. And, of course, hand sanitizer and face masks abound.
If people don’t feel safe, we know they will not come back, and that’s the last thing we want. It behooves us to have proper measures in place.
What should visitors put on their to-do lists to see and do in the area?
- Best Biking: Definitely bring your bike or rent one and check out the White River State Trail. Avant, a bike and coffee shop, can set you up with an e-bike to make things a little easier, if you like. Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventures is a blast, and the Grand Geneva Resort has mountain bike trails and mopeds.
- Delectable Dining: Lake Geneva has outstanding dining. Try a classic supper club like Mars Resort along Lake Como or a big breakfast at Egg Harbor Cafe. I love appetizers and drinks at Pier 290 in Williams Bay, which comes complete with its own sandy beach. You will have no problem social distancing there. Elegant or down-home or somewhere in between — we’ve got it.
- Cool Magic: We also have a fantastic magician named Tristan Crist. He has a new state-of-the-art theater and has blocked off seats so you can be properly physically distanced. His show is family friendly and will wow you.
- Water Activities: And, of course, you have to experience [the area] by water. Rent a stand-up paddle board, wave runner, boat or pontoon. And definitely take a boat ride on the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. The S. Mail Boat Tour is a hoot!
- Take a Walk: Oh, and the Lake Geneva Shore Path! It’s the ultimate way to social distance, while experiencing history, getting exercise and letting stress melt off. It’s our region’s crown jewel, and how I fell in love with Lake Geneva over 30 years ago.
How have you found ways to enjoy the area during COVID?
I find peace just sitting along the lake, enjoying the breeze and listening to the waves rolling in. Look up to the sky, because Lake Geneva really is for the birds too. We are a designated Bird City-Wisconsin, and it is a birder’s delight. (I’m a bird nerd, and this area is bird nirvana.)
Also, the Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy in Williams Bay is a place I have been going to for long walks. They have 4 miles of trails, it’s open 365 days a year and admission is free. It’s total solace with boardwalks, bridges, streams and ponds.