Last week, I got to experience everything from alpacas to zip lining with my teen, and much to my surprise, it was all just a couple hours from home. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is approximately a two-hour drive from Chicago. However, it is a world away from the big city, the traffic, and the long to-do list on my kitchen counter.
This time of year, Lake Geneva is a resort town that’s all about sunshine, ice cream, walks along the shore, and lazy summer days that you wish could last forever.
Lake Geneva in the summer is the reward for making it through a long Midwestern winter. It’s also a great place to connect with those you love. I recently took an overnight trip there with my daughter and it was amazing both how much activity fit into a quick trip, and how much I learned about my kid.
We weren’t there long, but it was interesting to see hour by hour how she relaxed and switched into vacation mode, one where no one was watching. I knew she had finally really arrived when we went to Sprecher’s, a fun German pub with amazing root beer on tap as well as this gorgeous stained glass dome ceiling.
That wasn’t the only surprise there, however. Half-way through our meal, my teen went to the bathroom. When she returned to our table, she was wearing a bird hat (the bird is the restaurant’s logo) that they have for children. It was hilarious, but the best part was not what was on her head but rather the joyous glint in her eyes.
The stress of May – a month full of final exams, a driving test, auditions, and more – meant I hadn’t seen that glint in a while.
If you want to see a happy mom, watch her observe her child feeling comfy and happy in her own skin.
It’s fascinating to me how doing things out of the comfort zone help you feel most yourself, but that’s the case with my kiddo. The day before, our first stop upon arrival in Lake Geneva was Next Door Pub to grab some pizza and salad and then we hit Lake Geneva Canopy Tours for zip lining.
My daughter calls me “madre” and quickly everyone else on our tour was doing so as well. She was pleased. After zooming through the forest for a few hours and facing my fear of heights, I was pleased to return to the grounTo celebrate, we went to Pier 290, a restaurant in Williams Bay, around 10 minutes from Lake Geneva. When I was telling a neighbor about our trip, she highly recommended it and she was spot on. It was great. My teen, a ceasar salad aficionado, called her salad the best she’s ever had. Eating al fresco and enjoying gorgeous views of the lake and boats sailing past certainly didn’t hurt.
A short drive back over to Lake Geneva meant we could wander downtown and savor some ice cream from Kilwins. My Lake Geneva Mud flavor was good, but her chocolate fudge brownie selection was out of this world.
We walked around near the Riviera, which was constructed during the Depression. We people watched and savored the fact that we didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything. I’ve been saying I want more time for my teen to just be, and this was exactly that.
We stayed at Harbor Shores, and this was our view of the sunset over the lake.
The room worked well for what we needed. It was a little dated, but we both slept really well and the Keurig worked, meaning I could enjoy coffee on the balcony well-rested while my girl snoozed a little later. That gave us both a happy start to the day.
I had no idea that exotic animals were just a few miles from downtown Lake Geneva, but a trip to Safari Lake Geneva had me waving to the aforementioned alpacas, greeting a bison appropriately named Harley (the company is headquartered in Wisconsin) like we were old friends, taking a selfie with a camel and fawning over a miniature zebu (an animal I confess I had never heard of prior to this trip).
My teen, however, has always been a hands-on kind of kiddo, so she was most taken by the goats whom she could get up close and personal.
After lunch at Sprecher’s, and the fun millinery, we headed to the dock and boarded a Lake Geneva Cruise Line boat for a two-hour cruise all around the lake during which my daughter and I debated which mansion would be the best one to call home. This one is far from the biggest but I’m pretty sure I could make it work.
Then, about 28 hours after we arrived, it was time to head home. She got behind the wheel, and it struck me that trips like this won’t always be feasible. Gratitude for the day washed over me as I vowed that we would return before she graduates.
Disclosure: Thank you to Visit Lake Geneva and their partners for hosting us. We were not compensated for this post and not required to express a particular point of view. All opinions are my own or that of my teen.
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