Get away from the city for a weekend and head to nearby Lake Geneva. It’s only an hour’s drive southwest of downtown Milwaukee! Here's your itinerary.

For a mini Cape Cod-type of weekend getaway, Lake Geneva fits the bill. But have you been to the quieter side of the lake? Fontana bumps up against the Lake Geneva shoreline on the lake’s southwestern side but without the crowds and away from the hustle and bustle of Main Street — Lake Geneva’s main artery. 

Friday Night

The Abbey Resort and Avani Spa in Fontana unveiled its stunning renovation four seasons ago, which holds onto the maritime feel—think crisp blues and whites in the décor—but also added an outdoor bar to Waterfront Restaurant. Just like it sounds, you’ve got lake views while dining on eats like slow-smoked BBQ prepared using a line of sauces created by pit master Matthew Whiteford, and a watermelon-cucumber salad served in a Mason jar.

If arriving on a Friday night, the fish fry is a must, paired with a Spotted Cow, of course. Live music on Friday and Saturday evenings makes you feel like you’re in Key West—not Southeastern Wisconsin. The “Burnin’ Down the Docks” music series begins this Sunday and stretches until September, filling the deck with tunes and BBQ every Sunday afternoon.

Boxed and Burlap. Photo Courtesy of Boxed and Burlap

Saturday Morning

The following morning, get out of bed—no need to primp—and head to Boxed and Burlap, an adorable garden center with a full-on coffee shop in nearby Delavan. After extensive tastings, the owners went with coffee beans from Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Gotham Coffee Roasters. Open since last May, the coffee shop—in a lofted, modernized space that was once a barn—sells not only pastries and iced coffee but artsy glass terrariums and air plants, too. Boxed and Burlap’s inaugural farmers market joins the fun on June 2, followed by every Friday morning through September.

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Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy’s hiking trails. Photo Courtesy of Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy

Saturday Afternoon

A nearby hiking area is the 231-acre Kishwauketoe Nature Conservatory in Williams Bay, with four miles of trails that wind past ponds, deciduous forests and wetlands. It’s great for bird-watching, with 36 different birds identified in the conservatory.

Treatments in the 35,000-square-foot Avani Spa, such as the Balancing Lavender Body Experience (50 minutes of pure bliss that includes a scrub and a bath), are a great way to wind down after a day of hiking, boating or—the lake’s newest activity—stand-up paddleboarding. Fontana Paddle Company, on the western shore of Lake Geneva, rents out boards, paddles and kayaks for two-hour intervals. The season starts on June 19 and winds through Sept. 1.


Sleep in, then drop by the local Coffee Mill for a dose of caffeine and a bakery item. The spot is tucked into a strip mall off of Hwy. 67—and across from The Abbey Resort and Avani Spa—in Fontana. Celebrating its fifth anniversary this month, they serve Anodyne coffee and Rishi Tea, both Milwaukee-based companies. And in the winter (October-April), stop in for a cup of the house-made soup of the day (recent options include Italian Vegetable and Sausage Kale).

Before heading back to Milwaukee, drop by Meggy Moo’s Dairy Ripple on Hwy. 67 in Walworth for a sweet ending. Shakes, malts and ice-cream cones are served at this ice-cream stand with a retro vibe.