Lake Geneva Resort and Day Trip Highlights in Wisconsin

Lake Geneva Resort and Day Trip Highlights in Wisconsin

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After a 2,000-mile road trip, Brian and I have returned home. Neither one of us had been to Wisconsin before, and so we figured now was as good a time as any. A someday trip was in the cards anyway since we A) hope to visit all 50 states together and B) really enjoy cheese. With the open road calling our names, we packed up and set off towards Lake Geneva Resort.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Lake Geneva Resort

In the 2024 Game Plan for Big Savings, I noted that Brian and I plan to take full advantage of our loyalty and membership programs this year. This is precisely how we found ourselves booking a 4-night stay at Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Lake Geneva Resort.

Our Holiday Inn Club Vacations (HICV) ownership grants us access to 30 resorts across the United States and Mexico. With a location in Wisconsin, Brian and I thought it would be a fun (and inexpensive!) opportunity to explore a new area. Since we traveled during the shoulder season, we were able to reserve an affordable rate for our stay.

Prior to booking, we learned that the HICV Lake Geneva Resort is connected to the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, which not only houses its own accommodations but also includes a third resort on property, Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark. The entire property is quite large, at 1,300 acres. I read through the reviews of HICV Lake Geneva Resort and discovered that they ranged from “disappointing” to “nicely updated.” We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived, but we had hoped that we would be staying in an updated unit!

A Relaxing Retreat

We couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Our impromptu getaway was a perfect introduction to southern Wisconsin. HICV Lake Geneva Resort is situated within an hour’s drive from Milwaukee and an hour and a half from Madison, making it a convenient option for our stay. This home away from home ultimately proved to be a relaxing retreat when not out exploring. When Brian and I arrived, our tired eyes were greeted by a spacious, updated unit with a sunset view overlooking the golf course. We had a feeling it was going to be a good stay. Considering that we mainly used HICV Lake Geneva Resort for work and sleep, it was surprisingly cozy and comfortable.

Our Ratings

HICV Lake Geneva Resort Ratings
HICV Lake Geneva Ratings

Building 5

Check-in at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa for our HICV reservation went smoothly enough, though we faced a bit of a delay because the front desk was initially unable to locate our reservation. After a few minutes, we were successfully checked in and were given directions to our unit across the property.

HICV Lake Geneva Resort is comprised of 5 buildings overlooking The Highlands Golf Course at Grand Geneva. Brian and I stayed in Building 5, Unit 533. We reserved a 1-Bedroom Deluxe Villa, which is sized a bit larger than the 1-Bedroom Villa (531 sq. ft.) at 738 sq. ft.

The newly painted and upgraded unit features updated furniture, a new kitchen layout, and a super comfortable king-size mattress. Brian and I fully appreciated the space during our stay. We enjoyed the:

  • Fully-equipped kitchen
  • Outdoor patio area
  • Fireplace
  • Oversized soaking tub
  • Additional room to accommodate work stations
  • Washing machine and dryer

We took full advantage of our kitchen! During our stay, we ventured over to Lake Geneva Country Meats to stock up on local goodies. We indulged in ultra-tender midwestern strip steak, cherry bratwurst, onion and garlic bratwurst, pickled green beans, a raspberry Danish Kringle, and three different types of cheese.

Resort Amenities

There is more than enough to keep guests entertained on property! Even though Brian and I passed on the on-site activities, we were happy to see that there are a number of fun things to do. HICV Lake Geneva Resort guests have access to Grand Geneva Resort & Spa’s amenities, though some are at an additional cost. Most amenities are located at the main building, the Grand Geneva Resort. There is also a year-round indoor water park on property, which is associated with Timber Ridge Lodge. Conveniently, on-resort transportation is provided by Grand Geneva’s trolley service, which operates throughout the resort property.

  • On-site marketplace/convenience store
  • Picnic tables & grills
  • Three fine-dining on-site restaurants
  • On-site casual dining options
  • On-site nightclub, lounges, and bars
  • WELL Spa + Salon with steam room, sauna, and whirlpool
  • Scenic on-property nature trails
  • HICV-specific outdoor pool (seasonal), 2 indoor pools, and an indoor waterpark
  • Fitness center and complimentary fitness classes
  • Basketball, volleyball, tennis, and pickleball courts
  • 35′ indoor rock climbing wall
  • Horseback riding: a 45-minute guided trail
  • Two 18-hole golf courses
  • Live entertainment

Daily activities are listed in the weekly guide provided at check-in. Guests can also review and reserve experiences online through Grand Geneva Resort’s website.

Amenities Clarification

Before we arrived, I read through several HICV guest reviews on Tripadvisor and Google that expressed frustration and disappointment at the “deceptive” outline of amenities. Unfortunately, it appears that these guests were caught off guard by the distance between the amenities scattered across the property. Additionally, they also felt that it should have been more clear prior to reserving their stay that some amenities require an extra fee.

As a helpful note, I think it’s important to highlight that:

  1. HICV guests are limited to the HICV outdoor pool located nearest to the HICV buildings.
  2. Grand Geneva Resort’s indoor pools, hot tub, sauna, and fitness center are available to use but require a separate Grand Geneva Resort key for access, which can be requested at check-in.
  3. Guests should research desired activities or experiences before arrival and/or call to confirm if they require additional payment.
  4. Most of the amenities will require transportation to comfortably reach them as they are located throughout the property.

Would we stay at HICV Lake Geneva Resort again?

Absolutely! However, you will likely find Brian and me returning off-season again. We aren’t ones for big crowds or high prices, both of which are mainstays during high season.

Downtown Lake Geneva is quite touristy, but we enjoyed briefly checking out the city. In fact, we loved walking the Geneva Lake Shore Path. This 21-mile loop encircles Lake Geneva, twisting and winding through narrow pathways of brick, wood, grass, gravel, and stepping stones along the shoreline. Property owners must maintain the portion of the path that curves along their land. It’s an interesting combination of weathered beauty, natural scenery, and personal touches. The homes along the path are stunning. It was a beautiful walk, despite the fact that it was a dreary, cold day. Perhaps next time we can walk more than the 2-miles we strolled and explore further.

HICV Lake Geneva Resort merits another visit solely because it sits on such a vast property. We would like to explore the resort’s amenities and perhaps spend a little more downtime on-site. Its location is also convenient enough to explore day trips to other larger cities, which is something we tend to appreciate. Should we find ourselves in southern Wisconsin again, we will likely stay at HICV Lake Geneva Resort.

Day Trip Adventures

Speaking of day trips, they were the reason that we traveled to Wisconsin and booked a stay specifically at HICV Lake Geneva Resort! Affordable and centrally located, the resort made a perfect home base for venturing out on day trips.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I don’t know if it was the time of year or the fact that it was a Friday evening, but man, oh man, downtown Milwaukee was mostly deserted. Who knows, maybe everyone had gone to the bars! It was great for us, as we appreciated how quiet it was, but it was certainly different from what we’re used to when it comes to city streets.

Our first stop was the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, a designated Milwaukee Landmark that pays tribute to the sacrifices and dedication of veterans, both past and present. It was a grounding visit that took us through exhibits and memorials honoring veterans from the Revolutionary War and beyond.

Afterwards, we headed to Glorioso’s, a family-owned Italian market that’s been serving Milwaukee since 1946. Brian had heard about their famous Milwaukee Muffaletta and was eager to see if it lived up to the hype. It was worth the price and definitely had some great flavor, but it wasn’t as satisfying as the original!

Our tasty little snack led us to Eagle Park Brewing Company, where Brian sipped on a flight of brews and I opted for a non-alcoholic sour ale with Rishi Blueberry Rooibos tea. It wasn’t very long after we had sat down that the after-work crowds started gathering; it was time for us to go!

Off we went to the final local spot for the night: Lakefront Brewery, for live polka music, fried cheese curds, and their Friday Fish Fry! Instead of hanging around for the hour+ wait for table service, we ordered take-away and grabbed a quiet, random table in the back. It was perfect! We could enjoy the music without all of the crowds.

To balance out a heavy meal, Brian and I finished out the night strolling Milwaukee’s RiverWalk. I imagine that the river, as well as the riverwalk itself, is much more active during the summer. Our sunset walk took us through part of downtown, and we barely saw another soul; it was such a contrasting experience to our time on the riverwalk in San Antonio!

Madison, Wisconsin

On Saturday, Brian and I traveled to Madison to attend the opening day of the Dane County Farmers’ Market, the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the entire country. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check it out! Dubbed Saturday in the Square, this bustling market features more than 150 vendors who line the Capitol Square. In all honesty, we could have spent hours roaming from vendor to vendor, browsing all of the different offerings. Unfortunately, our Madison adventure faced a quick pause as we had plans over in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Before we hit the road, we picked up a cinnamon bun and Double Fudge Brownie Cookie from Yummee Treats and golden and pink oyster mushrooms from Clark Family Farms!

After we returned from Spring Green, we headed straight to Tipsy Cow for a low-key lunch. We ordered local goat cheese curds, loaded carnitas fries, a local beef cheeseburger with Wisconsin cheese, and a local lamb burger. Everything was so flavorful and satisfying. Luckily, we brought our cooler, so we could stash our leftovers! It’s been a long time since we’ve had burgers that were that juicy and well-made. We’re still talking about how good that meal was!

Brian and I spent the rest of the day simply walking around the city and enjoying the sights. We wandered over to State Street, a pedestrian-only area in downtown Madison, to peruse local shops and businesses. I don’t know if it’s the small-town charm or the fact that it’s a college town, but Brian and I loved Madison’s easy-going vibe. There are places where I can soak in the relaxed rhythm of my surroundings and people-watch in a slow, easy way; Madison is one of those places. We’ll be back, that’s for sure.

Spring Green, Wisconsin

April is the first month of the season that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin is open for tours. This tour is my reason for making the trek to Wisconsin. Everything else was really just a nice surprise.

Taliesin was home to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright for nearly 50 years. It is a reflection of Wright’s innovative design methods and his profound connection with the natural environment. The home suffered two fires in its history, as well as a tragic murder-suicide in 1914. Wright rebuilt the residence and continued to make changes and additions throughout his lifetime. Taliesin eventually evolved into 37,000 sq. ft., comprised of several interconnected buildings that consisted of the main house, studio, and guest house. In 2019, this extraordinary property became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Taliesin - front exterior
  • Taliesin - student rooms
  • Taliesin - hill garden
  • Taliesin landscape
  • Taliesin - study room
  • Taliesin - entertaining space
  • Taliesin windows
  • Taliesin - entertaining space
  • Taliesin - entertaining space
  • Taliesin window details
  • Taliesin - Bird walk walkway
  • Taliesin - Bird walk walkway
  • Taliesin - lanai-style windows
  • Taliesin - Japanese-influenced designs
  • Taliesin staircase

Brian and I attended the In-Depth House Tour, a two-hour tour of Taliesin’s grounds, furnishings, collected objects, and interior spaces. Our guide, Spencer, was the highlight of our experience. He is clearly passionate, not to mention incredibly engaging and knowledgeable about Frank Lloyd Wright’s history and estate. All in all, we had a fantastic time seeing and appreciating Wright’s ingenuity, artistry, and vision throughout the iconic property.

Budget Breakdown

Hertz Car Rental$201.37
HICV Lake Geneva Resort,1 Bedroom Deluxe42,000 Club Points
+ $69.00 Reservation Fee
(4-night stay public cost: Appx $825.00)
Lake Geneva Country Meats$87.48
Glorioso’s Italian Market$11.80
Eagle Park Brewing Company$25.76
Lakefront Brewery$35.60
Dane County Farmer’s Market$28.00
Taliesin In-Depth House Tour$131.44
Tipsy Cow$62.40
Fromagination Cheese Shop$7.54
Parking$6.00
Gas$181.73
TOTAL$848.12 + 42,000 Club Points

For a last-minute, off-the-cuff trip, I think we did pretty okay budget-wise! We splurged on local goods, got the opportunity to stay at a different HICV resort, and toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s house. Experiencing a new state was well worth the price tag and hours of driving. Granted, we could have saved some extra cash by catching a late-night flight on a low-cost carrier, but then we would have missed out on a pretty epic road trip.

Our 4-night, 5-day getaway left us with a great first impression of Wisconsin. It was a nice surprise, especially considering that 85% of it was unplanned. We already know we’ll be back to visit Madison; if not for the laid-back small town feel, then definitely for the Dane County Farmers’ Market!

Have you ever been to southern Wisconsin? What was your experience like?

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