Beyond the Horizon: The Charms of Elkhart Lake in the Midwest
Discover Wisconsin’s Hidden Retreat: A Town Bursting with Cozy Inns, a Radiant Lake, and Abundant Brews and Cheese.
While Minnesota proudly boasts its title as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Wisconsin equally shines with its aquatic allure. Beyond the vastness of the Great Lakes, the state is dotted with inviting inland waters. Elkhart Lake stands out as the perfect spot for an extended weekend escape. Conveniently located a mere hour from Milwaukee and just under three hours from Chicago, it’s quickly earning a reputation as the Midwest’s next top vacation spot.
This vivid, naturally replenished lake, known for its unique contour, is enveloped by privately-held cottages and an enchanting town center. This features age-old resorts, a budding microbrewery, and eateries that champion locally sourced ingredients — all just a short stroll away. Venture beyond the charming town, and you’ll discover attractions like a cheese production hub and museum, alongside a historic racetrack. Dive into our comprehensive guide on Elkhart Lake.
Prime Seasons to Explore Elkhart Lak
While many flock to this Wisconsin gem between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Elkhart Lake truly shines throughout the year. The height of summer sees the warmest weather, with July temperatures averaging around 81 degrees — perfect for a refreshing swim or boat ride. Yet, those looking for a serene escape might prefer the allure of the other seasons. The lake becomes a mirror for the vibrant fall colours, creating a mesmerizing autumn scene. Winter ushers in festive celebrations, highlighted by the Old World Christmas Market. As winter fades, spring beckons with its rejuvenating embrace. Although it might be too chilly for a dip, it’s the ideal season for treks and golfing.
Elkhart Lake’s Top Activities to Experience
Elkhart Lake is more than just its stunning 300-acre clear water body, although it undoubtedly takes center stage. While many hotels in the region have exclusive beach access for their patrons, the expansive Fireman’s Park and Beach ensures that everyone can enjoy the lake’s beauty. This public space boasts a sandy shoreline, designated swimming zones, volleyball setups, barbeque facilities, and picnic areas.
For those looking to delve deeper into the lake’s allure, Ecology Outfitters offers guided kayak adventures. Alternatively, you can embark on a memorable journey on a pontoon boat, optionally steered by a captain, through Elkhart Watersports, which also caters to canoe and paddleboard enthusiasts. If you’re visiting during the colder months, don’t miss the chance for an ice fishing adventure with Inland Waters Fishing. They also organize fishing trips throughout the year. And if fly fishing is your passion, Tie 1 On might just be your go-to.
Nature lovers will be pleased to know that a section of the nationally recognized Ice Age National Scenic Trail winds its way through Elkhart Lake. Cycling aficionados have options too, with The Shore Club offering classic bike rentals. Meanwhile, hardcore bikers with their gear can explore the mountain biking paths and the famed route that connects local villages.
Elkhart Lake’s iconic Road America racetrack is a top attraction. If you miss the major races, don’t fret! You can explore the vast 600-acre grounds, attend their driving academy, indulge in go-karting, or even rent the entire circuit for a personal experience. Additionally, the track promotes wellness every Monday and Wednesday evening with its ‘4 Miles of Fitness,’ encouraging walking, cycling, and jogging.
Recharge at The Osthoff Resort’s Aspira Spa after a day of adventure. They offer a range of treatments, from facials to massages, ensuring relaxation.
One can’t tour Wisconsin without diving into its cheese legacy. Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese in Kiel, a fourth-generation family business, is the perfect place. Along with a cheese shop offering a variety of dairy delights, there’s a museum showcasing vintage cheesemaking tools, overseen by an expert cheesemaker. Make sure to taste a fresh cheese curd for an authentic Wisconsin feel.
And for those passionate about golf, the Quit Qui Oc Golf Club, nestled in Elkhart Lake’s heart, boasts 27 holes for an unforgettable game.
Choosing Your Elkhart Lake Accommodation
Three prominent hotels grace the scenic lakeside of Elkhart Lake: The Shore Club, The Osthoff Resort, and Siebkens Resort. The Shore Club blends contemporary style with its freshly updated rooms and inviting shared areas. In contrast, The Osthoff and Siebkens echo the classic resort ambiance reminiscent of “Dirty Dancing.” The Osthoff stands out for its expansive size and luxury offerings, while Siebkens offers a nostalgic journey, complete with a renowned tavern on its grounds.
For those seeking a more private experience, the region also boasts a selection of vacation homes, from serene lakeside retreats to stylish urban townhouses.
Dining Delights in Elkhart Lake
For a quaint village of under 1,000 residents, Elkhart Lake boasts a surprisingly sophisticated culinary landscape. Lake Street Cafe stands out with its bistro charm and extensive wine selection. Their standout dishes include a delightful goat cheese salad and a savory tomahawk pork chop. Meanwhile, Paddock Club never fails to impress with its seasonally curated dishes. Their homemade pasta is a treat, and beginning a meal with their flavorful mushroom arancini is highly recommended.
For those who prefer a casual ambiance, The Cottonwood Social at The Shore Club offers meals throughout the day. Their signature Wisconsin fish fry dinner is a must-try, but their oversized pretzel paired with beer cheese dip is equally tempting. To enjoy a drink with a serene lakeside view and a touch of live music, drop by the tiki bar located within the Shore Club.
Coffee aficionados will appreciate the delightful brew at the local haunt, Off the Rail, renowned for its savory breakfast bites. And when in Wisconsin, how can one miss out on its iconic drink? Swing by SwitchGear Brewing Company for a selection of artisanal beers on draught. Don’t miss their Platinum Blonde Coffee Stout, Resorter Red Ale, or the Pontoon Pounder Wheat Beer. They also have a dynamic range of seasonal specials worth exploring.
Thinking of prolonging your Elkhart Lake experience? Think about booking with XcelTrip to explore other notable places like Kohler and Door County.
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