Charlie Brown may have found THE Great Pumpkin, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find your perfect pick of the patch this autumn. The Lake Geneva area is home to multiple… More
I don’t know about you, but when I spend time with kids I like to find unique stops of entertainment. Mainstream excursions are fun, sure, but they lack character and originality. I have a seven-year-old niece, whom I call my Love Bug, and we like to plan day-long adventures together – just the two of us. Whenever we plan a “Love Bug and Auntie Day” she usually gets to choose what we do. Her number one choice: Build-A-Bear. While I don’t mind taking her there once in a while, it’s the same experience every time. Nothing changes except the merchandise, and she doesn’t really get any lasting, impactful memories from it.
Having the treat of working with the Walworth County Visitors Bureau, I have the opportunity to learn about all of the amazing, fun things to do in the Lake Geneva area. We had a “Love Bug and Auntie Day” coming up, and I really wanted to go somewhere that would tie in with her current seven-year-old interests and give her a true experience. Right now she’s CRAZY about horses. With the horse theme comes cowboys/cowgirls, cowboy boots, cowboy hats…you get the idea. Come to find out, there’s a little slice of the Wild West right here in Walworth County at Watson’s Wild West Museum in Elkhorn.
Love Bug was a bit apprehensive about going to a Wild West museum, most likely because we’d never done anything quite like this before. That said, she probably didn’t know what to expect. Once we pulled into the parking lot at Watson’s, her excitement instantly grew and I couldn’t park the car fast enough for her.
It genuinely looks like you are driving into the Wild West. There is an old mine, covered wagons, a big teepee, wagon wheels, and tons more. Love Bug was enamored by the place, and we hadn’t even gone inside yet!
Once she had her fill of the incredible outdoor display, she said it was time to go inside. The large wood door was of significant stature, so we gave it a good pull together to open it. The “foyer” hall was decorated from floor to ceiling in interesting vintage Wild West artifacts, but as soon as Love Bug saw the old saloon doors, she was ready to go in!
We pushed through the saloon doors and there wasn’t anyone in sight. We went through the next door slowly peeking through when we heard a loud, “Howdy Partner!” There before us stood a tall, gentle man that looked as though he literally stepped right out of the American Old West. He had a huge smile on his face, introduced himself as Cowboy Doug, and welcomed us in true western fashion.
Cowboy Doug took us around the room sharing tall tales, offering tidbits of history, and helping us imagine life in the 1800s. There’s much to look at inside the museum, enough to enthrall both young and old. We talked about chores and entertainment of the time, panned for gold, yelled “Ye-Haw!” as we sat in an old western saddle, got roped, and even had a Sarsaparilla slid down the bar to us, just like they did in the old days.
When it was time to head out Love Bug showed off the stash of gold she panned for, grabbed a Sarsaparilla, and walked out looking back over her shoulder with that typical kid look of wanting more. She bounced across the parking area pointing out things she missed when we originally walked in. As I drove out of the museum lot I heard, “Auntie, when can we go there again?” That was all the confirmation I needed to be convinced that Watson’s Wild West museum trumped Build-A-Bear for a “Love Bug and Auntie Day”. I guarantee we’ll return for another visit, and I’m almost certain that the next trip will be as unique as this one was.
Watson’s Wild West Museum
W4865 Potter Road, Elkhorn
$3.50/Child aged 4 – 10
Autumn hasn’t quite arrived yet, but it is definitely in the air around Walworth County. There are many fun fall activities around the Lake Geneva area throughout the season, and apple picking is generally one of the first, early fall activities each year. With so many local orchards to choose from, you’re certain to find exactly what you’re looking for. Whether you want a day of family fun, or simply want to go browse local apple varieties, there’s an orchard in the area for you. Here’s a quick reference to the Pick-Your-Own and Pre-Picked orchards in the county.
Follow these quick links for additional information on each orchard:
Apple Barn Orchard & Winery
W6384 Sugar Creek Road, Elkhorn
Little Miss Sweet Pea
431 E. Geneva Street, Elkhorn
Pearce’s Farm Stand
W5740 N. Walworth Road, Walworth
Quednow’s Heirloom Apple Orchard
W5098 County Road ES, Abell’s Corners/Elkhorn
Royal Oak Farm Orchard
15908 Hebron Road, Harvard
The Elegant Farmer
1545 Main Street, Mukwonago
Looking for a short getaway in an affordable area with delectable dining, fantastic attractions, and a little adventure? Visit the Lake Geneva area to enjoy beautiful lakes, rich history, and small town charm.
To learn more about these area attractions and restaurants, please visit their websites. For more information on Walworth County and the Lake Geneva area, have a look at www.visitwalworthcounty.com.
Being new to the area makes everything around Walworth County a surprise for me, and meeting the ladies with the Spirit of the Lakes Chorus was an absolute treat! They were all smiles, and I mean ALL smiles! And then they began to sing. My instant thought once they started: WOW. Their haromonies are as friendly and welcoming as their smiles. This genuine group of gals sing their heart out in practice every week, and when they perform for an audience, they wow them too, and often bring home honors of recognition for their talents. Lucky little me got to ask Director Tessa August a bunch of questions about herself as the Director, and the chorus. Read on to learn more about this incredible chorus, and where you can plan to see them perform in the upcoming months.
WCVB: Please tell us a little about Spirit of the Lakes Chorus.
TA: The Spirit of the Lakes Chorus is a women’s chorus, which performs a cappella four-part harmony. We have a great director, we love to sing, we laugh a lot, and we have become great friends on our musical journey. Get ready to sing, laugh, and meet other women who share your love of singing. We are an award-winning chorus! As part of Sweet Adelines International, we compete annually in our Regional Competition, and we often come home with medals to recognize our achievements.
WCVB: What type of music does Spirit of the Lakes Chorus perform?
TA: Barbershop, and other a cappella four-part harmony.
WCVB: Please tell us a little about yourself, as Director of the Spirit of the Lakes Chorus.
TA: I took over the reins as director of Spirit of the Lakes Chorus in July of 2015, after the retirement of co-directors, Joe and Kay Liles. I received my Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance in 2012 from St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. While at St. Nobrert, I studied in the Voice Studio of Dr. Michael Rosewall with an emphasis in Classical and Opera. I was very involved in Chamber Singers, Women’s Choir, Vocal Jazz, St. Norbert Abbey Singers, and Knight Theatre during my years at St. Norbert College. A native of Walworth, WI, I moved back to Lake Geneva area and am currently the full time Director of Sales at Harbor Shores on Lake Geneva, and part-time Sales Manager at Gino’s East of Lake Geneva. I have stayed very involved with music by teaching private voice and beginner piano lessons. I also directs the musical production at myr high school alma mater, Big Foot High School, in Walworth. I am thrilled to to be the new director of Spirit of the Lakes!
WCVB: As Director of Spirit of the Lakes Chorus, what is your favorite part of being involved in the chorus?
TA: There is never a dull moment. I work about 75 hours a week in customer service, so to have my at least once a week night to completely escape into music is exactly what I need. My passion has always been music, hence why I have my Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. My favorite part of Spirit of the Lakes is the love. No matter what is going on, what we’re working toward, or even sometimes what we’re annoyed with…we really do love each other, and we make it through whatever we have to. Yes competition is fun and healthy, yes our performances are important, but if you’re not having fun what’s the point? And I’ll tell you..these ladies like to have fun!
WCVB: What can a visitor expect by attending a rehearsal?
TA: We pretty much throw you in..in a good way. All the ladies are very welcoming. The director will normally ask what part you used to sing in chorus, and perhaps voice test you a little bit to see what section she would most likely have you in. Then it is completely up to you if you sing along or just listen. It’s a great time, and there’s never anything to be scared of!
WCVB: How many members are currently in the Spirit of the Lakes Chorus?
TA: 19 and growing
WCVB: Who can participate in the chorus, and how does one get involved?
TA: Any female singer. Coming by during a rehearsal is great. You can meet us in a relaxed atmosphere, and get to know us a little bit. They can get in touch with the director, or any member, there is contact information on our website!
WCVB: Does Spirit of the Lakes Chorus have any upcoming events?
TA: We do! We will be performing on the Park Stage at the Walworth County Fair on Labor Day. We have a fall performance on Sunday, October 23rd at the Monte Carlo Room in Elkhorn. We will also have a Christmas/Holiday Concert at Horticultural Hall in December (date soon to be finalized).
WCVB: Does Spirit of the Lakes Chorus host local concerts?
TA: We can! We do a few every year, and can be hired out for performances as well. We usually do about a half hour to an hour of music depending on the event. We love to get out in our local community!
WCVB: Where can the public see Spirit of the Lakes Chorus perform?
TA: At the above performances.
WCVB: Can Spirit of the Lakes Chorus music be purchased?
TA: It can! We have a few CD’s for sale, including a lovely Christmas one. Just contact us for more details!
The Carefree Boat Club (CBC) has been around for a while now, but the Wisconsin chapter just opened last year. The Lake Geneva/Lake Delavan clubs are brand spanking new for 2016, and the WCVB is crazy excited to introduce them to you! We had a little one-on-one chat with Jim White from CBC and scored all the deets on the new boat club here in Walworth County. Read on to learn how you can take advantage of a boating lifestyle without actually owning your own boat.
WCVB: Please tell us a little about Carefree Boat Club – Wisconsin.
CBC: Carefree Boat Club of Wisconsin consists of two separate Clubs; Carefree Boat Club of Milwaukee and Carefree Boat Club of Lake Delavan/Lake Geneva. Carefree Boat Club was originally established in Virginia in 2002, has 45 affiliated clubs across the country. The clubs are private, and our members are the only ones with access to our top of the line fleet of boats. Members can reserve a boat through our online reservation system. When you arrive, your boat will be all ready for you. We’ll meet you at the dock, hand over the keys, and help get you and your party on the water. Upon your return, we’ll help you dock and disembark. That’s it! It truly is boating with all the fun and without the hassles!
WCVB: How did the Wisconsin chapter get started?
CBC: Our club is a family owned business. Roland Wolff and his son-in-law Paul started the Milwaukee Club in 2015. Then, in the spring of 2016, they opened the Delevan/Lake Geneva Club. Roland’s son Justin had been a member of the Lake Norman Carefree Boat Club near Charlotte NC. After seeing the successful start-up of the Milwaukee Club, he decided to move to Seattle Washington and start up his own club. This year, Roland’s other sons, Brendan and Connor Wolff also became owners of their own Carefree Boat Club in the San Francisco Bay area! The family that floats together, boats together!!
WCVB: What other locations are there?
CBC: Carefree Boat Club has 45 locations across the country. Clubs are located on inland lakes, the East Coast, the West Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. Similar to a country club, members have reciprocal rights at all Carefree Clubs. Our members have the ability to reserve a boat at any location…..for free. All you pay for is gas!
WCVB: What are the benefits of “boating without owning?”
CBC: First is affordability. In most cases the cost of membership is about 1/3 the cost of ownership. We cover the cost of owning a boat. This includes boat purchase, slip fees, insurance, maintenance, repair, taxes, towing coverage, winterization and depreciation. Second, with no costs of ownership you also get NO hassles of ownership. To get on the water and enjoy a day of boating, all you need to do is show up. We do the rest!
WCVB: What kinds of boats does Carefree Boats have on Delavan Lake, and how many boats are available?
CBC: Our fleet will change and grow as our membership evolves. As of August 2016 we have 3 awesome new boats on Lake Delevan.
1) a 26’ Sea Ray “Sundancer” 260 Cabin Cruiser – capacity 12
2) a 25’ Chaparral 257SSX Bowrider with Folding Arch Tower – capacity 16
3)a 24′ Coach Tritoon 150 HP and high performance tubes – capacity 15
WCVB: If I am new to boating, can I still become a member?
CBC: Absolutely! In fact, if you’re new to boating and thinking about purchasing a boat, joining Carefree is a great way to learn the ins and outs of boating and determine if ownership is right for you. Additionally, all members are given a training manual upon joining. Members attend one classroom session. After training, members call to schedule a boat for “On the Water” training with the dock master.
Training covers CBC processes, general navigation, docking, and safety. A separate “On the Water” training is done on cruisers to practice docking and learn overnight processes. Upon completion, you will receive a safety certificate from CBC. We call our training program, Be A Better Boater.
WCVB: Are there boats on Geneva Lake as well? Does membership include usage of boats on both lakes?
CBC: Currently we have two boats on Lake Geneva.
1) 22’ Bryant Speranza with Mach II Wake Tower – capacity 12
2) 27′ Coach Tritoon 250 HP and high performance tubes – capacity 16
For a small additionally monthly fee members Delevan Club members can have unlimited usage of boats on Lake Geneva.
WCVB: Is there a maximum boat usage allowance for members?
CBC: No. Members have unlimited access to boats. Boat as much as you like.
WCVB: What benefits are included for members of Carefree Boat Club?
CBC: Benefits include affordability, access to a large variety of like-new, professionally maintained and cleaned boats, great availability, unlimited usage with no additional cost, training and on the water instruction, and access to locations across the country.
WCVB: What kind of fees are involved?
CBC: There is no fee to use the boats. Like most clubs we charge a one time Initiation Fee and an annual membership fee (which you may choose to pay monthly). We do not require long commitments from our members; you can join for as little as one year.
We do however greatly reward members who will commit to the club for at least three years and give the best overall value to our five year members. Our fees do vary a bit by location based on local costs, fleet configuration and availability of membership and we also have some different membership options. Please contact us to discuss the various options.
WCVB: Are there any requirements for membership acceptance, besides the monetary fees?
CBC: No. We do require all members attend classroom and on-the-water training to ensure a safe and enjoyable boating experience.
WCVB: What is each member responsible for each time they reserve a boat?
CBC: For the most part all members need to do is show up at their reserved time and location! Of course we request our members treat all boats as their own to insure an enjoyable experience for ALL club members.
WCVB: How do I sign up to become a member?
CBC: You can visit our website at CareFreeBoats.com or call us at 262-422-6287. We’ll answer your questions and arrange for a tour.
WCVB: Personally, what is your favorite part about being a member of the Carefree Boat Club?
CBC: The quality and diversity of the fleet of boats is second to none!
WCVB: What is your favorite boat that is on Delavan Lake?
CBC: The one I happen to be on, or if I’m not on the water it’s the next one I have reserved!!
WCVB: Where can we find Carefree Boat Club in Delavan? How about Lake Geneva?
CBC: On Delevan we are located at the Lake Lawn Resort Marina. On Lake Geneva we currently have 2 locations; on Buttons Bay and Williams Bay.
Everybody loves a shopping treat once in a while, especially one that can make you feel as though you’re being pampered in across the globe in France. Tres Belle Boutique in downtown Lake Geneva does just that! This delightful little store is filled with a charming Paresian feel that will whisk you away to another land while you spoil yourself with clothing, jewelry, lotions, and oh so much more.
If you haven’t yet stopped in at Tres Belle, you can learn about the boutique shop right here. We had a little chat with the owner, Lynn, and she gave us the complete scoop on her charming shop.
WCVB: How was the name chosen for the shop?
A: My daughter Brittany named it after learning the French language.
WCVB: What makes Tres Belle Boutique unique?
A: The quality of our merchandise and our touch of France.
WCVB: What kind of items can we find in your store?
A: Women’s fashion, jewelery, lotions and perfumes, and home accessories.
WCVB: If someone would like to visit Tres Belle Boutique, is there anything they should know before coming?
A: We carry merchandise in a wie range of prices, to fit every budget.
WCVB: What is the “must have” item from your store?
A: Anything that has a Parisian “feel!”
WCVB: What is your favorite part about being a local business in southeastern Wisconsin?
A: I love meeting all of the tourists that visit Lake Geneva.
WCVB: What is YOUR personal favorite item from the store?
A: I absolutely love our comfy USA clothing line.
WCVB: Are there any events/specials coming up at Tres Belle Boutique?
A: Maxwell Street Sales, which will happen during the Lake Geneva Maxwell Street Days August 26 -28, 2016.
WCVB: Do you offer shipping? Can people order online?
A: We have a shopping website where much of the merchandise in our store can be purchased.
WCVB: Do you offer gift wrapping for holidays or other occasions?
A: We always bag every purchase in a cute pink gift back with tissue and a bow.
WCVB: Where can we find Tres Belle Boutique, and what are the shop hours?
A: The Tres Belle Boutique is located at 233 Broad Street in downtown Lake Geneva. We are just 1/2 block east of Main Street. Our hours are Monday through Thursday 10:30 am – 5 pm, and Friday through Sunday 10:30 am – 6 pm.
Having fun and saving money doesn’t always go hand-in-hand, but with the Walworth County Visitors Bureau’s Buy One, Get One (BOGO) Cards, you can do both! The fourth annual BOGO card has been released, and it’s packed full of savings from area businesses. Visitors and locals alike will find value in the BOGO card, which has 48 discounts on area attractions, dining, shopping, and much more. The cards are $10 each, and are available online, and at the Walworth County Travel Information Center located at 2375 E. Geneva Street in Delavan.
The 2016-2017 BOGO Card features fabulous buy one, get one deals on golf, museum admissions, kayak rentals, air tours, boat rides, paddle board rentals, spa services, and so much more. This year’s dining specials alone will help you save big, featuring buy one, get one deals from the Lake Geneva Pie Company, Sperino’s, Hawk’s View Golf Club, PIER 290, Lake Lawn Resort, Grand Café, Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub, The Trout House at Rushing Waters, and The Abbey Resort. Top those deals off with specials from area attractions like the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, The Dancing Horses Theatre, Old World Wisconsin, Fontana Paddle Company, and Gypsy Air Tours to name a few, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount you can save all the while having fun.
The BOGO Card is available now, and all deals are good until April 30, 2017. A full list of participating businesses and their deals are available on our website.