Have you ever been traveling to a destination and you can slowly feel your breaths lengthen and your shoulders drop? You know, the kind of getaway that is going to force you to unplug and just enjoy a few laid back afternoons together as empty nesters. I recently felt this calmness on the short one hour drive from the Milwaukee airport to Elkhart Lake, a region that feels more like Mayberry than the mayhem of today. It’s calm, peaceful and serene, all a nod to its earlier days as an old-school summer vacation destination for families. I fell in love with this vacation spot and here is your definitive list of things to do Elkhart Lake.
The Native Americans who first settled in the region believed that the lake’s water had curative powers. German entrepreneur Otto Osthoff and his wife Paulina moved to the lake for its healing powers and in 1886, they opened the Osthoff Resort where for decades, it survived as a gambling haven and a Prohibition-era hideaway for gangsters. In the 1950s, the resort changed hands and became a theatre arts camp for children of wealthy Midwest families, where its arts influence is still prevalent today.
Things to do Elkhart Lake
Drive at Road America – This is one of the fastest permanent road racing circuits in the world with a 4.048 mile track with 14 turns and multiple elevations. There’s a range of a driving activities open to the public.
Take a cheese tour – It wouldn’t be a trip to Wisconsin if there wasn’t cheese involved. Henning’s Wisconsin Cheese is a fourth generation family owned cheese factory. They make 16,000 pounds each year using traditional artisan techniques and are only one of 65 master cheesemakers in U.S.
Dine at Lola’s on the Lake – You can sit and enjoy panoramic views of Elkhart Lake while dining on an eclectic menu created by an award-winning culinary team. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a nice glass of wine with natural beauty and ambiance, along with an exceptional casual dining experience, this is the place.
Visit and Old World Christmas market – The Osthoff Resort features a European-style market in December, similar to the centuries-old Christkindlesmarkts of Europe featuring international and regional artisans. You’ll find Czech blown-glass ornaments, Russian nesting dolls, German hand-carved smokers and nutcrackers, fine apparel, handmade amber and silver jewelry, Turkish pashmina scarves and shawls, stained glass art, Russian hand-painted Santas, fresh green wreaths, kissing balls and centerpieces, alpaca products, Estonia woolens, fine chocolates, Plauen lace, fine woodwork, fur products and much more!
Relax at a spa – The Osthoff Resort’s Aspira spa offers a number of treatments that incorporate indigenous ingredients and Native American influences from the region.
Play a round of golf – Quit Qui Oc is a 27 hole course that is riddled with history. The original 18-hole layout opened in 1927 and was designed by renowned golf course architect Tom Bendelow.
Drink some wine – Vintage Wines features more than 250+ handpicked wines from around the world in a wide variety of styles. Its owned and operated by an award-winning certified sommelier who hand-selects each of the wines along with craft beer, spirits, Wisconsin artisan cheeses & chocolates, olive oils and vinegars, most from local artisans.