Fall a great time for a Lake Geneva boat tour
The Lake Geneva Cruise Line’s Steam Yacht Louise is one of eight Gage Marine Boats offering public and charter tours on Geneva Lake.
Bob and Millie McCormick have season-long passport tickets for the Lake Geneva Cruise Line, but they say autumn is their favorite time of year to take a tour on what they sometimes jokingly call “their” boats.
“We’re such regulars, it’s become kind of our inside joke,” Bob said. “And come fall, when there are fewer people on board, you get to choose wherever you want to sit. So it really does feel like they are our boats, but we’re happy to share the wonderful changing colors in the trees along the shore.”
Millie agreed and said while the foliage this year hasn’t been as vibrant as in years past, it’s still nice. She said they plan to go on a cruise every week until the tours end in November and would be interested in the themed holiday cruises that are new this year.
The couple, who are retired professionals originally from the northern Chicago suburbs, moved to Lake Geneva eight years ago and have gone on at least 15 cruises this year. They first visited the lake as children.
With their passports, which cost around $85 each, they can go on any nonmeal outing they want. They pay a small surcharge for the meal trips.
“But we like to go on the ice cream social trips,” Bob said. “So we figure we’ve eaten our ticket price in ice cream.”
Millie said one of her favorite waterborne fall outings includes a boat trip from the Riviera Docks in Lake Geneva to Williams Bay, and then doing the 7-mile hike back to the dock.
“They drop us off and we walk back through the autumn leaves by lots of houses along the shore and even the beautiful estates,” Bob said. “If you go the other way and walk to Williams Bay first, then you have to be sure to get there on time to make the return trip. We prefer to walk back and take our time. It’s a nice two-hour walk. Just be sure to dress for the weather.”
He said one of his favorite estates on Geneva Lake is the property known as the Glenworth Gardens. It is owned by philanthropist Richard Driehaus, who bought the Georgian mansion in the late 1990s. Its grounds were designed by the Olmstead brothers, who also did Central Park in New York City.
“And I always still get a kick out of hearing the story about Stone Manor, which was built 117 years ago and is still the largest home on the lake. It has four stories above ground and two below ground level.
“It has a fascinating history, with all the people who’ve owned it. It was a girls’ school at one point, a Christmas tree museum and was once bought at a tax sale for $75,000.
“Now it has five huge, multimillion-dollar condominiums in it. If those walls could talk, it would be amazing.”
Millie said she doesn’t have one special home or estate.
“I just like the variety and all the different styles that you can see, and now is really a good time to see them,” she said.
With fewer boats churning up the water on the lake, Bob said it’s also possible to see the below-water attractions. On some calm days, you can see fish swimming 20 to 30 feet below.
Jack Lothian, the Lake Geneva Cruise Line manager, said all of the company’s boat tours will be offered through the end of October. Come November, the schedule will be reduced.
Special holiday cruises on several of the larger boats will be offered until the end of the year.
“It’s something new that we are going to try,” Lothian said. “We’re going to do it on weekends and some weekdays. We’re looking to do our tours from the Riviera all the way through November and then in December, move the operation down to Pier 290 in Williams Bay — which is the Gage Marine headquarters.”
Out of that location, the company will offer shorter weekend tours in boats decorated with holiday themes. Because the estates are farther to the east on the lake, they will not be part of the tours.
“Still, it will be pretty neat to see the houses on the lake surrounded with snow, as opposed to the summer when everything is green,” he said.
More information: Prices for Lake Geneva Cruise Line tours start at $24 for adults. For more, seecruiselakegeneva.com or call (262) 248-6206.
For ideas on other things to see and do in the Lake Geneva area, see the visitors bureau website atlakegenevawi.com or call (800) 345-1020.
Other cruise lines around the state offering tours this weekend, and in some cases into November, include theHeidel House on Green Lake, Wisconsin Dells Season of the Witch boat tour, the Milwaukee River Cruise Line, the La Crosse Queen and the Mississippi Explorer.
Getting there: Lake Geneva is about 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee via I-43 and Highway 120.
Brian E. Clark is a Madison writer and photographer.
We are extending our season!
For the first time Lake Geneva Cruise Line will be operating boat tours into December!
Click here for the weekend schedule:
PLEASE NOTE: In December all tours will depart from PIER 290/Gage Marina in Williams Bay, Wisconsin (click here for a map), where you can enjoy a drink and/or meal before or after your tour. There is ample parking on site.
ALL TOURS ARE WEATHER DEPENDENT! Please contact our office or check our website for schedule updates based on weather conditions!
Pricing for December Tours:
Full Lake Tour: Adults – $25/Seniors – $20/Under 18 – $12 (plus 5.5% sales tax)
Sundowner & Holiday Evening Cruise: Adults – $20/Seniors – $15/Under 18 – $10 (plus tax)
Present your boat tour ticket at PIER 290 for $5 off!
All passengers receive a coupon for 10% Off at The Shops At Pier 290!
Why take a tour in December? This time of year will give passengers a different view of the lake:
- Leaves are off the trees, opening the sight lines for many of the estates.
- There is no boat traffic, allowing the wildlife to retake the lake.
- The removal of piers and moored boats is nearing completion, giving you a more natural view of the shoreline.
- No trip to Lake Geneva is complete without a ride out on beautiful Geneva Lake.
*All tours subject to weather and minimum passenger requirements.
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So, what’s happening? You’re engaged and planning a wedding in Lake Geneva WI? If you are reading this blog, you clearly have great taste and are on the right path to planning your wedding. Kudos.
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Lake Geneva and the Lake Geneva Cruise Line has been recognized statewide and nationally as a great place to get out on the water. Read the paragraphs below or click on the link for the full story!
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin Just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, this laid-back watering hole has become quite the Midwest getaway for slowed-down weekends of lakeside moseying through shops and finding a good patio at sunset to lazily sip on a beer. Personal boat rentals can cost you a few mackerels, so get your float on with a boat tour via the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Whatever you’re into–they’ve got a specialty boat tour for it: ice cream social, champagne brunch, jazz dinner. Step back on land (and back in time) at the Baker House, an 1885 mansion turned hotel, bar, and restaurant great for sipping a cocktail while overlooking the lake.
• Lake Geneva Cruise Line, Lake Geneva: The fleet of modern to vintage boats takes groups of 2 to 225 for tours that can include meals and cocktails. Unusual summer offerings include the 10 a.m. mailboat tours, to watch hop on-off delivery to lakeshore properties; twice-daily trips to tour Black Point Estate, a state historic site; and dinner cruises with jazz music on Friday nights.
Cost: $24 to $64 ($12.50 to $48 for children), depending upon tour length and whether a meal and music are involved. Information: cruiselakegeneva.com, 262-248-6206