10Best Visits Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin's Historic Playground

  • Crystal Clear Waters of Elkhart Lake

    Often sited as one of America's Coolest Small Towns, Elkhart Lake is located in the picturesque hills of southeastern Wisconsin, an hour's drive from Milwaukee. The lake's pristine waters have enchanted visitors for centuries. But there's so much to this charming community: Elkhart Lake boasts a world-class spa; historical and cultural sites; Road America, one of the premier closed circuit road race courses in the world; and a sophisticated foodie scene.  

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • The Osthoff Resort, the Grand Dame of Elkhart Lake

    The historic Osthoff Resort was built in 1886 to accommodate affluent travelers who traveled by rail to Elkhart Lake to escape the summer heat. It remains a favorite year-round destination to this day.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona-Osthoff Resort

  • Kayak Through Pristine Waters

    Spring-fed, crystal clear and 120 feet deep, the unique blue-green waters of Elkhart Lake are perfect for a day of kayaking.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Historic Site of Open Road Racing

    Open road sports car races were held in Elkhart Lake from 1950 through 1952, attracting thousands of spectators, celebrities and professional race teams from across the nation. Today, plaques throughout town mark the historic race circuits.

    Photo courtesy of Elkhart Lake Historical Society

  • Rejuvenate Mind and Body

    For the ultimate in pampering, the expansive, state-of-the-art Aspira Spa offers a full palette of individualized massages and specialty treatments that reflect the healing techniques of the indigenous people who once made this lake their home.

    Photo courtesy of Aspira Spa, Osthoff Resort

  • All Aboard

    Built in 1900, the quaint train depot that helped put Elkhart Lake on the map exists to this day and serves as a museum.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Perfect Place to Raise a Glass

    Visitors to Elkhart Lake are consistently amazed at the level of dining opportunities available in the town. The Lake Street Cafe offers gourmet bistro fare and an amazing bar selection, featuring signature wines and specialty beers.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Lake Street Cafe

  • Feed Your Passion

    Yearning for a unique vacation experience? Learn to make homemade pasta, beef bourguignon, and croissants from scratch, among hundreds of other dishes, at the one- and two-day cooking classes offered at the L'Ecole de la Maison Cooking School.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona--L'Ecole de la Maison

  • Gourmet Dining Surrounded by History

    Enjoy farm-to-table creations in European culinary tradition, such as this stuffed calamari appetizer, at the Paddock Club restaurant in the heart of town. Take in a view of the bustling open kitchen from its turn-of-the-century bar. 

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Paddock Club

  • A Shopping Paradise

    From unique collectibles and gifts to antiques and souvenirs, Elkhart Lake's quaint shops and galleries offer visitors a delightful and diverse shopping experience.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Vintage Boat Houses

    Take a pontoon tour of Elkhart Lake and learn about the history of this town as you glide past vintage hotels and boat houses of yesteryear.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona

  • Taste Some Wine

    It's hard to believe a town of under 1,000 residents would boast its own wine-tasting venue, but it's a fact. Wine tasting at Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine shop and Tasting Bar is owned by Jaclyn Stuart, an award winning certified sommelier who hand selects each of the over 150 wines carried there.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona-Vintage Elkhart Lake Tasting Bar

  • Feel the Sand Between Your Toes

    You can do everything, or nothing, at Elkhart Lake. Relaxing on the lake's sandy beaches is a favorite pastime for those visitors looking to de-stress and bond with nature.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Cheese Heaven

    Cheese is to Wisconsin as corn is to Kansas--and the varieties are endless. Sample the local artisan cheese plate at Lola's on the Lake restaurant...or the traditional fried cheese curds available at many eateries in town.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Lola's on the Lake

  • Dairy Farms Dot the Landscape

    It takes the milk from contented cows to produce Wisconsin's flavorful cheeses. Dairy farms dot the countryside that surround Elkhart Lake, where one can always see grass-fed cows munching in the green pastures.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Reeling In on Elkhart Lake

    At 118 ft. deep and 286 acres of water, Elkhart Lake is home to a wide variety of fish species, from bass and perch, to northern pike. It is a fisherman's paradise.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Jay's Guide Service

  • Enjoy a Delightful Walk Around the Lake

    Start out at the Osthoff Resort and hook up to the picturesque walking path that will take you around the lake. It's a 3 to 4-hour adventure, but an easy hike. It is filled with wonderful views of the lake and the vintage homes that surround it.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Go Back in Time at the Wade House

    The Wade House Historic Site, located near Elkhart Lake, offers a first-hand look back to the 1860s, when stagecoach travelers stopped at the 27-room inn on their way to points in Wisconsin and beyond. Watch how iron implements were forged by hand at the Dockstader Blacksmith Shop in a dramatic historic reenactment.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Wade House

  • Road America--Big Business for Elkhart Lake

    Considered by the motor sports community as not only the best in the U.S., but also one of the world's premiere race circuits, Road America is a year-round venue with unique activities for individuals and groups of all sizes. Road America attracts 800,000 visitors a year from every corner of the world.

    Photo courtesy of Road America

  • ATV Adventure Trails

    There's no better team-bonding experience than to bounce over back-road trails on an ATV! Go-karting and other exhilarating experiences are also available through Road America's Adventure programs.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Road America

  • Off the Rail

    The picturesque vintage cafe, Off the Rail, is positioned near the 19th century railroad tracks that still service an occasional train or two. It offers homemade baked goods and specialty sandwiches and coffee and tea drinks for breakfast and lunch.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Perfect Your Swing

    Set within the verdant hills of the Northern Kettle Moraine Forest and built in the late '20s by renowned golf course architect Tom Bendelow, Quit Qui Oc Golf Course offers golfers of all skill levels a challenging, yet pleasantly playable, course.

    Photo courtesy of Quit Qui Oc Golf Course

  • Discover Life Before the Automobile

    Step back into the state's 1860s stagecoach era on a tour of the Wesley Young Carriage Museum, home of Wisconsin's most extensive and diverse collection of carriages, sleighs, wagons, and other horse-and hand-drawn vehicles.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Wesley Young Carriage Museum

  • Live Music Lights Up the Elkhart Lake Scene

    An excellent live music and theater scene is very much a part of the Elkhart Lake experience. The Stop Inn Tavern, located in the Siebkens Resort, is a very popular evening spot touted as "the best bar on the racing circuit," since the early '50s.

    Photo courtesy of Tony DiBona--Stop Inn Tavern

  • Explore the Old World Charm of the Victorian Village Resort

    This grand, 11-acre resort was built in 1872 and has recently undergone an extensive million-dollar restoration and expansion. Enjoy the romance of the Victorian era with modern-day amenities at this historic hotel.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Victorian Village Resort

  • Art in the Village Park

    Beautifully-crafted bronze statues of children saluting the American flag adorn the quaint Village Park, located in the center of Elkhart Lake.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

  • Bucolic Scene from Yesteryear

    History surrounds you each step of the way when you visit this part of Wisconsin. This is a scene of what an 19th- Century blacksmith may have enjoyed as he molded horse shoes in the blacksmith shop at the Wade House.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona--Wade House

  • Find A Slice of Americana Just an Hour from Milwaukee

    The historic and cosmopolitan city of Milwaukee is a little over an hour's drive from Elkhart Lake. General Mitchell International Airport offers connections to destinations nationwide, making Elkhart Lake easily accessible for visitors and convention and meeting groups.

    Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona