Winter took a little while making it to the Midwest, but the Lake Geneva area in southern Wisconsin celebrates its annual Winterfest, Feb. 1-5. For skiers and snowboarders, Grand Geneva Resort and Spa will hold its annual Winter Carnival on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., to coincide with the broader event.
Located just outside the town of Lake Geneva (90 minutes from Chicago and 50 minutes from Milwaukee), Grand Geneva Resort and Spa has a fun little ski hill called Mountain Top with three chairlifts. Grand Geneva’s Winter Carnival on Saturday will include various snow games such as human bowling, a water balloon launch and treasure hunt. A torch-light parade is scheduled for 8 p.m., followed by a fireworks show.
After a day a skiing or riding, a short drive into the quaint resort town of Lake Geneva is worth the effort. The big draw for Winterfest is the snow-sculpting competition in Riviera Park. Along with live music in the Riviera Ballroom, the town’s shops and restaurants also organize special activities throughout the weekend.
As of this posting, Winterfest weekend lift tickets for Grand Geneva on Liftopia are currently out-of-stock for Saturday, but tickets for Sunday are available for $29.99, a discount of 36 percent. Tickets for later in February drop as low as $11.99 on Thursdays, a 57 percent discount off the regular price.
The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva has a vertical drop of only about 200 feet, but it has appealing scenery and a pleasant family atmosphere. The resort ironically didn’t start off as a family place, because it actually opened in 1968 as a Playboy Club. A change in ownership in the early 1980s meant no more bunnies.
The 30 skiable acres make a good training ground for beginners. There are a couple of surprisingly steep short pitches though to entertain more experienced skiers. Grand Geneva’s terrain park is also an attraction for better skiers and boarders.
The AAA Four-Diamond resort has two lodging options, the main lodge and the Timber Ridge Lodge. The Timber Ridge Lodge houses a 50,000-square-foot indoor water park. Both lodges are just a very short free trolley bus ride from the ski hill. The town of Lake Geneva also has a good selection of bed-and-breakfast accommodations for more lodging options.