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Those PTO days aren’t going to use themselves. So before the end of the year--and better yet, before the autumn foliage fades--plan your next trip with this guide to Lake Geneva. About 90 minutes from Chicago by car (i.e., the length of your typical rush-hour commute), the lakeside town has so much to do. And most of it includes mansions.


Do: Lake Geneva Shorepath Walk

What CN Traveler says, goes. And the glossy recently named the Lake Geneva Shorepath Walk as one of the best places--in the country--to spot fall foliage. Strap on your hiking boots quickly, because the second week of October is typically when those glorious fall leaves reach their peak. Need more gorgeous sights? The 21-mile, lakeside path wends through the backyards of stately old mansions.

For more info on the path, including where to pick it up, check out Lake Geneva’s official website.


See: The Black Point Estate

Speaking of old houses, the Black Point Estate is the only historic manse that?s open for tours. And if you have a thing for the Victorian era, it?s a must-see. Constructed in the Queen Anne style, the house dates back to 1888 and has everything from a billiards room to a fishpond. Not bad for an old summer cottage.

Seasonal tours take place daily through October 31. Visitors arrive by boat arranged by the Lake Geneva Cruise Line; 262-248-6206 or


Drink: The Apothecary Bar

Having a drink at the Apothecary Bar feels like hitting an after-hours party at Disney’s Haunted Mansion. With scull-and-bones patterns cross-stitched onto pillows and chemistry equipment as decor, the bar is in an 1856 estate. And it makes a mean vanilla Manhattan. You can have two, because the Maxwell Mansion is also a lovely place to stay. (Psst: There’s an on-site speakeasy for those who know to ask.)

Maxwell Mansion, 421 Baker St.; 262-248-9711 or


Play Dress-Up: Baker House

The staff at the 1885 mansion--which now houses a restaurant and a hotel--—wears Victorian-era garb. If you get costume envy, don’t fret: The opulent hats hanging in the hallway are available for borrowing, and it’s rare to see a hatless soul in the dining room. Offering small and large plates, the eatery has its plush seats facing out salon-style, and live piano music takes place regularly. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get caught in a crowd sing-along to sentimental hits like “Can’t Help Falling in Love” (sounds cheesy; is surprisingly heartwarming).

Baker House, 327 Wrigley Dr.; 262-248-4700 or


Relax: Avani Spa

There’s nothing like a little reflexology massage to bring you back to the present. At the newly revamped spa at the Abbey Resort, services range from facials to massages and body wraps; there’s also a private pool, steam rooms and a sauna for post-service relaxation. (Oh, and there’s a fitness center. But you can pretend you didn’t know.)

Avani Spa at the Abbey Resort, 269 Fontana Blvd.; 262-275-6811 or

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