In Travel & Visitors Guide

Lake Geneva is for the boys. (PHOTO: Facebook)

Your guide to a great guys getaway in Lake Geneva

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On site at Lake Lawn is Majestic Oaks, the resort's sprawling and beautiful championship course. A historic masterpiece first opened in 1921 and splendidly re-engineered in 1990, Majestic Oaks lives up to its noble-sounding name. Set amid more than 250 tree-lined acres and two miles of shoreline, the course is known for its stately oaks, deep sand bunkers, subtle undulations and many-tiered greens, as well as a location right along beautiful Delavan Lake.

Armed with an energy drink and an attitude of upbeat ambivalence – I hadn't golfed in at least six years and was determined not to care how badly I played – I rented clubs and a cart and we set out, determined to avoid both total embarrassment and upsetting the real golfers.

The course has a traditional, straightforward layout, but is still challenging, as the copious mature trees that frame the holes demand accuracy. I'm more of a wicked-slice-and-wander-around-looking-for-my-ball kind of golfer – though I do have a Junior LPGA-caliber pitching wedge game – but we still had a terrific time playing Majestic Oaks on a beautiful morning.

That weekend, several guys on the bachelor party played at Geneva National, voted a top-10 Wisconsin course by GolfWeek and Golf Digest, featuring 54 serene holes carved out of the rolling countryside and designed by Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino. That's a damn good place to play too.

Where to eat: Popeye's

You walk into Popeye's, and it's abundantly clear this is not that Popeye's. First, because of the ubiquitous nautical theme (and lake view), and second because the staff will tell you so immediately, asserting that – although it and the national chicken chain both were founded in 1972 – the Lake Geneva one was first.

Large, lively and literally colorful, Popeye's is the ultimate tourist restaurant – it's casual, kinda cheesy, a little overpriced and the food is fine. We got the fried cheese curds, as required by Wisconsin law, the smoked barbecue baby back ribs and – as required by Popeye's law – the flame-roasted chicken from the famous outdoor rotisserie. Also popular are the hearty burgers and fresh seafood.

During our visit, we encountered three different bachelorette parties, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Don't go to Popeye's expecting a life-changing culinary experience; go there expecting to enjoy yourself. It's a Lake Geneva landmark, and you should eat there once when you're in town.

Where to drink: Hogs and Kisses

This is Lake Geneva's Saturday-night hot spot. A funky little place at 149 Broad St., it serves food (mostly sandwiches and burgers) into the early evening, and then turns up at night, with DJs, dancing, drinking and, from what I could see, far too many people doing Fireball shots.

Hogs and Kisses has DJs and dancing Wednesday through Saturday, and when our bachelor party horde was there, it was absolutely mobbed – a sweaty, swaying swarm of matching bachelorette shirts and people singing along to Backstreet Boys.

This place is a party at night, and you should be aware of that when you go, because no whining on the guys getaway. But if you're in the mood to let loose, it's the most fun bar in Lake Geneva.

Day 3

Where to stay: Bella Vista Suites

An upscale boutique hotel ideally located right on the Geneva Lake shore and minutes from the downtown attractions, Bella Vista Suites, 335 Wrigley Dr., calls itself the city's "best-kept secret."

It features well-appointed luxury suites and in-room amenities such as jacuzzi bathtubs, fireplaces and private balconies, as well as the hotel's indoor pool, the Heartland Spa, Himalayan salt sauna and more.

Whether you're hoping for a romantic weekend away, looking to relax with the family or hitting the town with friends, Bella Vista Suites – if you're willing to pay a little more – is a great place to be.

What to do: Spa

Nothing says guys trip like spending an afternoon at the spa, right? If you value relaxation and feeling fantastic over outmoded ideas of masculinity, I can't recommend a spa visit highly enough. But, if you'd rather get stressed out, go play paintball at Richmond Hunting Club in Richmond, Illinois, and shoot the crap out of your friends, like we did to our bachelor.

Anyway, summoning our metrosexual confidence, my buddy and I ventured to Lake Lawn Resort's full-service Calladora Spa for some rest and recuperation. The spa and salon offers dozens of services, specials and packages, but we decided to get Calladora massages, 50-minute, intermediate-pressure rubs intended to alleviate stiffness and fatigue and improve circulation. It was incredible; my massage therapist and I talked about baseball and our various sports injuries, and I left feeling tranquil and rejuvenated.

Afterward, I detoxed in the steam room, and then we watched a World Cup game while sipping cucumber water. Bella Vista's Heartland Spa is also highly regarded, with a holistic, comprehensive approach to well-being and health.

Where to eat: Baker House

The Baker House, 327 Wrigley Dr., is a historic B&B overlooking Geneva Lake and right next door to Bella Vista Suites, a Nationally Registered Historic Property that's been preserved with many of its original details. An ornately furnished 1885 mansion, Baker House describes itself this way: "a fantastical folly set in a bygone era, a place where reality fades and decadence takes center stage. Designed with a hint of vintage glamour and a dash of old world aristocracy, you will be completely swept away to a world of Gilded Age living."

If that doesn't sound awesome, I can't help you. We went to Baker House for dinner on a Saturday night, and it was a perfectly fantastical folly, full of whimsy, wonder and hats. Lots of hats – old-fashioned, outrageous, military, Kentucky Derbyesque, feminine, fancy, weird and more. You pick a hat off the rack, sit in plush wing-backed chairs and overstuffed fireside couches, play parlor games at the table, then indulge in creative cocktails and classic specialties like beef tenderloin medallions, sautéed chicken marsala and Norwegian salmon filet.

As is tradition, we partook in Baker House's sunset toast, when the restaurant gathers everyone outside on the lawn – right in front of the lake – for a communal champagne toast, as well as an amusing history of the venue from its eccentric host. There probably isn't a more entertaining restaurant, or eating experience, anywhere in Wisconsin.

Where to drink: Champs

Every city in America is constitutionally bound to have a Champs, and Lake Geneva's Champs Sports Bar & Grill fits the bill a huge, loud, buzzing hub, featuring pool, darts, a basketball hoop and games on TVs. What sets this Champs apart from others, though, is the large outdoor beer garden in the back, a chill gathering place to enjoy the nice weather.

Champs has an impressive menu, featuring the usual pub fare, plus several meatless entrée options, as well as daily food and drink specials. It hosts live music and other entertainment events a few nights a week, and claims to be an official Chicago Blackhawks bar.

We were there on a Friday night, with the Brewers losing to the Pirates on most of the many flat-screen televisions – and the sizable contingent of Cubs fans smirking. It's easy to imagine Champs being the go-to spot for Packers and Bears games in the fall, but the fun atmosphere would make it good times anytime.

With this guide, you're guaranteed a great guys getaway in Lake Geneva, but there's far more to do than just what I've written about here. For more information and ideas, click here. And remember, Lake Geneva is for the boys.

And if you can get a trip planned before the end of this summer, here are some upcoming events, from Visit Lake Geneva, to pencil into your itinerary:

Shake the Lake Music Festival at Lake Lawn Resort, July 27-29:This three-day festival kicks off Friday with a lineup of retro rock, food, fun and drink. Along with amazing tunes, activities include a KISS-inspired costume contest, the 3rd Annual Walworth County Bags Championship, carnival games, food trucks, kids' activities and much more.

Art in the Park, Aug. 11-12:Take in views of Geneva Lake while enjoying Art in the Park, a juried fine art exhibition featuring pottery, glass, wood, jewelry, painting, photography, sculpture and more. This event is held at Flat Iron Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Venetian Festival, Aug. 15-19:Highlights of this five-day festival include a carnival, water ski show, live music, craft fair, lighted boat parade and the area's largest fireworks display over Geneva Lake. Enjoy local fare at the brat stand and beer tent.

Maxwell Street Days, Aug. 24-26:Hit the streets of downtown Lake Geneva for the largest sidewalk sale of the year. Shoppers won't want to miss the bargains and specials offered by the area's stores during Maxwell Street Days. When it's time for a shopping break, the downtown area has plenty of coffee spots, pubs, grills, and ice cream must stops.

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