By Kate Vollrath
It’s no secret that Wisconsinites have a complicated relationship with spring. Although the temperatures still feel wintry, the sun sets later and the birds chirping are sure signs that the ground is thawing and summer is nearing. That is reason enough to celebrate! Elkhart Lake is famous for its freshwater beauty and village charm – the perfect place to toast to the springtime with loved ones.
Whether you want to get away or get into the local mix, spending time in a village beside a lake will reinvigorate you. Plan a weekend your closest friends and unwind from the winter with just the right festivities.
There is a pep in everyone’s step this time of year in the village as businesses welcome the return of the sunshine and visitors. Here are some tips for a lovely ladies’ weekend in Elkhart Lake:
One of the joys of being in Elkhart Lake is the ease of being able to walk just about everywhere. Stretch your legs and grab a coffee in town at Off the Rail, then catch a yoga class at the Aspira Spa. After a cold winter, a massage and sauna session or a soak in the hot tub will help thaw your bones.
For more adventure in nature, the Kettle Moraine Ice Age trail system is a natural wonder year-round and easily accessible by car.
Once your legs feel limber, fuel up with a hearty brunch or lunch at Lake Street Café. The window tables are great for looking out on the center of the village. After lunch wander through the village to find treasures in the local shops. Two Fish Gallery is a must-see shop with locally-made pottery and a stunning selection of functional art. This is the place to peruse the handmade fair-trade goods and hunt for souvenirs.
For Elkhart Lake clothing, gear and other gifts, Small Town Big Family and Elkhart Lake Outfitters are the best bets. Another delightful shop is Nordic Accents. The shelves are filled with unique Scandinavian goods and a great children’s book selection.
Once afternoon hits, consider expanding your palate with world-class wine. The local wine shop, Vintage Elkhart Lake, has been pouring tastes from all over the world for 10 years and recently installed a wine dispenser for guests to taste bottles before taking them home. The shop owner is originally from the California wine country and is a certified sommelier. There’s a crew of locals who swear the Vintage virtual wine classes were what got them through social distancing. For beer lovers, SwitchGear Brewing Company is a solid spot on the edge of town. Depending on the weather, you can snag a table inside or out.
Evenings in Elkhart Lake are a magic of their own. There is a vibrant range of dining options for every mood. The jury is still out on which place in town offers the best fish fry, but Quit Qui Oc’s perch dinner ranks high on locals’ lists for a casual Friday night.
Another laid-back dining option is the local haunt, Brown Baer, serving elevated bar food at their cozy corner location. You can’t beat the Paddock Club if you’re looking for fine fare featuring Wisconsin ingredients. The menu changes often but there is always handmade pasta, classy cocktails and wine list. It is worth noting that they serve panna cotta – an important detail to keep in mind for a sweet ladies’ weekend.
After dinner, be sure to see if there’s local music happening. The community loves a live band and dance floor. The Elk Room at the Osthoff often has live shows on weekends and a bar that pours stiff, sophisticated drinks on the rocks.
Those who call Elkhart Lake home will say that no matter what time of year you visit, the place is about the pace. Spend enough time there and the village seeps into your bones. When you slow down, you can see, taste and experience more of what’s right in front of you. Taking the time to pause and enjoy nature, art, food and drinks with your favorite people is the Elkhart Lake way. Even those who have moved away return for weekends to soak it in and remember what’s important in life.
In whatever way you choose to enjoy Elkhart Lake’s little luxuries, be sure to walk on the lakeside and take in that fresh water scene. After your stay, your shoulders will feel less tense, your mind more peaceful, and your heart wide open.
The village of Elkhart Lake will be hosting its 6th Annual Shop and Sip event on Saturday, April 30th. Local shops will be offering wine tastings, treats and special promotions on shop merchandise. Please see ElkhartLake.com for the full list of participating businesses, promotions and getaway packages.
Kate Vollrath was born and raised in Elkhart Lake. After several years of working and adventuring in Anchorage, Alaska and a year studying in Italy, she has returned to her favorite freshwater shoreline. Wisconsin will always be home. The incredible local culture, extraordinary community, and summer Sundays on the water are what keep her rooted and returning no matter where life takes her.