Champaign, IL (WCIA) Midwest Traveler Expert Marcia Frost shares a nearby holiday getaway for the family.
Whether it’s a nearby trip everyone on your list will like or a very unique gift idea, this is the place to start.
A holiday resort for the whole family
It’s not easy to find a place the whole family can enjoy during the holidays. The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa has you covered. I checked it out on a return to one of my favorite Midwest cities, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
The resort is decked out for the holidays with plenty of photo spots you’ll just want to stop and stare at. Santa will be visiting and there will be plenty of holiday happenings.
Activities are always available at Grand Geneva, including Bingo, movies, and Jeopardy. You can also sign up and pay a small amount for others, such as rock climbing for all ages, Paint n Sip and Ceramics for adults. The Kids are Grand childcare program is available into the night with recreational activities and babysitting.
If you want to head outdoors this winter, Grand Geneva has you covered for that too. The resort has its own petting zoo, horseback riding, ski mountain, snowboarding, ice skating, and sledding. (Be sure to check their special packages, which can include activities and meals.)
I visited the WELL Spa & Salon for an anti-aging manicure, which left my hands feeling like silk. The Spa has a full menu of services, a relaxation area and whirlpool. The resort has a full-size heated pool and whirlpool available to all hotel guests.
The Timber Ridge Lodge and Waterpark is located at the Grand Geneva and tickets can be purchased for the kids to use it. Guests can take a trolley to enjoy amenities around the tremendous property (there is also a golf course open spring through fall).
The Grand Geneva Resort has 10 different dining options. We had dinner at Ristorante Brissago, a fine dining Italian eatery. Their homemade pasta is excellent, and I’d recommend it with the Rigatoni al Ragu or the Scallops with risotto, done perfectly in a lemon vinaigrette.
The Chocolate Peanut Butter Bomb, which is made for the resort’s 25th anniversary, is a dessert you must order at Brissago. Other restaurants at the Grand Geneva include the Grand Café, with a buffet available for breakfast, and the Lobby Lounge for small bites and drinks, and live music throughout the day and evening.
We had the Geneva Club Lounge package, a great add-on for a family. It includes a hot breakfast every morning, which also has a big selection of cereal, muffins and lattes. Water, snacks, and drinks are available throughout the day, and appetizers are out each evening. The alcoholic beverages are extra, but still half the price of the resort’s bars.
Also in Lake Geneva
While in Lake Geneva, we ventured out of the resort. At The Candle Mercantile you cannot only create your own custom scents for candles, but you can do wax tarts, and oils for diffusers and sprays. It’s a fantastic activity for everyone to do, and there’s wine (I loved their own label sauvignon blanc) and beer for grownups and apple cider for kids. I made a peppermint mocha candle and put together a vanilla-lavender-baby powder oil for a bedroom diffuser.
Café Calamari is a relaxing Italian restaurant. Their namesake dish, available with bruschetta, is delicious, as was the Polenta Parmigiano. We also loved all our main dishes of Chicken Parmigiana, Veal Marsala, and Sicilian-crusted Filet Mignon. We were too full for desserts, but took them back to the hotel for later. The Tiramisu was especially fantastic.
Popeye’s has long been a gathering place by the water in Lake Geneva and I was happy to return. They are known for their Margaritas, Bloody Marys, and rotisserie chicken (cooked on the premises). We agreed with the reviews, and were also impressed with the Shrimp Baked Brie, and Upside-Down Chicken Pot Pie.
The first time I went to the Baker House, I couldn’t stop raving about their Sunday Brunch. It was good to see that it has only gotten better. This bed and breakfast is a restored Victorian mansion that dates back to 1885. The restaurant is spread out throughout the downstairs, in the parlor, by the fireplace, and out on the enclosed porch. Guests are encouraged to don hats and scarves, just like they did at the turn of the century.
As for the brunch itself, it’s filled with everything from salads and freshly cooked meat, to sausage & gravy and French toast. Save room for the freshly baked desserts. It also includes unlimited champagne for adults.
Skydive Chicago, a most unusual gift…
We had planned on going “up in the air” with the Lake Geneva Balloon Company. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. I did watch my friends do it a few weeks before with Skydive Chicago, located in the Starved Rock area.
If you are looking for a gift for someone hard to buy for – or you want to do something unique yourself – check out Skydive Chicago. My friends had never been skydiving before and they have not stopped raving about the experience. The environment is all about safety and a training class precedes every new jumper’s dive. You are also given a professional partner for your tandem dive, so you don’t need to worry about jumping out of that plane alone.
For more information and gift certificates, visit the Skydive Chicago website.
Stay tuned for more ideas for holiday fun next month from Marcia Frost. Also, be sure to Like Midwest Travel with Marcia Frost on Facebook for more information on her trips, and read her stories on her Wine And Spirits Travel blog. You can also follow Marcia @Spiritstraveler on Twitter and Instagram.
Skydiving video segments and photos courtesy of Skydive Chicago.
Additional photos by Marcia Frost and Brittany Lambright.