Memorial Day Destination: Lake Geneva, WI

If you're still on the fence about next weekend's plans, look no further! Lake Geneva is an easy, 1.5-hour drive from Chicago -- and with a sunny weekend forecast, there will be plenty to do. Last month, Chris and I were there to celebrate our second anniversary, since it's the city where we exchanged "I do's." 

The Riviera sits prominently on the edge of Geneva Lake. This is where Chris and I held our wedding reception.

The Riviera sits prominently on the edge of Geneva Lake. This is where Chris and I held our wedding reception.

We stayed at the Mill Creek Hotel, a quaint cottage-style inn right in the heart of the city. It's the perfect location to take advantage of Main Street shopping and dining, along with the lakefront attractions just a few steps away. But if you're looking for more Memorial Day fun, surrounding resorts like The Abbey have full schedules planned.

Lake Geneva's been a well-known summer playground for Chicago's well-to-do for decades, with historic lakeside summer estates once owned by recognizable names like Rockefeller and Wrigley. While you're in town, check out the well-trimmed mansions with a stroll on the lakefront trail, which circles the entire lake and takes you into the backyards of each gorgeous retreat.

Just one example of the beautiful summer retreats sprinkled along Geneva Lake. Source:  Keefe Real Estate

Just one example of the beautiful summer retreats sprinkled along Geneva Lake. Source: Keefe Real Estate

When we were in town, we spent our time dining, drinking and lazily strolling through downtown -- but there's really so much more to do in this popular weekend destination. Here are some of my favorite things to check out if you happen to make it there next weekend.

Shopping Geneva's Picturesque Third Street

Chicago is surrounded by an intricate web of suburbs. Lots of these burbs are busy mini-metropolises packed with box stores, mega-malls and chain restaurants -- the stereotype that keeps many city dwellers from striking out to explore.

Geneva, on the very outskirts of the suburban spread, is one of those hidden gems well worth a trip. At just 40 miles from Chicago's center and right on the Metra West Line, it's perfect for a girl's day trip to wander the boutique-lined downtown. Or for a romantic getaway, the Herrington Inn & Spa within walking distance to the train offers a quaint stay for a quiet couple's retreat.

The Herrington Inn is an all-season escape, but in warmer weather there's a fantastic gazebo for romantic dining. Chris and I actually considered this venue for our wedding before we ultimately decided on a space in Lake Geneva, WI. Source:  Facebook

The Herrington Inn is an all-season escape, but in warmer weather there's a fantastic gazebo for romantic dining. Chris and I actually considered this venue for our wedding before we ultimately decided on a space in Lake Geneva, WI. Source: Facebook

A few weeks ago, I was in Geneva with my mom and sister, who just happens to live there, for a relaxing day of girls-only shopping. We started off our trip with a quick brunch at Egg Harbor Cafe and then spent the afternoon wandering from boutique to boutique on popular Third Street -- including a few stops for chocolate and cupcakes, of course.

Near the end of our shopping trip, we stopped in for cupcakes at  The Latest Crave . That's my mom and sister enjoying our chocolate peanut butter and chocolate  selections -- delicious!

Near the end of our shopping trip, we stopped in for cupcakes at The Latest Crave. That's my mom and sister enjoying our chocolate peanut butter and chocolate  selections -- delicious!

Geneva has something for everyone, with a variety of clothing, home decor and stationery shops, among many others. Below are some of my favorite stops on Third Street to check out next time you're in the area.

If you're looking for even more ideas off the main drag, check out my Geneva Jauntful Guide for a full weekend's worth of places to try!

Denise's Adornments, 221 South Third Street

This is a relatively new shop in Geneva, and it's by far one of my favorite places to visit. Anyone who loves a monochromatic color scheme of grays and whites will have a field day in here. Denise's features French-inspired home decor along with an eclectic selection of frilly clothing. I fell in love with a faux fur vest and their understated glam jewelry collection. The storefront looks small, but the store goes on and on -- make sure you make it all the way to the sale rack in the back.

DenisesDecor.jpg

Graham's Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream, 302 South Third Street

Graham's is a Geneva staple. In the entryway, there's a large glass viewing window where you can watch the confectioners molding, dipping and icing the chocolaty treats. I like to visit this shop to buy individual truffles or chocolate-covered pretzels for carry-out. For a cafe environment, just down the street is Graham's 318 Coffeehouse, where local espresso enthusiasts gather over fancy hot chocolate and pastries. 

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Cocoon, 212 South Third Street

I've never left Cocoon empty-handed. This shop has so many great home accessories, along with a huge stationery section with cute notebooks and journals to fit every personality. This is my go-to gift store, with so many can't-find-it-anywhere-else specialties. Upstairs, there's a huge children's section, along with a row of Little Miss Sunshine-themed mugs and books -- a great way to express your feelings to your significant other. Mr. Perfect, anyone?

Source:  Chicago Now

Source: Chicago Now

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Anastazia Treasures for the Home, 447 South Third Street

Anastazia's home decor collection is seasonally driven, and when we were there in late winter they were already thinking about Easter and spring -- something very welcome in my book. Most notably, they stock my favorite soy candles from Sugar Mint Candle Co., a natural candlemaker based in nearby Montgomery, IL. They smell so fresh, burn cleanly -- and were recently featured in an Oscar party swag bag this year!

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

Source:  Facebook

Source: Facebook

NOLA, Here We Come!

In just a few weeks, Chris and I will be a Sazerac deep into our first visit to New Orleans. The southern city has been on my bucket list for quite some time -- and due to rave reviews from our jazz-loving friends, I'm more excited to see it than ever. 

Source:  Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

Our plan is to eat and drink our way through NOLA's celebrated restaurant culture, and then spend our evenings hunting down the best live music the city has to offer.

Excited to check out the newly renovated  Brennan's , where " breakfast revelry is taken as seriously as a decadent dinner."  Source:  Facebook

Excited to check out the newly renovated Brennan's, where "breakfast revelry is taken as seriously as a decadent dinner." Source: Facebook

We have some ideas on what to do, but (against my nature) I'm planning to let things come as they may in the Big Easy -- sourcing out tips from locals we meet, along with letting one of Chris's childhood friends turned New Orleans restaurateur play concierge. 

That said, we all know I'll break down and pull together some plans between now and the trip -- so do you have any insider tips to share? Must-see neighborhoods, unique boutiques, archetypal streets to explore? I'd love to spend a day following your off-the-beaten-path recommendations so I can report back once we return.