A Weekend in…Elkhart Lake

Located one hour north of Milwaukee and one hour south of Green Bay, a weekend in Elkhart Lake offers the perfect small-town getaway with major fun and adventure.

In the early 1950’s, sports car races took place on the open streets in downtown and around Elkhart Lake and has become the stuff of legends. Racing continues at Road America, a nearby 4-mile racing track that hosts many events each season, including nine major races, which includes the NASCAR Cup series. If you can catch a weekend race at Road America, we highly recommend building your weekend away around that. 

While the heart of Elkhart Lake beats around racing, you don’t have to be a car enthusiast to appreciate and enjoy the history and lore of this small Wisconsin village with so much to offer. Live music, history, culinary excellence, spas, hikes, bikes, boating and fishing are just the start to a weekend in Elkhart Lake.

The Shore Club

Stay & Play

The Village of Elkhart Lake has three excellent lodging options all close to each other, walkable to the city center and a stone’s throw from the water. Each offers a different ambiance, experience and hosts local and live music during the busy season. 

Osthoff Resort: This AAA Four Diamond resort offers 245 spacious suites suited for travel with family and friends overlooking the lake. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center, game room, boat/kayak/paddle board and pontoon rentals, and a Kids Club program in the summer. Grab a cocktail in the Elk Room with sweeping views of the lake and end your night with a beach bonfire and s’mores. Catch the sunset and listen to live music evenings at the resort’s Lake Deck. (Pictured at top of page.)

The Shore Club: Recently renovated with a contemporary boutique hotel vibe, The Shore Club offers traditional hotel rooms as well as one- and two-bedroom condominiums. Amenities include an indoor pool, game room, outdoor pool with views of the lake, water sports rentals and 600 feet of beachfront. Sip a cocktail and take in the tropical vibes at the waterfront Tiki Bar that features live music Thursday to Sunday. 

Siebkens Resort: A true turn-of-the-century gem in Elkhart Lake. Siebkens Resort has 30 European-sized guest rooms in its historic hotel buildings as well as one-, two- and three-bedroom condominiums with private balconies and open floor plans in its newest addition. This charming location feels like a step back in time, but with modern amenities including an outdoor pool. We enjoyed the complimentary wine and beer upon arrival and make sure to explore and find the “secret” bar – you won’t be sorry! The resort’s Stop-Inn Tavern offers a variety of live music on Wednesday nights as well as race weekends during the summer.

Where to Dine

Breakfast:

Otto’s Restaurant: Located at Osthoff Resort, Otto’s is a casual family-friendly dining spot overlooking a beautiful courtyard and the water of Elkhart Lake. Nosh on breakfast favorites like avocado toast, salmon eggs benedict or traditional biscuits and gravy to fuel your day. Sundays feature brunch from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Off the Rail Café: Situated in the original Elkhart Lake train depot, Off the Rail Café is the perfect stop for a latte or specialty coffee, homemade baked goods and breakfast sandwiches and paninis. Kick off the day slow and dine-in or grab-and-go to get your Elkhart Lake staycation started.  

Lake Street Café

Lunch

Lake Street Café: Lake Street Café offers two dining options: relaxed, causal in the bar area (complete with giant Beer Baron mural) or upscale dining with white tablecloths in the adjacent room. The menu is bistro-style featuring a wide variety of appetizers, salads and sandwiches for lunch. Lake Street Café prides itself on using fresh ingredients, baking its own bread and making all fresh stocks. Check out Lake Street Café’s Wine Spectator-accredited wine list. Lake Street Café is also open for dinner with a more extensive menu including fish, pork and steak dishes.  

Quit Qui Oc Golf Course: Stop in the Quit Qui Oc Golf clubhouse for lunch, and enjoy a selection of traditional salads, homemade soups and sandwiches while you watch golfers tee off. We love the charming small-town vibe at one of the oldest golf courses in Wisconsin. Enjoy the traditional Friday night fish fry – the best in town! 

Siebkens Stop-Inn Tavern: Internationally known as the best bar on the racing circuit, cruise on into the Stop-In Tavern for a cold beverage and rub elbows with fellow race fans, locals and maybe even some drivers. Paul Newman and his crew used to hang out there back in the day, so you know it’s the coolest spot in town. Located in a building dating back to the 1880’s, we love this location’s old-school vibe (squeaky floor boards, vintage screen doors and race stickers/paraphilia everywhere). Start with cheese curds or hummus and Siebkens rye crisps for an app. For lighter fare, try the in-house smoked salmon salad or go big with the Hard Left Burger. Do not forget the famous Siebkens Sandwich, made with a medium sweet rye bread using the same recipe and pans from 1916. The Stop-Inn Tavern is open late night with a menu until 10 p.m. as well. 

Dinner

Concourse: Located inside the Osthoff Resort, Concourse offers spacious seating and sweeping views of Elkhart Lake. There is a great front bar and lounge to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails. Enjoy appetizers with fresh seasonal ingredients like the ahi tuna poke nachos and Brussels sprout app with bacon and raisins.  Entrees like the pretzel-crusted Walleye with season vegetables or peppered ribeye and pommes frites are winners every time.

Paddock Club: Enjoy a fully immersive farm-to-table experience at Paddock Club in city center during your weekend in Elkhart Lake. You can’t go wrong with small plates, like the mushroom risotto fritters with white truffle dip, or the lightly breaded Calabrese cauliflower. Main courses include sandwiches, meat-free options like halibut and smoked beets, as well as fresh pastas, like the spaccatelli Bolognese, a slow, simmered meat sauce with veal, pork and beef. We love the centuries-old building and friendly staff offering up great food and drink suggestions.

The Cottonwood Social: Enjoy the lakeside patio breeze among the twinkling light strings, flowers and namesake Cottonwood trees at The Cottonwood Social. As the closest restaurant to the lake, The Cottonwood Social offers beautiful views and delicious food. Try the tuna tartar tacos and hearth-fired pizzas as well as hearty pasta dishes and a robust specialty cocktail list. After dinner, pop over to the recently re-vamped century-old El Teatro for a seasonal show. 

Gessert’s Ice Cream and Confectionery

Sips and Snacks

SwitchGear Brewing Co.: Head over to SwitchGear Brewing Co. located in the town’s historical feed mill. Owned and operated by a few local friends, these guys are passionate about good beer and a fun atmosphere to enjoy it. Grab a pint of Pontoon Pounder or a fill up your growler with the Lead Foot, a malty scotch ale. The impressive beer list features around 15 or so in-house brewed options, many named after local places, people and things. Stay and sip on the outside patio and grab a snack from occasional Friday night food truck.

Vintage Elkhart Lake: Located in city center, Vintage Elkhart Lake is your go-to stop for wine tasting in town featuring an ever-changing menu of 16 wines on tap from the cool, self-serve Wine-o-Matic machine. Create your own flight, nibble on local Wisconsin cheese or grab supplies for a lakeside picnic – including more than 250 handpicked bottles of wine from around the world. Make sure to chat with storeowner Jaclyn Stuart, an award-winning certified sommelier and author. Her passion for wine is contagious, and Elkhart Lake is lucky to have such talent and wine knowledge in their town. Check out the online classes, tastings and special events.

Gessert’s Ice Cream and Confectionery: Sip on a malt, shake or old-fashioned ice cream soda at this traditional ice cream parlor – recently celebrating 100 years in business. Hand-dipped ice cream flavors change daily, and make sure to grab some homemade fudge to take home as a memento of your weekend in Elkhart Lake. 

Henning’s Cheese: A quick trip to the neighboring town of Kiel, you will find Henning’s Cheese. This fourth-generation cheese-making family not only has award-winning cheese like the chipotle cheddar and Colby, but they source all of their cheese-making milk from local area farms both big and small. Churning out 16,000 pounds of cheese per day, this rural stop is a Wisconsin must. Visitors can take a self-guided tour, learn about the history of cheese making, watch cheesemakers in action and, of course, try samples of fresh and super-squeaky cheese curds. Grab some curds and brats to go from the gift shop. Our favorite cheese? The 16-year-aged cheddar.

Aspira Spa

Explore Elkhart Lake

Aspira Spa: This 20,000-sq.-ft. spa located at the Osthoff Resort is the perfect space to unwind and relax. Let your troubles melt away with Aspira’s various spa services like facials, massage, nail service and body treatments. The Sacred Waters Energy Massage provides a balancing of mind, body and spirit, or try the Chromatub, a treatment to increase blood circulation and promote detoxification (only two of these exist in the country). All spa services come with a day pass to enjoy the private café, sauna and indoor/outdoor whirlpool areas.

Throttlestop: Be prepared to be wowed (car enthusiast or not!) at Throttlestop. Whether you are on in the market for a hot new ride or just checking out cool cars and bikes, Throttlestop has it all. While many use Throttleshop’s services to consign and purchase luxury vehicles, visitors can get up close with a rotating collection of more than 200 historic motorcycles, as well as rare, restored and vintage vehicles showroom cars in the museum.

Additional ideas to add to your weekend in Elkhart Lake check list:

Play a game of life-sized lawn chess at The Shore Club.

Relax and get centered with a Saturday-morning yoga class at Aspira Spa.

Stop at Sissy’s Ice Cream shop on the Siebkens’ property to enjoy locally Sheboygan area-made Baron’s gelato.    

Take a guided fishing tour with Jay’s Fishing Guide. 

Check out the Amasa Bakery & Eatery food truck from the owners of Lake Street Café. Traditional Mexican flavors abound at this real-deal Mexican eatery, currently operating as a food truck behind the Lake Street Café while its space is being built. This is one to watch!

Explore nature on the Ice Age Scenic Trail and Kettle Moraine State Forest.

To learn more about Elkhart Lake, visit www.elkhartlake.com.

Photo credit: Elkhart Lake

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