The four diamond Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake Wisconsin.
Water activities, beach chairs, flower gardens, a highly rated resort and a quaint village with good restaurants are featured in Elkhart, Lake Wisconsin, located between Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin.
I fell in love with the place after a previous visit and figured the Osthoff Resort right on Elkhart Lake would be a great place to take my family. So my two daughters, two granddaughters and I recently headed there for relaxation, water activities and good food.
The Four Diamond Osthoff is a white Victorian-style but modern structure rated one of the top resorts in the continental U. S. by Travel + Leisure Magazine last year and also one of America’s top lake resorts. It has a well-known spa and cooking school as well. Unfortunately, the cooking school wasn’t open while we were there during the week.
The Osthoff’s first-class condos are for rent on a daily basis. For our three days there, we had a full kitchen, dining and living rooms, patio overlooking the lake plus three bedrooms and two baths. It meant we could have enough space and flexibility to do group and individual activities and eat what we liked, often having delicious leftovers for breakfast – like pizza, beet and shrimp salad and a veggie sandwich – for me while granddaughters liked room service. We could have cooked our own meals from scratch, which would have been convenient if we had stayed longer.
The Off the Rail sandwich and coffee shop is an inviting place.
But we ate dinner at Otto’s Restaurant one night and picked up pizzas at the Lake Street Café another time. On our last night, we all chose food from different restaurants but ate together. A couple of us got carryout from Lola’s on the Lake in the Osthoff – a shrimp and pea pasta with homemade noodles and beet salad with shrimp — one ordered a steak form Otto’s and the kids got from pizza from Three Guys and a Pizza Pie.
Two of us who are early risers walked a couple of blocks through the Osthoff gardens, along the lake and past the smaller Victorian Village and Siebken resorts to the little red Off the Rail sandwich and coffee shop for lattes or Americanos and muffins. The offbeat café serves delicious, homemade soups and sandwiches and shows a lot of character with its railroad theme since it sits right across from the old railroad station where, decades ago, visitors arrived from Chicago.
The edges of two water bicycles can be seen on Elkhart Lake.
On the sunniest day, the teens rented water bicycles while one daughter and I took a two-person recliner-style pedal bike and we all headed out to the middle of the lake and around a few homes. It was lovely being out on the water. Then we ate lunch on the Osthoff’s lake deck after the kids also make sand castles. In the evening we took a pontoon ride around the lake while our guide talked about famous homeowners, preservation of old boat houses and some history of the area. We followed that with a bonfire on the beach and roasted marshmallows to make s’mores – compliments of the Osthoff.
On all three days, my grandkids enjoyed swimming in the outdoor pool surrounded by pots of flowers while a couple of us adults sat nearby. They also went for a bike ride.
One really nice thing about the resort was the feeling of safety – that teens could walk around or go to the pool or stop in a restaurant or gift shop on their own or walk around the grounds.
The swimming pool at the Osthoff Resort is surrounded by flowers.
On our last evening, we all gave ourselves facials and then we curled up on the sofa and chairs to watch a teen-style movie. My granddaughters were intrigued that I neither fell asleep — my usual habit – nor got bored.
Our trip was a good bonding experience, full of good conversations, and made me appreciate my daughters and granddaughters all the more. We’re thinking about where we might go next.
Elkhart Lake is also the home of a famous Road America Raceway and host to NASCAR and cycling races.
For more information about the Osthoff Resort and Elkhart Lake, go to http://www.osthoff.com
Staff writer, Lillie Suburban newspapers
Member, Midwest Travel Writers Association
I’ve been a writer for over 20 years at Lillie Suburban Newspapers in St. Paul. I’ve also done free-lance writing – for 3M business and health publications and for a running club and a speech therapy group. My special interest and focus for over a decade has been travel writing – about my trips and those of others in the United States and abroad, and I am a 10-year member of Midwest Travel Writers Association. I have a bachelor’s degree in English from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in comparative literature from the University of Michigan. I was an English teacher for almost three years before having kids. Life is good!
Writing awards for Pam O’Meara
2015 Minnesota Newspaper Association -- Second place for columns on Selfridge’s in London, Missouri prison, mother’s death
2014 Midwest Travel writers Mark Twain – honorable mention for story on Hemingway in Pamplona, Spain
2013 MTWA – first place – recent travel sites – Fort Bragg and father
2008 MTWA – third place – newspaper story on Hawaii: the Big Island
2006—MTWA – second place – recent sites – South Korea – DMZ