Wellness Things to Do in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Wellness Travel Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

by Lisa Truesdale

To me, any amount of time that I get to spend relaxing near water counts as wellness time. Yet on a recent four-day trip to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin—just an hour north of Milwaukee—I stepped away from the shore several times to enjoy a variety of other wellness options in the area.

The Osthoff Resort, which originally opened in 1886 and was rebuilt and reopened in 1995, offers just about everything you need for a wellness-inspired vacation. The private lakefront on the northeastern edge of the lake has 500 feet of sand beach for lounging, grilling, swimming, or exploring the lake in a variety of watercraft including kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards. I paddled a kayak out to the center of the lake one day when the water’s surface was calm enough for me to see fish swimming lazily below, and it was so peaceful that I didn’t want to ever head back to shore.

At the Osthoff’s L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School, Chef Patrick O’Toole, the resort’s culinary director, taught us how to make a delicious variety of healthy vegetarian foods. For some of the recipes, we used ingredients picked fresh that morning from the onsite organic garden, which supplies about 10,000 pounds of produce and herbs for the resort’s on-site restaurants each season.

In the well-stocked school kitchen, we prepared (and devoured) a Wellness Salad with pomegranate vinaigrette, Shakshouka (a baked-egg dish), and Lemon Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding, then whipped up batches of Overnight Oats to take back to our suites for the next morning. Cooking classes at the school are offered weekly beginning in September, and the fall 2018 schedule includes “Osthoff Garden Farm to Table” and “Casually Italian.”

Later that afternoon, in the resort’s Aspira Spa, I began in the Meditation Sanctuary, a tranquil inner room where water flows over natural stones and into a gorgeous copper vessel. Then, after relaxing for a bit in the sauna and the whirlpool, I indulged in a customized 80-minute facial, complete with a hand and foot massage. Aspira, which means “infused with spirit,” offers dozens of holistic and organic spa treatments, private SpaSuites for couples or groups, a full salon, and daily yoga classes.

SOEL Fitness Studio, in Elkhart Lake’s charming downtown just a few blocks from the resort, also offers yoga classes, plus TRX training and spinning if you want to get your heart pumping. The Victorian Village Resort, just west the Osthoff, presents Yoga by the Lake every Saturday morning in the summer, beginning at 9 a.m., and drop-ins are welcome. There is also live music every Thursday through Sunday.

At tea time, Jay Lee Inn serves high tea four days per week in the summer, complete with finger sandwiches and delectable, bite-sized desserts piled high on three-tiered trays.

Elkhart Lake is the also the home of Road America, a 640-acre road-racing venue that also hosts hundreds of other events each year. On Monday and Wednesday evenings ( 6 – 8 pm) from May until the end of September, the track offers “Four Miles of Fitness,” when walkers, runners, and bicyclists of all ages are welcome to visit and explore the picturesque cross-country trails or the legendary four-mile, 14-turn racing surface. Four track routes ranging from just over two miles to four miles are clearly mapped out, and the cost is only $5 per person.

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Lisa Truesdale is a Colorado-based writer and regular contributor to Travel to Wellness.

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