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The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Back in the 1860s, Milwaukee industrialist Otto Osthoff’s wife developed health problems. He brought her to Elkhart Lake for the healing properties of the spring-fed waters. After she recovered he opened the Osthoff Hotel, complete with Victorian-style greenhouses for growing palms, a trail around the lake known as Lover’s Lane trail, and a casino.

The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Affluent families traveled north by train to enjoy the crystal clear lake and cooler temperatures. Women and children stayed for the summer while men commuted on weekends.

water lilies beginning to form on crystal-clear Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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water lilies beginning to form on crystal-clear Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The original hotel was destroyed by fire and beginning in 1995 was completely rebuilt to replicate its predecessor. The Osthoff Resort is a luxurious, family-friendly hotel that was awarded four diamonds by AAA. It continues to be a place people return to year after year.

Chef Scott Baker at The Osthoff Elkhart Lake
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Chef Scott Baker, L’ecole de la Maison cooking school at The Osthoff, Elkhart Lake. Wisconsin

Chef Scott Baker uses natural ingredients and produce from the onsite garden in the restaurants and when he teaches classic French bistro cooking techniques at the hotel’s L’ecole de la Maison cooking school.

French Gougeres, The Osthoff Resort's L'Ecole de la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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French Gougeres, The Osthoff Resort’s L’Ecole de la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

the perfect baquette, The Osthoff Resort La Maison cooking school, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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the perfect baquette, The Osthoff Resort La Maison cooking school, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

We each chose a recipe to work on with the assistance of the chef and his staff then dined on Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin, Lyonnaise Salad with Poached Egg and Red Wine-Dijon Vinaigrette, Coquilles St. Jacques au Gratin, Tenderloin of Beef au Poivre, Haricots Verts with Walnut Butter, Vichy Carrots, and Gratin Dauphinoise, Crêpes Suzettes with Raspberries, and a French baguette (classes $125-295).

L'Ecole de la Maison, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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sign outside the entrance to L’Ecole de la Maison, The Osthoff Resort in  Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

garden herbs, La Maison Cooking School, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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garden herbs, La Maison Cooking School, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin, Osthoff L'Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Lyonnaise Salad with Poached Egg and Red Wine-Dijon Vinaigrette, Osthoff L’Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin, at the Osthoff L'Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin, at the Osthoff L’Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin, Osthoff L'Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Coquilles St. Jacques au Gratin, The Osthoff Resort  L’Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin, Osthoff L'Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Tenderloin of Beef au Poivre, The Osthoff Resort L’Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crepes Suzette, The Osthoff cooking school, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Crepes Suzette, The Osthoff Resort L’cole de la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

French Gougères, Osthoff L'Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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French Gougères, Osthoff L’Ecole da la Maison Cooking School, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Osthoff Resort’s spacious Aspira Spa, created around soothing elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water, was also awarded four diamonds by AAA.

meditation area, Aspira Spa, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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meditation area, Aspira Spa, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

couple's massage room, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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couple’s massage room, Aspira Spa, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

couple's massage room, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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couple’s massage room, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Aspira Spa, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Aspira Spa, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The holistic and organic signature treatments incorporate the sacred water healing traditions of the indigenous people. Conde Nast readers named the Aspira Spa #3 in North America and the Caribbean.

Dinner at the award-winning Lola’s on the Lake, the Osthoff’s signature restaurant, is an opportunity to savor creatively prepared and presented cuisine that incorporates the area’s finest farm-fresh ingredients.

Lola's on the Lake, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
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Lola’s on the Lake, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The soup trio, grilled prawn appetizer, King Crab-stuffed Rushing Waters Trout, seared scallops and, of course, Wisconsin cheese plate were favorites.

grilled prawn appetizer, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
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grilled prawn appetizer, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

seared scallop appetizer, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Seared Scallop appetizer, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

trout, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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King Crab Stuffed Rushing Waters Trout, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

soup trio, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
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Soup Trio, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

filet mignon, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
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Grilled Filet Mignon, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Wisconsin cheese plate, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
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Wisconsin Cheese Plate, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

And let’s not forget dessert!

dessert tray, Lola's, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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dessert tray, Lola’s, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Osthoff's signature dessert, Chocolate Hazelnut Croquetine, Lola's on the Lake, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
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The signature dessert, Chocolate Hazelnut Croquetine, Lola’s on the Lake, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

A summer pontoon boat tour narrated by a local resident like guide Jim Benson is a most enjoyable way to pick up the area’s history, legends, and lore. The Elkhart Queen is docked just off the Lake Path behind the hotel.

pontoon boat, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Elkhart Queen pontoon boat, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Lake Path is on the bed of lower Lake Street where open road sports cars raced in 1951 and 1952.

The Lake Street Walkway, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Lake Street Walkway, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

photograph of racers, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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photograph of racers, The Osthoff Resort, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Fourteen historical markers throughout the village, like the one at the hard left turn, are a throwback to those years when the races were held on Elkhart Lake’s public roads.

The Hard Left, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Hard Left, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Hard Left, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Hard Left, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

America’s National Park of Speed, the 640 acre Road America was built in 1955 after these races were banned by the state. It has what many consider to be one of the top closed circuit road race courses in the world, a scenic four mile track with fourteen turns that attracts pro and amateur racers.

There are driving and motorcycle schools, opportunities to get on the track, and thrills like zip lining. One of the largest vintage car races in the USA is held there in July. Afterwards, the vintage race cars are displayed downtown, accompanied by live entertainment and dancing under the stars.

Road America, Plymouth, Wisconsin
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Road America, Plymouth, Wisconsin

Diversions abound, from the beaches, biking, boating, and bowling to fishing, golf, horseback riding, and pottery-making. Northern Kettle Moraine Forest is nearby and there’s a 1,200 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

 

Historical Society, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Historical Society, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The past is present in places like the Historical Museum that is in a 1900 train depot or Wade House, an 1850s stagecoach inn with costumed guided tours. Cheesemaking is demonstrated at Henning’s Cheese Museum, and there’s a Saturday Farmer’s and Artisans Market.

Shops and restaurants in the historic downtown are short stroll away from the resort. Off the Rail, by the tracks, is a popular spot for breakfast or lunch.

Off the Rail, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Off the Rail, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Tiki Bar, right by the sandy beach, is the perfect place for a casual meal.

Tiki Bar, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Tiki Bar, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The Paddock Club, named for the notorious club from the area’s gambling era, offers live music Fridays 7-11 p.m. A huge mural of Milwaukee’s beer barons — Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz, (now part of Pabst) dominates the casual sandwich, pizza and beer side of the Lake Street Café.

The Beer Barons, Lake Strret Café, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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The Beer Barons, Lake Strret Café, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

The tenderloin served in the candlelit, white linen side is renowned.

tenderloin, Lake Street Café, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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tenderloin dinner, Lake Street Café, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

There are live musical revues in the century-old Victorian Village Theater. Live music fills the air summer weekends at Osthoff’s Lake Deck and Wednesdays at the Siebkens Resort’s Stop Inn Tavern, known as the best bar on the racing circuit.

We learned the Seven S’s of Wine Tasting and enjoyed local snacks at the Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine Shop and Tasting Bar.

Vintage, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine Shop, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Owner Jaclyn Stuart is an award-winning certified sommelier and co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine & Food Pairing.”

Vintage, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine Shop, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

wine tasting, Vintage, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
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wine tasting, Vintage Elkhart Lake Wine Shop, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With its historical charm, top-notch accommodations, cuisine and pastimes to amuse the visitor, it is not surprising that people continue to return to Elkhart Lake year after year.

 

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