Waukesha and Pewaukee are 20 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee. Both have distinct personalities. Consider Waukesha. Many downtown storefronts are stone, a sign of its staying power. The Fox River courses through downtown, pouring over manmade waterfalls, gliding through parks. Brightly painted, 10-foot fiberglass art guitars remind that Waukesha is home to the late Les Paul, the musician who inspired the Gibson Les Paul guitar.
A little to the west, Pewaukee’s historic main street is like Chicago’s Skyline Drive, minus the skyscrapers, traffic and millions of people. Its historic storefronts look out on beach, boat docks and, beyond, Pewaukee Lake. Quaint? Yes. Picturesque? Definitely.
The towns are part of what locals call Lake Country, where summertime spins around Pewaukee Lake and the cluster of smaller lakes west of it.
Water activities are a natural extension of meetings. Groups rent boats, hook up with Mike’s Extreme Guide Service to go Muskie fishing in the fall, or try standup paddle boarding with Koha Yoga.
Even in winter, Waukesha and Pewaukee refuse to roll up their streets. The CVB’s list of 25 team-building options helps beat back boredom.
At Lumber Axe, patrons divide their time among hurling axes, getting out of an escape room and taking breathers in its craft beer bar. Veloce, the only indoor Go Kart racing facility in Wisconsin, has corporate packages that include a trophy and medals, a team picture, a room to gather in and catering options.
Also in the competitive spirit, Chef Pam’s Kitchen divides groups of up to 14 into two teams and has them face off in a timed challenge to make the best meal using several secret ingredients. The competition is friendly, of course, and everyone sits down afterward to eat what they made.
At the Cue Club, there’s plenty of room for everyone to play pool and throw darts. For those who prefer wine to beer and paint to pool cues, A Stroke of Genius will organize a night out for the artistically inclined.
Because the two towns are minutes from Milwaukee and an hour from Madison off I-94, they attract associations and other organizations.
Conferences typically meet at the Ingleside or the Milwaukee Marriott West, the area’s largest meeting properties.
The Ingleside is the new name for the Country Springs Hotel, but much more than the name changed when the hotel reopened in fall 2018. “It went through a complete remodel,” said Susan Schoultz, marketing manager for Visit Waukesha. “It is more modern, with a lighter décor–a totally different atmosphere than it was.”
The hotel also added fire pits and yoga classes. It promotes the Lake Country Trail, a paved bike/walk path out its back door. It screens movies outdoors in the summer time. And it encourages attendees to bring the family to enjoy its Springs Water Park.
With 40,000 square feet of meeting space, the Ingleside is by far the largest conference hotel in the area. If its 192 guest rooms aren’t enough, other smaller hotels support overflow, Schoultz said.
The 280-room Marriott also has had recent upgrades. “It’s a very modern hotel,” said Schoultz. “It reminds you of something you would find in the Chicago area.”
No matter where a group meets, it will enjoy free parking, lower the
room rates and other benefits of a suburb, without the lack of personality.
In Waukesha and Pewaukee, said Schoultz, “they’ll get a taste of lake life.”
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