By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 24, 2015 at 3:03 PM

Green Lake is a place of superlatives.

The lake itself is the deepest natural inland lake in Wisconsin, dipping down more than 230 feet. It is one of the five deepest between the Appalachians and the Rockies, if you exclude the Great Lakes, of course.

The first resorts opened on the lake’s shores in the 1860s, making it the first resort town west of Niagara Falls.

Settling down on a deck at Heidel House early on a summer Friday evening, gazing out over the lake, as a bluish light flickers off the waves, it’s easy to believe this is the greatest place on Earth. And at that moment, it is.

Here are eight of the many reasons to fall in love with Green Lake, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Milwaukee:

1. Heidel House

Heidel House is a pleasing clash of worlds. There’s a luxurious spa across the road and some gorgeous vintage guesthouses – including one with a koi pond – along with the upscale Grey Rock restaurant. But it’s also old-school up north family fun, with a kids’ playground, tennis courts, a sand volleyball pit, a basketball court and an ice cream parlor located in the property’s original pump house.

There’s an outdoor pool perfect for sunbathing and a dip, but also an indoor pool that draws the little ones and their beach balls and paddleboards. Nearby are a pair of hot tubs. Upstairs is a game room with arcade games and a room where family programming, like kids crafting sessions, is held. Enjoy cocktails with a lake view on the patio of the Boathouse Pub, with tables surrounding a firepit.

2. Downtown Green Lake

Loaded with quaint shops, bars, restaurants, B&Bs and parks, the town of Green Lake itself is a gem. Enjoy taffy and ice cream on the lakeside deck at Guth’s End of the Trail Candy Shoppe, free concerts in the park, arts performances at Thrasher Opera House and more. A short stroll southwest leads to the beach at Dartford Bay.

3. Christiano’s Pizza

Just outside downtown is Christiano’s – an Oshkosh institutions that also has a location in Wautoma – where you can enjoy some of Wisconsin’s tastiest thin-crust pizza on the patio, which overlooks a big open space where kids can run free and patrons can play cornhole while they wait for their food.

4. Golf and more golf

(Photo: The Golf Courses of Lawsonia)

Green Lake is home to the 6,266-yard, par-71 Tuscumbia, the oldest golf course in Wisconsin – founded in 1896 – is just across the road from Heidel House. Also in town are the award-winning Golf Courses of Lawsonia, a pair of 18-hole courses built in the 1920s. In nearby Montello you can tee off at the 18-hole course at Scharenberg’s White Lake Beach Resort and Berlin is home to the Mascoutin Golf Club, which has 18- and 9-hole courses.

5. The Evensong Spa

(Photo: Evensong Spa)

Also across the road from Heidel House is this spa, with its contemplative labyrinth and its broad range of relaxing and restorative services, including manicures, pedicures, massages, facials and more.

6. Water sports

(Photo: Action Marina, Green Lake)

A wide range of businesses in the area offer pontoon rentals, water skiing, jet skis, fishing trips and boat rentals, paddleboards, kayaks and more. This is Green LAKE, so get out on the drink.

7. The Escapade lake tours

(Photo: Heidel House)

Take the morning cruise out of Heidel House and enjoy complimentary coffee and bakery as you explore the lake, which is seven miles long and two miles wide, encompassing more than 7,000 acres. The captain will point out the highlights – there’s a lot of history and some impressive homes along the 27 miles of shore – and explain how copper deposits in the bedrock colors the lake, giving it its name.

The Escapade also does beer tours and other outings.

8. Location, location, location

(Photo: Ripon, Wisconsin Facebook)

If that’s not enough, the towns of Princeton (antiques), Ripon (history) and Berlin (Aquatic Center water park and river boating) – among others – are all just a short ride away.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.