Wisconsin’s Lake Country is home to over 20 lakes, but there’s one that stands out from the rest: Oconomowoc Lake, a sought-after lakefront destination and one of the best places to live in the Midwest. With its breathtaking scenery, peaceful atmosphere, and incredible waterfront homes, it’s not hard to fall in love with both the village and the lake it is named after. Add: Located between Milwaukee and Madison.
Buying a home for sale in Oconomowoc Lake is one of the best investments that you can make. Read more about Oconomowoc Lake and what it has to offer below.
When it comes to luxury lakeside living, no one does it better than the village of Oconomowoc Lake. It shares its name with the 818-acre Oconomowoc Lake (which it surrounds) as well as the city of Oconomowoc, which is only roughly 2.5 miles away. The name “Oconomowoc” is Potawatomi for “waterfall.”
The village of Oconomowoc Lake started as an exclusive enclave that catered to the millionaires of Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Chicago. Over time, it transformed into a go-to luxurious summer getaway amongst the wealthy. Elegant mansions, family compounds, and grand estates once dotted the shores.
In the 1930s, the community began the process of incorporation. Their request was denied multiple times, however, due to requirement issues. After seven years and three cases in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Oconomowoc Lake community was finally a village.
Today, Oconomowoc Lake continues to be one of the most affluent communities in Waukesha County. Around 600 people reside in the village, which is accessible via Highway 16 and 67 and is less than 10 minutes away from the city of Oconomowoc.
Living in Oconomowoc Lake, WI
Residents of Oconomowoc Lake have the best of both worlds in this village: a peaceful and laid-back atmosphere and easy access to nearby restaurants, shops, and attractions.
Oconomowoc Lake offers a plethora of both on-water and inland activities, such as the following:
One of the best things about living in the village of Oconomowoc Lake is having unlimited access to the water. And with your own private dock, your boat and the lake are right there when you need it. Aside from boating, you also go kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boating.
Hailed as an excelling fishing spot in Lake Country, Oconomowoc Lake offers clear to semi-clear waters and a maximum depth of 60 feet. It is well-stocked with largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, and panfish. If you’re up for the challenge, try catching musky, a large member of the pike family that’s moody, elusive, and difficult to reel in as they know how to put up a fight.
For largemouth and smallmouth bass, catch and release fishing is open all-year-round. All anglers are required to have a fishing license first.
- Parks and trails
For outdoor activities on land, Oconomowoc Lake has plenty of options as well. Nashotah Park, which is less than 10 minutes away from the village, is a 444-acre park of grasslands, woodlands, rolling hills, and an extensive trail system. The area is an ideal spot for walking, running, and wildlife watching.
The Lois Jensen Nature Preserve in the neighboring city of Delafield is a must-visit as well. This 30-acre outdoor area is a popular destination for hiking, biking, and walking dogs. During the winter season, anglers can even go ice fishing in the nearby Nagawicka Lake.
Oconomowoc Lake Club
Established in 1890, Oconomowoc Lake Club is an iconic landmark in the area. This exclusive lakeside country club caters to both residents and non-residents. Members can play tennis, go sailing, or rent water sports equipment like paddle boards, kayaks, and pontoons.
When it comes to dining, the Oconomowoc Lake Club doesn’t disappoint. Guests can enjoy the most delectable meals created by the club’s expert chefs at the on-site restaurant. Members are treated to a five-course wine dinner complete with views overlooking Oconomowoc Lake. Every Friday, the Oconomowoc Lake Club offers Fish Fry, a staple dish in Lake Country cuisine.
Oconomowoc Lake Club also serves as an incredible venue for events, often playing host to weddings, meetings, parties, and other special occasions.
Shopping, entertainment, and attractions
From the village, residents are only a short drive away from the variety of shops, malls, and boutiques scattered around Lake Country. In Downtown Oconomowoc, you’ll discover unique stores selling everything from the latest fashions to furniture. For vintage finds, the Fox Lake Country Antique Mall has all sorts of repurposed items. With the store’s huge selection of vintage items, it’s impossible to leave empty-handed.
As for the malls, there are several surrounding Oconomowoc Lake. Avenue Square, which is also in Downtown Oconomowoc, is a well-known mall in the area. The two-story building is home to interesting shops, furniture stores, and galleries. Add: Pabst Farms, Sendik’s, Panera.
You can learn more about Lake Country’s history and development at the Oconomowoc Historical Society & Museum. The museum, which is in the city’s former National Guard Armory, houses fascinating exhibits about Lake Country pre-settlement all the way up to present times.
Residents are more than welcome to take part in the community events happening around the village. Oconomowoc has exciting annual events that should not be missed. The Annual Oconomowoc Chili Fest is a treat for all. Every January, people from all over participate in the event’s chili tasting and bloody Mary tasting contests, treasure hunt, and bags tournament. Add: Festival of the Arts, German Christmas Market
Every September, Oconomowoc hosts their annual Fall Festival. It features live music, dance performances, a street market for local vendors, a beer garden, and great food, to name a few attractions..
There are plenty of dining options around Oconomowoc Lake, offering everything from hearty meals to unique small plate offerings. These are some of the top restaurants in the area:
- Amalia’s Family Restaurant
183 East Wisconsin Avenue, Oconomowoc
Located in Downtown Oconomowoc, Amalia’s Family Restaurant is everyone’s go-to place for homestyle cooking. They offer a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu of American, Italian, Mexican, and Greek cuisine. With its delicious meals, fast service, and welcoming atmosphere, it’s no wonder why Amalia’s is a favorite in the Lake Country area.
- Bryant’s on the Round
N51 W34911 East Wisconsin Avenue, Okauchee Lake
With a constantly changing menu and a 5-star service, Bryant’s on the Round knows how to keep diners coming back for more. Their menu is the epitome of thinking outside the box, offering unique dishes like brussels sprout cakes, burrata-stuffed meatballs, and prosciutto-wrapped jalapenos filled with peanut butter.
- Sobie’s Restaurant
123 East Wisconsin Avenue, Oconomowoc
For farm-to-table fare, head to Sobie’s Restaurant. This family-owned and operated fine dining restaurant thrives on fresh ingredients and products that are locally sourced. Each dish in their brunch, lunch, and dinner menu has quality in every bite. When you eat in Sobie’s Restaurant, give their broasted chicken, butterburger, and salad a try.
- Smoke on the Water BBQ
N50 W35016 Wisconsin Avenue, Okauchee Lake
Known for its smoked meats, great service, and scenic location by the lake, Smoke on the Water BBQ is undoubtedly among the top-rated barbecue spots in Lake Country. Whether you order their championship smoked wings or their flavorful brisket mac, you’ll find that each meal is cooked to perfection.
- Twisted Fire
515 East Wisconsin Avenue, Oconomowoc
Twisted Fire specializes in mouth-watering, wood-fired dishes. The restaurant, which has a fuss-free, no-frills, industrial design, opened in 2018 and quickly became a favorite in the Lake Country area.
Twisted Fire’s main attraction is their open kitchen and its 6-foot-high oven. Every meal from the menu, from its classic margherita pizzas to the wood-grilled wings, is made from scratch using fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.
Add: Lago Su Bella, The Golden Mast, Bella Gusto
Oconomowoc Lake is served by the Oconomowoc Area School District (OASD), a highly-rated school district in Lake Country. Covering around 120 square miles, OASD is home to 5 elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and 1 high school. The school district is known for its responsive, challenging, and friendly learning environment.
Oconomowoc High School has a variety of courses, programs, and extra-curricular activities that students can choose from. The school’s excellent Advanced Placement classes, Building Trades program, and language-based exchange programs allow students to prepare for higher education and life after school.
In 2022, the Oconomowoc Area School District was ranked by Niche.com among the top 50 school districts in Wisconsin.
Cost of living
As one of the most affluent communities in Lake Country, living in the village of Oconomowoc Lake comes at a premium. According to PayScale, the cost of living in Oconomowoc Lake is 59% higher than the national average. This is primarily due to the area’s high housing cost. Grocery and gas prices, however, are 3% and 5% lower than the national average, respectively.
Oconomowoc Lake, WI real estate
Homes for sale in Oconomowoc Lake are the epitome of lakefront luxury. Custom contemporary and ranch-style properties are plentiful in the market, with inviting, sophisticated exteriors. Add: The lake was home to Milwaukee Beer Barons who had spectacular estates on the lake. Expect spectacular lake views from every floor. Because of their beautiful location and high-end finishes, Oconomowoc Lake properties are priced around $2.2 million, with some properties valued as high as $6 million.
Oconomowoc Lake homes for sale typically have at least four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Spacious living areas are the norm—perfect for hosting intimate get-togethers as well as huge gatherings. For the car or boat enthusiast, these waterfront homes often have large garages and private boat docks. Other quintessential features include:
- Gourmet kitchens
- Game and entertainment rooms
- Exercise room
- Fire pit
Tips for buying lakefront real estate
Ready to buy your own waterfront residence in Oconomowoc Lake? Keep these important tips in mind:
- Get to know the lake
When it comes to buying a lakefront property, one of the first things to consider is the lake itself. Learn as much as you can about Oconomowoc Lake, such as its water level, shoreline, and the quality of the water. Factor in the popularity of the lake as well as this will affect your privacy and lake access. Is it easy for non-residents to access the lake? Does the lake have limited public access?
- Inspect the property
It’s easy to get swept away by the amazing views and the waterfront lifestyle that a lake property has to offer. Its overall condition, however, is one of the most important factors to consider. Before committing to a home for sale in Oconomowoc Lake, have it carefully inspected. Check for mold, mildew, and leaks. Ask if the property has any problems with flooding as well.
- Choose a lakefront home that fits your lifestyle
The property you choose should complement your lifestyle and the activities you intend to enjoy. If you plan on going for a dip in the lake, for example, the home should be in a swimmable area of the lake. Will you be boating often? Make sure that the property comes equipped with a boat slip or a dock.
- Know the hidden costs
Every home buying transaction comes with hidden costs. For waterfront properties, be prepared for expenses such as boat docking fees, septic tank pumping fees, and maintenance expenses. Water and sewer rates could be costlier as well.
- Work with an expert real estate agent
Buying waterfront real estate is a different ball game than buying a home farther inland. Work with a Realtor who specializes in this type of property as well as the area you’re interested in. With their deep understanding of the local buying process, they will know how to navigate this unique market and help you get the lakefront home you’ve always dreamed of.
Buy a lake home with The Spheeris Team
For lakeside living at its finest, Oconomowoc Lake is the ideal place to settle down in Lake Country. And there’s no better group of Realtors to help you find the ideal Oconomowoc Lake home for sale than The Spheeris Team.
For more than 40 years, The Spheeris Team has been at the forefront of luxury real estate in Lake Country and the Greater Milwaukee area. Led by top-producing Realtor and Coldwell Banker Elite owner Jon Spheeris, the team is known for their exceptional customer service and in-depth knowledge of the local area.