With husband and kids, ages 16 & 18, I had a glorious 2+ days on Lake Garda in early August. We just loved the complete, unabashed touristy holiday nature of the place. Everyone there was happy, holding hands, having fun. One of my favorite things was just to sit out late at night on the waterfront plaza in Torre del Benaco at one of their many cafes enjoying spritz and the hokey live music. Amazing people watching!
Hotel del Porto--a bit of a splurge to get the 2 room suite, but it was wonderful. We had a little rooftop terrace, comfy beds, huge bathroom, and more closet space that I have at home. Breakfast price included and was very nice; dinner prices expensive so we passed. The views...ahhhh
Restaurants--in Torre, we ate at Olimpo (or something like that). On the water next to our hotel. Very good, very reasonable, and very nice waitstaff. Best restaurant of our whole Italian trip may have been a little place we were sent to in the town of Porto, on the northeast side of the lake. Its a tiny fishing town--not even on our Michelin map--north of Malcesine. Name of the restaurant?? not sure, but it is the most northerly place in the town on the tiny little port. Amazing fresh lake fish dishes. Beautiful setting. We loved it.
Mt. Baldo: did the funicular up to Mt. Baldo. We parked in their underground garage and inquired at the ticket booth whether we had time to go up and spend some time at the top before the last ride down--sure, no problem, we were told. As we were getting on the gondola, we noticed a sign about garage closing at a certain point, and no matter what, if your car was still inside, it would be locked in til morning. We were a little concerned, but figured we had enough time. Til we got to the top and saw the 500m long line of people waiting for rides down! So, we just got in the line, taking turns walking around. Sweated bullets a bit, but managed to get there minutes before the supposed "lock in time". So make sure to ask how long the wait to come down is if you go up in the late afternoon.
West & North side of lake: we took the car ferry over from Torre del Benaco to drive around the north end of the lake. Loved the drive, the sights, the tunnels (!), the limoniaia, etc. HIghlights...
Vittoriale in Gardone Riviera--we loved this villa/museum built by Gabrielle d'Annunzio. What a crazy fun place. Make sure to go to the cloak room and ask for a headset if your language is not Italian. They are complimentary, can be set to many languages, but we just kind of stumbled on their availability.
Sailing--we asked our hotel to help us charter a boat for the day, but they said everything was booked and we should have done this weeks ago. But when we got into Riva del Garda, we thought we'd ask around, and indeed, we found a concessionaire who let us take out a perfect little German daysailer for the remaining hour and a half of their business day. What a great time we had! What a great town Riva del Garda is. This was definitely a big highlight of our trip. Wish we had known earlier that we could have done this. You can also rent these really fun looking paddle boats, with little plastic slides on the back. Next time--we'll spend more time up here getting wet!