Epic Wisconsin Dells Road Trip


Beyond cheese and the Green Bay Packers, Wisconsin is perhaps best known for the Wisconsin Dells. The Waterpark Capitol of the World, Wisconsin Dells is a popular year-round vacation destination.

Several million people mecca to The Dells each year, road tripping in from around the state to around the world (Minneapolis and Chicago are the closest international airports).

Noah's Ark

Noah’s Ark

Waterparks are the biggest draw and visitors have several options to choose from, from Noah’s Ark (the largest outdoor waterpark in America) to the Wilderness Waterpark Resort (America’s largest waterpark resort with several indoor and outdoor options).

In the winter months, families tend to hunker down at a water park resort and spend the weekends within the confines of one bundling, venturing out to dine at Paul Bunyan’s cook shanty or the Sprecher Brewing Company. Many resorts offer indoor entertainment options, like the Kalahari’s Indoor Theme Park or Magi Quest at The Great Wolf Lodge. Alternately, Knuckleheads is a fun option for day trippers or families renting a private condo.

Historic Downtown

Historic Downtown

In the summer, The Dells is crazy busy. Outdoor amusement and water parks are open for business, miniature golf courses are no longer covered in snow, and The Ducks amphibious vehicles carry passengers into and out of the Wisconsin River and Lake Delton.

If you need a souvenir t-shirt, fudge, or saltwater taffy, your best bet is the “historic” district located along Broadway Avenue. Smaller indoor attractions like Ripley’s Believe it or Not and Wizard Quest are here. I have always wanted to take an family photo at Old Abe’s Old Time Portraits.

Deer Park

Wisconsin Deer Park

On a hot day, crowds make me super crabby. If you are in the same category and need a break, I highly recommend the Wisconsin Deer Park.  This attraction is mostly shaded; kids feed free roaming deer and other petting-zoo type animals. The Wisconsin Deer Park is adjacent to Mt. Olympus. You may want to plan these two activities on the same day.

If you really need a mental health break, the International Crane Foundation will put you back into nature without too far of a drive. This is a hidden gem not many people know about and is stroller and wheelchair friendly.

International Crane Foundation

International Crane Foundation

Where to Stay

Find family-friendly accommodations in the Wisconsin Dells, from traditional hotels to private Air B&B homes through Stay22.com:

An “iconic” Dells experience is taking in a Tommy Bartlett water show. Guests are seated in an outdoor auditorium facing Lake Delton; water ski performances are mixed with on-stage entertainment and this combination has been a family-favorite for coming on 64 years.

Truly, there’s no shortage of family fun in The Dells. But there’s no way you can accomplish everything in one visit. Look for coupons and discount passes online and at the Wisconsin Dells Convention and Visitor’s Bureau—visit their headquarters at 701 Superior Street; free parking, clean bathrooms, friendly and helpful staff.

Tommy Bartlett Show

Tommy Bartlett Show

Happy trails!

Dells Beaver


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.

3 Comments on "Epic Wisconsin Dells Road Trip"

  1. You had us at “Water Park Capital of the World”!!! This looks like an amazing road trip!

  2. I have a couple close friends from Wisconsin and they return every year to visit family and take their kids to the Wisconsin Dells. Great to finally get an inside peek at why they love it so much. Looks like a great family destination.

  3. That water-skiing show looks epic indeed!

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