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).
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.
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.
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.
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.