Things To Do In Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, USA – Travel Tips
Things to do in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Dells Travel Guide & Travel Tips
Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin was one of my favourite places to take my children when they were younger. It is roughly an 11-hour drive from my home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, so we can make it in one day if we leave early enough. I usually had just as much fun as my kids because there is something for everyone there.
Wisconsin Dells is known and marketed as the Waterpark Capital of the World because it has the largest concentration of indoor and outdoor waterparks in the world.
This magical family vacation destination has over 20 waterparks with over 200 waterslides. It also has the largest indoor waterpark in America, the world’s largest outdoor waterpark, and the largest indoor and outdoor combination water park in the world.
Often, many hotels without their own waterpark will offer free tickets for up to 4 people to either Chula Vista or Mt. Olympus per night.
“The Dells” is a popular summer vacation town and is in cottage country for nearby Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Madison, Wisconsin. As such, it is also filled with family fun and other attractions such as small theme parks, mini-golf, go-carts, zip-lines, haunted attractions, entertainment, and shows.
The Dells of the Wisconsin River
Wisconsin Dells gets its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic, glacially formed gorge that features striking sandstone formations along the riverbanks. Thus, besides waterparks, the other must-do activity involves taking boat tours down the river. You can take a casual scenic cruise (which we prefer), a thrilling super-fast jet boat tour, or a cool, unique boat tour on amphibious army duck vehicles that both drive on land and become a boat in the river.
Another unique natural attraction is Cave of the Mounds, a beautiful limestone cave with many types of mineral formations called speleothems.
House on the Hill
Perhaps the most unique attraction is House on the Hill, Alex Jordan’s remarkable retreat built atop a chimney of rock. It now contains:
– the Infinity Room, floating 15 stories above ground and extending an astonishing 218 feet over the valley with nothing underneath and awe-inspiring views,
– a 200′ sea creature,
– maritime displays with intricate model ships and Titanic memorabilia,
– a huge steam engine,
– a mechanical calliope (like an organ that sends steam through train whistles),
– an American small-town street of yesteryear,
– a Japanese garden,
– a million-piece miniature circus,
– a collection of automated music machines,
– a Christmas collection with decorations & many Santa Claus figures (during Winter only),
– the world’s largest indoor carousel (with no horses), and
– many other galleries and collections such as model airplanes, suits of armour & ivory carvings.
Our Dells experience and recommendations
For our family, we really enjoyed the go-cart tracks that feel like you are in a multi-level Hot Wheels track. They have different tracks for different ages and the smaller kids can ride with a parent on some tracks or get much slower go-carts on other tracks to ride alone.
The mini-golf courses are quite a sight to see with intricate designs & fantastic themes, although we felt that the admission prices were a bit too high.
We also really enjoyed the Tommy Bartlett show, which had an old-Hollywood theme. It provided water-based entertainment such as water-skiers balancing on each other’s shoulders and jumping off ramps as well as someone flying in a water-jet pack. It also included other variety acts on land, such as a man who did acrobatic balancing tricks with his dog and who had previously competed on America’s Got Talent.
For shopping, you will find brand names at discounted prices at the outlet mall called Outlet at The Dells and all the little gift and souvenir shops up Broadway Road. Wisconsin is also very famous for their delicious cheeses, which you really should try.
For accommodations, you can stay in luxurious hotels, small motels, or remote cabins or you can even camp or park your RV in a place like Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park & Camp. We found incredible value at some of the smaller hotels because they gave us free waterpark passes and free hot breakfast. We have also stayed at Mt. Olympus Resort and got free admission to their waterpark and theme park. The best and most expensive place we stayed was Wilderness Lodge, but it was a great hotel with tons of entertainment options, free admission to their many guest-only water parks, and free tickets to the Tommy Bartlett Show.
When I was a kid, Broadway Road felt like a theme park because it had so many children’s attractions and stores. Imagine yourself as an 8 year-old walking around seeing fudge shops, candy shops, wax museums, arcades, haunted attractions, a fun house, a house of mirrors, and BB-gun shooting ranges. Sounds like heaven, right. It reminds me of Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls and International Drive in Orlando.
Another cool thing to see on Broadway Road is the Bavarian Village, which is an outdoor shopping area that looks like some fairy-tale German Town. The large Glockenspiel clock offers a free show with large animatronic figures re-enacting the story of the Pied Piper every 30 minutes.
This is a great place to spend your Summers, but probably not the best place to retire if you want to avoid the snow and cold in the Winter.
List of Wisconsin Dells Attractions
Here is a list of things to do in Wisconsin Dells. For now, I have kept it relatively brief and you can do your own research on any of them that seem interesting to you.
- Alakai Waterpark Hotel
- Atlantis Waterpark Hotel
- Chula Vista
- Grand Marquis Waterpark Hotel
- Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark (only available to guests staying at their hotel)
- Kalahari (Largest indoor water park in the USA)
- Olympus (sometimes they offer really cheap admission to their waterpark, which leads to extremely long lineups)
- Noah’s Ark (World’s largest outdoor water park)
- Polynesian Waterpark Resort
- Wilderness Resort (World’s largest indoor & outdoor combination water park)
- Only available for guests staying at Wilderness Lodge, but worth it.
- Cubby’s Cove
- Klondike Kavern
- Margarita’s Swim-up bar
- Wild WaterDome
- Wild West
- Cubby’s Outdoor Waterpark
- Lake Wilderness
- Lost World
- New Frontier
- Wintergreen Resort & Waterpark
Amusement & Theme Parks
- Olympus (save money by combining with waterpark admission ticket).
- Timbavati Wildlife Park
- Timber Falls Adventure Park (roller coaster, log flume, sky scraper, bumper boats, mini golf)
- Dells Boat Tours
- Dells Army Duck Tours
- Jet Boat Adventures
- Original Wisconsin Ducks
- Wildthing Jet Boats
- Adare Go Karts
- Big Chief Go Karts
- Lost World Go-Karts (at Wilderness Resort)
- Olympus (included with Mt. Olympus theme park tickets)
- Wilderwoods Indoor Go-Kart Trail (at Wilderness Resort)
- Bigfoot Zipline
- Chimney Rock Park Zip Line Tours – Vertical Illusions
- Heightened Adventures
- Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Canopy Tour (2 for 1 for Wilderness Lodge hotel guests from 1-3 PM)
Restaurants – Mostly family-friendly
- Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille (with aLEGO® BRICK City & Trains attraction)
- Cracker Barrel
- Famous Dave’s BBQ
- Kickers Buffet (might not re-open after Covid-19 pandemic)
- MACS – Macaroni and Cheese Shop
- Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. (3 levels with 3 bars & a large arcade)
- Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty (next to the Lumberjack show)
- Showboat Saloon (live music & karaoke)
Top SecretPirates Cove Adventure GolfWild Fun ZoneEntertainment & Attractions
- 4-D Motion Theatre (at Chula Vista)
- Alligator Alley
- Cave of the Mounds
- Country Bumpkin Farm Market & Lil’ Bumpkin Play Village
- Dells Mining Co.
- Dells Pinball Arcade Museum
- Dells Raceway Park (full-sized car racing raceway)
- Extreme World
- Ghost Outpost Haunted House
- H. Bennet Studio (photographer of famous picture of boy and dog jumping to rock pillar)
- Haunted Mansion
- House on the Rock
- Indoor 3-D Mini Golf (2 Courses) (at Wilderness Resort)
- Jonah’s Underwater Mini Golf
- Knuckleheads (trampoline park, bowling, rides & arcade)
- Krazy Mirror Maze
- Laser Ops Compound
- Laser Warfare
- Lost Canyon horse-drawn wagon tours
- Lost Temple (haunted temple)
- Lost World Jurassic Outdoor Mini Golf (at Wilderness Resort)
- Marshall Training Lazer Maze (at Wilderness Resort)
- Marvel’s Wondertorium (at Wintergreen Resort)
- Museum of Historic Torture Devices
- Northern Lights Arcade (at Wilderness Resort)
- Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course (at Wilderness Resort)
- OK Corral Lazer Tag (at Wilderness Resort)
- Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not
- Timberland Playhouse (free)
- Tommy Bartlett Exploratory
- Top Secret
hh. Vertical Illusions Zip Line, Kayak, and Rock Climbing Center
- Wild Fun Zone
- Wild West Indoor Bumper Boats (at Wilderness Resort)
- Wisconsin Deer Park
- Witches Gulch (narrow gorge that is accessible by car & a stop on most boat tours)
- Wizard Quest
- Bavarian Village & Glockenspiel Pied Piper re-enactment (free)
- Circus World Museum & Circus Show
- Dells Lumberjack Show
- Jeremy Allen’s Grand Illusions
- Palace Theater (Dinner Theatre)
- Rick Wilcox Magic Show
- Tommy Bartlett Show (sometimes you can get free tickets with your hotel stay at Wilderness Lodge)
Dells Trolley Service & Tours
A cool way to get around town and see all the attractions in an old trolley.
Kevin & Tina
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This post is very informative and detailed. Thank you for sharing!
Thank you. I travelled to Wisconsin Dells every few years for the past 20 years. It's a great family vacation destination. There are many things to do in Wisconsin Dells and I wanted to share what I have learned with others.
Wow, it sounds ace! Definitely somewhere to add to the list!
Thanks. It is a hidden gem and great fun. I hope you can go to Wisconsin Dells someday.
Baby Boomer Super Saver
This was a fun post to read! I had no idea there were so many water parks in WI! I remember going to the Wisconsin Dells as a very young child with my parents & grandparents. I don't think they had water parks back then, just old fashioned lakes, lol. One of the things we looked forward to as kids was the delicious cheese and summer sausage from the area.
My brother & his family have recently stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge by the Dells, and also at Timber Lake near Lake Geneva. One of my goals is to visit the Fishing Hall of Fame which is about 4 hours north of the Dells, in Hayward, WI. My entire family is into fishing and this big museum (shaped like a giant fish) is full of photos of people with their record-breaking catches!
Thanks for this comment. I also had fun going to Wisconsin Dells a few times as a child. I agree that the cheese is famous and delicious in that area. Can't say I will be doing to the Fishing Hall of fame, though…
I'm going to have to add this to my long list of places to check out!
Glad you liked the post. Add this to your travel bucket list because there are so many things to do in Wisconsin Dells (especially family attractions & waterparks).
I've been to the Dells! My stepdad is from Wisconsin (Milwaukee), but I went with him, my mom, sister, and stepbrother and we stayed in the Dells, in one of the cabins for one night. We went in November so we only stayed in the indoor water parks. We had a ton of fun.
They have enough things to do in Wisconsin Dells in the indoor waterparks to have fun in the winter (on top of the sledding, skating and other activities). That sounds like a great trip to Wisconsin Dells.
Under Flowery Sky
Wow it's a pretty lovely place at the lake and lots of greenery, I'm sure it would
be my favourite place too. Waterparks sound amazing and so many..
Wisconsin Dells has lots of natural beauty. You will love it and there are lots of things to do in Wisconsin Dells
The Dells is a fun, cheesy vacation spot! Nothing beats Noah's Ark but I'm happy to learn about a few lesser known haunts. Thanks.
Good way to describe it. Over the top fun. We have been many times, so we might have some extra ideas for you about things to do in Wisconsin Dells.
I've never been to Wisconsin but sounds like there's lots of things to see and do! I'd definitely be interested in a boat tour and some BBQ restaurants!
The boat tour is a must-see out of all of the things to do in Wisconsin Dells. That and at least one waterpark. You will have lots of fun in Wisconsin Dells.
This sounds like a great destination for the whole family. There seems to be a little something for everyone!
thank you Jenny. You are right that everyone can find some fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells. You'll have lots of fun in Wisconsin Dells.
I really want to cruise so bad but I still can't do it. It seems that you had fun and watching the fun activities as well. Good for you!
I looks like you meant to comment on my post about an introduction to cruising (cruising 101). Thanks for reading it. We always enjoy taking a cruise and doing all of the fun activities onboard a cruise ship. I hope you can go on a cruise soon.
This is fun place for kids and adrenaline junkies. Beautiful photos.
Yes, there are lots of thrilling things to do in Wisconsin Dells. Zip-lines, waterslides and thrill rides to name a few. Thanks for liking my photos.
Thank you for sharing the info! Such a lovely place full with fun things to do 🙂
I appreciate that. We agree with you that there are many fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells.