Wisconsin Dells is dubbed the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” which is pretty ironic considering the city is frozen for most of the year. Well, those cold winters don’t stop people from coming out in force once the weather turns and we were lucky enough to experience it recently.
If you are planning a trip to the Dells, I’d definitely recommend doing some research and putting together a solid plan for your stay. There are so many things to do, places to eat and great resorts to stay at, it can be quite overwhelming if you try to do it all.
A great resource to plan your trip is the Dells’ official site at www.wisdells.com. Here’ you’ll find full lists of all the city has to offer.
The big resorts in Wisconsin Dells mostly all have indoor and outdoor waterparks, game rooms and several restaurants on the resort property. They try to provide all you need so you don’t ever have to leave.
Chula Vista Resort
We’ve stayed at the Chula Vista Resort which is absolutely gorgeous. There is a very fun indoor waterpark that was great for my kids, which were 8, 6, 6, and 4 years old at the time of our visit. There were small enough waterslides for the younger kids and large enough ones to entertain my oldest.
They also have an outdoor waterpark, ropes course, mini golf and a fantastic spa. The rooms are beautiful and spacious and also provide a full kitchen so you can save some money by cooking your own food.
For more information on the Chula Vista Resort, check out their website www.chulavistaresort.com.
The Wilderness Resort is another fantastic resort that offers so many amenities and activities, you’ll be satisfied just staying on property. They have four indoor waterparks, so if you get bored with one, move along to the next. That is matched with four outdoor waterparks as well.
You can give it a go on their indoor ropes course, black-lit indoor mini golf course, or even their outdoor zip lines. This is a fantastic resort that provides clean rooms and facilities as well as friendly service.
For more information on the Wilderness, check out their website at www.wildernessresort.com.
I have a hard time calling Mount Olympus a resort as it’s more like it’s own city. It’s that big. There are several outdoor waterparks and water attractions as well as a theme park with huge roller coasters, go-karts, and giant swings.
This is truly a resort you could stay at for an entire week and have plenty to do from sun up to sun down. For more information on Mount Olympus, visit www.mtolympuspark.com.
Other Great Resorts
A couple other resorts that are similar in size as well as the activities they offer are the Kalahari (www.kalahariresorts.com/wisconsin) and the Great Wolf Lodge (www.greatwolf.com/wisconsin-dells). We haven’t visited either of these, but I’m sure we will in the future.
The great thing about these huge resorts is that not only do they make the perfect summer vacation destination, but they are also perfect for winter get-aways. We’ve made the Wilderness a winter weekend trip for a lot of years and were able to enjoy all of their indoor waterparks while it was sub-zero outside. What a way to kick cabin fever!
Wisconsin Dells Attractions
The resorts in the Dells are pretty great, but you have to get out and see some of the other attractions the city provides. Here are a few of our favorites.
If the Wisconsin Dells is the Waterpark Capitol of the World, then Noah’s Ark is the mecca. The firm has dozens of waterslides that range from very mild to extreme thrill.
We had fun splashing in the wave pool as well as getting an adrenaline rush on some of the bigger slides.
One of my favorites there is called the Scorpion’s Tail. Upon entering the slide, you stand in a tube-like chamber at the top of the slide. The attendant locks the door, then goes over to the control deck and you hear a computerized voice come on in the chamber saying 3…2…1…. Then the floor drops out! You fall straight down before feeling some major g-force while going into a nearly vertical loop. That was quite a rush!
For more info on Noah’s Ark, visit www.noahsarkwaterpark.com.
The Original Wisconsin Ducks
The Original Wisconsin Ducks is a total classic in the Dells. These amphibious vehicles are from World War II and some that are on display were actually used in the war.
The tour lasts about an hour and takes you through some back woods and then finally right into the Wisconsin River and over to Lake Delton. Yup, it cruises right into the water.
The Ducks are a staple of Wisconsin Dells’ history and is a must-do when visiting. For more information on the Ducks, visit their website at www.wisconsinducktours.com.
Tommy Bartlett Show
Another Wisconsin Dells classic is the Tommy Bartlett Show. This show features some of the best water skiers I’ve ever seen doing radical tricks on stage and in the water. You’ll see synchronized skiers, crazy stunts off the ramp and even a hopeless clown that tries to get his part in the show at his own comedic expense.
The show lasts about 90 minutes with an intermission in the middle. They have a concession stand as well as covered bleachers for seating. For more information on the Tommy Bartlett Show, visit www.tommybartlett.com/water-show.
One of our favorite Wisconsin Dells attractions is Knuckleheads. This is an indoor trampoline park that also offers bowling, go-karts, a ropes course, small amusement rides and an arcade.
Knuckleheads recently added a trampoline park, which had me feeling like Michael Jordan, even though my feet and calves paid for it the following day. We had a blast jumping around, playing dodgeball and taking flying leaps onto the giant airbag.
Younger kids will have fun riding the small amusement rides such as the airplanes, roller coaster and spinning tornado. Older kids will have fun racing go-karts and navigating the challenging overhead ropes course.
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
If you ever see the night sky lit up in the Wisconsin Dells, you’ll know you’re getting close to Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf. They have five different courses all ranging in difficulty.
They also offer a free picnic and play area where your family can take a break for lunch.
Another great attraction is to walk up and down the strip in the Downtown Dells. Here you’ll find every touristy, knick-knack shop you could imagine as well as some pretty unique attractions.
This is a fun one to do some window shopping as well as people watching.
Wisconsin Dells Restaurants
As a major tourist destination, Wisconsin Dells is home to dozens of restaurants offering every type of food you could want from fancy restaurants to fast food joints. Here are some of our favorites.
Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty
Just like The Original Wisconsin Ducks and Tommy Bartlett, Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty is also a Wisconsin Dells classic. Here you’ll have an all-you-can-eat family-style breakfast or a hearty lunch or dinner.
We came for breakfast and didn’t leave disappointed. They served deliciously fresh homemade donuts, pancakes, eggs, sausage, biscuits and hash browns with your choice of coffee, milk or juice.
We took advantage of the all-you-can-eat and didn’t need lunch that day. I also particularly liked their pricing model. It was about $12 for adults, then for kids 4-12 it costs $.89 times their age. Finally! An all-you-can-eat restaurant that takes the kids ages into consideration when charging them. I know my 8 year old can eat a heck of a lot more than my 4 year old. Also, kids under 4 are $2.99.
If you ever see cars driving around the Dells with a moose on top, don’t worry, it wasn’t a hit-and-run. These are the Moose Jaw Pizza delivery cars. Follow one of them back to the restaurant and treat yourself to some great pizza and some local micro-brews.
If you’re looking for great outdoor seating right on the Wisconsin River, check out River Walk Pub. They have a full menu of apps, sandwiches, burgers and specialty dinners. Take a seat out on their patio and enjoy a beautiful summer evening with great food and a cold beverage.
Planning a Wisconsin Dells visit is a must in the summer. It makes for a great road trip and offers something for everyone. My wife and I reminisced on all the family trips we took to the Dells growing up and looked back on them fondly.
We even wrote a post about it on our blog at www.crazyfamilyadventure.com/full-time-family-rv-adventure-wisconsin-dells. I encourage you to take a trip to the Dells and make some long lasting memories with your family.