Wisconsin Dells travel guide

Wisconsin Dells Tourism | Wisconsin Dells Guide

You're Going to Love Wisconsin Dells

If you're searching for an American vacation destination that combines natural beauty, family attractions, and outdoor activities, nowhere comes close to the Wisconsin Dells.

Located along a thirty mile stretch of the Wisconsin River, the Dells are a series of canyons carved by the river from the soft sandstone of the valley bed. The results are spectacular, with beautiful rock formations that will make perfect backdrops for your vacation photos.

But the Dells aren't just about gazing in wonder at their beauty. The region is also full of family-oriented resorts like Mt Olympus and Chula Vista, which have huge water parks, roller coasters and other attractions like golf courses and go-karting tracks.

It's this blend of family resorts and natural beauty that makes the Wisconsin Dells such a special vacation destination, one that you will fall in love with in a heartbeat.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Wisconsin Dells

The Resorts

Wisconsin Dells has the fun and outdoor attractions of a beach resort, but is located in the middle of America. Where else in the Midwest can you choose from five or more water parks, go water-skiing, sunbathing or swimming whenever you want to? At the resorts of the Dells, you can enjoy all of this, without flying to the coast.

The Scenery

The major reason for the popularity of the Wisconsin Dells is the stunning valley of the Wisconsin River. Over thousands of years, the river has cut into the soft rock of the valley, creating breathtaking rock formations and lakes that seem made for photo opportunities. It's a gorgeous place to explore by boat or on foot.

Golf

Golfers will feel spoiled for choice in Wisconsin Dells. Within a tiny patch of Wisconsin, you can choose between 10 great courses, including Chula Vista, Coldwater Canyon, Spring Brook and Wild Rock. It's a fantastic place for a golf break.

Family Fun

Wisconsin Dells grew up as a place for families to get away from city life and unwind. Today, the lake shore, the stores and quirky museums of Broadway and the water park resorts are some of the most entertaining, friendly places to stay in the Midwest.

Outdoor Activities

Wisconsin Dells is the perfect place to visit if you love hiking, climbing, paragliding, hang gliding, mountain biking or kayaking. Anyone with a passion for fresh air and the outdoors can pursue their favorite activities to their heart's content.

What to do in Wisconsin Dells

1. Noah's Ark Waterpark: Experience a Midwestern Safari

The largest water park in the United States, Noah's Ark features thrill rides for kids and adults such as the ¼-mile-long Black Anaconda or the Time Warp: the world's largest bowl ride, which spins 4-person rafts into the Great Unknown. Other rides include Congo Bongo, with 700 feet of hair-raising twists; Quazilla, a four-lane high-speed matt race through tunnels and down slides; and the Big Kahuna Kiddie Area, which includes fountains, slides, swings and water cannons as well as a lounge area with views of the playground for parents.

2. Mr. Marvel's Wondertorium: See Some Freakish Delights!

A unique museum featuring unusual artifacts, live animals, interactive displays and stunt performers, Mr. Marvel's Wondertorium -- located in the old Landry Funeral Home -- gathers wonders from around the globe. These include a walking fish, a two-headed turtle and a headless chicken as well as fire eaters, broken glass walkers, contortionists, magicians and a 60-minute WonderTHRILL circus show.

3. Wisconsin Deer Park: Deer Me!

A 40-acre petting zoo for all ages, the Wisconsin Deer Park features White Tail Deer, European Fallow Deer, Japanese Silka Deer and Virginia White Tail Deer as well as American Elk, American Bison, llamas, emus, lemurs and even pigs. Traverse the wooded trails, feed and photograph the animals and get an up-close view of a variety of wildlife.

4. Devils Lake State Park: Revisit the Ice Age

Located on the Ice Age Trail, Devils Lake State Park (the largest state park in Wisconsin), features spectacular 500-foot bluffs overlooking a crystalline 360-acre lake. With a range of recreational activities such as geology and kayak tours, mud hikes and camping, the park also includes nearly thirty miles of hiking paths and six miles of mountain biking tracks on the Baraboo Range in eastern Sauk County, which dates back 1.6 billion years.

5. Ripley's Believe It Or Not: Fancy seeing some Jaw Dropping Exhibits?

Featuring 11 mind-blowing galleries and over 200 artefacts, the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, known as an Odditorium, showcases a collection of curiosities unseen elsewhere. Among the highlights, you will find a vampire display, which includes a shrunken vampire head; an interactive King Tut exhibit laid out through secret passages; a 5,000-year-old beer bottle; a duct tape room made from countless rolls of duct tape; and a likeness of Elvis made out of butterflies among hundreds of other oddities. There are also several video presentations and theaters for special screenings.

1. Noah's Ark Waterpark: Experience a Midwestern Safari

The largest water park in the United States, Noah's Ark features thrill rides for kids and adults such as the ¼-mile-long Black Anaconda or the Time Warp: the world's largest bowl ride, which spins 4-person rafts into the Great Unknown. Other rides include Congo Bongo, with 700 feet of hair-raising twists; Quazilla, a four-lane high-speed matt race through tunnels and down slides; and the Big Kahuna Kiddie Area, which includes fountains, slides, swings and water cannons as well as a lounge area with views of the playground for parents.

2. Mr. Marvel's Wondertorium: See Some Freakish Delights!

A unique museum featuring unusual artifacts, live animals, interactive displays and stunt performers, Mr. Marvel's Wondertorium -- located in the old Landry Funeral Home -- gathers wonders from around the globe. These include a walking fish, a two-headed turtle and a headless chicken as well as fire eaters, broken glass walkers, contortionists, magicians and a 60-minute WonderTHRILL circus show.

3. Wisconsin Deer Park: Deer Me!

A 40-acre petting zoo for all ages, the Wisconsin Deer Park features White Tail Deer, European Fallow Deer, Japanese Silka Deer and Virginia White Tail Deer as well as American Elk, American Bison, llamas, emus, lemurs and even pigs. Traverse the wooded trails, feed and photograph the animals and get an up-close view of a variety of wildlife.

4. Devils Lake State Park: Revisit the Ice Age

Located on the Ice Age Trail, Devils Lake State Park (the largest state park in Wisconsin), features spectacular 500-foot bluffs overlooking a crystalline 360-acre lake. With a range of recreational activities such as geology and kayak tours, mud hikes and camping, the park also includes nearly thirty miles of hiking paths and six miles of mountain biking tracks on the Baraboo Range in eastern Sauk County, which dates back 1.6 billion years.

5. Ripley's Believe It Or Not: Fancy seeing some Jaw Dropping Exhibits?

Featuring 11 mind-blowing galleries and over 200 artefacts, the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, known as an Odditorium, showcases a collection of curiosities unseen elsewhere. Among the highlights, you will find a vampire display, which includes a shrunken vampire head; an interactive King Tut exhibit laid out through secret passages; a 5,000-year-old beer bottle; a duct tape room made from countless rolls of duct tape; and a likeness of Elvis made out of butterflies among hundreds of other oddities. There are also several video presentations and theaters for special screenings.

Where to Eat in Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells has a huge array of places to eat, as you'd expect from such a popular resort town. If you want to fill up on calamari, shrimp and sushi, head to Crabby's All You Can Eat Seafood. Hefty Bronco Burgers are on the menu at Bronco Billy's Saloon while healthy vegetarian dishes are available from the Cheese Factory. But if you want to spend big on a romantic meal, heading to Ishnala Supper Club is a must. Set in a gorgeous lakefront location, it serves a wide range of European gourmet dishes. In general, you'll pay around $15 for a mid-range meal and around $50 at upmarket eateries like Ishnala.

When to visit Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells in January
Estimated hotel price
$169
1 night at 3-star hotel
Wisconsin Dells in January
Estimated hotel price
$169
1 night at 3-star hotel

Even though the hotels and water parks are more crowded, there's no escaping the fact that the Wisconsin Dells is a classic summer vacation destination. Between June and August, the weather is hot (but rarely too humid or oppressive) and the town is full of energy. Try scheduling an early or mid-June trip to avoid the heaviest crowds and save money on accommodation.

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How to Get to Wisconsin Dells

Plane

The nearest airport to the Wisconsin Dells is Dane County Regional Airport near Madison, which is only around 50 miles away. The best way to transfer from Madison to the Dells is by catching a Greyhound bus from Huxley Street in Madison or renting a car at the airport (major companies like Enterprise and Budget have offices at the airport terminal).

Train

Catching the train is a great way to reach the Dells, and the resort has its own Amtrak station located at 100 LaCrosse Street. The station is connected to Chicago and Seattle via the Empire Builder route, which runs once a day.

Car

The Wisconsin Dells are easily accessible by car. From Minneapolis and the northwest, take I-94, while those coming from Chicago need to take I-90. From Milwaukee, take I-94 and change onto I-90 to the Dells.

Bus

Greyhound has a stop in the center of Wisconsin Dells at 611 Frontage Rd, and connects the town with all major cities in the Midwest and northern states.

Airlines serving Wisconsin Dells

Lufthansa
Good (1,378 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (2,466 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (3,904 reviews)
KLM
Good (292 reviews)
Air France
Good (298 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,656 reviews)
British Airways
Good (939 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (932 reviews)
Iberia
Good (667 reviews)
Alaska Airlines
Excellent (1,942 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (36 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (788 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (303 reviews)
Frontier
Good (1,443 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (446 reviews)
ANA
Excellent (99 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Good (300 reviews)
Korean Air
Excellent (114 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (101 reviews)
Virgin Atlantic
Good (195 reviews)
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Where to stay in Wisconsin Dells

The town of Wisconsin Dells and the valleys around it are full of high-quality accommodation, with a range of family-friendly resorts and more secluded options for couples and senior travelers. If you are traveling with kids, try Chula Vista Resort, which has an on-site water park or the Mt Olympus Resort. Couples might look at Rhapsody Resort and Spa, which combines a wellness center with a beautiful lakefront location. There are also excellent budget accommodation options like the Evergreen Motel and the Kilbourn Inn. If you want to retreat and enjoy some peace and quiet, the cabin rentals at Spring Brook Resort could be ideal.

Popular neighbourhoods in Wisconsin Dells

Broadway – Broadway is the main shopping and nightlife street in Wisconsin Dells, and it's also where you will find most of the tourist attractions, such as Ripley's Believe it or Not! and the boarding point of Dells Ghost Boat. If you head to the resort with your family, it's the place to go for entertainment.

Mt Olympus – Located just across the river from the main part of town and a little southwest of Broadway, Mt Olympus is the largest resort in town. It has a huge water park, go karting tracks, zipline parks and nightly music events.

Lake Delton – In the southern part of the Dells you'll find Lake Delton - one of the most beautiful lakes in the area. The lakeshore is studded with resorts and water parks like Noah's Ark, as well as some of the best golf courses in the region, like the Wilderness Resort. It's also the place to go for watersports like water-skiing, wakeboarding, and power boating.

Where to stay in popular areas of Wisconsin Dells

Most booked hotels in Wisconsin Dells

Baker's Sunset Bay Resort
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$173+
AmericInn by Wyndham Wisconsin Dells
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
$132+
The Vue Boutique Hotel
Good (7.5, Good reviews)
$114+
Natura Treescape Resort
Good (7.5, Good reviews)
$111+
Chula Vista Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham
Good (6.4, Good reviews)
$257+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Wisconsin Dells

Public Transportation

You don't really need to use the local public transit system if you are sticking to the Dells itself. Almost all of the resorts and attractions are on Broadway or Wisconsin Dells Parkway. Most people rely on shuttle buses to get around, and these are available at the leading resorts.

Taxis

Taxis are a good way to hop between Broadway and sites like Lake Delton. Fares vary between companies, but you'll typically pay a $2-meter drop charge, then between $2 and $3 per mile. Uber are active in the Dells, and charge a basic fare of $2 then $1.50 per mile, so their prices aren't much lower than local cab companies.

Car

Many people choose to rent a car when they arrive in Madison or at Chicago O'Hare airport, and it's useful to have your own wheels if you intend to see the valleys or play some golf. It also allows you to enjoy local attractions like the Big Sky Drive-In Theater, something available in fewer and fewer American cities.

The Cost of Living in Wisconsin Dells

Shopping Streets

Broadway is the town's major shopping street, and it's a particularly good place to shop for sweets. Stores like Candy Connection and Swiss Maid Fudge will satisfy anyone's sweet tooth. There are also souvenir stores like Uptown Trading Gifts (a good place to find some authentic moccasin shoes) as well as upscale boutiques like Alpha Beta Karma. Away from Broadway, you'll find plenty of historic artefacts and gift ideas at Parson's Indian Trading Post & Museum, and the same applies for the Wisconsin Dells Antique Mall, located a few miles south on Wisconsin Dells Parkway.

Groceries and Other

If you choose to stay in self-catering apartments or cabins, there are plenty of places to stock up on groceries. There are a Krogers and a Walmart on the edge of Wisconsin Dells, so buying food and drink isn't a problem. Prices are slightly cheaper than average, at around $3 for a gallon of milk and $1.50 for a pound of apples.

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