Wisconsin Dells
Kalahari Waterpark
Chula Vista Resort Waterpark
Circus World

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, is not only a past winner of FTF’s Top 10 Getaways for Family Travelers Award, it’s still one of the country’s top family vacation destinations.

The dramatic topography of hidden valleys and deep canyons or gorges, known as dalles to the French settlers who helped name this area in the late 1600s, is now a favorite vacation destination for over 2.5 million yearly guests. Located 188 miles northwest of Chicago and 230 miles southeast of Minneapolis, most visitors arrive by car from other Midwest locales to enjoy the Dell’s natural splendor and lots of family fun.

At any time of year, waterplay adventure is probably what the Dells are best known for. Here, kids can slide, splash and frolic in huge indoor and outdoor facilities, with areas earmarked for tots to teens. Who can resist interactive kids areas, curling water slides, go-karts, roller coasters and wave pools at the Mt. Olympus Resort (formerly the Treasure Island Resort) and the Kalahari Water Park at the Kalahari Resort, which brings Tanzania to Wisconsin!

Several major water parks are located within resorts, and several smaller indoor and outdoor facilities are available at other hotels, where non-guests can pay a day-use fee. Additionally, free-standing water parks such as Noah’s Ark called a “kid’s Las Vegas in the Dells” by a recent visitor, provide extra days of fun. We’re not kidding; bring several bathing suits, water shoes, towels, and a disposable underwater camera, because you’ve come to get wet.


After you’ve dried off and the wrinkles have disappeared from your fingertips, plan to explore the spectacular scenery of the region.Towering sandstone cliffs and hidden canyons may be experienced through a guided tour of the Wisconsin River and the Upper Dells on the 55-foot Mark Twain or in a DUCK. This unique WWII amphibious half truck/half boat vehicle, which originated in the very picturesque Dells, is now used for sightseeing throughout the country. The Duck tour covers 8.5 miles of land and the waters of Lake Delton. Additionally, you can take a half-hour, guided, horse-drawn wagon tour through the narrow passages of Lost Canyon.

Had enough touring? The waterparks have grown alongside many other popular family attractions. Get tickets for the Tommy Bartlett Interactive Exploratory Science Center. In addition to 175 interactive activities designed to engage possibly soggy young minds, it incorporates the former Robot World and an authentic Russian Space Station MIR core module.

The Rick Wilcox Magic Show is still one of the Dells’ visitors’ favorite attractions because of the internationally recognized grand illusionist acts.

Spend a rainy day visiting Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, or the Circus World Museum. In winter, call Cascade Mountain for the ski report and plan a day of skiing, boarding and tubing. Yes, there’s always a warm water park pool awaiting you at day’s end.

For the eco-friendly (and budget conscious) travelers, check out Yogi Bear Jellystone Park, celebrating 51 years in the Dells. For years, this Jellystone Park campground has been increasing their green initiatives with energy efficient lighting, intensive recycling, low-flow showerheads and more. Upon arrival, guests are presented with green and clear blue bags complete with instructions about sorting requirements for garbage.

The park also has outdoor pools and three water play areas for kids. The younger set will love the 25 water features and four waterslides; teens have their own activity pool area with a tri-spiral waterslide and basketball hoops while parents can watch from the poolside bar. Other activities include miniature golf, game rooms, boat and golf cart rentals, wagon rides and horseshoes — to name a few.

Accommodations range from nearly 250 RV or tent campsites to 51 rental units to accommodate any family.

The Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau has complete information on over 100 other hotels and 20 campgrounds (many of which accept pets), other water parks, year-long festivals such as Autumn Harvest in October and Flake Out in January, and other special family events.

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