Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, previously a winner of FTF’s Top 10 Getaways for Family Travelers Award, gets a fresh look in 2015.
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 of 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!
Four 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.
For the eco-friendly travelers, check out Yogi Bear Jellystone Park (800/462-9644). For years Jellystone Park has been increasing their green initiatives through various actions including replacing over 2,000 incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent light bulbs in all of the buildings. They have also installed low-flow showerheads in all bathrooms and outdoor lodging, which has reduced water consumption by as much as 250,000 gallons per year. Jellystone was ahead of the game, having recycled garbage for over 20 years, so they now invite guests to join the green movement as well. Upon arrival, guests are presented with a ‘green bag’ complete with instructions about sorting requirements for garbage. The park also has three water play areas for kids, one of the many activities they offer along with miniature golf, boat rentals, birthday packages, and three playgrounds — to name a few.
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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