Want to know how to save money at Wisconsin Dells? Well, you might have to bleed for it. My dad gives blood on a monthly basis, and every spring the blood center gives donors free passes to Mt. Olympus water park. So all you have to do is just open a vein, bleed out for a while, and then enjoy a relaxing day floating around a discounted lazy river.
But maybe you’re like me, and you prefer to keep your blood inside your body.
You’re in luck, because there are other ways to have fun in the Dells without breaking the bank.
Or an artery.
The so-called “Waterpark Capital of the World” is the family vacation destination, with enough attractions and kitsch goodness that you and your family are sure to be thoroughly entertained and/or creeped out. We’re talking water slides, wave pools, go-karts, roller coasters, zip lines, boat tours, arcades, laser tag, the Haunted Mansion, ghost tours, a serial killer’s severed head, the torture museum…you know, wholesome family activities.
But all that fun can cost an arm and a leg (if you’re all out of blood to give) so finding deals on food, accommodations, and activities is essential for stretching your budget and getting the maximum possible weirdness out of your time in the Dells.
I mean, I like having my food delivered by train as much as the next person, or eating the heartiest damn lumberjack breakfast in existence at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, but too much of that could start to negatively impact the number of Zoltar fortunes and old timey photos you’ll be able to get.
Read on to learn how to make the most of your Wisconsin Dells trip without selling a kidney.
1. Book in advance
One of the best ways to save money on accommodations in Wisconsin Dells is to book in advance. Many hotels and resorts offer early bird discounts if you book your stay several weeks or even months ahead of time.
2. Look for package deals
Another way to save on both accommodations and activities is to look for package deals. Many hotels and resorts in Wisconsin Dells offer bundled packages that include lodging and tickets to popular attractions, such as waterparks and amusement parks. A stay at the Mt. Olympus resort’s Hotel Rome, for example, will also get you bonus access to the waterpark and theme park, and even exclusive access to the rides after dusk and the park has closed. Other hotels offer free or reduced admission to Noah’s Ark and other attractions. These packages can often save you a lot of money.
3. Go during the off-season
If you have some flexibility in your travel schedule, consider visiting the Dells during the off-season. Prices for accommodations and activities are typically lower during these times, which can help you save money that you could be putting towards Wisconsin Dells fudge, instead.
4. Compare prices online
With so many different lodging options in Wisconsin Dells, it can be overwhelming to try and find the best deal. That’s why it’s important to compare prices online before making a reservation. Websites like Expedia and Kayak allow you to compare prices from different hotels and resorts, so you can find the best deal for your budget.
5. Use coupons and discounts
Many businesses in Wisconsin Dells offer coupons and discounts that can save you money on activities, restaurants, and shopping. Check local discount books or websites like Groupon and LivingSocial for deals on attractions and dining.
6. Follow social media
Most businesses in the Dells promote exclusive deals and discounts through their social media channels. Follow your favorite attractions, restaurants, and shops on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on the latest offers.
7. Sign up for newsletters
Another way to stay informed about discounts and deals is to sign up for newsletters from Wisconsin Dells businesses. Many offer exclusive deals to subscribers, especially during the off season, so make sure to check your inbox for the latest offers. Great Wolf Lodge, for example, frequently sends out emails with some pretty good deals if you’re looking for a stay there. Go to their websites, sign up for the emails, and start watching the deals roll in.
8. Use loyalty programs
If you plan on visiting Wisconsin Dells multiple times, consider signing up for loyalty programs at your favorite attractions, restaurants, and shops. These programs often offer discounts and rewards for frequent visitors, helping you save money on future trips.
9. Take advantage of combo tickets
Many attractions in Wisconsin Dells offer combo tickets that allow you to visit multiple attractions for a discounted price. Check out Passport to Savings, which saves you more depending on how many different attractions you buy tickets to. They offer discounts on many of the Dells’ most popular attractions such as the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, the Original Wisconsin Ducks, Wizard Quest, Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf, Tom Foolery’s Adventure Park, and more.
10. Pack your own meals
One of the easiest ways to save money on food is to pack your own meals. If you’re staying in a hotel or vacation rental, consider bringing snacks and easy-to-make meals that you can prepare in your room. If you’re spending the day at a water park like Noah’s Ark or Mt. Olympus, the food in the park is often quite expensive, and not great quality. Instead, pack your lunch and keep it in a cooler in the car. Once you have your wristband, you can come in and out freely, so just head out to the parking lot around lunch time for a unique Wisconsin Dells tailgating experience.
11. Look for early bird specials
Many restaurants in Wisconsin Dells offer early bird specials, which can save you money on dinner. Check the hours and menus of local restaurants to find the best deals.
12. Check out local grocery stores
If you’re looking for budget-friendly options for breakfast, lunch, or snacks, check out local grocery stores like Walmart or Aldi. You can find a variety of affordable options like sandwiches, fruit, and snacks.
13. Try food trucks
Wisconsin Dells has a growing food truck scene thanks to places like the Grateful Shed Indoor Food Trucks & Bar, offering a variety of tasty and affordable options, not to mention unique dining experiences. Check out the local food truck parks or follow your favorite food trucks on social media to find out where they’ll be located.
14. Take advantage of happy hour
Many restaurants and bars in Wisconsin Dells offer happy hour specials on drinks and appetizers. Check the hours and menus of local restaurants to find the best deals.
15. Book your trip in the fall or spring
Summer is the peak season for Wisconsin Dells, with prices for lodging and activities at their highest. By booking your trip in the fall or spring, you can take advantage of lower prices and enjoy the beautiful scenery of Wisconsin Dells during a quieter time. June is a great time to go because you get great weather and good deals, though most days may still be a bit chilly for the water parks.
16. Check for seasonal discounts
Some attractions and hotels in Wisconsin Dells offer seasonal discounts during the off-season. Check their websites or call ahead to find out if there are any special promotions available.
17. Consider weekdays
Weekends tend to be busier and more expensive than weekdays in Wisconsin Dells. If your schedule allows, consider visiting during the week to save money on lodging and activities.
18. Take advantage of winter activities
Wisconsin Dells is a winter wonderland, with plenty of outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, and ice fishing. It’s also a great place for a Christmas getaway. By visiting during the winter, you can take advantage of lower prices and enjoy the snowy landscape. The Dells is practically a ghost town during the winter months, but many businesses remain open all year round. Resorts with indoor waterparks like the Kalahari and Wilderness Resort are perfect destinations for a Dells winter vacation.
19. Consider alternative accommodations
If you’re looking to save money on lodging during the off-season, consider alternative accommodations like vacation rentals or camping. There are plenty of campgrounds just minutes from the Dells. These options can be more affordable than hotels and offer a unique vacation experience – for example, an Airbnb pirate ship.
20. Go during the Wo-Zha-Wa Days Fall Festival
Wo-Zha-Wa Days marks the last weekend of the season for many attractions in the Dells, and it’s a lot of fun. Bowman Park and the downtown area come alive with an arts and crafts fair, antique flea market, street carnival, Maxwell Street Days, live entertainment and so much more. This is hands down the best (and possibly cheapest) time to visit.
21. Find free things to do in Wisconsin Dells
- Go Hiking: Wisconsin Dells is home to several beautiful hiking trails, including the Devil’s Lake State Park trails and the Mirror Lake State Park trails. These trails offer stunning views of the natural landscape and are a great way to stay active and enjoy the outdoors.
- Hit the Beach: Wisconsin Dells has several public beaches, including the beach at Mirror Lake State Park and the beach at Lake Delton. These beaches are free to visit and offer a fun way to cool off on a hot day.
- Explore Downtown Wisconsin Dells: Take a stroll through downtown Wisconsin Dells and explore the shops, restaurants, and attractions. Many of the storefronts have unique and interesting facades, an animatronic singing troll (if he’s working that day), and maybe even real ghosts that make for great photo opportunities. The Wild Fun Zone arcade has King Kong and a giant octopus on the roof! You might run into a street performer or two along the way, like the guy juggling chainsaws I saw a few years back. You can also check out the Scenic River Walk, a 1/4 mile paved path offering killer views of the Wisconsin River and its rocky sandstone bluffs.
- Catch Some Live music: Wisconsin Dells has a vibrant live music scene, with many local bars and restaurants hosting free concerts and events. Check the event calendars for venues like Nig’s Bar and Mamas Garage to see what’s happening during your visit. The Showboat Saloon is another great place for live entertainment, and to top it off, it even has its own ghost.
- Visit a State park: A single vehicle admission sticker gets you into every Wisconsin state park, and Wisconsin Dells is surrounded by several of them, including Rocky Arbor State Park, Dells of the Wisconsin River State Natural Area, and the aforementioned Devil’s Lake. These parks offer a variety of free activities like swimming, hiking, picnicking, and frolicking with lake monsters.
It really is possible to save money at Wisconsin Dells and still keep all your vital organs intact. Ready to start planning your trip? Check out our guide for things to do in Wisconsin Dells!