It may be the “Water park Capital of the World,” but there are more things to do in Wisconsin Dells than water slides, go-karts, and mini golf. Sure, the Dells is best known as one of the top family vacation destinations in the country, but it’s also loaded with kitsch weirdness, haunted history, and unique attractions that might have a few real ghosts of their own. Where else can you have a drink in a haunted saloon, explore the history of torture devices, meet the real dissected head of a German serial killer, and then take a spooky boat tour into the dark canyons of the Upper Dells at night?
Popular Wisconsin Dells Attractions
Wisconsin Dells FAQ
What is Wisconsin Dells most known for?
The Dells was once just a small lumber town along the Wisconsin River called Kilbourn City. It didn’t become the popular tourist destination it is today until pioneering photographer H.H. Bennett put Wisconsin Dells on the map in the latter half of the 19th century with his unique landscape photography such as the famous photo of his son leaping across Stand Rock. Today, the area is known for it’s water parks and resorts, including Noah’s Ark, Kalahari, Mt. Olympus, Wilderness Resort, and Great Wolf Lodge. Some of the more unique attractions that brings visitors to the area are the Original Wisconsin Ducks boat tours, and the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory. You can even visit H.H. Bennett’s 1875 studio and get your own vintage style old time photo souvenir portrait just like the first visitors did.
Is Wisconsin Dells worth visiting?
If you like fun and/or weird then yes, you absolutely must plan a Wisconsin Dells vacation. From the water slides, wave pools and lazy rivers of the water parks, to the upside down White House known as Top Secret, Timbavati Wildlife Park, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, and Haunted Mansion, there’s a unique attraction for everyone. Not to mention the paddle boat-shaped Mr. Pancake restaurant, live music and night life at the Showboat Saloon, arcades, adventure golf, zip lines, and the immersive gaming experience of Wizard Quest. You can even get married at the Dell’s Bells Wedding Chapel.
What is there to do in Wisconsin Dells besides water parks?
Water slides aren’t for everyone, especially if you’re looking for things to do in Wisconsin Dells for adults. Chula Vista Resort is a great relaxation getaway for couples and groups. Boat tours offer unique and majestic views of the Wisconsin River that you won’t see any other way. Lost Canyon tours take you by horse-drawn carriage through the rocky gorges and narrow passages that made the Dells famous. You can take a trolley tour through haunted history, or do it the pub crawl way with both kinds of spirits (you know, alcohol and dead people).
What are the best days to go to Wisconsin Dells?
The best time to go to Wisconsin Dells and make the most of your stay is during the summer months – June, July, and August, as it will be warm enough to enjoy the water slides and other outdoor activities. June still tends to be a little cooler, so you may find deals to save on waterpark tickets during that time.
The Wo-Zha-Wa Days Fall Festival in September marks the end of the season. After that, many attractions, restaurants, and water parks close for the off season.
Many indoor resorts and attractions remain open throughout the winter, so if you want a cozy Wisconsin Dells experience without all the crowds, that’s a great time to plan your trip.
How do I spend a day at Wisconsin Dells?
If it’s a Wisconsin Dells day trip you’re looking for, here’s what we suggest for a uniquely Dells adventure:
- Have a lumberjack breakfast at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty
- Play laser tag at Wild Fun Zone (the arcade with a giant King Kong)
- Pet giant snakes and two-headed turtles at Alligator Alley
- Get a souvenir t-shirt and old time photo
- Eat Wisconsin Dells fudge. Don’t fail this one.
- Have a quick drive-up wedding at Dell’s Bells *BYO-SO
- Get dinner from an indoor food truck at Grateful Shed
- Get on the Ghost Boat at dusk for a some spooky fun
Is Wisconsin Dells a tourist trap?
The definition of a tourist trap is a place created for the purpose of attracting tourists. Based on that description, yes, you could definitely consider the Dells a tourist trap. And it’s been that way a very long time. But it’s the kind of trap where you have a great time with unique adventures you won’t soon forget. And yes, it can be costly, but there are ways to save money at Wisconsin Dells.
Is parking free at Wisconsin Dells?
Many smaller Wisconsin Dells attractions offer free parking. If you’re staying at a particular resort, you likely will also get free parking. If you’re just spending the day at a water park, there will likely be an additional parking fee. Also, parking in the downtown area is metered, so if you plan to spend time wandering around the unique shops and attractions on the main strip, be prepared to pay hourly parking rates.
Do you have to wear a swimsuit in Wisconsin Dells?
Look, nude water parks should definitely be a thing. If you want to go careening down water slides in your birthday suit, more power to you. You won’t find those in Wisconsin Dells, though, so yes, you will have to wear a swimsuit in Wisconsin Dells while in public areas. What you do in your private hotel room hot tub, however, is up to you.