North of Madison, the Wisconsin Dells is a time-honored family travel destination. Known as the waterpark capital of the world, it offers family fun throughout the seasons. Conveniently perched along the Interstate, the area features its namesake sandstone formations along with woodland areas to explore plus the Wisconsin River and several lakes. From hiking to boating to splashing and more, the Wisconsin Dells is an outdoors destination. Here are the top things to do in the Wisconsin Dells.
1. Original Wisconsin Ducks Tour
Since 1946, the Original Wisconsin Ducks Tour has been delighting guests with its midwest-made WWII amphibious vehicles. This tour leaves the hustle and bustle of the Wisconsin Dells behind and explores the woodland areas.
The tour travels the woodland motor trails of land originally owned by Helen Raab and Herman Breitenbach. During our tour, we saw several deer and we traveled through fern dells and hidden gorges.
Though the most dramatic part of the tour is when the driver heads full steam ahead into the water. During our excursion, we floated the Wisconsin River, Dell Creek and Lake Delton. It was one of the best Duck Tours I have taken.
Located at 1890 Wisconsin Parkway, Wisconsin Dells. Open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from mid-March until mid-November Adult admission (12+) is $36.50 and kids (4 – 11) are $18.15 with kids 3 and younger riding for free.
2. Land of Natura
This 150-Acre Natural Theme Park and Waterpark includes a man-made, Lake Wisconsin Dells. On Lake Wisconsin Dells, visitors will find Waterworld, the largest inflatable water park in the U.S. There’s even a smaller Waterworld, just for kids 5 and younger.
Also a top attraction at the Land o Natura, visitors can enjoy the Mt. Natura Water Slides. Each of the four 60-foot waterslides dumps into Lake Wisconsin Dells.
For a quieter experience, the Land of Natura offers a 2,000-foot private section of the Wisconsin River. Hikers can see the Wisconsin Dells from the Sugar Bowl Lookout.
In addition to the water park, the Land of Natura offers a Mystic Forest Treetop Walkway. It’s a 1,100-foot-long suspended walkway where visitors use bridges and platforms all 10 to 25 feet above the ground.
The Land of Natura offers showers and changing rooms. Cabanas and food service are also available.
Located at 250 Natura Dr. Open from May 1 until September 30. Adult admission ranges on the package. For more information, visit Land of Natura.
3. Devil’s Lake State Park
With over 10,000 acres, the Devil’s Lake State Park is the most popular state park in Wisconsin. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs through the park, demonstrating the effect of glaciers.
Located in the Baraboo Range, one of the top things to do it hike up to the 500-foot quartzite bluffs to see the 360-acre lake below. In total, visitors will find 29 miles of hiking trails in the park, including 1.5 miles of accessible trails.
Boating is a popular activity and watercraft are available for rent at the Devil’s Lake State Park concession area. For those who bring their own boat, only electric motors are allowed.
Swimming is another top activity at Devil’s Lake State Park. The park offers two swimming beaches and each offer a bathhouse though no lifeguards.
Biking is permitted on the 4-mile Upland Trail Loop. Cyclists can also use paved parked roads.
Camping is a fun way to experience Devil’s Lake State Park. In total, campers will find 423 sites in three different campgrounds. Facilities include bathhouses, some sites with electric service, playgrounds along with camp stores and dump stations.
There are nine group campsites too. All campsites are reservable and reservations are required. Camping fees start at $20 a night and require a vehicle pass.
During my summertime visit, I found Devil’s Lake State Park to be stocked with outdoor activities. I hiked up the first overlook on the East Bluff Trail for an amazing view of the lake. Then I canoed on the lake.
Located at S5975 Park Rd., Baraboo, about 45 miles from Madison. Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. A day pass is required and costs $11 for vehicles with out-of-state license plates, $8 for WI plates.
4. Mirror Lake State Park
Mirror Lake State Park is a quieter park and offers nearly 2,200 acres to explore the outdoors. The centerpiece of the park is Mirror Lake which reflects the 50-foot-tall sandstone rock formations next to the lake.
Hikers will find 19 miles of trails at Mirror Lake State Park. Biking enthusiasts will find 9 miles of off-road biking trail in the park, open from May 1 until October 31.
Watercraft concessions are available in the summer. Mirror Lake is a no-wake lake. The lake also features a swimming beach.
Mirror Lake State Park features 151 campsites in three campgrounds. Facilities include an amphitheater, seasonal bathhouses, some sites with electric service and playgrounds.
Mirror Lake offers a Frank Lloyd Wright Cabin for rent, the Seth Petersen Cottage, designed in 1958.
Located at Open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. year-round. A day pass is required and costs $11 for vehicles with out-of-state license plates, $8 for WI plates.
5. Timbavati Wilderness Park
With over 400 different animals of 75 different species, Timbavati Wilderness Park is the place for animal lovers. Animals include giraffes, rhinoceros, sloths, lemurs and more. There are animal encounters available along with a train (both additional cost).
Located at 2220 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy. Open daily from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Adult (13+) admission is $19.95 and kids (2 – 12) are $16.95.
6. Wisconsin Deer Park
For over 50 years families have visited the Wisconsin Deer Park to hand-feed over 100 animals. This 40-acre petting zoo is home to deer along with other hoofed animals, like American Elk, American Bison, goats, llamas and more.
Located at 2183 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy., Wisconsin Dells. Open from mid-April through late October from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Memorial Day to Labor Day from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $16, kids (3 – 11) enter for $12 and those 2 and younger are free.
7. Woodside Ranch and Resort
For those who would like to get away from the energy of the Wisconsin Dells, Woodside Ranch and Resort is a historic ranch. It offers guided horseback riding along with pony rides and wagon rides.
During my visit, I enjoyed an hour-long horseback riding session on my gentle horse named Legs. All the horses were easy to manage and followed the horse wrangler.
Woodside Ranch and Resort offers lodging and meals in rustic cabins in an all-inclusive plan with trail rides included along with activities and a seasonal pool. Cabins are also available a la carte.
Located at W4015 State Rd 82, Mauston, Wisconsin. Trail rides start at $30 a person, ages 8 and older with a weight limit.
8. Scenic River Walk
This quarter-mile walkway travels along the Wisconsin River.
Located at 100 Block Broadway, Wisconsin Dells. Free and open year-round.
9. Tommy Bartlett Exploratory
With over 150 interactive science displays, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory offers hands-on family fun.
Located at 560 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy. Open daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission is $16 kids (5-11) are $13.
10. Rick Wilcox Magic Theater
For close to 25 years, this magic show has blended comedy and illusion into a show for the whole family. Starring Suzan and Rick Wilcox, their 70-minute magic show runs year-round in its own 550-seat theater.
Located at 1670 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy., Wisconsin Dells. Tickets are required and available for pick-up at the theater.
11. H.H. Bennett Studio
Have a tin-type portrait done in the original studio that invented the process. As a Wisconsin historic site, visitors will see the original studio, thought to be the oldest continuously operating photography studio in the U.S. Additionally, visitors will learn about the history of the town of Wisconsin Dells.
Located at Open daily from late May to mid-September from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Open Thursday through Sunday from mid-September until the end of October from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $12 and kids (5 – 11) enter for $5. Tintypes are additional and reservations are required on its website.
12. Dr. Evermore Sculpture Park
The quirky roadside attraction, Dr. Evermore Sculpture Park features scrap metal art sculptures in an outdoor setting. The showstopper of the park is the Foreverton, the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world standing at 50 feet tall by 120 feet wide and weighs in at over 300 tons.
Built in the 1980s, the Forevertron is composed of lighting rods, components from power plants and even the decompression chamber from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. The sculptor, Tom Every worked in demolition and collected antique machinery for decades.
In addition to the Forevertron, the sculpture park includes an orchestra of human-sized birds playing instruments along with unusually large insect sculptures.
Located at S7703 US-12, North Freedom, Wisconsin. Open April 1 until December 23 from Thursday to Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is free to enter.
14. Summer House Park and Grill
Diners can enjoy dinner overlooking Lake Delton for an al fresco meal. The Summer House Park and Grill serves an American menu with craft cocktails.
Located at 1280 E. Hiawatha Dr. Lske Delton. Open from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. seasonally from Spring until Fall.
15. Wisconsin Dells Waterparks
The Wisconsin Dells is called the waterpark capital of the world and the city counted over 200 water slides in the area. It offers indoor waterparks open year-round along with seasonal outdoor waterparks.
Noah’s Ark Waterpark
The Noah’s Ark Waterpark is the largest outdoor waterpark in the U.S. It offers lots of slides from near-vertical slides to pools and more. It offers lots of dining options inside the park as well.
Located at 1410 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells. Open from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Admission based on age.
The Wilderness Resort is an indoor and outdoor resort that spreads across 600 acres. In fact, it is the largest waterpark resort in the U.S.
Adults will find a 1,300-square-foot pool with a swim-up bar.
Located at 511 E Adams St., Wisconsin Dells. Open year-round with seasonal hours. Admission based on age.
Kalahari Waterpark and Resort
The Kalahari Waterpark is the largest indoor waterpark in the Wisconsin Dells. This resort offers a surfing simulator that produces 5-foot water for bodyboarding.
Located at 1305 Kalahari Dr, Baraboo. Open year-round with seasonal hours. Admission based on age.
Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park
Mt. Olympus Water and Theme Park features the first rotating waterslide in the U.S. Visitors will also find roller coasters and go-carts.
Located at 1701 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy A, Mt. Wisconsin Dells. Park hours vary by season. Admission based on age.
Great Wolf Lodge
Great Wolf Lodge is geared towards younger kids and it features both indoor and outdoor waterparks. Resort guests will find themed rooms and some include bunk beds.
Located at 1400 Great Wolf Dr, Baraboo. Open year-round with seasonal hours. Admission based on age.
Consideration for brands mentioned. The writer visited the Wisconsin Dells on a media trip.