I had heard a lot about Wisconsin Dells before our arrival. In fact, it had been recommended to me by several people when I was planning for the #90DayRoadTrip. The “Waterpark Capital of the United States?” Who wouldn’t want to visit? In reality, what I saw when we entered the city was not at all what I expected. It turns out, Wisconsin Dells is my favorite kind of place. One where there are endless activities for families to enjoy, but in with a small town feel where is seems like everyone knows everyone else. There are more attractions in The Dells than you could possibly do in one vacation, but these seven family friendly options can get you started in planning a visit with your family.
1 and 2. Kalahari Indoor Theme Park and Waterpark
One of our favorite attractions in Wisconsin Dells, it doesn’t matter if it is raining outside, the fun is always on at the Kalahari Indoor Theme Park and Waterpark. With endless activities, you can easily spend an entire day exploring these two parts of the gorgeous African themed Kalahari Resort.
The indoor theme park may seem like just a huge arcade at first glance, but the all day armbands allow you to do so much more without ever putting a quarter into a machine. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel, revolution 360, or on the beautifully crafted African carousel. Or, try your skill at laser tag, XD Dark Ride, Go-Karts or Atomic Rush.
Looking to get a little active? Strap on a harness and climb into the sky with the Ropes Course or Climbing Wall challenges. Involve the whole family, and play a round of mini golf before taking a wild walk through the Vortex Tunnel.
The Kalahari Indoor Theme Park is open Monday-Thursday 10am-11pm, Friday 10am-12am, Saturday 9am-12am and Sunday 9am-11pm. If you are a resort guest, armbands are just $25.95 for your entire stay. Not a resort guest? Armbands are $29.95 for all day admission.
The Kalahari Indoor Waterpark is 125,000 square feet of absolute fun. The boys could hardly believe their eyes when they saw it. We definitely understand why Wisconsin Dells is considered the “Waterpark capital.” Not only do they have all of the slides, a lazy river, wave pool and play area that make for an amazing waterpark experience, but they also have the Flowrider® that creates 5-foot ocean waves for bodyboarding or surfing.
Our absolute favorite ride was Victoria Falls, a family ride that can fit three people to a raft. It has plenty of dips and twists to thrill anyone, but is slow moving enough to be safe for younger children. Want something a little more thrilling? Try the Master Blaster water coaster. This thing blasts you 570 feet uphill before taking you on a series of thrills that will make you want to do it over and over again.
The lazy river here is amazing, and has plenty of fun water features and surprises, it even takes you on a journey into the wave pool. The wave pool itself is a ton of fun. Tubes are allowed in the wave pool, and the waves aren’t over the top crazy like some places can get. There are also free life jackets available throughout the park for little ones.
Speaking of little ones, there is a special play area called Tiko’s Watering Hole for the littles, and a larger water play area with smaller slides called the Leopard’s Lair for those who are in between.
Crocodile Cove is the place to go if you want to splash around, take a try crossing the lily pads or play a game of water basketball. The nearby indoor/outdoor spa area and swim up Mud Hut Bar are the perfect hangouts for adults.
The Kalahari Indoor Waterpark admission is $39 for a full day or $25 for an evening admission only. You can get a combo theme and waterpark pass for $59.
3. Original Wisconsin Ducks Boat Tour
For 70 years, the Original Wisconsin Ducks have been entertaining visitors to the area. Diving you into the waters of the Wisconsin River and Lake Delton, and speeding your down wooded trails and roller coaster hills, a Duck tour is for everyone in the family.
The amphibious vehicles that can drive like a truck and float like a duck originally started as a way to ferry troops across the water and onto land in WWII. Now, these incredible vehicles provide a whole lot of scenic fun for families.
We hopped aboard one of the Original Wisconsin Ducks vehicles downtown in front of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. It took us to their main location and the starting spot of our tour. After a quick family photo, we waited just a few minutes before hopping on the next tour. New tours start every 30 minutes throughout the day, so there is never a long wait.
The drivers on the Original Wisconsin Ducks tours really make the experience. With their witty jokes and retorts, they’ll have you giggling and maybe occasionally rolling your eyes as you go. Taken through wooded paths, down in the Wisconsin River and then into Lake Delton before heading back onto land for the last part of the tour, you will learn a little of nature, the Ducks themselves and the history of the area. If you are looking for a fun family boat tour, this is the one for you.
The Original Wisconsin Ducks admission is $26.70 for adults and $13.35 for children 4-11.
4. Wizard Quest
I had my doubts about this attraction when we first stepped in, but I soon learned that my original ideas about Wizard Quest were not even close to the truth. Wizard Quest delves you into a magical world where it is your job to free four wizards representing Fire, Water, Air and Earth. No special skills or props are required, and it works as an amazing team building exercise for families who have to work together to solve puzzles and riddles to earn enough glimmers or magic to free each of the wizards.
Is it hokey at times? Possibly, but it is great fun, and not as easy as you might think. You have 90 minutes to complete your quest. To give you an idea of how difficult it is, we were on medium and only freed one wizard in our 90 minutes, but the boys had a fantastic time exploring hidden lairs, slides, ball pits, mirror mazes all wrapped up in a mystical world.
Wizard Quest is conveniently located on the downtown strip, and is open daily from 9am-11pm and admission is $14.99 for 12 and up and $9.99 for children ages 5-11.
5. Tommy Bartlett Exploratory
You likely are familiar with the Tommy Bartlett Show, but did you know that the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory is also one of The Dells most popular attractions for families? Why wouldn’t it be? With over 175 hands-on activities for families to enjoy and learn from.
Try lifting a 5,000 lb. car with just your bare hands, test out your skills in the virtual sports center and have a hair raising thrill with the Van De Graaff Generator. There are levels of fun for every member of the family there, and I especially loved that there were special exhibits for younger children mixed in.
My oldest son tried out the high wire skycycle and it was by far his favorite part of the Exploratory. Have a space fan in the family? They can enter and explore a Russian Space Station MIR.
The Tommy Bartlett Exploratory is open daily from 9am-9pm during the Summer. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for children.
6. Wisconsin Deer Park
Have you ever been to a petting zoo? Yeah, me too. They are fun for a minute, but then the kids get board and you are on your way. The Wisconsin Deer Park is nothing like that. Nothing! It is an incredible and serene place where you the deer run free in their habitat and you are free to walk through and see, pet and even hug them.
The Wisconsin Deer Park has been giving families this up close and personal experience with over 100 deer and other animals for over fifty years now. You can choose to walk through without food for the animals, but they are much more friendly and approachable if you offer it to them. There are packs of crackers for sale at the entrance for $2 and cones filled with feed within the park itself for $1.
You will find that the deer are quite friendly, and there are other animals including goats, pigs, bison, elk, lemurs and other wildlife throughout the park as well. You will find deer throughout all different phases of their life cycle at the park, and children will never want to leave. The boys found one deer in particular that they named Ellie, and she walked with them through the entire enclosure before we finally had to leave.
Admission to the Wisconsin Deer Park $14 for ages 12+ and $10 for ages 3-11 and the park is open 9am-7pm.
Sometimes kids just need to burn off some extra energy, that’s where Knuckleheads comes in. Knuckleheads is a trampoline jumping facility. With a foam pit, dodgeball court, open jump court and slam dunk basketball hoops, there are hours of jumping fun to be had at this family favorite.
The boys and I visited Knuckleheads one evening when they still had a bit of extra wiggles to work out. I had a seat and relaxed while they enjoyed an hour of supervised bouncing fun.
You can get an hour of bouncing fun at Knuckleheads for $13 for an hour and $3 for special grip socks if you don’t already own them. Knuckleheads in Wisconsin Dells is open 10am-11pm.
8. Wisconsin Dells River Walk
One of the best things we did in Wisconsin Dell didn’t even cost a dime. The scenic Wisconsin Dells River Walk was a great way to spend a lazy evening right before the sun set for the day. Stroll above the Wisconsin River along the sandstone bluffs on this paved 1/4 mile trail . This is a gorgeous area to walk, and a great place to snap some photos of the beauty of The Dells.
Planning a family trip to Wisconsin Dells? Be sure to visit Wisdells.com for more information on attractions, accommodations and dining available in the area.