The Wisconsin Dells is a great place to go in the fall and winter! It’s just 2.5 hours away from the Quad Cities so it’s perfect for a quick weekend getaway. My family has taken a vacation to the Dells the last 2 years, once in the fall and once in the winter. I know taking a vacation is hard with young children and can often be very expensive. The benefit of the Dells is that it is designed specifically for children, it is very affordable, and it’s a quick trip to get there (hooray- no bathroom stops)!
We had a great time and can’t wait to go again this winter! Here are some of our FAVORITE parts about our visits to the Dells! (But you can check out all the fun at the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau’s website!)
The best thing about going to the Dells is that you don’t have to leave your hotel if you don’t want to- everything you need is there without even having to go outdoors (one of the bonuses for going in the winter)- each resort has walkways to the water parks, restaurants, arcades, and more.
The first fall we went, we stayed at the Kalahari Waterpark Resort. We got a 2-room suite so we had a separate sleeping area for the kids. This was definitely the way to go. The rooms were very nice- we’d definitely book there again. The waterpark at the Kalahari was nice but fairly small. This would be ideal for a bigger family that wanted to keep everyone in the same room. Our FAVORITE part about the Kalahari was the arcade and the restaurant Double Cut (I’ll explain why in the VISIT and EAT sections).
The second time we went was in January and we stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge. We stayed in a single room for this visit and it was hard because we had to tip toe around in the dark once we got our younger kids to bed. The rooms were nice and the kids LOVED the decor. The waterpark at the Great Wolf was really big and a lot of fun. There were several different rooms and the kids never got bored with the water areas.
*indicates it’s our favorite!
For convenience, we ate breakfast at the resort every morning (with our swim suits already on). We were pleasantly surprised with the breakfast at both resorts we stayed at and would continue to do it this way with our next visit. On our last morning there, we ate at a small diner called Denny’s and it was a really cool restaurant (lots of things for the kids to look at).
*Double Cut: Hands down our FAVORITE restaurant of all times. This isn’t a restaurant geared towards children per say, but we pack enough entertainment for the kids and give ourselves the best dinner we’ve ever had at least once during our visit (last time we actually went twice!) The food is amazing, pricy, but amazing. We dream of it (literally) all year and even contemplate driving the 2.5 hours just to eat and then come home. If I ever talk to you about the Dells, I will definitely talk about this restaurant multiple times in our conversation!
*High Rock Cafe: We asked our server at Double Cut what other restaurant she would recommend and High Rock Cafe was her first suggestion. Trust me, it’s worth it. Every single bite. Make sure one of you gets the All American Meatloaf. You’re welcome. Then get the High Rock Kit Kat for dessert. You’re welcome again. This will absolutely be an annual stop for us.
*Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co.: A great pizza place with 10 handcrafted beers on tap.
*MACS – Macaroni & Cheese Shop: Really good gourmet mac and cheese for grown-ups and classic versions for the kids.
Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille: A fun place to eat where the food is delivered by a miniature choo choo train that makes its way around the room on a track. Good entertainment.
There are a ton of things to do in the Dells, you won’t have enough time to do it all! We spend the mornings at the waterpark (eating breakfast at the resort and then lunch in the waterpark) and then head up to shower and get ready for a nice dinner. After dinner we hit up an arcade, trampoline park, or museum until we’re ready to call it a night and do it all over the next day!
*Kalahari Indoor Theme Park: This has become a must visit for us, even if we aren’t staying at the Kalahari. They have a huge arcade, a really cool ropes course for all ages, climbing wall, laser tag, bowling, mini golf, go-carts, and even an indoor farris wheel. We get the one day wrist band and do it all in one evening.
*Wizard Quest: My kids FAVORITE part of the Dells! It’s a family friendly interactive game in a wizard/fairy based world. Tasks are completed by answering riddles and questions to move throughout the game. My kids were hooked when they got to choose a battery operated wand to use!
*Knuckleheads: We did the trampoline park here and the kids had a blast! They also have go-karts, amusement rides, cosmic bowling, and a full arcade.
*Deer Park: A must visit if you go in the Fall. This was unlike anything we’ve ever done- we fed the deer as they walked right up to us! Open April-October.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not: A fun museum full of oddities and puzzling illusions.
Tommy Bartlett Exploratory: Interactive Science Center is a good choice if the kids get water-logged and want to try something on dry land.
Cascade Mountain: Fifteen minutes from the Dells, they offer skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing when it’s cold enough to make snow.
*Outlets at The Dells: Shopping! Not my kids favorite activity but they have a lot of stores we don’t have in the QCA so we drag the kids along for a bit! They’re usually okay after we make it to the Disney store!
I hope you find time to get away to the Wisconsin Dells this winter and find some of your family’s favorite places like we have! Let us know what you think if you get a chance to go!
Please share YOUR favorite Wisconsin Dells hotels, restaurants, and activities in the comments so other Quad Citians can try them out!
Thanks to the the Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau for providing both of these vacations to my family! All of the opinions in this post are my own.