When it comes to planning a family vacation that’s guaranteed to be a hit with travelers of all ages, there’s no place quite like the Wisconsin Dells. This southern Wisconsin hot spot is highly-popular with vacationers looking for a place that ranks high on the waterpark, amusement park, and overall entertainment scale. Anyone looking for an indoor or outdoor thrill complete with concession stands is sure to find something that fits their taste and style when they hit up The Dells. Some of the Wisconsin Dells destinations have become so well-loved over time, that they are practically household names. Every true Dells enthusiast will inevitably perk up whenever Noah’s Art or Mt. Olympus are mentioned in combination with sprawling theme parks bubbling over with watery fun.
But what about the rest of The Dells? Like every destination on the map that’s earned its popularity, The Wisconsin Dells has much to offer beyond the big-name establishments if only you know where to go. Don’t skip out on the amusement parks, they’re of course an essential part of the fun, but if you have extra time to go off the beaten path or are looking for a new itinerary that contrasts the one you used last time around, these five spots might just be for you.
Rocky Arbor State Park
The waterparks are sure to amaze but when you’re on the hunt for a moment to commune with nature, the Wisconsin Dells is an oasis of lush forest and foliage just waiting to be explored. Rocky Arbor State Park is a massive 244-acre area in the northern region of the Wisconsin Dells that provides visitors with incredible opportunities to hike, picnic and view wildlife. The park first opened to the public in 1932 when it was designed as a space dedicated to preservation. The park is packed full of sandstone bluffs and breathtaking ledges that make for amazing photographs and even more stunning scenery as you hike. Towering trees and a gentle creek make this area particularly peaceful while campsites and amenities are available at designated areas in the park for those hoping to stay a while longer and immerse themselves in the experience. Whether you come for a day or plan to stay out in the elements for longer, Rocky Arbor State Park is a natural gem in the amusement capital of the United States.
House on the Rock
Sitting at 5754 State Road 23 is one of the Wisconsin Dells most unique landmarks known as The House on the Rock. What began as the project of one man by the name of Alex Jordan in 1945 to build a house on top of a rock in The Dells grew into a mind-bending work of architecture and art. Even more incredibly, the house continues to grow and expand to this day! As additions continued to be added to this incredible home, it transformed into a museum of mysteries which included rooms dedicated to the weird, fascinating and questionable.
Today, guests can come in and wander through entire rooms turned exhibits dedicated to dolls, the circus, Japanese gardens, carousels, musical organs, aviation, model ships and much more. Depending on what time of year you arrive, the house hosts tours that focus on seasonal delights including Christmas trees and darker-themed displays during Halloween. Today, the home is one of three associated attractions which also include an Inn and a resort. Come and experience the home or make time to wind your way through all three for a sensational trip unlike any other in The Dells.
In the mood for an adrenaline rush that takes you beyond the waterpark gates? Make your way to Vertical Illusions at 2433 Dells Parkway for an all-seasons opportunity to take adventure to new heights. In the summer months, the highly skilled staff at Vertical Illusions is ready and waiting to help guests have the experience of a lifetime with a ziplining trip through Chimney Rock Park. Over 100-miles of lines carry you over cliffs and canyons for stunning vantage points witnessed from incredible heights. If you feel like something a bit slower paced with the same amount of excitement, book a rock-climbing excursion through the park and take advantage of the Wisconsin Dell’s dynamic landscapes dotted with cliffsides beckoning the adventurous at heart. Kayaking, repelling and paddle boarding are all on the agenda when you make time to spend a day at Vertical Illusions. If you happen to arrive during the winter, the options are still endless. Vertical Illusions offers zip lines throughout the year alongside snowshoeing, snowboarding, ski rentals and ice climbing tours.
Big Sky Drive-In Theater
Film buffs and those looking for a place that speaks to a time gone by won’t want to miss a chance to enjoy a movie at the Big Sky Drive-In Theater. Sitting on Highway 16, this outdoor theater is one of the last in Wisconsin and well worth the trip. Visitors are treated to films on two full-size screens. Stay for two films with an admissions ticket while only paying for one! The traditions of outdoor movie screenings are alive and well at Big Sky with guests able to enjoy a variety of snacks from an outdoor concession stand including homemade Sloppy Joes. The theater is open from the month of May until the weather declines in the fall. Guests can expect to see the same films available in standard indoor theaters as Big Sky Drive-In plays the most current cinematic hits.
H.H. Bennett Studio
The Wisconsin Dells may be a modern marvel of family-fun, but it has a rich history that’s been carefully captured in pictures and is available to guests who take time to visit H.H. Bennett Studio at 215 Broadway. This charming and historic studio was built in 1875 and today gives visitors a close look at the photographs that H.H. Bennett took in decades past that put The Dells on the map. The studio is a wonderful chance for guests to browse a collection of photographs and artifacts that track the history of photography specific to this part of the country. Look through the lens of historic cameras, travel back in time with a story told through a stereoscope and wander through the original storefront that hosted the Bennett business. Before you leave, be sure to have your own image captured in time with a photograph to commemorate your time in the Wisconsin Dells.
A New Way to Visit the Wisconsin Dells
The Wisconsin Dells has a way of captivating the imaginations of visitors to the point it quickly becomes an annual destination for families. Whether you’ve been here a million times or are looking for a first visit that combines the best of the expected and off the beaten path stops, the Wisconsin Dells is sure to please and surprise.