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10 Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells By A Wisconsin Native

10 Things to Do in Wisconsin Dells By A Wisconsin Native

Wisconsin Dells is a special place for us. It’s home to many childhood memories of splashing in water parks, ice cream dripping down our fingers, getting out into nature, and family fun. As a kid, these were the best times. There are so many fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells we would visit several times a year. 

If you’re from the Midwest or Wisconsin, in particular, you’ve probably heard of Wisconsin Dells. However, if you’ve never been, you are missing out! We’ve been coming to Wisconsin Dells for more than 30 years, and every time we visit, there is something new to discover.

To get you motivated to jump in the car and bring your family here, we’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells. What also surprises first-time visitors is that Wisconsin Dells is a year-round destination, so if your summer calendar is already full, Wisconsin Dells can make a great getaway any time of the year. Here’s how to do The Dells right!

Things To Do In Wisconsin Dells In The Summer

What put Wisconsin Dells on the map is the summer attractions. First was the beautiful nature you can find in the area, like The Dells of the Wisconsin River, which the city is named for.

Then came a whole host of other great family attractions, like the many waterparks and great resorts. The summer is one of our favorite times to visit Wisconsin Dells, and this is everything you need to put on your list of things to do here!

Noah's Ark Wisconsin Dells Waterpark

1. Noah’s Ark Waterpark

Noah’s Ark just isn’t just any waterpark. It’s America’s largest waterpark. The waterpark spans across 70 acres right in the middle of Wisconsin Dells.

There are rides and attractions for all ages, from two giant wave pools, lazy & adventure rivers, bumper boats, children’s play areas, mini-golf, and tons of adrenaline-rushing rides like Scorpion’s Tail, Raja, Black Anaconda, and more.

If you’re traveling with young children or a larger group, we’d suggest reserving a cabana for the day. On our last trip to Noah’s Ark, we had a cabana, and it was a great deal. You’ll have a covered area with plenty of shade, a huge chest to lock your items, sun loungers, and waitstaff to bring you food and drinks.

If you want to continue your waterpark vacation, consider staying at the Kalahari Resort. They have an amazing indoor and outdoor waterpark. Read our review of Kalahari Resort here.

Wisconsin Dells Sunset Boat Cruise

2. Dells Boat Tours — Sunset Dinner Cruise

Cruise down the Wisconsin River through the gorgeous scenery at sunset. During the cruise, you stop at the famous Witches Gulch and end the night with a steak & lobster dinner while watching the sunset. This was the perfect start to our weekend in Wisconsin Dells.

We thought it was a great value and one of the best times of day to visit the Dells. Aboard a boat is a perfect spot to watch the sunset. When you first board the boat, make sure to head to the bar for the one-hour open bar, which includes beer (Wisconsin’s Spotted Cow included), mixed drinks, and soda. After 7:30 p.m., it’s a cash bar.

Reservations are required, and they do fill up in the summer. We left stuffed. The dinner menu includes salad, surf & turf with a lobster tail and sirloin steak, baked potato, fresh vegetables, and dessert. If you have any special dietary requests, call in advance so you can be accommodated. We suggest packing a blanket, as it can get a little chilly at the end of the night.

Girl at Witches Gulch Wisconsin Dells

3. Visit the Witches Gulch & the Upper Dells

Witches Gultch is located on the Wisconsin River State Natural Area and is only accessible on an Upper Dells Boat Tour. When the boat docks, you walk through a stunning narrow canyon that is full of natural rock formations surrounded by lush forest. You feel so removed from the city in this peaceful little canyon.

You’ll have about 20-30 minutes to explore on land before getting back on the boat. If you book the above sunset cruise, it does visit Witches Gulch. There is also a concession stand located at the end of the walkway if you book a cruise that doesn’t include a meal. Witches Gulch is one of the top attractions in Wisconsin Dells and definitely a picture-perfect spot.

The Upper Dells Boat Tour, visits Witches Gulch, Stand Rock, High Rock, and Blackhawk’s Profile. Tours last around two hours, and there are several departures each day.

Tommy Bartlett Show Wisconsin Dells

4. See the Tommy Bartlett Show – CURRENTLY CLOSED

To continue a water-themed weekend in Wisconsin Dells, head to the Tommy Bartlett Show, which is dubbed the “Greatest Show on H20.” In 2019, they are now on their 67th season with a 90-minute water show.

The show is complete with different acts on the water, on stage, and in the sky. Watch the skiers do crazy maneuvers on water, and the daredevil stunt artists are some of the crowd favorites.

Sadly, this iconic Wisconsin Dells attraction is closed. We will update you if that changes.

Devil's Lake Hiking
Devils Doorway at Devils Lake State Park near Baraboo, Wisconsin.

5. Take a Swim or a Hike at Devil’s Lake

Devil’s Lake is located just outside of Wisconsin Dells and is a must-visit. It’s one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks, with more than 3 million visitors annually. The lake is known for its otherworldly rock formations and vistas.

There are 29 miles of hiking trails in Devil’s Lake State Park, all waiting for you. There are several different trails with varying difficulties and lengths. The East Bluff Trail takes 3-4 hours and has some of the best views. The Tumbled Rock & Grottos Trail are flatter and paved in some areas, too. For a complete description of each trail, click here.

Some people come and spend the day on the beach swimming, while others like to go hiking or kayaking around the lake. No matter what you do, you’ll have a great time at Devil’s Lake.

View of the balanced rock formations on Devil Lake - Top tourist destinations in the state

Things To Know Before Visiting Devils Lake

1. Get There EarlyOn the weekends, it is common for the main parking lots to be full before 11 a.m. On holiday weekends, expect long lines at the gates and full lots by 10 a.m.

2. Limited Cell Service – Once in the park, cell service is weak due to nature & hills. Most people say Verizon has the best coverage. There is free wifi in the summer near the North Shore Chateau.

3. Dogs Allowed – Dogs are allowed in Devils Lake State Park, but they have to be on a leash at ALL times. Dogs cannot swim in the main beaches, but there is a dog beach on the south shore and designated dog swimming areas between the 2 main boat landings.

4. Reserve Campsites 11 Months in Advance – Yes, you read that right. Reservations can be made online 11 months in advance. Expect all summer weekends to fill up right away. There are only 10 non-reservable campsites.

Orginal Duck Tour Wisconsin Dells
Photo from Original Wisconsin Ducks®

6. Ride an Original Wisconsin Duck

One of the most iconic things to do in Wisconsin Dells is to go on an Original Wisconsin Ducks® tour. Back in 1946, the first Duck tour in the world was launched, and the Original Wisconsin Ducks have been offering tours ever since.

The one-hour Classic Duck Tour covers a lot which involves adventures on land and in the Wisconsin River & Lake Delton.

Mirror Lake Wisconsin Dells

7. Kayak or Just Relax at Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake State Park is located just outside of Wisconsin Dells, three miles to be exact. Its name comes from how still the lake is and how it often has a mirror-like reflection. It’s a shallow lake, only 10-14 feet deep, keeping the surface very calm.

Mirror Lake is more than 2,000 acres, with a gorgeous sandstone bluff on half of the lake, which is great for swimming, kayaking, fishing, and more. Besides all the fun on the water, the park offers more than 28 miles of hiking trails, 9 miles of off-road bike trails, campsites, and 17+ miles of cross-country ski trails for winter fun. Pack a picnic and spend the entire day on the lake or out on the water.

Ishnala Supper Club Wisconsin Dells Girl Eating

If you’re in the area, we highly suggest heading to Ishnala Supper Club for dinner or appetizers. It’s located right on Mirror Lake and is a great place to catch the sunset. It’s voted one of the best supper clubs in Wisconsin, which, if you didn’t know, is kind of a thing in Wisconsin!

Get there early since the wait can be long, 2+ hours on the summer weekends. They are known for their steaks and Old Fashioneds, both of which we indulged in and were super tasty. It is one of the best restaurants in Wisconsin Dells and is always busy. If the wait is long, just head to one of the three bars for a drink and appetizers, the cheese curds were some of the best we’ve ever had, and they were a huge serving.

woman in a red shirt on a zip line tour in door county - things to do

8. Soar Down a Zipline

There are several different zipline tours in Wisconsin Dells, and even some Waterpark hotels have zip lines and rope courses onsite. The first-ever zipline in Wisconsin Dells is the BigFoot Zipline Tour, complete with 7 separate zip lines and more than 8,000 feet of fun!

The tour takes about 2 1/2 hours and is packed full of adrenaline for those thrill-seekers over the water and through the trees. Soar more than 100 feet above the ground as you make your way to the various platforms.

woman stading in a vineyard wine tasting in Wisconsin Dells - Things to do in the Dells - Wisconsin

9. Sip Wines at Baraboo Bluff Winery

Located just outside of Wisconsin Dells are some local wineries with great views and, of course, wine! Enjoy a wine tasting inside, and then grab a glass of your favorite and head outside. The outside seating area has a panoramic view of the Baraboo Bluff Winery.

Make sure to pack a little picnic with cheese, bread, and grapes to go with your wine. There are plenty of tables to spend the afternoon.

Go Carts racing at Go-Karts Plus in williamsburg

10. Get behind the Steering Wheel of a Go Kart

Everyone loves Go Karting, from little kids to big kids at heart. There are two main places in Wisconsin Dells for Go Karts: Big Chief’s Go Karts and ADare Go Carts. It’s the perfect activity in the evening after a busy day exploring all the other Wisconsin Dells attractions.

  • Big Chief Go Karts
  • Adare Go Carts

woman in a yellow jacket walking in witches gultch - things to do in Wisconsin Dells on a rainy day

Things To Do In Wisconsin Dells In The Winter or Rainy Day

The Dells is much more than just a June to August destination. Here, you’ll also find great activities all year long.

The extensive list of resorts with massive indoor waterparks makes Wisconsin Dells a great place for a mid-winter weekend getaway with the family. However, that’s not all that’s going on during the colder months of the year. Here are a few more Wisconsin Dells activities in the Winter!

  • Indoor Waterparks – If you aren’t staying at one of the Wisconsin Dells Waterpark hotels most resorts sell day passes so you can enjoy the waterparks and the property.
  • Sample Wisconsin Dells Breweries & Wineries – There are several wineries & breweries in Wisconsin Dells to check out some local flavors.
    • Baraboo Bluff Winery
    • Broken Bottle Winery
    • Port Huron Brewing Co.
    • Wisconsin Dells Brewery Co.
    • Wollersheim Winery & Distillery
  • Escape Rooms – A fun family bonding experience is trying to find your way out of an escape room in Wisconsin Dells.
  • Skiing & Tubing at Christmas Mountain (Winter) – For some outdoor fun, head up the hill for some fun tubing and even some skiing on nearby Christmas Mountain!
  • Fresh Chocolates & Ice Cream at Goody Goody Gum Drop Candy – For some freshly made chocolates & fudges or an ice cream treat, head to the picture-perfect Goody Goody Gum Drop.

aerial view of the Wilderness Resort with waterparks in Wisconsin Dells - Best Waterpark Resorts in the Dells - Wisconsin Waterparks

Where to Stay in Wisconsin Dells

On our last trip to Wisconsin Dells, we stayed at the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, which was centrally located and made it easy to visit all the attractions in Wisconsin Dells. Wilderness Resort is America’s Largest Waterpark Resort, with 4 indoor waterparks and 4 outdoor waterparks. It’s a great option for couples, families, or several friends traveling together.

Make sure to check out our article, best waterpark hotels in Wisconsin Dells for more hotel options.

B-lux burger in Wisconsin Dells and shack & fries
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau

Best Restaurants in Wisconsin Dells

There are a ton of amazing restaurants in Wisconsin Dells. Something for everyone’s budget and taste buds.

For the best pizza restaurants in Wisconsin Dells, click here for our top 9 pizza joints. Sometimes, you just need to chill in the hotel and have pizza delivered.

Make sure to read our favorite Wisconsin Dells restaurants article here. We highly suggest a hearty breakfast. Here are our top picks for the best breakfast in Wisconsin Dells. Here are a quick few of our top picks.

  • Best Burger: B-Lux
  • Best Pizza in Wisconsin Dells:
  • Best Breakfast: Denny’s Diner (not the chain one)
  • Best Supperclub/steak: Ishnala

Don’t forget to pin me for later!

pinterst pin for things to do in Wisconsin dells - woman standing infront of pink candy shop in the Dells, wisconsin

Growing up in Wisconsin, Adam and I both have tons of memories of visiting Wisconsin Dells on hot summer days, hitting the waterparks, and again in the dead of winter, spending the weekend at one of the many waterpark hotels in Wisconsin Dells. Wisconsin Dells definitely lives up to being “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®” 

Share with us in the comments some of your favorite Wisconsin Dells memories and your favorite things to do in Wisconsin Dells!

This post was produced in conjunction with Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau and Travel Mindset.