I survived the Wisconsin Dells and lived to write about it

Written by: Amanda Simkin

Wisconsin Dells family vacation

Photo: Steven R. Shook/Flickr

It’s a widely known fact that Chicagoans LIVE for summer. I mean, isn’t that why we stick around during the insanely long and rough winter? And if you are anything like me and counting down to summer vacation, let me remind you to put a trip to the Wisconsin Dells on your summer bucket list.

Why do so many Chicago families flock up north every summer? Because the waterpark capital of the world quite literally has it all. As a born and raised Chicagoan I have not only survived the Dells, but also loved each and every trip I’ve taken there…and you can, too.

Here are my tips for ways to plan the ultimate Wisconsin Dells summer vacation:

Book your trip EARLY. That way, you have much better pick of lodging and can lock in some discounted rates. Don’t forget that visiting during the week can be cheaper than staying over a weekend.

Look into non-traditional lodging. Yes, there are some amazing resorts such as the Kalahari, but you can also score some great deals on cabins, condos (Glacier Canyon Lodge is a favorite), and other home rentals using resources such as Airbnb. Not only will your family have more room to spread out, but you will also have your own kitchen so that you can prepare your own meals and avoid crowded restaurants.

Plan a group trip. Yes, you do run the risk of at least one of you getting lost at some point during your trip, but it is so much more fun to visit the waterparks with a group. That way, parents can actually get a break and either take a plunge down the steepest slide in the park or enjoy a beverage in one of the adults-only hot tubs while someone else trustworthy is on kid duty.

Get moving! I know it’s hard to be bright eyed and bushy tailed if your kids don’t sleep well when they are away from home, but you want to be one of the first families at the water park if you are looking for a shady spot. And don’t forget to bring some cheap bags, towels, or other clothing to stake your claim on your spot. Keep your valuables at home and take advantage of the lockers available for your electronics.

Think outside the water park. Yes, the Dells are known for pools but don’t miss out on all of the action going on around Lake Delton. No trip to the Dells is complete without a tour on the original Wisconsin Dells Ducks or a ride around the track at Big Chief Go-Karts. You can also spend the day hiking, biking, swimming, and fishing at Mirror Lake State Park, a 15-minute drive from the Dells.

Indulge in local cuisine. I’m not saying that you will find a Michelin-starred restaurant at the Dells, but there are great varieties of local beers and cheeses available that make the long drive up North totally worth it.

Amanda Simkin, a lifelong Chicagoan, created her blog (Queenofthelandoftwigsnberries.com) to share how she celebrates motherhood, Chicago-style. She offers insider’s guides for both well-known and off-the-beaten-path gems for the entire family. Catch her work over on WGN Morning News, Chicago Parent, Red Tricycle, and more.

Related articles:

How to do Disney World and Disneyland right with kids in tow

5 family-friendly Midwest vacation spots you can drive to

5 rules for traveling with caregivers and kids

The NPN blog gives voice to our members' thoughts about parenting in the city, and the views expressed don't necessarily reflect our own. Want to write for us? Email laura@npnparents.org with your topic ideas.


Posted on June 01, 2018 at 3:11 PM