The natural beauty of the Wisconsin Dells has made it a popular tourist destination. Here are a few tips to make your retreat to the Dells as relaxing and fun as possible, including some of the best tours and attractions available.
1. Dells Boat Tours
The big draw of the Wisconsin Dells is the abundance of natural beauty in the area. What better way to take it all in than with a scenic boat tour? Dells Boat Tours offer three options: a tour through the Upper Dells, a tour through the Lower Dells, and, from late May through early September, a romantic sunset dinner cruise featuring a torchlit promenade through Witches Gulch. Behold the cliffs, river bends, and rock formations that put the Wisconsin Dells on the map as the popular tourist destination it is today.
Gone are the days where passengers paid to row through the gorges as a guide directed them from sight to sight: Dells Boat Tours has a 17-boat fleet that will allow you to explore in comfort. The only reason you’d be gasping for air is if the views take your breath away.
2. Lost Canyon Horse Tours
If you want to examine the fascinating rock formations, tree-topped cliff faces, and general beauty of the Wisconsin Dells without testing your sea legs, Lost Canyon Horse Tours offers a view of the longest and deepest land canyon in all of Wisconsin. Beautiful Percheron horses will pull your 15-seat carriage through a mile of cliff-walled gorges. As you take in your surroundings, guides will fill you in on the history and geology of the area. Running from mid-April through October, the mile-long tour takes about half an hour to complete and has been in operation for over 60 years.
3. Denny's Diner
No, not that Denny's. This family-owned diner offers patrons their world-famous cinnamon rolls baked fresh every morning, affordable meals cooked on the same flat-top stove that has been in operation for decades, and classic, nostalgic decor complete with Elvis, the Beatles, and even Superman in a phone booth in the middle of the diner!
4. Original Wisconsin Ducks
For a tour of the Dells that encompasses both land and sea, the Original Wisconsin Ducks tour is tough to beat. The DUKW, or Duck, is an amphibious vehicle created by the Allies in World War II to ferry troops and supplies from ship to shore. Following the war, these vehicles were repurposed for efforts from firefighting to water rescue. In 1946, Bob Unger got his hands on a Duck and started the tour that would go on to become the Original Wisconsin Ducks. More than 70 years later, the tour is still going strong. The hour-long excursion will take you through water and trails exclusive to the Original Wisconsin Ducks. Just be sure to hold on tight for the splashdown by Newman's Dam! The tour operates seven days a week from mid-March through mid-November.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Wisconsin, eat some cheese, right? MACS, which stands for Macaroni and Cheese Shop, offers a cheese-centered menu that's friendly to your wallet if not your waistline. The array of melts, salads, desserts, and of course, macaroni and cheese dishes is sure to have something to please even the pickiest lactose-tolerant eater. Having opened in 2013, MACS is definitely a new kid on the block, but the fast, fresh, and delicious food is already causing visitors to take notice.
6. Wisconsin Dells Trolley Tours
Are you sensing that tours are a major theme here in the Dells? Well, there's a lot to see!
With over 15 different tour offerings to choose from depending on the year, the Wisconsin Dells Trolley Tours are a great way to explore the region. On top of the Wisconsin Dells City and History Tour, they also offer the Haunted Trolley Tour, Winter Wonderland Tour, and even winery tours. Depending on the route you choose, shopping, dining, and wine tastings are all possibilities. The Wisconsin Dells Trolley Tours started in 2015, but with the affordable fun and seemingly limitless options, they have already started to make quite a name for themselves. Whether you want to learn about the area, drink, relax, or just spend time with loved ones, Dells Trolley Tours can cater to your needs.
7. H. H. Bennett Studio
Few, if any, have done more to make the Wisconsin Dells a popular tourist haven than H. H. Bennett, whose landscape photographs of the area have been sold throughout the country. This caused an influx of people coming to the Dells to see the majestic sights firsthand. Built in 1875 and donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1998, the H. H. Bennett Studio now serves as a historical museum. Visitors can see the workspace just as it was in Bennett's heyday. They can also view a number of Bennett's stereoscopic images of the area. There is a replica of Bennett's innovative revolving solar printing house, but the original is now housed at the Smithsonian Institution.
8. Wisconsin Deer Park
If you consider yourself an animal lover, then this place might be for you. The Wisconsin Deer Park is a very unique family-friendly petting zoo. This park has been around for over 50 years and has given many people the opportunity to feed over 100 deer and wildlife. Lindsey Puls, owner of the travel blog Have Clothes, Will Travel, said “It gives adults and kids a chance to hand feed tame whitetail deer.” Some of the other park’s animals include bucks, goats, fawns, llamas, pigs, emus, elk, bison, and horses.
The Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau told TravelAwaits, “this 28-parcel is home to 100 deer from seven different countries.” Visitors can enjoy guided walks and interaction with the animals, including feedings, plus photographing animals up close and personal. Head to the Wisconsin Deer Park for a truly unique animal adventure!
Looking for some upscale eats with great food to match? Head to Del-Bar while visiting the Wisconsin Dells. Established in 1939, this supper club has been serving customers for 75 years through three generations. Del-Bar was founded by risk takers Jim and Alice Wimmer when they bought this roadside restaurant known for its char-broiled steaks. The Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau told TravelAwaits, “The Del-Bar was designed by a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright [and] you can enjoy a unique architectural setting accented with original art and beautifully appointed dining rooms and cocktail lounges.”
Del-Bar is home to award-winning cuisine that leverages locally sourced ingredients. They also serve hand-crafted cocktails.
Take a look at the menu and then scroll over to the reservation tab to make your Del-Bar reservations today!
10. Riverfront Terrace
Located in the heart of downtown Wisconsin Dells is the Riverfront Terrace, a restaurant and outdoor entertainment space known for serving up fresh food, beer, and wine. If you’re in search of a restaurant with live music and gorgeous river views, this should be your top pick. “It’s a great place for friends and families to be together while playing games and listening to live music each night,” according to the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau. New to the menu this year, dinner guests can enjoy salads from the food cart and artisan style pizzas. Take a look at the menu and prepare yourself for a fun night surrounded by lively people!
11. Wilderness Resort
If you’re visiting the Wisconsin Dells, a great place to explore is the Wilderness Resort. Heidi Fendos, PR counsel for Wilderness Resort, told TravelAwaits, “Couples in search of that fun and relaxing getaway will find it all at Wilderness Resort.” The property offers an upscale and quiet lodging experience with their beautiful condominiums. Units are fully furnished and overlook Lake Denton. Each condominium boasts a four-season room complete with a jacuzzi.
A spa experience will be a nice addition to your time in the Dells, and Wilderness Resort is adjacent to the Sundara Inn & Spa. The resort offers complimentary car rides to the tucked-away spa, which is located in a pine forest. The spa recently went through a 40,000-square-foot expansion and now includes a salt therapy room, a fitness area, appetizing restaurants, and much more. Fendos said, “From facials to manicures to individual massages as well as couples massages, any treatment you receive at Sundara is sure to be memorable.”
Up for a thrilling adventure gliding above the Dells? If yes, Wilderness Canyon Zip Lining will be the perfect activity for you and your travel companions. You can soar on a tour that spans six towers nestled amongst the treetops above the Lost Canyon. Heidi told TravelAwaits, “Participants can reach heart pumping speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.”
Want to know more about what to expect your first time zip-lining? We answer your questions, from “Is it safe?” to “Do I have to be in shape?” here.
For a trip to the Dells you'll never forget, be sure to check out some of these attractions!
*Updated June 2019 by Traneah Ford