Wisconsin Dells is an unabashed and unashamedly fun-filled amusement centre for the Badger State. The city's water parks are among the most audacious and thrilling in the USA. It's also known for its natural scenery, which hits a zenith along the bends of the Wisconsin River, where gorges and forests collide.

    This guide to the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells has you covered when it comes to planning a trip here. From jaw-dropping Midwestern scenery to Bavarian-themed shopping precincts, it offers a glimpse of all the entertainments that await you.

    What are the best things to do in Wisconsin Dells?


    Dells of the Wisconsin River

    The natural side of town

    • Photo
    • Adventure

    The Dells of the Wisconsin River spread over a vast area of carved gorges and deep canyons that runs up the side of the waterways to the north of the city. With various lookout points and canyon rims closed for ecological reasons, the best way to visit is typically on a boat tour.

    They leave from the heart of Wisconsin Dells itself. Adventurous visitors will go for the remoter area known as the Upper Dells, where vast ice-age rocks and glacial cliffs are the backdrops. Others go for the Lower Dells, where you'll navigate mossy boulders and learn all about the native Ho-Chunk people.


    Noah's Ark Water Park

    A colossal park that's filled with thrills

    • Families

    Noah's Ark Water Park bills itself as the biggest water park in Wisconsin Dells. It reigns as one of the largest water parks in the entire USA, sprawling across a whopping 70 acres of grounds on the edge of Lake Delton, around 10 minutes' drive from the downtown.

    Inside, the attractions range from the heart-thumping to the soothing. You've got high-octane slides like the twisting Raja, which resembles a king cobra in attack mode. Follow that with a 400-ft plunge down the Scorpion's Tail, or a session on artificial surf waves. Mini-golf and a 4D theatre are also at hand in Noah's Ark for those who prefer to stay dry.

    Location: 1410 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

    Phone: +1 608-254-6351

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    Mt. Olympus

    Rollercoasters straight out of ancient Greece

    • Families

    Mt. Olympus aims to transport you and the family back to the epic days of ancient Greece. It's one of the best-known theme parks in Wisconsin Dells, just minutes' drive from Broadway. It's split into 2 parts – one's a waterpark with indoor and outdoor sections and the other a classic theme park with rollercoasters and rides. 

    Highlights here are the loop-de-looping Hades 360 and the gravity-defying Manticore spinner. If you pick the H2O side of fun, you can glide along lazy rivers and soak in hot tubs or try your luck on the corkscrewing Boa Slide. It's hardly a surprise this is one of the most acclaimed family attractions in town.

    Location: 655 N Frontage Rd, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

    Phone: +1 800-800-4997

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    The place to go when the sun dips on The Dells

    • Food
    • Nightlife

    Broadway is the beating, thrumming epicentre of Wisconsin Dells. It dashes straight through the heart of the city, going from Route 13 in the east to the roads that lead to the main interstate in the west. As it runs, it unfolds in a medley of historic 19th-century architecture, rowdy bars, eateries, photography studios – there are loads.

    At night, the place gets lively. Folk will mosey down for a drink in speakeasies and live music bars. There's also variety on the gastronomy front, no matter if you're craving jalapeno-topped tacos or hearty US grills.

    Location: Broadway, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA


    photo by Runner1928 (CC0 1.0) modified


    Great Wolf Lodge

    An indoor water park with spas and a fitness centre

    • Couples
    • Families

    Great Wolf Lodge is a part-water park, part-hearty Midwestern resort in Wisconsin Dells. Look for it right on top of the intersection of I-90 and Route 12, to the south of the city proper. That's where its rustic timber-faced exteriors rise close to the wiggling waterways of Mirror Lake and the rugged Lower Dells.

    There are good reasons to visit the Great Wolf Lodge. Are you heading for the indoor waterpark, which boasts whizzing rubber-ring slides like the Alberta Falls and – a favourite of the little ones – Fort Mackenzie, with its water cannons and climbing ropes? Otherwise, Great Wolf Lodge also has spas, yoga classes, and a fitness centre within its premise.

    Location: 1400 Great Wolf Dr, Baraboo, WI 53913, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 800-559-9653


    H.H. Bennett Studio

    Vintage snaps of Wisconsin Dells

    • History

    The H.H. Bennett Studio is the place to go to get a fix of local Wisconsin culture in this otherwise thrilling city. Just off the main drag of Broadway right in the heart of the town, it's sat in a charming brick-built building that dates to the late 1800s.

    Inside, you'll get to tour the darkroom and collections of the namesake artist, H.H. Bennet. He's credited with putting The Dells on the map back in the day, with a collection of photographs that captured the raw beauty of the Wisconsin River and its surroundings.

    Location: 1504, 215 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

    Phone: +1 608-253-3523

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    photo by Jonathunder (CC0 1.0) modified


    Timbavati Wildlife Park

    A family attraction for a taste of the wild

    • Families
    • Photo

    Timbavati Wildlife Park might just have you pinching yourself – this is Wisconsin, remember, not the vast plains of East Africa. It's one of the family attractions straddling the Wisconsin Dells Parkway, to the southwest of downtown.

    Don the explorer's hat and ready your binoculars. You can find all sorts of amazing creatures, including giraffes, sloths, kangaroos, and great kudus with spiked horns. The onsite safari train makes it easy to see all the critters without having to stretch the legs too much.

    Location: 2220 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 608-253-2391


    Mirror Lake State Park

    Outdoor recreation in the Wisconsin countryside

    • Families
    • Photo
    • Budget
    • Adventure

    Mirror Lake State Park is one of the region's top outdoor recreation areas. It covers over 2,000 acres of Wisconsin wilderness to the southwest of the town centre. You'll be able to drive there from Broadway in just 10 minutes when there's not too much traffic, which is good to know on those balmy summer days. 

    As the name implies, the piece de resistance of the reserve is Mirror Lake itself. That's a reservoir, but still comes fringed with a designated swimming beach in the hotter months, along with various fishing points for travellers with rods in tow. When snow falls, Mirror Lake State Park opens Nordic ski routes that offer a unique way to see the Wisconsin backcountry.

    Location: E Fern Dell Rd, Baraboo, WI 53913, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 11 pm

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    photo by Royalbroil (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Bavarian Village

    Where you can sing oompah and see the glockenspiel

    • Shoppers
    • Food

    The Bavarian Village is a curious little enclave of downtown Wisconsin Dells. It's just off Broadway, so you should be able to stroll here if you're staying near the area. You certainly can't miss it – just look for the fairy-tale glockenspiel clock and Ye Olde World German architecture. 

    Between shopping in the quirky souvenir outlets, you can enjoy retellings of the Pied Piper of Hamelin tale. There's also a clutch of European-style eateries that tout schnitzel, strudel, and a variety of cheese.

    Location: 420 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 10 pm


    Riverside & Great Northern Railway

    A train chugging through the countryside

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    The Riverside & Great Northern Railway is a quaint and kitschy little attraction that offers a pleasant chug through the Wisconsin countryside. Look for the platforms and the ticket booth north of town along the Wisconsin River, close to the craggy Upper Dells. That's where you'll be able to hop on board.

    In total, a trip on the Riverside & Great Northern Railway runs for 3 miles through lovely Wisconsin scenery. It's a fantastic way to glimpse the majesty of The Dells, with visions of canyons and forest-topped cliffs unfolding from the window. You'll also be riding a vintage mini locomotive that could easily hail from the 1800s.

    Location: N115 County Rd N, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965, USA

    Open: Saturday–Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +1 608-254-6367

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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