Travel Guide: A Local's Guide to the Wisconsin Dells


*This post is sponsored by the Wisconsin Dells Convention and Visitor's Bureau and The Palace Theatre. All photos and opinions are my own. 


When you think of the Wisconsin Dells, you probably envision happy families with small kids hanging out at waterparks and shopping downtown. This "family" side of the Dells is often talked about, but did you know the city has tons of fun things for adults too? I've lived a just a short drive away from the Dells my entire life. I've worked in the city for over 6 years, and I love exploring it in my free time. The Dells has a lot to offer that many people overlook - like the fact that it isn't just for families with little kids! The Wisconsin Dells would even be a great place to try your hand at a solo trip if that's your thing. As a 23 year old unmarried woman with no kids, I set out to find the best things for adults to do on a visit to the Dells. So grab your friend, significant other, or even your furry friend (the Dells is very dog-friendly) and hit the road towards the Wisconsin Dells; you will not be disappointed!


J E T  B O A T  A D V E N T U R E S

2360 Wisconsin Dells Parkway, Wisconsin Dells, WI

An exhilarating way to see the beautiful Cambrian sandstone cliffs of the Wisconsin River is on a Jet Boat Adventure Tour. An extremely unique part of these cliffs is that they can only be found in four places in the world: Switzerland, Germany, New York, and of course, the Wisconsin Dells. The tour lasts about an hour, and you'll want to hold on tight! The driver makes it fun by doing power stops, spins, and other maneuvers that keep your adrenaline pumping. The boat goes up to 40 mph at times, and it doesn't matter where you sit, you will get wet! The Wisconsin River is divided into two areas in the Dells: the Upper Dells and the Lower Dells, separated by the Kilbourn Dam. The Jet Boat Tours are offered on both the Upper and Lower Dells, so you can really get a sense of the river. Here are some insider tips for a first-time jet boat rider - you will get drenched, so bring a towel (keep it in your car, or it will also get drenched), a rain jacket or poncho, and a waterproof disposable camera. You won't want to be using your phone to take photos on this tour, because you never know when you'll be doing a 360 degree spin that will soak you! After the tour, you can change into your dry clothes in the changing bathrooms at Mexicali Rose (a restaurant next door). I can't believe I went 23 years without doing a Jet Boat Tour; it was one of my favorite things I've ever experienced! Exploring the rock formations via the Wisconsin River gives you a truly amazing perspective on the history of the Dells. 

Tickets Prices: $30 for adults + $15 for children


E L U S I V E  E S C A P E  R O O M S

1425 Wisconsin Dells Parkway #3, Wisconsin Dells, WI

I have always been a huge fan of escape rooms. They're SO fun! Elusive Escape Rooms offers 7 different themed escape rooms with a range of difficulties. They have over 1,00 positive reviews on TripAdvisor! My family and I decided to try our hand at the Great Outdoors Escape Room, which is medium difficulty. Here's a description of it from their website: "In this scenario, you have 60 minutes to escape the mysterious cabin in the woods. You receive word that your Great Uncle Henry has recently passed away. A few days later you receive a letter in the mail from his lawyers containing a location deep in the woods. Your curiosity is peaked so you assemble your team and set out. Little did you know the adventure that would follow..."

Prior to starting the one-hour timer, you are given an introduction and tour of the room along with a video about expectations and rules. We picked our team name, Nutpick, and we were off. We used the hidden clues and keys to work towards a solution. Dwayne, our Game Master, gave us a few much-needed prompts during our experience when we were stuck. I loved how this escape room experience wasn't just contained in one room - there were actually three separate rooms and a secret passageway involved! The escape room really tested our problem-solving skills, but we were able to make it out with only one minute to spare. After our amazing experience doing the Great Outdoors Escape Room, I can't wait to go back and try all of the other ones! Next up on my list is the Serial Killer Butcher scenario.

Ticket Prices: $29.95 per person - ages 10 and up recommended


P A U L  B U N Y A N ' S  L U M B E R J A C K  S H O W

411 State Highway 13, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Another new favorite of mine is the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show. I have driven past this countless times in the years I've worked in the Dells, but only recently experienced it. This attraction is only open during the summer season, Memorial Day through Labor Day. The open-air auditorium provides ample seating on a first-come-first-serve basis. Mike Pakos, Carter McCloskey, Tom Lancaster, and Tristan Vanbeek were the stars of the show - they are true athletes (and entertainers)!


The hour and twenty minute interactive show is filled with real life lumberjack competitions - falls and all. Multiple events are showcased, including: log rolling, axe-throwing, sawing, chopping on a spring board plank, canoe jousting, tree climbing. The night is topped off with a relay race.  This show provides just the right amount of humor with athletic feats.  You can also enjoy a snack and a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) during the show from the nearby concession stand. The lumberjacks are available after the show to sign autographs and take pictures. This is on the top of the list of favorites, and it's definitely worth the price!

Ticket Prices: $17.99 for adults + $10.99 for children


W O L L E R S H E I M  W I N E R Y  +  D I S T I L L E R Y

7876 WI-188, Prairie Du Sac, WI

Wollersheim Winery + Distillery is just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of the Dells. Even though you may not think of Wisconsin and wineries as going hand in hand, Wisconsin wineries like Wollersheim produce award winning, delicious wines. The award-winning Wollersheim Winery offers tours and tastings, and it has something for everyone. It's a national historic site and the oldest winery in Wisconsin.


Agoston Haraszthy dug a limestone wine cellar into the hillside in the 1840's that has recently been refinished so visitors can enter. There, you can read about the history of the winery.  The grounds also offer views of the seemingly endless rows of grapevines along with beautiful flowers and places to sit to enjoy a glass (or bottle) of wine. The rolling hills and delightful landscaping make this a great place to explore and taste some of the best wine made in Wisconsin.

B I G  C H I E F ' S  G O  K A R T S

1450 Wisconsin Dells Parkway, Wisconsin Dells, WI

I love these go karts so much! This is one of the best go kart tracks I've ever seen, and you can't beat the price. The go karts are all very fast - they're the fastest ones I've ever driven! It's a great activity for all ages. There is more than one track too, so you can keep the fun going all afternoo . The track has lots of twists and turns and hills; it's a can't miss activity! I regularly come back to this one with my sister and boyfriend.

Ticket Prices: $3 per person


C O L D  W A T E R  C A N Y O N  G O L F  C O U R S E

Chula Vista Resort: 4052 River Road, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Golfing has always been one of my favorite sports, despite my lack of skills and experience. I always have such a great time when I golf with my family, and our experience at Cold Water Canyon Golf Course in the Dells exceeded our expectations.


This 18-hole golf course just outside downtown Dells at Chula Vista Resort offers a challenge for any level golfer. The traditional style front nine is still in use after it was created in 1923. The golf carts were awesome too - they are super nice and really enhanced the golf experience. Overall, we had a great experience at Cold Water Canyon, and we can't wait to return!

Green Fee: ranges from $16 - $44 depending on the season and time of day


G H O S T  B O A T  T O U R  "J O U R N E Y  I N T O  T H E  H A U N T E D  C A N Y O N"

11 Broadway Street, Wisconsin Dells, WI


With the catchphrase, "Legends tell of an ancient canyon buried deep in the rocky banks of the river, where dark things haunt the passageways and shadows move into the moonlight. What lurks inside? Take an eerie, after-dark journey up-river by boat and into the canyon on foot and find out. It lasts 1.5 hours...assuming you come back," how could you not be intrigued?!


The Ghost Boat tour kicks off right as the sun is about to set. It begins with a short boat ride over to Witches Gulch, where you learn all about the legend of Whiskey Jack. The story sets the stage of what is to come deep in the canyon later in the tour. Once the boat is securely docked at the island, you disembark and begin walking along a trail deep into the woods, guided only by moonlight. Along the walk to a cabin nestled in the woods, you will be spooked multiple times by "zombies" that really get your blood pumping. I was clutching onto my Dad's arm pretty hard during the walking portion of the tour! This is not for the faint of heart, which is why children under 10 are not allowed. Just a little warning - the walking paths can be pretty uneven in spots and are not well lit, so be careful when you're walking. In September and October, the adventure turns into the "Season of the Witch."

Ticket prices: $27.75 for adults + $19.22 for children
Tours from June-Labor Day leave at 8:30pm
Tours in May and September-October leave at 8:15pm


T O M M Y  B A R T L E T T :  S K I ,  S K Y ,  S T A G E  S H O W

560 Wisconsin Dells Parkway N, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Interestingly enough, this iconic Wisconsin Dells attraction was not always destined for the Dells. The show originally stopped in Lake Delton in 1952 as part of a traveling show. As you probably guessed, it never left. The Tommy Bartlett Show is now the longest-running live outdoor entertainment show of its kind. Generations of families have taken their seats to enjoy 90 minutes of entertainment on water and land (and in the sky) by some amazing performers.


Water skiers decked out in sparkly costumes perform a wide range of entertaining tricks and stunts including ski pyramids, barefooting, and a sky-ski act. On land, the Fausto Scorpions perform a body-juggling act consisting of flips, twists, and other tricks. A juggler and a motorcycle stunt act in a giant metal ball also provide entertainment that will keep you at the edge of your seat. The night show is finished off with a grand finale that includes a light show as a tribute to veterans. The Tommy Bartlett Show is a classic Wisconsin Dells tourist attraction for all ages. I remember going here as a child and still enjoyed it just as much as an adult - Nostalgia at its finest!

Ticket prices: $21.50 (General Admission) $24.50 (Reserved) for adults + $12.50 (General Admission) $15.50 (Reserved) for children
Shows run from May 25th - September 1st and have shows at 4:30pm and 8:30pm daily


R I V E R W A L K  +  R I V E R W A L K  T E R R A C E

100 Block Downtown, Wisconsin Dells, WI


This gem downtown makes you feel like you aren't in the middle of a busy downtown. It's a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax and unwind at the end of the day. Take a step away from the commotion of the Dells with a tranquil walk along the Wisconsin River. The scenic river walk has a paved trail with scenic overlooks scattered along the path with a few signs about local history. The walk is often shaded by the surrounding trees, making it nice for a casual stroll in the summer. The scenic riverwalk is part of the Dells River District, where music and the glow of neon lights fill the air beginning at dusk.


One great place to take in the ambiance of the River District is the brand new Riverfront Terrace. This is a remarkable outdoor entertainment space overlooking the river that offers live music, food and drink, great views, lounge furniture, and fire pits. This is the perfect place to soak up some laid-back summer (or fall) fun.

Price: FREE, with option to purchase food and drink


S C E N I C  C I T Y  +  H I S T O R Y  T R O L L E Y  T O U R

Departs from 750 Wisconsin Dells Parkway South (Bobber's Island Grille)


I have a weakness for trolley tours, and I was so excited to learn that the Dells offers one! They even offer a wine tour that's a super fun thing to do with friends. The Dells Trolley Tours were rated the #1 tour company in the Wisconsin Dells for 3 years in a row. With over 20 tours available, there's something for everyone and every occasion! Just like their website says, they "do it all! Winery tours, family tours, holiday tours, city + history tours, private rentals, and everything in between." The Scenic City + History Tour is a 60-90 minute narrated hop-on-hop-off tour around the city. This tour is a great way to get an idea of the location of main attractions in the Dells, but it also gives great insider tips from the locals! 

Ticket Prices: $19.99 for adults + $9.99 for children

P I R A T E ' S  C O V E  M I N I  G O L F

193 State Highway 13, Wisconsin Dells, WI


Another long-time favorite activity of mine is mini golfing at Pirate's Cove. A lot of mine and Nick's first dates were here over 6 years ago! I'm pretty much an expert mini golfer at this point. Pirate's Cove has 5 different courses with 91 holes. Each course has different obstacles and challenges, so it's always exciting, no matter how many times you've visited! One of my favorite parts is that the winner of your mini golf game can redeem your score card for a free scoop of ice cream. There's nothing better than the satisfaction of winning paired with a sweet treat!

Ticket Prices for 18 Holes: $9 for adults + $7 for children


PALACE THEATRE: MAMMA MIA!

564 Wisconsin Dells Parkway South, Wisconsin Dells, WI


I've been to Broadway shows in New York City, and this show in the Dells rivaled those! I took my family to see Mamma Mia! (we are huge Mamma Mia! fans), and it's safe to say we loved every minute of it. It completely exceeded our expectations. The caliber of this show makes it a must see. This state of the art theatre is a dinner-and-show venue with ample seating and great views. Prior to the show, you can indulge in a cocktail while lounging in the bar area and taking a photo in front of the themed backdrop. Mamma Mia! had themed fruity drinks available from the bar - they were delicious and inexpensive.


Once you enter the theatre, a server brings you the entree. The food was even better than we expected it to be! Two of us upgraded to the ribeye steak and two of us had the chicken that came as the standard entree. Both came with mashed potatoes, a vegetable medley and tea or soda. It was very tasty! We rounded out our meal with a scoop of rainbow sherbet, which happens to be one of my favorite desserts. The cast of Mamma Mia! all had energizing personalities, and the production of the show was top notch. It was big city quality in a small town setting! The excitement the cast created made me feel like I was right there in Greece. By the end of the show, my family and I were dancing and singing along! After the show, the cast was available for a meet and greet.

If Mamma Mia! isn't your thing, you should still catch a different show at the Palace Theater! You might want to bring a light sweater with you, as it can get a little chilly in the theater. This is an overall amazing experience to have as a family (or as a couple/with friends) -  I know we will reminisce on it for years to come. 

Ticket prices: $57.39 for adults + $24.30 (both prices are for dinner and a show)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Sure, the Wisconsin Dells is known as "the Waterpark Capital of the World," but it has so much more to offer than that. It's not just for families either - there truly is something for everyone in the Dells. Couples, friends, bachelorette parties, solo trips, family reunions - the Dells is perfect for it all. It's safe to say I have tons of experience with the city, and I am so impressed with the above attractions that I needed to share them with you. When you dive deeper into everything the city has to offer, you'll soon realize that it has two sides: outdoors and entertainment. You don't want to miss out on either side, as the Wisconsin Dells has so much to offer! 

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post. I never considered all that was available in the Dells without kids! It is on my list now!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love the detail in the guide. It also brings nostalgic memories of when I was in Wisconsin about 10 years ago! Great post.

    ReplyDelete