Wisconsin Dells isn’t just a popular summer vacation spot in the Midwest. As the years have gone by, there’s more to do all year round here. Of course, it’s all pretty much thanks to H.H. Bennett. Wisconsin Dells first became known to the public through a series of photographs by H.H. Bennett, “the man with the camera.” This American photographer and inventor was famous for his photographs of The Dells, especially “The Leap,” his photo of his son leaping across Stand Rock. His landscape photography brought tourists flocking to the area, beginning the tourism boom that is still going.
Here are a few more interesting facts about Wisconsin Dells just to get things started on your winter or spring vacation. Wisconsin Dells, in south-central Wisconsin, was named after the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic stretch along the Wisconsin River with amazing sandstone rock formations (the dells). To make things a little confusing, the area surrounding the small city of Wisconsin Dells and the nearby village of Lake Delton is also known as The Dells. The city likes to call itself the “Waterpark Capital of the World,” and you can enjoy waterpark fun throughout the year.
Winter Activities and Events
Winter in Wisconsin Dells offers plenty of snow, making it perfect for your favorite winter sport. Enjoy a day of sledding and snow tubing with the kids at Cascade Mountain, Christmas Mountain Village, or at Bowman Park, right in downtown. Cascade Mountain also offers skiing, and snowboarding too, with 47 trails. Christmas Mountain Village offers day and night downhill ski runs and holiday events along with their daytime tubing 900-foot chutes.
Spend days of fun in the snow at Cascade Mountain where you can ski, snowboard, and snow tube. It’s the only resort in the country where kids can ski free as long as they’re with a paid adult. Mirror Lake and Devil’s Lake State Park have miles of groomed trails, primed and ready for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing fun. You can also try your hand at ice fishing at Lake Delton or at Devil’s Lake. All you need is a lot of patience to land walleye, northern pike, and more. Just book your ice-fishing afternoon with a guide who uses an insulated ice house!
Too cold for you? Head indoors for fun. These spots are great winter or spring, but are especially nice when the weather is too cold outside. The Dells Mining Co. has a store right downtown that’s open year-round where you can pan for natural precious and semi-precious gemstones. Hit the links with indoor mini golf at The Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort. Wild Fun Zone also has mini golf, laser tag, bumper cars, arcade games, and more.
Enjoy adult games at The Ho-Chunk Gaming Casino, where you can waste time (and maybe money) on slot machines, blackjack, and other adult games, as well as enjoy dining and live entertainment. If you feel the need to get rid of some of a little stress, book an hour or two at Asgard Axe Throwing for some physical exercise and fast-paced fun.
Winter Holiday Fun
Of course, winter means it’s holiday season. The city will light their Tree of Light down near the Riverwalk and will offer visits from Santa and his reindeer, live music, caroling, and other events from the middle of November through the end of December. Don’t miss the Elf on a Shelf Scavenger Hunt! Also, the River Walk will be decorated with over 70 lighted, festive trees to help get you in the mood.
Great Wolf Lodge sets up its annual Snowland with a visit from Santa, a tree lighting ceremony, life-size gingerbread houses and more. The annual Canadian Pacific Railway Holiday Train’s stop in Wisconsin Dells benefits charities as they collect food and donations. This festive, lighted train has Santa, live music and more.
This is the year to start your own Christmas family traditions. Take your family on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through snow-laden forests for a trip they’ll remember forever. Head to a local nursery and have the kids help select and then cut the family Christmas tree.
Spring Activities and Events
Enjoy the outdoors! The weather is just starting to warm up, so take a day trip to one of the local state parks. Mirror Lake State Park has fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, birdwatching, and hiking and biking along wooded trails. The lake, with its namesake mirror surface, is partially surrounded by sandstone bluffs.
Rocky Arbor State Park is perfect for hiking along pine tree shaded trails by sandstone bluffs. Other hiking trails worth the trip are the Chapel Gorge Trail, a short loop through hardwood forests to a small beach on the shore of the Wisconsin River with great views of the cliffs, and Roche-A-Cri Wisconsin State Park in nearby Friendship, where you can hike trails along 300-foot high rock formations and view Native American petroglyphs and pictographs.
Rent a kayak, canoe, or even a pontoon for fun on the water. Get out on Lake Delton or Mirror Lake, or go river rafting or tubing along the Wisconsin River. The fishing is just starting up again, so keep an eye out for those walleyes!
If you’ve got kids, they’ll love the Wisconsin Deer Park. There are hundreds of deer (and goats) to pet and feed as you wander through the wooded trails of this 28-acre educational petting zoo.
Enjoy some speed on a zip line! Take a hike/climb up a hill then enjoy the ride down as you zip over trees and wildlife. Talk with Vertical Illusions about their zip lining, kayaking, and rock climbing tours. Their eco canopy tour speeds over cliffs and through Chimney Rock Park.
Things to Enjoy Year-Round
Head to the Dells! This scenic gorge on the Wisconsin River stretches over five miles, lined with striated Cambrian sandstone rock formations. The cliffs and side canyons are under the protection of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and are not accessible to the public, but these amazing sandstone formations can be viewed by water, and there are numerous boat tours to choose from. Try the upper or lower Dells tour, or a sunset dinner tour and more.
The Riverwalk is just a short walk, but this promenade offers lovely views of the Wisconsin River with those sandstone cliffs, and there are historical plaques along the way. Stop on to the Riverwalk Pub for refreshments along the way. Plus, once you’ve finished the Riverwalk, just stroll over to the “strip,” the city’s downtown district, where you’ll find souvenir shops, candy shops, fun houses, and more. It’s so much easier to enjoy without the summer crowds!
There are plenty of boat tours along the Wisconsin River to view the natural wonders of the Dells. Take a duck boat tour, a double-decker boat and more. The Witches Gulf Boat Tour cruises past the dramatic cliffs, through hidden passages, and past Witches Gulf and Stand Rock (where H.H. Bennett took his world-famous picture).
Visit an indoor water park. Chula Vista Resort Waterpark and Great Wolf Lodge Water Park are good choices. You can also try a water park that offers other activities like the Mt. Olympus Theme Park, where you’ll find outdoor roller coasters and rides as well as an indoor theme park for those spring days when it’s just a little too chilly to be outside.
Devil’s Lake State Park, on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, has amazing views of the quartzite bluffs and Devil’s Lake. Visitors will enjoy hiking, mountain biking on special trails, rock climbing, swimming, sunbathing on sandy beaches, boating and fishing and year-round naturalist programs. In winter, the trails are still open for hiking as well as cross-country skiing.
Take a trip to Chimney Rock Wildlife Area, which features 634 acres of hardwood forests, marsh, and grasslands where you can forge your own cross-country skiing and hiking trails and enjoy birdwatching and wildlife viewing. Enjoy views of the iconic Chimney Rock from the water or as you hike.
Theaters, Museums and More
The Palace Theatre is a year-round dinner theater experience for the entire family. Enjoy dinner and the show, or just the show. There are a wide variety of shows too, from Thunderstruck ACDC (an ACDC tribute band) to Cinderella, Lee Greenwood, and more. The Rick Wilcox Magic Theater is open year-round for family fun and an evening of illusions and magic.
There are several local wineries to visit duing spring in Wisconsin Dells, including Wollersheim Winery, which has an annual open house in March with grapevine pruning demonstrations, cooking with wine demonstrations, tours and more. Enjoy wine and live music at Balanced Rock Winery, which specializes in cold climate grapes. The family-owned Baraboo Bluff Winery is just a few miles from Wisconsin Dells in the Baraboo Bluff Range, and their second winery, Broken Bottle Winery has a large tasting room.
Want to learn a little while having fun? Take a city and history trolley tour, or a haunted history trolley tour. Or maybe you love weird and odd things? Then you’ll want to make a stop at Wisconsin Dell’s own Odditorium, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, where you can explore three floors of weird, and sometimes creepy exhibits. It’s an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
Plan a visit to Carr Valley Cheese. Really, if you love cheese, a visit to this cheese shop is a must. This multi-generational family business started in 1902 and is known today for its handmade artisanal aged cheddars. There are several of their cheese factories close by, if you feel like taking a drive for a tour. You can’t go wrong with any of their products, but don’t leave without some cheese bread.
Where to Eat and Drink in The Dells
Looking for a family friendly, casual, comfort food eating spot? MACS – Macaroni and Cheese Shop fits all those requirements. Who wouldn’t love a skillet of mac’n’cheese? But, it’s not all macs, although they are the high point. There are cheesy melts, good-for-you salads, and desserts too.
The High Rock Café, with its unique design and location on a prime downtown corner, should be on everyone’s list while visiting Wisconsin Dells. This contemporary dining spot offers local micro-brews along with its flavorful menu combinations.
A local bar and grill for over 70 years, Monk’s Bar & Grill – Wisconsin Dells, has great pub fare, local craft brews, and plenty of TVs scattered around so you won’t miss any of the game. Order their famous Monkburger with a side of cheese curds.
A few other local spots to put on your list include Lake City Social-Restaurant and Sarento’s. If you’re in the mood for pizza and beer, head to Moosejaw Pizza & Dell’s Brewing Co., Buffalo Phil’s Pizza and Grille or the Pizza Pub. In the mood for dressing up? Try The Del-Bar or the rustic looking Ishnala Supper Club in nearby Lake Denten for amazing food along with amazing views of the lovely lake.
Your Ultimate Winter and Spring Vacation in Wisconsin Dells
There’s plenty to keep you and your group busy on your vacation to Wisconsin Dells during the snowy winter months or bright spring days. You really don’t even have to leave Spring Brook Resort. What began in the 1980s has blossomed into a resort of over 360 wooded acres. Besides amazing vacation homes and condos, Spring Brook offers the perfect getaway.
Enjoy resort amenities in our Clubhouse complex with a fitness studio, turbo-tanning bed, whirlpools, game room, playground, and indoor and outdoor pools, plus golf, bike rentals, and swimming, boating, and fishing on the lake. There’s even a sports bar & grille. Whether you go out to enjoy everything Wisconsin Dells has to offer or just stay right here at Spring Brook Resort, you’ll have a great time.
If you still a few more suggestions for outdoor or indoor activities, or maybe a few more suggestions for spots to enjoy more Wisconsin cheesy goodness, just give our office a call.