Wisconsin - Dells and Madison

Jun 26th, 2014, 07:47 AM
  #1  
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Wisconsin - Dells and Madison

May be traveling to those towns this summer with a 10 and 14 yr old. who prefer to do something (amusement/sports), though we will drag them through museums or somewhat educational places.

The water parks, go carts and "ducks" should be cheesy fun in the Dells, but any other hits for kids that age? I've read about Wizard Quest and Bartlett's exploratory, which seem to get good reviews on Trip Advisor, but would welcome your opinions and other suggestions. The Dells have a lot too offer, but I suspect the "quality" varies significantly.

In Madison, per some other threads, we would probably stay near State Street, and visit the capitol and campus. We might hit the Geology museum on campus and Cave of the Mounds. I'd appreciate comments/experience with those, and other suggestions for kids that age.

Thanks!
Bitter is offline  
Jun 26th, 2014, 08:05 AM
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Hmmm...you're not "Bitter" because of parenting I hope. First comment (remembering years ago) keeping two kids entertained is a challenge. We have camped with three in Wisconsin and it seems you know the area. I do think the Dells might be interesting with the Maid of the Mist. Anything else in Madison I wonder? For kids I mean (our DS got PhD at UW). How about Circus Museum (www.circusworldbaraboo.org)
Ozarksbill is offline  
Jun 26th, 2014, 08:35 AM
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I googled Maid of the Mist, but got references to Niagra Falls. Is there also one at/near the Dells.

I would also note we are possibly going to travel further north to do some rafting (I started a thread on that a while back).
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Jun 26th, 2014, 08:44 AM
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I grew up in Madison and went to the Dells every summer, took a summer job in the Dells in college, and took my 2 boys there every year until they outgrew it

The waterparks, gocarts, Ducks, etc. will definitely keep them happy. There are tons of other "side" things to do, like a bungee-type slingshot ride and other thrill-seeker activities. Noah's Ark and Mt. Olympus are the 2 best waterparks, with Olympus having the added benefit of having the most go carts and a 1-price-gets-entry-to-everything admission.

Be sure to take them to Pizza Pub right across the street from Noah's Ark for good pizza. They have a buffet, but the pizza's better if you order one or two for your table.

As for Madison, I haven't lived there in 26 years and it's changed so much I can't recommend too much aside from the State Street experience. You can shop the street and don't need to plan ahead on where to eat - just stop wherever the group decides on. A visit to the Memorial Union Terrace is also worthwhile - beer for the adults and ice cream for the kids, right on the lake. If you're there on a weekend evening there will be live music outside (it does get crowded). Enjoy!
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Jun 26th, 2014, 08:48 AM
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There are several boat companies in the Dells, the Ducks being the most famous and well worth it. You'll probably be told the story of how one of the lakes completely drained out one year after a storm washed the embankments away. Homes were washed out and everything. The lake has since returned, though.

The Wisconsin river runs between Madison and the Dells, and there are rafting trips on it. Check around the Prairie Du Sauk area, which is also home to Wollersheim winery and worth a tour.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 09:10 AM
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Thanks Susan. If you know: Are the rafting trips on the Wisconsin river more of the float/canoe kind, or do they have some rapids?

Years ago I visited the UW Union, I think. I was amazed by the lake view and the fact that it smelled slightly of spilled beer. I thought that was a hoot.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 10:46 AM
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I pretty much grew up directly across the lake from the union, and spent my summers water skiing on it. Can you tell I love Madison?

I only have a vague childhood memory of rafting on the Apple river, which is on the Illinois border. Not sure whether the Wisconsin has rapids. From the looks of this website, maybe not.

http://www.anythingwisconsin.com/rafting.htm
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Jun 26th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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Here's some info on Cave of the Mounds. Your boys would probably like it. I still remember learning how to tell the difference between stalagmites and stalactites: The ones hanging from above are stalactites because they have to hang "tite."

http://www.travelwisconsin.com/artic...s-of-wisconsin
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Jul 1st, 2014, 08:02 AM
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Take the scenic route to Madison via Hwy 12 to Hwy 113 in Baraboo (goes right past Circus World museum- decent price to see teh Circus, IMO) and go to Devil's Lake state park. Decent beach, incredible hiking and views!

Continue on Hwy 113 and take the FREE Merrimac Ferry across the Wisconsin River/Lake Wisconsin. A tradition is to get ice cream before the crossing, although I'm not a huge fan of Schoepp's Ice Cream.

Go west once crossing and go to Culver's in Sauk City- home of the original Culver's and their famous custard and butterburgers.

Once in Madison, take the free tour of the Capitol and go across the street and tour the free (although donations encouraged) Veteran's Museum.

Vilas zoo is fun and free.

Cave of the Mounds is fun. You also might want to drive through Mount Horeb for the trolls.

As far as the Dells, we did enjoy Wizard Quest as a family. We're a nerdy family though, liking the fantasy genre. If your boys do, then it is a must visit!
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Jul 1st, 2014, 08:31 AM
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Thanks for those ideas!
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Jul 1st, 2014, 08:32 AM
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I second the scenic route on Hwy 12. It's how we always went. I was going to recommend it but felt I had already posted enough, LOL.
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Jul 1st, 2014, 09:33 AM
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My father and I went to the Dells last spring. The Circus Museum was very interesting. My grandfather had traveled with Ringling Brothers so that may have made it a bit more interesting. I think the best part was the wagon barn. Take the wagon tour with the guide. The back stories are wonderful.

I have been on many winey tours but the tour at Wollersheim winery was pretty interesting.

We also took the boat tour. The Duck tour may be a bit more interesting for your boys.

There is a restaurant just off the River Walk that was pretty good. We ate there a few times during out week stay. I cannot remember the name but it is behind the parking lot for the Upper Dell boat tour.
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Jul 21st, 2014, 08:55 AM
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Thanks all and I wanted to report back.

We really liked Madison. Our timing/planning wasn't ideal so we missed the MMoCA, but we walked to picnic point, enjoyed the campus/union, had icecream at the location on campus, toured the capital, and really liked the walkability of the city and State Street. We visited the geology museum on campus and wouldn't particularly recommend it to others, unless they are die hard rock fans. We enjoyed Pizza at Ian's and had ok (but not stunning) meals at the Old Fashioned and the Great Dane.

Went to the Dells via hwy 12 and Devil's lake. Awesome park. We hiked the balancing rock and went over to see the Devil's Doorway and down another trail. It was a very nice hike. Ate at the Farmhouse restaurant on the way to the park. Very pleasantly surprised!

At the Dells we stayed at the Wilderness for a couple nights. I was pleasantly surprised. It is huge and expensive but I thought they did a good job considering the traffic they get. I can't imagine how many stairs we climbed for all of the water park fun!

Also did the Wizard Quest which is in much need of freshening, but we enjoyed it, though we didn't finish. Tommy Bartlett's water show was fun. I really didn't want to go to it, but was pleasantly surprised.

Go cars (adare and Chief?) were fun, but too slow. We ate at Pizza Pub (thanks for the rec), Monk's and Sprecher's (sp?). Also ate one meal at a bar/grill at the Wilderness, which was ok though a little more expensive than it would be off campus (but we suspected as much). (I'm curious what the Wilderness buffet was like, but Wilderness did a very good job of not telling you how much anything cost!Tried to

Missed the Cave of the Mounds and many other options, but that gives us a reason to return. Thanks again for all the help!
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Jul 23rd, 2014, 08:21 AM
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Glad you enjoyed your trip! I have a special place in my heart for both Madison and the Dells.
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Jul 23rd, 2014, 10:12 AM
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Sounds like you had fun. A friend just posted about Mineral Point near Madison. Looks very interesting.
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