As the Midwest’s premier family destination, the Wisconsin Dells’ popularity has surged in the past decade, filling resorts to capacity with children eager to take on any waterslide in sight. Enjoy the multitude of options at one the five best family resorts, where a world-record-holding water coaster, indoor go-kart tracks, and a six-story indoor Ferris wheel bring out the kid in everyone.
Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort
Proud to be America’s largest waterpark resort, Wilderness Hotel and Golf Resort overs 600 acres with a remarkable 1,163 lodging options on its three properties: Wilderness Resort, Wilderness on the Lake, and Glacier Canyon Lodge. Operating since 1995, the complex ushered in a new era of family accommodations in the Dells, pushing boundaries with the first-of-its-kind indoor waterpark. Since then, Wilderness Resort has continued to lead the pack, expanding to now feature a head-spinning total of eight waterparks, four indoors and four outdoors. Complete with more than ten eateries throughout the grounds, there’s enough to fill a family’s daily agenda for weeks on end.
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A safari-themed complex that houses the Dells’ largest indoor waterpark, Kalahari Resort measures up as a prime spot for family getaways year-round. With comfortable rooms and campsites, families delight in the endless activities of the resort. With an indoor theme park that includes a six-story Ferris wheel, a raised go-kart track, a mini golf course, and 24 lanes of bowling, there’s never a dull moment. When it comes to the indoor waterpark, waterslide lovers go for the country’s only indoor looping waterslide, the Sahara Sidewinders. Leave your car keys in your room, as the multiple dining options at restaurants like Double Cut Charcoal Grill and Wisconsin Brew Pub prove that once you’ve arrived at Kalahari, there’s no reason to leave.
Great Wolf Lodge
With a brand that has grown in the past decade to twelve resorts in the U.S. and one in Canada, the flagship Great Wolf Lodge offers visitors rustic charm. Built with families in mind, the resort goes the extra mile in accommodating children, with fun amenities such as Scooops, an ice-cream-themed kids spa, nightly story time with friendly animal characters, and MagiQuest, an interactive adventure throughout the hotel grounds. Highlights of the indoor waterpark include the Howlin' Tornado, a six-story, red and yellow funnel that blasts rafts of four riders as high as 30 feet up the walls of the vortex, and the slick, four-person races of Mountain Edge Raceway, the park’s most interactive slide.
Just off the Wisconsin River and three miles north of downtown Dells, Chula Vista Resort brings a southwestern ambiance to the Upper Dells. As one of the longest standing vacationing names in the Dells, Chula Vista’s origins date back to the 1920s, just as the Dells (then known as Kilbourn City) began emerging as a popular summertime destination for Chicago, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee families. Having undergone a $200 million expansion in 2006, the resort stands as one of the largest in the area, with 620 rooms that range from standard guestrooms to a private chalet. The resort continued to expand its indoor waterpark facilities, introducing a new 80,000 square-foot addition that includes the Flyan Mayan Up Hill Water Roller Coaster, the world’s fastest and longest uphill indoor water roller coaster. Chula Vista delivers a more laidback resort experience, with popular activities including eighteen holes of golf at the resort’s Cold Water Canyon Golf Course, a plush spa, and an afternoon spent relaxing in the outdoor hot springs.
Cliffside Resort and Suites
No visit to the Dells is complete without admiring the beauty of Lake Delton. So when it comes to enjoying the great waters, a stay at lakeside Cliffside Resort and Suites fits the bill. At a retreat that’s tailored to a more nature-centric experience, the sunset gives way to a quiet night of stargazing. Forgoing an indoor waterpark and crazy thrill rides, days spent fishing, hiking, and swimming the cool waters of Lake Delton are preferred at this resort. Only a few miles from the theme parks and attractions that have created a bustling scene in the Dells, it’s a nice change of pace to escape the noise and return to what originally made this region a desirable escape.