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48 Hours in Wisconsin Dells: From Water Parks to Spa Time


48 Hours in Wisconsin Dells: From Water Parks to Spa Time

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The town of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, has long been equated with being the waterpark capital of the USA.

Chutes, slides, wave pools and lazy rivers — hosted at a mind-blowing 21 water parks — are the major attraction, but you will also find plenty to see and do beyond the theme parks. To kick off a two-day visit, hop on an Original Wisconsin Ducks, a narrated, one-hour tour helps you get the lay of the land and a mini history-lesson, too. The fleet of World War II amphibious vehicles cruise down the Wisconsin River and across Lake Delton throughWisconsin Dells' downtown. It's been a staple experience in this town since the 1940s.

Water Parks Galore

A visit to one of the city's renowned water parks is a must — many of the parks are open year-round, with indoor sections for the cold weather months. Adults can relax in cabanas and chaises at each of the water parks, while still keeping an eye on the kids.

Noah's Ark Waterpark with 50 water slides is the oldest in the Dells, but it is constantly being updated with new rides and attractions. The Black Anaconda combines the fun of a roller coaster (at 48 kilometers per hour) with the thrill of a water slide. Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Parks' Medusa Water Park emulates Greco-Roman design — check out Manticore, a 43-meter tall tower with a vertical swing.

Another themed park — Kalahari Resort Waterpark — is inspired by Africa with its 11,613-square-meter indoor water park, featuring the Victoria Falls rafting ride and Screaming Hyena, which plunges guests through a trap door at speeds of up to 40 kilometers per hour. At the Chula Vista Resort are an 7,432-square-meter, multi-level indoor water park (boasting the country's fastest indoor water coaster, the Flyan Mayan), as well as an outdoor water park that includes a wave pool and an 18-hole miniature-golf course.

Outdoor Adventures

Still want to boost your adrenaline? Vertical Illusions offers four options for adventure: kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, zip-lining and rock-climbing. Its guided tours are perfect for timid travelers and also provide insights into the region, whether you're exploring caves along the Wisconsin River or taking in a rare bird's-eye view of Chimney Rock Park from the treetops.

At nearby Mirror Lake State Park, its more than 800 hectares include 29 kilometers of hiking trails and famed U.S. architect Frank Lloyd Wright's Seth Peterson Cottage, which is available for overnight rentals and offers limited tours. Nearby is Devil's Lake State Park, along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, where you can swim and rent stand-up paddle boards, canoes and kayaks in the 146-hectare lake. Or for a natural high, try summiting the 152-meter-tall quartzite bluffs via hiking trails.

Specialty Dining, Shopping and Spa Treatments

Looking to scoop up a bargain? Outlets at the Dells offers some 60 stores selling major brand and designer goods at deep discounts.

Before heading home, book a massage at Sundara Inn & Spa, a resort-like spa tucked into the forest and built around Feng shui principles. You can stay overnight in a suite or villa, or plan a day experience.

Treatments are in line with Ayurvedic medicine — every experience begins with a purifying bath ritual, a five-step pampering regimen that takes around 30 minutes. Starting with an application of sandstone body polish that's native to Wisconsin Dells, the ritual winds down in the plunge pool — all ages really can enjoy getting soaked in this Midwestern city.

Specialty dining is the perfect way to close out a day in Wisconsin Dells. At The Del-Bar in neighboring Lake Delton, the nightly happy-hour menu at this retro eatery inspired by mid-century supper clubs features dishes for under $7.

Macs (in Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton) is a family-friendly spot that serves 12 different version of macaroni and cheese — a favorite U.S. comfort food — in personal-sized cast-iron skillets. Downtown-dining options in Wisconsin Dells include the timeless Monk's Bar & Grill, which first started flipping and serving burgers in 1947 a half block away at its original location.