We just got back from a week of holidays and I must say, I am glad to be back. Our week away was jam-packed with shopping, adventure and lots of fun …. with a touch of relaxation. It was a great holiday and we’ll be sure to go back, but hopefully I won’t be side swiped with a second bout of Strep Throat on our next trip. Ugh! I only missed one day of fun, but must admit I was struggling for at least 2.
DESTINATION: Wisconsin Dells
I love road trips. I love being internet free and having quality time to connect as a family. In Roy terms, this was a very short trip ~ only about 10 1/2 hours from our house to the Dells. Of course, that would only be the case if we did not stop to go shopping for an entire day en route! (Great deals and back to school shopping is officially done!)
The Dells is a very touristy town and that is not always my cup of tea. Boutiques and quaint little shops will not be found on their strip. Instead, the main drag is lined with tacky souvenir shops, homemade fudge shops and other cash grabs. The town itself has about 2700 people, but it flows right into another town called Lake Delton which has a population of around 2900, so combined there are under 6000 permanent residents that live there. Although I was unable to verify this statement, someone who we met said that the population grows to approximately 2,000,000 people during the summer. I am not sure, but I am guessing he meant that they have around 2 million tourists visit each summer. Despite the towns being relatively small, there are accommodations every where you look. There is temporary housing for the students that flood in from all over the world for summer employment, exotic resorts, water parks, cottages and ample opportunities for camping. There are literally dozens of things to do in the area and to be honest it is a little over whelming. Because we had never been there before, we decided to stay away from the resorts and try a variety of things.
Aside from all of the commercial tourist trap type stuff, the area is beautiful. We have driven through Wisconsin several times in the past and it really is a beautiful state. Lake Delton is a man-made lake with an interesting story. The lake was originally made by Chicago construction company owner William J. Newman in 1926. In 1940, Newman lost his shares due to financial difficulties. By the 1980’s, the Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton had become a major tourist destination and home to several water parks and other attractions. In 2008, a portion of the dike eroded under the pressure of flood waters due to high levels of precipitation. The dike failed and the lake emptied and sat as an empty basin for most of the year. Repairs were done and the lake was refilled and became usable again in 2009.
Where Did We Stay?
For starters, we chose to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the main drags. We rented an adorable little cottage from Kathy’s Kozy Kottages. Kathy and Joe were wonderful hosts and our cottage was a quaint little gem. They have many return customers and book very early, so we were lucky to get the one bedroom. It was very small, but perfect for our needs as we were out and about every day. The cottages were equipped with everything you need except for towels and BBQ tools (both of which are mentioned in the info). The beds were comfortable and the cottage was very clean and well-kept. Kathy and Joe were there every day to do general maintenance and up keep for their three cottages. The beach front is shared by all three cottages, but it was perfect as the kids made friends and had a blast. There is a BBQ (charcoal), fire pit, two docks, pedal boats and sand toys for smaller kids. There is also a floating platform for the kids to play on. Shay met a new friend and had a great time learning to fish. We couldn’t believe their luck, they must have caught about 15 fish within just a few hours.
The cottage was only $80 per night and allowed us to eat as many meals as we wanted “at home”. If we go back, we will definitely stay there again!
What Did We Do?
Haunted Mansion on Main Street – this was just a little time filler and a huge waste of money. My husband and kids agreed it was lame (at best).
Bigfoot Zipline Tours – an expensive adventure, but very fun and worth the money. It is a 2 1/2 hour guided “tour” in which you get to zip down 6 different lines ranging from 462 feet to 1397 feet. You are taught the basics as well as some tricks. I am not very good with heights, but even I let go and sailed down the line upside down. It was great! It was $89 per person and basically suitable for anyone from 4 to 94 years old. We were advised to buy the package deal from a friend that had previously gone to the Dells. We paid $100 per person (ouch!!) and for that price we got the Bigfoot Zipline Tour as well as the Dells Army Ducks and the Wild Thing Jet Boat Ride. This was a great deal and we purchased our package right at Bigfoot. (I also heard from others that the Bigfoot Zipline is much better than the other one in the area).
Dells Army Ducks – this is basically a tour of both land and water on the army duck boats. We did this on the first day and it was great to get some history and knowledge of the area before beginning our holiday. We all really enjoyed the humour of the driver and the one hour tour.
Wild Thing – a fun and wild ride on a jet boat. Be prepared to get wet. It is a bit of a tour, but mostly lots of fun. The best part of both of the boat rides is that you get to travel up/down the Wisconsin River which has unbelievable rock formations along the banks. It is very picturesque and well worth the money.
Noah’s Ark – This water park boasts being the largest in the world and I can see why. It basically has everything imaginable in terms of water fun. From the amusement park type “log ride” to tube roller coasters, it has it all. The kids had lots of fun at the wave pool and testing their fate on the “Point of No Return”. There were many rides and the park seemed endless. Unfortunately for me, I was fighting a fever and headache and not my usual dare-devil self. Too bad. The admission to this park was $39 plus tax, but we bought our tickets from a Kwik Trip outlet and got them for $29 each. Something to note: you can purchase a second day pass when leaving the park for only $10. You can also pre-purchase your tickets on-line at good rates, but we weren’t entirely sure what we were going to do prior to leaving
Kalahari Resort offers lodging and both indoor and outdoor water/amusement parks. This park was more expensive than Noah’s Ark by about $10 per person. I was too sick to go to the park that day, so I opted to stay at the cottage in bed. Luckily I was feeling slightly better by late afternoon and was able to sit on the beach and read (not so bad). The kids said it was fun, but another time, we would probably do Noah’s Ark two days in a row and get the second day rate.
Beach– one of our favourite days was spent hanging out at the little beach in front of our cottage. The docks provided great fishing for the kids and kept them entertained for hours. The lake temperature was incredibly warm and the sandy bottom and clean water made it an excellent place to swim. The lake was calm and we were in a “no wake” zone, so the kids were pretty safe to swim out quite a distant or take the pedal boats out on their own. It was relaxing, quiet and offered a good dose of nature at its best. Loved it!
We ate out a few times, but only one restaurant is really worth mentioning ~ the High Rock Cafe. The food was fabulous and service was good. We did have to wait to get in as this is a very popular restaurant. We had planned on having dessert with dinner as it was Tim’s birthday, but the dessert menu really wasn’t that appealing. However, after having our meals, we decided that really had to give the desserts a try as well. We ordered a S’more Dessert and the Half-Baked Cupcake. Illness was on my side this time and no one wanted to share my dessert for fear of falling sick! Yay! I had the half-baked cupcake and it was incredible. It was a vanilla cupcake stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough and a cookies n’ cream frosting. (I am actually having trouble writing about it without salivating.) We would highly recommend this restaurant for a nice evening out. The menu is on-line and it includes pricing, so you can check it out before going. Mmmm good!
This was a great trip and lots of fun for the kids. Next time, I plan to be healthy (which I am sure will enhance the overall experience), and we all agree that we’d love to have more time at the cottage enjoying the lake and fishing. Over all a great family vacation!