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Wisconsin Parent

Wisconsin Dells: Beyond the Waterparks

Jun 17, 2014 10:37PM ● By Guest Contributor
Wisconsin Dells may be known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World!,” but it was the natural beauty of the area that first drew tourists to this destination. The Wisconsin River and the surrounding bluffs create a beautiful background for any family vacation.

Today, Wisconsin Dells reigns as a top waterpark destination, but visitors to the area will find much more beyond the more than 200 waterslides. Attractions in the area offer history, adventure and family fun.

Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf and Family Fun Center

Pirate's Cove

Families who seek entertainment away from the water can head to Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf and Family Fun Center. The miniature golf course includes 91 holes within five different courses.

The courses are designed with all age and skill levels in mind from easy to challenging options. Waterfalls, bridges and hills offer a picturesque backdrop to fun family photographs while attempting to sink a hole in one.

After some time putting, families will enjoy time at the Family Fun Center. Kids can take on their parents in a pedal car race, jump on a giant pillow, play basketball or enjoy a life-sized game of chess.

Original Wisconsin Ducks


The green and white Original Wisconsin Ducks are a staple for any trip to Wisconsin Dells. Visitors to the area often see the popular amphibious vehicles cruising around town and in the water.

The duck was first introduced by the military during World War II as a way to transports supplies from ship to shore. Today, ducks are more commonly used or tourism and there are fewer than 300 operational ducks in the United States. The Original Wisconsin Ducks operate the largest fleet with more than 90 of the land-to-water vehicles and have been a local tradition for almost 70 years.

A trip aboard the Original Wisconsin Ducks begins on land before it heads into the Wisconsin River. A scenic tour takes riders through the river, past cliffs, up Dell Creek and into Lake Delton before a journey back through the woods.

The duck driver entertains passengers with area history, points-of-interest and family-friendly humor.

Riders should anticipate the possibility of being splashed during the water portion of the ride.

H.H. Bennett Studio


As one of the top landscape photographers of the 19th century, H.H. Bennett is credited as “the man who made Wisconsin Dells famous.” His photographs of the natural beauty of the area brought visitors from across the county to see the Wisconsin Dells.

Today, the H.H. Bennett studio celebrates his historic photography and his pursuit of new technologies. The museum welcomes visitors of all ages with interactive exhibits and authentic stereoscopic views of Bennett’s famous photographs.

A tour through his original studio displays his darkroom equipment and homemade cameras. Visitors also have the chance to explore Bennett’s relationship with the Ho-Chunk tribe.

The Rail Dog


It may prove to be a challenge to tear the kids away from the attractions in Wisconsin Dells, but a meal at The Rail Dog generates its own excitement.

A restored 1956 Milwaukee Caboose is now home to this unique hot dog stand.

Just a short walk from downtown, diners can snap some family photos under the railroad crossing sign before placing an order. Flashing lights and train memorabilia offer plenty to look between bites.

Home to Chicago Vienna Dogs, the stand also serves Chicago Italian Beef, a Polish Taco and the Dells Taco. The caboose offers limited seating inside and shaded picnic tables to eat at outside. Diners should remember to bring cash, because The Rail Dog does not accept credit cards or checks.

Tommy Bartlett Show


Water is a common theme for attractions in the Wisconsin Dells area and the Tommy Bartlett Show is no exception. For more than 60 years, this attraction has wowed tourists with water ski performances, fast boats and a stunt show.

The skiers show off their skills as they do flips, jumps and the show’s famous three-tiered pyramid. Aqua T. Clown’s antics add some family-friendly humor to the show. Fan excitement grows as power boats race around the water before making jumps off of ramps before speeding off again.

The second half of the show brings out stunt motorcycles, a juggler and acrobats. The evening performance includes more acts and the Entrancing Waters show finale where visitors will witness dancing fountains set to music.

For more information on attractions in the Wisconsin Dells area, contact the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau.

FamStephanie Beirne Leuer is in the process of reinventing herself after spending nearly a decade as a stay-at-home mom to two children. She holds a bachelor’s of science in history and is currently pursuing a journalism certificate. In the past year she has balanced life as a mom, student, public relations intern, social media editor and a professional seeker of lost LEGO pieces.