Guest Author - Pam Cartwright
A visit to the Wisconsin Dells will be memorable. This place has done what many cities try to do, but fail. They truly have something for everyone. Families, singles and couples will be equally happy that they have chosen the Dells.
US highway 12/state highway 23 is the main tourist area where there are a million and one signs for the 20 or so waterparks in the area. Wisconsin Dells is called the waterpark capital of the world for good reason. The waterparks are the heart of their tourism. They have an assortment of add-ons like amusement parks, motels, campgrounds, etc., that you won't see in most places. Many of the waterparks are built like Hollywood movie sets. You might find yourself at the Parthenon or on Noah’s Ark. One even has a huge Trojan horse that towers over the highway.
Follow the highway north to the first intersection, then turn east on highway 23. Cross the river, go under the railroad and you're downtown. Here, you'll see all the glory of a tourist town. The downtown area boasts plenty of small shops offering all the Wisconsin Dells souvenirs your heart desires. In addition to souvenirs, you can choose from candy, coffee, Wisconsin cheeses, wines and much more. You'll be able to find something for everyone on your list.
The variety of activities and attractions makes it difficult to choose, so, do yourself a favor. Get some literature from the internet or by writing to the visitor's bureau before you go. Some of the things that might interest you: a visit to a deer petting zoo; a walk through an upside down building; a golf outing; pamper yourself at a day spa; engage in any number of water sports or horseback riding; a family outing to a water show; and on and on. If you plan on engaging in more than one of the major attraction activities, purchase one of the multi-tickets. Coupons for the waterparks and other attractions are found everywhere. So, plan your adventures and save some money.
If you're wondering about the origin of the name, Wisconsin Dells, you're not alone. There's much debate about where the word Wisconsin comes from. Most believe it has some reference to rushing waters. The word Dells is easier to define. It comes from the French word dalles which refers to slabs of rock. This is easy to believe when you see the beautiful waters of the Wisconsin River. The wind and water have eaten away huge slabs of limestone leaving magnificent rock formations with intricate angles and spectacular colors lining the river.
Take the Upper Dells boat tour for a memorable way to see all this grandeur. Seating on these double decked boats is first come, first served. So, get there early if you want a good seat. Outdoor top-of-boat seats have a better view, but on a cool or rainy day, you might need a windbreaker or jacket. The tour lasts about two hours and has two land excursions. By all means, take advantage of these. They’re short, easy walks. You’ll see rocks, overhangs, creeks – all in nature’s settings. Take your camera, you’ll be glad you did. As the boat winds it’s way along the river, your guide will point out well-known rocks and describe the early settlements along the river.
When you've finished the Upper Dells, take the Original Wisconsin Ducks for a unique and exhilarating ride through the Lower Dells. They're World War II landing craft, officially named DUKWs. They have six wheels and a propeller, allowing them to go from land to water and back. Your tour will begin with a trip through pine forests, then onto the Delton Lake. It’s a large manmade lake, created by damming the Wisconsin River. Your land trip continues through more pine forest and back to the beginning. On land, be prepared to be bounced around as you wind through the forests and over the trails. On the water, if you’re in the front or back seat you'll probably get soaked as the drivers merrily “plop” you into the water. It's beyond a doubt an adventure you should experience.
You can amuse yourself with a round of miniature golf at any of the fantastic courses scattered throughout the area. The Pirates Cove Miniature Golf Course is a good place to start, part of a chain of courses. Built on the side of a hill, it has beautiful, well-tended flower beds and five courses to choose from. They’re graded by difficulty, so those of you who are novices will be able to play like a pro. This activity is extremely popular with families, so be prepared to spend extra time on the courses watching excited children try to keep their golf ball on the green.
Last but not least is food. Choose barbecue, seafood, Italian, vegetarian or practically anything else you want. There's food everywhere and much of it is distinctive to the area. Try the logging camp breakfast at Paul Bunyan's. It's all you can eat, served family style. The food is good and the service is great. They'll supply you with as many servings as you like, all with a smile.
You may wonder how a town of 2400 can have such a thriving tourism trade. Look around and you'll notice the large amount of young people who are serving the tourist's needs. They are polite, well-informed about the area and eager to make your stay pleasant. This combination of great service and the variety of activities available should make you a frequent visitor to the Wisconsin Dells.