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Add Vacation Variety with Day Trips in Southern Wisconsin

Mother and daughter at wisconsin deer park petting zoo

Here’s our travel tip of the month: Use up a vacation day here and there with well-planned day trips to Wisconsin Dells. For good measure, get a “chill” day trip on the calendar now so you have something to look forward to in the cold weather months.

Dells Army Ducks on the river

Fun Day Trips in Wisconsin

How does your calendar look for the next few months? Is there a chance you can sneak away for a few day trips in Wisconsin? If yes, then let’s make sure those are the best vacation days ever with our day trip ideas to Wisconsin Dells. 

Day Trips in Wisconsin for Kids

  1. Start things off by getting a lay of the land or, rather, a lay of the water, with a Duck tour on the Wisconsin River. Choose Dells Army Duck Tours or Original Wisconsin Ducks. Kids will confirm that the splashdowns are the best!  
  2. Next, take in an animal attraction on land. There’s Wisconsin Deer Park where the kids can feed the deer, and Timbavati Wildlife Park where they can get up close with exotic species and take a ride on the Safari Train. Also, there are horseback riding stables in the area for a real hands-on animal experience. 
  3. What’s a day in the Dells without theme park fun? Take a spin at ADare Go Carts and Big Chief Go-Karts. Ride the roller coasters at Mt. Olympus Theme Park and try all their awesome go-kart tracks too.
  4. Depending on the size of your kids, ziplining might be in your future…future day trip that is. Kids must be 43 inches or taller to try Bigfoot Zipline Tours, where you zip above oak and pine forests. Dells Zipline Adventures has four different course levels of obstacles and zip lines so you can choose whichever is sized right for your children. Their newest zipline is the “Soar Like an Eagle,” with riders flying face-forward Superhero style (parents, here’s your chance to prove to your kids you do possess superpowers). If your child is at least 70 pounds, then consider the Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Canopy Tour where you get a bird’s-eye view of Lost Canyon.
  5. A round of mini golf is also in order on your day trip. Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf has 90 holes total, so no time to waste. Timber Falls Adventure Park offers mini golf in the shade of trees along the scenic Wisconsin River shoreline.

“Rainy Day” Day Trip to Wisconsin Dells

Girl playing on adventure parkLet’s call this the “classic” day trip to Wisconsin Dells.

Don’t let a rainy day get you down. Head to Wisconsin Dells instead and turn that frown upside down.

  1. Spellbinding. Yes, that’s the word to describe a performance at the Rick Wilcox Magic Theater, where master illusionist Rick Wilcox makes a helicopter appear out of thin air.
  2. The Tommy Bartlett Exploratory – Interactive Science Center has been a vacation staple in Wisconsin Dells for generations. With more than 175 interactive exhibits and scientific wonders, the kids will be happily occupied for hours. 
  3. How about a little wizard questing during your day visit to the Dells? Fun for both adults and teens, Wizard Quest in the downtown district provides an escape into the fantasy world of fairies, wizards, trolls, and dragons in a full-size interactive scavenger hunt-style setting. MagiQuest, located at Great Wolf Lodge, is another live-action adventure game, this one geared to younger kids, where magic wands come in handy to solve the mysteries of this enchanted kingdom.
  4. There are some terrific indoor amusement parks in Wisconsin Dells. Tom Foolerys Adventure Park has indoor go-karts, bowling, mini-golf, ropes course, indoor zip line, laser tag and thrill rides. Whew! At Knuckleheads Trampoline Park Rides Bowling there are slam dunk basketball hoops, a big jump area, dodge ball court, and even a BigAir stunt bag. There are amusement park rides here too and bowling and a Hologate Virtual Reality.
  5. Escape rooms are all the rage, especially when weather forces you indoors. Try Booby Trap Escape Rooms, or the escape rooms at Kalahari Resorts & Conventions and Wilderness Resort. While you’re at Wilderness Resort, check out the new Take Flight Theater, where special effects give you the sensation of flying, dipping, and gliding in front of a gigantic screen showing footage from a plane soaring over major national landmarks including Wisconsin Dells.

One Day Trips in Wisconsin - Outdoor Enthusiasts

For outdoorsy/active types, there are lots of ideas for fun day trips in Wisconsin.

  1. Hike the trails of nearby Devil’s Lake State Park. Test your hiking fortitude with steep ascents up the quartzite cliffs. Be sure to walk a segment of the National Scenic Ice Age Trail while you’re here. 
  2. Choose your favorite paddling mode – SUP, canoe, kayak - at Mirror Lake State Park, a “slow no wake” lake on the outskirts of Wisconsin Dells.
  3. Castle Rock Lake is just a short drive from Wisconsin Dells. For the unfamiliar, Castle Rock is actually a 14,000-acre lake with a five mile stretch of navigable Wisconsin River waterway. Rent boats or wave runners from the Dells Watersports location here.
  4. Calling all rock climbers. Vertical Illusions Zipline, Kayak & Rock Climbing Guided Adventures offers a half-day climb at Chimney Rock Park. Guides will match climbs to your skill level.
  5. Head home from your day trip with a great fish tale when you enlist the services of Fish Bones Guide Service. Who knows, you may even pull in a prehistoric lake sturgeon from the depths of the Wisconsin River.

Summer Day Trips in Wisconsin for Grown-ups

Round up your favorite group of friends and hit the road for a day trip to remember.

  1. With six different wineries to consider, you may have to choose a few favorites for this day trip and then return to check off the rest. Here’s an idea: Start with the newest wineries, which would be Balanced Rock Winery and Broken Bottle Winery.
  2. While part of the group is winery-hopping, the rest could head to the course for a round of 18. Wild Rock Golf Club hosted a qualifying round of the U.S. Open, so bring you’re A-game. Trappers Turn and Cold Water Canyon both present great challenges too. 
  3. A little blackjack, a little bingo, maybe some poker, craps, roulette, and mini-baccarat too. Ho-Chunk Gaming has all those plus more.
  4. We give you permission to gift yourself some jewelry, footwear, or apparel from Winnebago Gift Shop, Parsons Indian Trading Post, and Sole Moccasins & More
  5. Get the group back together at the end of the day for a memorable meal at any one of the outstanding supper clubs in Wisconsin Dells. There’s Ishnala, Field’s at the Wilderness, Del-Bar, House of Embers, Double Cut Steak House, and Kaminski’s Chop House.

Adults sitting near a firepit and enjoying a drink

Day Trips in Wisconsin in Winter

While we’re posting this story at the height of summer, let’s not forget that winter day trips to Wisconsin Dells are equally enticing. 

  1. Whatever way you prefer to get from the top of the mountain to the bottom, they have it at Cascade Mountain Ski, Snowboard & Snow Tube. You’ll also be happy to know they have a high-speed Mountain Top Express lift.
  2. After a day of exhilaration on the slopes, soothe sore muscles with a therapeutic massage customized to your après-ski needs at Spa Serenity.
  3. You burned some calories, now splurge on calories, with cheese from Market Square Cheese. To satisfy sweet cravings, how about a square or two of seasonal fudge from Swiss Maid Fudge. We recommend the Chocolate Peppermint Stick variety. 
  4. If you’re downtown sampling fudge, take time to stroll the downtown Scenic River Walk to get a different take on the grandeur of the Wisconsin River and towering sandstone bluffs when swathes of snow paint the scenery.
  5. Toast to a day trip that produced loads of warm memories when you cozy up next to the fire at Tumbled Rock Brewery & Kitchen and enjoy a wood-fired pizza. The Truffled Wild Mushroom Pizza sounds good, as does a flight of five of their flagship and seasonal brews.

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