VINE AND STEIN
Local, artisanal wineries have become increasingly popular travel destinations, and the Dells area, in particular, has become a magnet for wine lovers. Home to five wineries – including the state’s oldest and largest, Wollersheim Winery & Distillery – it is also home to the state’s newest. Set to open this spring, Broken Bottle Winery will temporarily source its grapes from the vineyard of parent Baraboo Bluff Winery while its own vineyard fully takes root. The winery will feature two indoor bars, plus a large front porch for sipping outside.
Wisconsin Dells also will welcome a new premium wine bar in the historic downtown area this summer. In addition to wine, Kilbourn Cork will also feature single-malt whiskies, small-batch bourbons and other handmade spirits, as well as local and regional craft brews and seasonal small plate selections – not to mention an outdoor fire pit.
Beer aficionados will find a new microbrewery in the Wisconsin Dells area in 2019. Tumbled Rock Brewery & Kitchen, nestled in the hills near Devil’s Lake State Park, is a family-friendly restaurant and brewery boasting a wood-fired oven, pizzas and pub food. Its stouts, witbiers and IPAs are brewed in-house.
For a little caffeine to balance the libations, guests can visit Bella Goose Coffee’s new roastery located downtown Dells on Eddy Street. Customers can tour the roastery, participate in coffee tasting events and purchase freshly roasted coffee beans. Bella Goose creates a craft coffee experience with pour over coffee, seasonal smoothies and juices, and their signature waffle bar complete with toppings.
SPA EXPERIENCES: PASS THE SALT, PLEASE
Halotherapy, more commonly known as salt therapy, is a trending treatment in the wellness industry. Spa Kalahari & Salon has added a salt therapy room that incorporates pure organic Himalayan salt and a halogenerator, which changes pure salt into salt vapor. When inhaled, the vapors detoxify the body and boost the immune system.
Similarly, Sundara Inn & Spa now offers a salt therapy treatment room as part of its recently completed 40,000-square-foot expansion. In this salt microclimate, salt crystals line the floor and walls as the halotherapy generator adds to the curative feel. Sundara’s expansion also includes new woodland suites, a dedicated restaurant, meditation spaces, a second outdoor pool, a signature indoor sanctuary, waterfalls, and replicated casts of the Cambrian sandstone bluffs seen along the Wisconsin River.
Soothing scents, pastels and memorable flavors can be found at the New Life Lavender & Cherry Farm. Open June through September, this family-run farm is tucked away in the beautiful bluffs of the Baraboo Range. Guests can enjoy homemade lavender ice cream and original lavender cherry pies made fresh at the farm, in addition to handcrafted lavender soaps and lotions. Guided tours of the fields are offered, examining the 21 varieties of lavender grown on the farm, as well as Wisconsin’s sustainable agriculture industry.
Riverfront Terrace in downtown Wisconsin Dells has created a collective space to showcase the arts and celebrate the Wisconsin River. This hangout spot will open for its first full season this spring and have plenty of live music, food and drinks, and, of course, spectacular views.
The Vue Restaurant located in the River Inn Resort is slated to debut its first season this spring. The Vue is nestled along the Wisconsin River offering 180-degree views of the Sand Stone cliffs along the Upper Wisconsin Dells. A perfect choice to sip a local libation and watch the setting sun.
Hot Rocks – Sear.Sizzle.Savor. is the only restaurant of its kind in Wisconsin, the tiki-themed dining experience empowers guests to cook their food at the table on lava stones heated to 750 degrees Fahrenheit. Dating back to 7,000 B.C., hot rock cooking is one of the oldest styles of cooking.
Two franchise establishments have been added to the list of yummy options available in Wisconsin Dells. Five Guys Burgers & Fries is famous for its juicy burgers, fresh cut fries cooked in 100 percent no-cholesterol peanut oil, and hand-spun creamy vanilla milkshakes. McAlister’s Deli has fresh, made-to-order deli favorites and desserts including the Chocolate Lovin’ Spooncake billed as “chocolate therapy in cake form.”
When the winter thaw is over, dining al fresco is something that is always in high demand which is why Field’s at the Wilderness debuted “The Patio,” a multi-level patio area adjacent to the restaurant and overlooking a pond. This is the perfect place for a nightcap after a full day of activity.
The Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort - America’s Largest Waterpark Resort- continues to add fun to its indoor inventory with a trio of rock-climbing walls to their Timberland Playhouse area. The three vary in difficulty and design, giving visitors a wide range of challenges.
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions teamed up with Disney feature film animators to bring you Tom Foolerys, a newly themed 100,000 square foot indoor theme park fitted with new adventures including a roller coaster sized just right for the little ones, a ropes course with an added zipline and Maximum Foolocity, a thrilling ride that goes 50 feet in the air – up, down and all around.
The American Resort & Treehouses will offer some natural heat relief this summer with the debut of The Lagoon with 250,000 gallons of naturally filtered water complete with a cascading waterfall, stone grotto, and lazy stream.
For something exciting Knuckleheads Trampoline Park l Rides l Bowling will debut Hologate Virtual Reality (VR). This award-winning VR takes the gaming experience to a new dimension, with zero motion sickness. Suitable for all ages and skill levels.
The addition of Booby Trap Escape Rooms is a fun attraction for an afternoon of family bonding, a date night or a birthday party. Along the same lines of live-action, Dells Game Show & Comedy Club allows you to compete against family and friends in a series of mini-games themed to trivia, puzzles and physical challenges. It’s one hour of fun where you get to be the star of the show.
While ice skating outside year-round doesn’t sound plausible even in Wisconsin, the owners of The Keg Bar & Grill/The Patio have made it a reality with their new, 300-square-foot, synthetic ice rink called I-Skate @ The Keg. The rink is open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day with reduced hours in the fall and winter. Skate rentals are available.
Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park brings a one-of-a-kind attraction to Wisconsin Dells with its Underworld Go-Carts which take riders underground, a nice complement to their Hades 360 roller coaster featuring the world’s longest underground roller coaster tunnel.
TOURNAMENT GOLF COURSES
Wild Rock Golf Club at the Wilderness has been selected by the United States Golf Association to host a qualifying round for the 2019 U.S. Open on May 8. This magnificent 18-hole course, built on a former quarry, was designed by Hurdzan-Fry, the same duo who created Erin Hills, site of last year’s U.S. Open. The course incorporates an old stone quarry and a woodland area with a stream, as well as extreme elevation changes. Many holes play up and down the sandstone ridges, for which the Dells is famous, and offer views of the quartzite cliffs of the Baraboo Range.
A memorable 9-hole course can be found in nearby Baraboo, adjacent to Ho-Chunk Gaming. Fairfield Hills Golf Course & Driving Range offers golfers the chance to play 3, 9, 12, or 18 holes. Recognizing that many golfers may not have enough time for a full 18-hole round, Fairfield Hills is one of the few Midwestern courses with a 12-hole option. This unique course was awarded the Golf Course Owners of Wisconsin’s 2018 “Golf Course of the Year” ranking in the 9-hole category.
ANNIVERSARIES AND EXPANSIONS
Noah’s Ark Waterpark, America’s largest outdoor waterpark, turns 40 this year with an anniversary bash on the books for Memorial Day weekend plus a full summer of special events to mark the occasion. Last year Noah’s Ark made big waves with the opening of its Raja waterslide, and with a few tweaks over the offseason, the world’s largest King Cobra promises to be even bigger and faster in 2019. When you visit this summer, don’t pass up playing the new 18-hole Safari Adventure Mini Golf Course there or popping in to the iconic Pink’s Hot Dogs for a bite to eat.
While on the topic of anniversaries, a colossal shout-out to Circus World on its 60th anniversary. This national treasure, located on the original Ringling Bros. Circus Winter Quarters in nearby Baraboo, first rose to fame in the 1960s so it’s especially fitting the attraction is going with “A Summer of Luv Under the Big Top” theme for 2019 with a nod to mod fashion and classic rock.
Kalahari Resort & Conventions’ 112,000-square foot meeting and convention space expansion is set to open this fall. It includes a new ballroom large enough to accommodate 8,600, sun-drenched pre-function spaces, private meeting rooms, “recharge” lounges, and outdoor patios. With 756 rooms and 212,000 total square feet of adjoining meeting space, this expansion will brand Kalahari Resorts & Conventions in Wisconsin Dells as the largest hotel convention center in Wisconsin.
Beloved classic attraction, the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory – Interactive Science Center, is wrapping up a half-million-dollar expansion and renovation, with new exhibits opening this summer. All told, there are more than 175 interactive activities here, from a giant lever to a high wire cycle to a Russian space station core module.