Last Updated on July 1, 2014 by Jody Halsted
My sister, my brother, and their families took a vacation in the Wisconsin Dells. I hope you enjoy my “guest blogger”, her account of their trip and her advice. The kids' ages at the time of this trip were 6, 5 & 4 years old. ~Jody
We started out around 9:30 Am Sunday morning (from Des Moines, Iowa). The drive was peaceful and uneventful, except for some minor grumpiness at Clear Lake (I said I don’t need to go potty!) and the rest area in Minnesota where we had lunch (My sandwich is GROSS!). After lunch, there were no movies and no Nintendo DS, so there was napping by both boys. They both slept through the descent to the Mississippi River valley, which was absolutely gorgeous! They awoke to stop & go traffic about 25 miles outside of the Dells. Seems a van had blown a tire and was sitting backwards on the left shoulder of the interstate. Once past that, it was smooth sailing right up to the Great Wolf Lodge.
I might caution you about arriving right at check-in time. 4:00 PM is apparently the heaviest traffic time of day, and we hit it spot on! After standing in line for around 10-15 minutes, I was informed that housekeeping was having trouble getting the rooms cleaned. No matter, the gal at the desk changed our double queen rooms to double queen suites in the condos. We had a fridge just a bit larger than a dorm fridge, a microwave and a coffee pot. The ‘kitchen’ area had its own sink.
We quickly unpacked a few things, changed into swim gear and headed to the water park. There are three large indoor areas with wave pool, racing belly slides, tube slides, kiddie slides and the Tornado. The Tornado has a steep drop to a cone shaped area. Your tube goes back & forth across the water until you finally go down the tube to the end. Don’t sit too far down in the tube, or you’ll drag your bottom across the water at a high rate of speed. OUCH!
Monday morning, we got some news from home. There had been a storm early Monday morning with high winds and torrential rain. Much of the power was out, and nobody could get into our houses because we had simply left garage opener codes for neighbors and family if they needed to get in. Holly and I planned to go to the Tanger Outlet on Monday in the morning. When we tried to start my car, though, the battery was dead. We decided to leave it for later and took Holly’s car across the parking lot to the mall. While shopping, which was mostly a bust, I kept calling to see if my power was back on yet. After 10 hours or so without power, my answering machine finally picked up. I called Jody, and she checked my house for damage. Thank goodness we didn’t have a basement flood!!
Later in the afternoon, Jon & Justin took my car to the Wal Mart automotive center. They installed a new battery, and the car was good to go!
Monday evening, Jon and I went out for dinner without the kids at the River Walk Pub.
We started off with fried cheese curds…we were in Wisconsin, eh? We had their special, which is a whiskey marinated sirloin with 4 beer battered shrimp. It was to die for. We were seated on the patio overlooking the Wisconsin River. After a great dinner, we walked down the River Walk, sampled some fudge, and went back to the hotel to rescue Justin & Holly.
They had taken the three boys to Wiley’s Woods in the Great Wolf Lodge. This is a great place to blow off steam and wear the kids out! It’s a four story play area with stairs and cargo nets to climb. Once you’re at the top, you can get to the bottom pretty quickly in a tube slide! The best part is the little foam balls. There are canvas bags to fill up with balls on the bottom floor, then each floor up has air powered guns to shoot the little balls at your ‘enemies’. The adults can enjoy it as much as the kids! Did I mention it’s free when you are staying at the Lodge?
Tuesday we spent more time at the water park and Wiley’s Woods. This was Justin & Holly’s night out. They went to Ginza of Tokyo because they enjoy Ohana Steakhouse in West Des Moines so much. They were less than impressed with the show, but the food was good. Apparently their chef didn’t speak English very well, so he didn’t connect with the crowd. (He didn't speak Japanese, either; he was Latino.)
While they were gone, we took the kids to Wiley’s Woods again. When they were completely worn out, we headed down to the main hall in the Great Wolf Lodge for story time. Animated characters around the clock tower tell a bedtime story geared toward how the land was discovered and settled, and what we need to do to preserve it for future generations.
Wednesday, we packed up and moved to a different hotel closer to the downtown Dells area. On our way, we decided to check out Knuckleheads. There weren’t a lot of rides the kids could go on by themselves and the prices seemed high. After a quick ride on the bumper cars and a couple of video games, we were done.
The New Concord Inn is more of a Mom & Pop place, where you get actual metal keys for the building entrance and your room. The rooms were smaller, but they connected. I think the bathroom was cleaner than the one at Great Wolf Lodge, too. And I know the beds were WAY more comfortable. They have an outdoor pool area and the indoor pool area had a kiddie play area with a slide, and another slide into the adult pool. After we checked in, we unpacked a few things into our fridges and were ready to go.
First stop was ADare Go Karts. Cash is the only accepted form of payment. There’s an ATM right next door at the Original Wisconsin Ducks if you’re short. The three little boys had to ride along with an adult, so we paid for two tracks and took them racing. It was fun for all of us. The boys (young AND old) would have liked to spend the entire day there, but we had other things to do!
Next, we went to Mexicali Rose for lunch. The bench in the waiting area had a mannequin in Mexican garb sitting in the middle of it. The three little boys sat down with him for a picture while we were waiting to be seated. Their alcoholic beverages come with swords through the fruit, so the kids were thrilled to have a new toy. The food was excellent, and they had a very kid friendly menu…mine are pretty picky, but they found something they liked.
After lunch, Justin and Jon took the boys to the pool for a while. Holly and I hit the local Kohl’s because I forgot to bring tennis shoes for walking. Duh! Afterwards, we took a tour with the Original Wisconsin Ducks. Our tour guide was fantastic! If I remember correctly, his name was Will. Unless we didn’t like the tour, then his name was Alex. I am sure most of his stories were scripted, but his delivery was perfect! Even the kids thought he was funny. I was surprised how much there was to see besides the tour on the river. Normally, the tour goes up into Lake Delton. We were able to see from the river the house from the news that was torn in half when water rushed out into the river. It is amazing that the water is just gone; just a few clumps of grass and weeds here and there in the sand.
We even saw some white tailed deer on the tour after Will spotted a few wild stop signs along the way. You can tell they’re not domesticated due to their small size, and they like to hide in trees.
The next day we went to breakfast at Paul Bunyan’s (where the food is good…but not too good, eh?). Ok, if your kids watch Phineas and Ferb on Disney, that might ring a bell. The food is served family style. We had eggs, ham, link sausage, doughnuts, biscuits & gravy and pancakes. And more eggs. And more eggs. Apparently Ethan had gotten tired of cereal in the hotel room. The breakfast was great and worth the wait!
After that, we headed up to Timber Falls for some nicely shaded mini golf. There are three courses to choose from, and I think we had a couple of holes-in-one. The day was sunny, but not too warm. Everyone had a good time!
Afterward, we walked across the street to the amusement park area. Carter was tall enough to ride the bumper boats by himself…by a hair. He thought it was AWESOME to be able to drive one on his own. He took a few shots at Mommy & Aunt Holly with the water gun on his boat. We learned to stay back when he headed our direction. Jon & Justin took Carter and Koen on the log ride. They all got soaked and went back for more! Jon and Carter stayed while Justin, Holly and I took Ethan and Koen back to the hotel for a nap.
Later that afternoon, we went to the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory. There are so many fun things to do! We all had pictures with our head on a platter. We made our hair stand on end. We tried to piece together mind benders. Justin & Jon rode a bicycle on a tightrope. I rode the gyroscope, which turned out to be a really bad idea. A minute and a half is a very long time!!! This is a great way to spend the afternoon with kids!
We tried to go to the Moose Jaw Brew Pub for dinner, but we waited too long. The wait was 45minutes and the kids were starving. We decided to head back to the River Walk Pub for some more cheese curds, burgers and fries. Even though it was bike night and there was a live band, we were seated right away. Our waiter was the best! He took orders for the kids and placed them immediately so they wouldn’t have to wait too long. I have to say it was my favorite place to eat in the Dells.
The next morning, we were on our way back to Iowa. The Dells is a perfect place to take the family for a relaxing vacation! I’m sure we’ll be back!