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Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

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Glasgow, United...
Level Contributor
849 posts
406 reviews
Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

Hubby and I will be in Wisconsin in September as part of a road trip. We are starting in Chicago for NASCAR before moving on to either Milwaukee or Racine for a few days to visit New Holland Tractors amongst other things. We are looking at where else we would like to spend some time whilst in the state and the Wisconsin Dells area has been suggested.

My quetion is around what type of area it is. I know it's a family area, that in itself doesn't bother me however someone has suggested it may not be dissimilar to the likes of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Now I truly don't mean to offend anyone who likes the area but it was simply not our kind of place.

We're outdoors type, like nice scenery, walking trails, scenic drives and anything sort of agricultural. I figure there are plenty options in Wisconsin so if the Dells aren't for us then it's not the end of the world.

I should say we have 10 days in total to spend in Wisconsin although our final destination is Omaha, Nebraska and I was toying with spending 3 days in Mason City or even Dubuque which would leave 7 days to be split between Milwaukee and somewhere else.

I did think about 4 days in Milwaukee and 3 days in Green Bay but was concious that meant we were sort of whizzing through a big chunk of the state from Green Bay to Iowa/Nebraska.

Suggestions much appreciated.


Edited: 4:56 pm, March 28, 2012
Wisconsin Dells, WI
Level Contributor
14 posts
18 reviews
1. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

I think that the Dells might not be your prefered destination.

In terms of scenery, the rock formations on the Wisconsin River are beautiful, so a Duck ride or a Boat tour would probably be right up your alley. The upper dells boat also makes pit stops where you can get off and walk around as well.

I would also suggest checking out Devil's Lake State Park and Parfrey's Glen just south of the Dells near Baraboo, WI. Plenty of amazing trails, incredible scenery, and Baraboo has a nice downtown area with plenty of local history.

In general though, the Dells mostly revolves around waterparks, theme parks, mini golf, tourist traps and the like. Great for families, but it doesn't sound quite what you're looking for.

Level Contributor
932 posts
425 reviews
2. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

Yes, the destinations are similar in that they are all very touristy. I prefer Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge over the Dells as you are near the Mnts. Door County, Wisconsin may be a better location for you.

There is not much to see in Mason City. Dubuque is a quaint town where you could spend a full day. There are some nice B & B's in the area.

Destination Expert
for Milwaukee
Level Contributor
9,468 posts
62 reviews
3. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

Is the Harley Davidson museum in Milwaukee on your list. And, sort of agricultural might include Old World Wisconsin, which has some 19th century farmsteads for a nice dose of agricultural history.

If you want to work your way toward Iowa you might look at Spring Green. It is a scenic area, close to Baraboo and the Dells if you want to check out the Dells for a day. Dodgeville and Mineral Point are also near Spring Green.

Destination Expert
for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
Level Contributor
5,564 posts
111 reviews
4. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

I'll recommend these based on your post:

Old World Wisconsin in Eagle oldworldwisconsin.wisconsinhistory.org/

Door County!!! www.doorcounty.com

and also based on your post I suggest these areas: New Glarus, Monroe, and Mount Horeb. www.swisstown.com http://www.trollway.com/ wistravel.com/cities_in_wisconsin/…

The Ducks in the Dells are great if you're in the area for other sights/travels.

The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo is interesting.

Consider the Kettle Moraine on your way up to Green Bay for scenery. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kmn/

Horicon Marsh …wi.gov/org/…

Destination Expert
for Wisconsin, Colorado Springs
Level Contributor
5,564 posts
111 reviews
5. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

also when in Spring Green if you go check out The House on the Rock: It's just a one time must do if you're in WI


In Green Bay check out the Botanical Gardens:


and Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary:


In Milwaukee:

http://www.boernerbotanicalgardens.org/ (south of Milwaukee)

and in Milwaukee Mitchell Park Conservatory/aka The Domes:


Chicago Suburbs
Level Contributor
2,905 posts
22 reviews
6. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

Your instincts are correct; don't go to the Dells.

3rd Chaise to the...
Level Contributor
1,490 posts
31 reviews
7. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

I agree that the Dells is not what you are looking for.

Door County is like the Dells without the waterparks in my opinion. Some nice shoreline, but unless you have a boat, its still a lot of tourists and fudge.

I do think you would like the Spring Green / Dodgeville area. And the House on the Rock is really one of a kind.

You might also want to explore some Amish areas, cheese factories or breweries. Lots of those in Wisconsin too.

Don't miss out on some fresh cheese curds! (Get the ones on the counter that have not been refrigerated yet.)

Destination Expert
for Madison
Level Contributor
900 posts
24 reviews
8. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

Yes, to most of the the responses above. We prefer being outdoors hiking or indoors on rainy days at museums or thrift shops, so here's some ideas for you.

Check out Taliesen if you go the Spring Green route. The Don Q Inn is lots of fun rooms, if you plan to stay in the area. Be sure to get a room with one of the old copper cheese tubs. They are great for a soak after a long day of hiking.

Mineral Point has some fun restaurants and interesting historical and cultural stops.

If you end up near Viroqua, they have a lot of fun stuff in and around town. The food coop there is fantastic, too. Lots of great local produce and a good beer, wine and cheese selection, too.

Dubuque has some really great museums, and Galena is a terrific town to stay in or near on the Mississippi. You can see a lot driving from this area.

As you get closer to a final trip route, come on back. We will give you lots of local suggestions, once we know your actual route! Enjoy the planning, but don't obsess TOO much. You need to allow for spontaneity too!

Chicago Suburbs
Level Contributor
2,905 posts
22 reviews
9. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

Lots of good information at midwestweekends.com

Jackson, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
479 posts
143 reviews
10. Re: Is Wisconsin Dells area for me?

I agree with others, avoid the dells area. I think you would like Door County it has a more rugged and forested scenery along the great lake. There are 7 state parks with lots of great hiking and if it rains the maritime museum in Sturgeon bay is interesting.

On you drive north from Milwaukee a short stop for 1-2 hours inPort Washington and also at the Indian Mound Burial Park in Sheboygan.

As you travel west across the state plan a stop at the wollersheim winery in Prarie du Sac for an hour on your way to Taliesien and House on a Rock in Spring Green.after spending one night in Spring Green drive on about an hour and you will reach the Mississippi River. Drive north along Wisconsin side stopping for cheese and lookouts. Cross the river to Wabasha Minnesota and visit the national eagle center. They care for injured birds. Drive south on the Minnesota side ,but you will want to cross back to Wisconsin side to see Wyalusing state park . Excellent hiking here high on the bluffs. Drive south from here and stay in Galena Illinois . Visit an ol lead mine,the home and museum of our civil war president Ulysses Grant.Galena is across the river from Dubuque Iowa with a few caves the aquarium and the field of Dreams and toy museum in Dyersville