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Wisconsin Dells beyond the waterparks. Everyone has heard of Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world. The town (population, 5,000) has the flavor of New Orleans without either the history (no Spanish or French but Winnebago Indians) or the culture (no jazz but plenty of honky-tonk) Lots of fun for kids in the summertime, but since Wisconsin is my home state, I want you to know that there is more to the Dells than miniature golf, fudge shops, and water parks.Wisconsin Dells . The Dells themselves, the state’s foremost natural attraction, are the beautiful rock formations along the Wisconsin River. Boat or land-boat (duck) tours of the Dells are available. Don’t let the hype of the water parks and hotels cause you to miss the essence of the Dells. www.dells.com
H.H. Bennett Studio and History Center. H.H. Bennett was the 19th century photographer who made the Dells rock formations famous. The museum makes his life and work come to life with interactive exhibits. www.wisconsinhistory.org/hhbennett
Circus World Museum. America’s Circus Museum, where the Ringling Brothers housed their circus from 1884 until 1918. See circus acts, acrobats and animals in this museum in Baraboo, WI, an easy drive from Wisconsin Dells. www.circusworldmuseum.com
House-on-the Rock. Either you love it or hate it, but the house is designed by a Madison man, who dragged half the world to his house so you are able to see artifacts including everything from carousels and circus memorabilia to dolls and cars. Everything is out of context, many miles from its origin so if you like to your traveling in one spot, this is the place to go. www.thehouseontherock.comMid-Continent Railroad Museum . Take a 50-minute train ride through the Baraboo Hills and see displays of steam locomotives. www.midcontinent.org