**Thank you to the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau for providing us with admission to bring these reviews to our readers. No compensation was received for this post. All opinions are 100% my own.
We recently spent a splendid weekend in the Wisconsin Dells area for a little fall escape. October in the Dells is still quite active and there are many ways to continue enjoying the area without even stepping into a waterpark. Since we are not quite ready to admit that winter is on its way, we intended to spend most of our time outdoors which we did! With the beautiful weather, the Dells was certainly alive with many visitors enjoying the attractions. However, the crowds were more manageable than the busier summer months thus enhancing our visit. Here are some of our favorite family spots in Wisconsin Dells:
Wisconsin Deer Park:
The Wisconsin Deer Park has been a family favorite for as long as I remember--in fact, I visited as a baby! The park has been open over 50 years and is one of the original Wisconsin Dells attractions. Moseying along with deer in a lovely wooded preserve is an unparalleled experience allowing families to interact with deer. The deer are incredibly gentle and kids love the opportunity to see them so close. Feed can be purchased at the Visitor's Center so that your family can feed the serene creatures. We gathered some "admirers" along the way--which entirely entertained us. We relished the experience of slowing down for a moment and visiting with the sweet deer. The preserve also is home to other animals including bison, rhea, raccoons, goats, horses and more.
Wisconsin Dells River Walk and Downtown:
A visit to the Wisconsin Dells should always include a walk downtown. The downtown area has a unique vibe and is a mix of attractions that will intrigue everyone from Ripley's Believe It or Not to fudge and candy shops to Carr Valley Cheese and much more. Be sure to check out the Winnebago Gift Shop which is locally owned and has a wide range of gifts including Minnetonka moccasins and Native American items. Also in the downtown, we stumbled onto the Dells Mining Co. where you can pan for minerals. The attached store sells a range of mineral specimens which we so happen to always be on the hunt for! My favorite find there are necklaces that you can make by picking out a mineral and other fixtures to create a necklace for $4! My daughter loved this little treat and the price was perfect for me!
While downtown, we enjoyed a walk along the River Walk. The walk itself is not very long but we enjoyed the sandstone cliffs. Also, take a peek at the locks. A pleasant aside.
H.H. Bennett Studio:
While strolling downtown, we carved out some time to visit the H.H. Bennett Studio. Originally, we did not plan on visiting H.H. Bennett Studio during our trip but while in the downtown area my interest was piqued and we headed in. H.H. Bennett was a gifted nature photographer who took stunning photos of the Wisconsin Dells focusing on the raw natural beauty of the Wisconsin River and sandstone cliffs. His photos sparked travel to the area. My husband, daughter and I were very impressed with the museum so I am thrilled that we strayed! The museum is housed in H.H. Bennett's original studio and you can view much of the equipment that H. H. Bennett used including a real peek into the darkroom. Super cool! A plethora of hands-on experiences easily captivates children including viewing some of the photographer's stereoscopic images. Really an amazing step back in time to the 1870's!
Dells Boat Tours:
Dells Boat Tours provide a relaxing way to enjoy the scenery along the Wisconsin River. The sandstone rock structures in the Dells are quite unique and something I encourage nature lovers to experience. The tours run through October and I personally love sailing in the fall because I enjoy the cooler temperatures. There are various choices of tours that afford views of the interesting scenery. One of our longtime favorites is the Upper Dells Tour where you are able to disembark twice. Everyone seems to always get a kick out of combining exploration by foot with the boat tour! The amphibious Original Ducks and Army Ducks are pretty fun for kids (well and parents too!) providing the novelty of being able to travel both by land and by sea in the same vehicle. Sunset cruises and ghost boat tours are also available.
Area Hiking Trails:
During our visit, we made a trip over to Devil's Lake State Park in nearby Baraboo for some hiking and were swept away! We could easily have spent an entire day there hiking, climbing, relaxing and picnicking! Devil's Lake is the third oldest state park in Wisconsin and encompasses a gorgeous lake encircled by quartzite cliffs. If you are looking for more challenging hike this is the place for you! The preserve has a healthy mix of gentle trails to a bit challenging to pretty steep. So, there is something for everyone--but make sure you check out the trail descriptions before hiking! We hiked along the shore and climbed a few areas. The park and picnic area along the lake provided a placid respite spot. There are seasonal kayak, canoe and boat rentals as well as concessions.
Looking for more trails? Mirror Lake State Park and Rocky Arbor State Park are other local favorites in the Dells area. State parks do have a parking fee but you can purchase a yearly pass if you plan on visiting multiple parks in Wisconsin.
But wait, there's more.....
I have some more great finds from our weekend away to share with you, so stay posted!