Banish winter blahs at Wisconsin Dells

Your family so needs a mini-escape and you’ve always wanted to check out the “The Waterpark Capital of the World,” but when it comes time to book that escape, the choices can become a tad overwhelming and you never make the reservation.

So we put together an insider’s guide to the warm waters, winter sports and fun indoor activities to keep your winter boredom at bay.

Where to stay

Wilderness Resort

511 E. Adams St., (800) 867-9453

Best for: Winter tanning

Wilderness boasts four indoor water parks, all accessible through inside walkways. Wild WaterDome’s transparent roof makes sunbathing possible even when there’s snow on the ground. Here you can ride the waves in America’s largest indoor wave pool. Or try the new slideboard experience, a surfboard ride that combines the thrill of water slides with the interactive skill of gaming, which opens in December. When your time in the water is done, have some fun at the new indoor attractions. Spin around the spiraling two-story go-kart trail, test your agility in the Lazer Maze or have a showdown in the Lazer Tag arena.

Kalahari Resort

1305 Kalahari Drive, (608) 254-5466

Best for: Family slides

Kalahari offers Disney-caliber comforts within an African-themed atmosphere. There’s fun for all bravery levels, from bodyboarding to tot slides. With rafts for up to three people, family water slides are great for getting little ones used to big rides or sharing group giggles. Kalahari’s indoor theme park features a six-story Ferris wheel, ropes courses for tykes and teens, bumper boats and even a pulse-pounding pendulum ride.

Great Wolf Lodge

1400 Great Wolf Drive; (608) 253-2222

Best for: Festive suites

Great Wolf’s warm indoor water park is sure to thrill your whole pack. With zero-depth entry pools and many mini water slides, even the tiniest tots will have a great time while the big kids swirl down the tornado slide. After splishing and splashing, snuggle up in your own winter wonderland. Snowland suites, decorated with holiday trees and snowflakes, are available for the first time this year. Plus you can enjoy holiday festivities throughout the resort–dine in a life-size gingerbread house or bask in the twinkling glow of indoor snowfall.

Where to play indoors

Rick Wilcox Magic Theater

1670 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy.; (608) 254-5511

Best for: Mesmerizing illusions

Want to add some wow to your Wis Dells getaway? Illusionists Rick and Suzan Wilcox keep audiences guessing, and laughing, in their Vegas-quality magic show. Kids will be captivated by the double levitation. Parents will appreciate that, even though it’s in Wisconsin, the show isn’t too cheesy. Audience members can volunteer to participate in the action and get a great prize. Check for tickets first–only a few 7 p.m performances are available in November and December.

Knuckleheads Trampoline Park * Rides * Bowling

150 N. Gasser Road, Lake Delton; (608) 254-7332

Best for: Giant trampolines

Got a few cooped-up kids? Knuckleheads is just the place to set those jumping beans free. Shoot hoops, play dodgeball, take a flying leap into the foam pit or bounce around the huge trampoline court. A 60-minute session is enough to wear anyone out. Little leapers will love the jumping pillow. Cool down at the 4D theater, bowling alley, arcade or indoor coaster.

Tommy Bartlett Exploratory

560 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy.; (608) 254-2525

Best for: Brain boosters

Examine the silly side of science in over 175 hands-on exhibits. Ever wonder what it’s like inside a thundercloud? Find out as your hair stands on end (an awesome photo opportunity). Tykes can tackle the Big Dig while bigger kids get a kick out of the interactive sports.

Where to explore outdoors

Bigfoot Zipline Tours

1550 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy.; (608) 254-5555

Best for: High-flying fun

Experience the cool exhilaration of zipping through the treetops over frozen waters. Bigfoot Ziplines is open year-round and thrill seekers ages 4 and up can glide across seven different ziplines, including the longest at almost 1,400 feet long.

Woodside Ranch

W4015 State Road 82, Mauston; (800) 626-4275

Best for: Horseback heaven

Take in a peaceful winter horseback ride at Woodside Ranch, a 15-minute drive from the Dells. With more than 1,000 wooded acres and 100 horses and ponies, no two trail rides will be the same. Wagon and sleigh rides also available.

Cascade Mountain

W10441 Cascade Mountain Road, Portage; (608) 742-5588

Best for: New skiers

Small children or anyone new to skiing will feel confident here. Try the Cascade Kids program, where kids 4-10 can learn the basics of skiing and snowboarding. Kids ski free with a paid adult.

Where to eat

MACS Macaroni and Cheese Shop

208 Broadway; (608) 678-2300

Best for: Wisconsin cheesiness

There’s nothing like comfort food on a cold day, and MACS has mac n’ cheese down. Not only have they mastered the gooey goodness of the Original Mac, with bubbling cheddar and mozzarella cheeses atop noodles with crispy breadcrumbs, but their unique offerings hit the mark. Popeye Mac is perfect, with provolone, mozzarella, spinach, sautéed onions and mushrooms.

High Rock Cafe

232 Broadway; (608) 254-5677

Best for: Fresh favorites

Looking for fresh food in a contemporary setting? Sit on the second floor of High Rock Café and overlook the downtown Dells. The hearty, flavorful wraps and savory soups are sensational, and the garlic tator tot and broccoli salad sides are worth the upcharge. While this restaurant is slightly more upscale, it offers classic kids’ meal with quality ingredients. Plus, who wouldn’t go crazy for the High Rock Kit Kat or Dirt n’ Worms desserts?

Buffalo Phil’s Pizza& Grille

150 Gasser Road, Lake Delton; (608) 254-7300

Best for: Train-delivered food

Retrieving your meal from a model train is fun, especially when a rotating cast of stuffed animal characters accompanies it. Buffalo Phil’s offers Lil’ Buckaroo meals, tasty barbecue dishes with buckets of sweet and spicy sauce options and a new pizza, pasta, soup and salad lunch buffet. Plus it’s connected to Knuckleheads, so you don’t even have to put your coats on to continue the fun.

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