I spend all week working with children so not being funny, during my time off, I appreciate adult time! I was slightly worried that staying at a big family resort in the Wisconsin Dells it may be over run with kids and not suitable for adults, but it was OK! In this Wisconsin Dells for adults guide, I share with you some of the tips and tricks and things to do in Wisconsin Dells for adults!
Wisconsin Dells for Adults
Skip to places to eat in Wisconsin Dells
Tip 1 – Visit Wisconsin Dells in winter/outside of summer!
Summer is peak time in the Wisconsin Dells. Yes you get the benefit of all the outdoor waterparks and attractions being open, but it’s generally more expensive to stay and obviously with the kids being out of school, it’ll be more busy. Even without the outdoor water parks, there are plenty of indoor activities and things to do in Wisconsin Dells in winter to keep you entertained! Parking in the main downtown area is also FREE in the off season!
Tip 2 – Visit During The Week
As adults, we aren’t necessarily tied to school times. If you can book a few days off and visit during the week, there’ll be less people and more adult friendly! We drove up on a Thursday evening, staying Thursday and Friday nights. Friday morning was pretty relaxed, the waterparks were fairly empty, but by Friday evening/Saturday the masses arrived.
Just make sure you double check with opening times of attractions. At the Wilderness Resort, on Thursday only 3 out of 4 indoor waterparks were open, on Friday the 4th opened up late in the afternoon (minus 1 water slide) and on the Saturday everything was operating as usual. But this does vary throughout the ‘winter’ season.
The Wilderness also offer discounted weekday stays if you visit Wisconsin Dells in winter/off season!
If all else fails, The Sundara Inn and Spa is a complete adults only hotel but it does seem to cost a small fortune to stay there!
Tip 3 – Resort or no resort, that is the question
You can save a bit of money by staying in just a regular hotel, the Wisconsin Dells has all the typical chains such as Econo Lodge, Super 8 etc. Most have small pools and a bonus is that some include a free breakfast in the room rate, which is one less meal to buy (the resorts don’t tend to offer free breakfast).
But of course the big resorts are part of the draw to the Wisconsin Dells. They are a little more expensive but you get free access to things like water parks for the whole duration of your stay. If you don’t want to get ‘wet’ every day, some of the resorts sell day passes to their attractions, but other resorts are purely guest only.
Wisconsin Dells Indoor Activities
Wisconsin Dells Indoor Waterparks
You can’t not go to Wisconsin Dells ‘Waterpark Capital of the World’ and not visit a water park! Even when the outdoor ones close, the indoor ones stay open.
I’m going to do a whole comparison on the Kalahari and the Wilderness, but spoiler alert, I think the Kalahari has the better indoor water park for adults. So many great thrill slides! Some of my favourites are the Sahara Sidewinders and the Tanzanian Twister!
The Kalahari is one of the resorts that offer water park day passes or even cheaper ‘evening’ passes, which is great if you opt to stay in a regular hotel. We visited on a Friday in December when there were no lines and stayed for around 5 hours. Even though the ticket gave us 10 hours of water park access we felt like we’d definitely got our money’s worth!
We decided to stay at The Wilderness Resort. The room rate gives you free entrance to all of the waterparks on site (4 indoor water parks and during the summer, 4 outdoor ones too). You can start using them from 12pm on the day of check in and up until the end of the day you check out (you just have to be out of the room by 11am).
I was surprised by the amount of indoor water slides that were great for adults. Many had height and weight limits that younger children weren’t able to go on. We could even ride on the kids slides…except 1, but I was let on because I was only just over the height line…
The Wild WaterDome’s design of the roof means you can actually tan all year round…even in winter apparently! But that does mean you may need to use sun cream as it lets UV rays through still. The Wild WaterDome is also home to Margarita’s swim up bar, for guests over 21.
One great thing about staying at a resort with plenty of bars is that you don’t have to worry about a designated driver! Standard cocktails cost $10 ($11 at the Kalahari), however many people were drinking giant (take home) Margaritas in refillable cups with lids, which were $26 with $16 refills (plus tax – if I remember correctly!)
Water drinking fountains are dotted around the parks and hotel too, so if you take a water bottle you can fill it up for free.
Both the Kalahari and the Wilderness have an indoor ropes course, climbing walls, games arcades and an indoor go-kart track. It is possible for adults to do these activities too but obviously they are aimed at younger guests. We went on the go-karts at Tom Foolery’s in the Kalahari, the track is up high which is fun but the karts are slower than tracks aimed at adults.
Polka Dot Pots
A great indoor activity in the Wisconsin Dells for adults is painting pottery at the Polka Dot Pots, available to guests of the Wilderness! We spent 2 hours painting during our stay! I was surprised by the amount of kids that were doing the pottery as the pieces were VERY expensive (but then maybe some families have a lot more money than what my budget allows)! There were small pieces available for under $15 but the majority of the ‘good’ items were between $30 – $50. During my stay they were offering a voucher for a free circle ornament (valued $13) when you spent over $30.
All paints and supplies were included and if you finished your pottery by 4pm it’s ready to collect by 11am the following morning.
I’m obsessed with mini golf. The Wilderness had an indoor ‘backlit’ 3D 9 hole mini golf course for $6 per person. The 3D glasses definitely make it extra challenging! There are a couple of other indoor mini golf courses in the Wisconsin Dells, but I’d recommend the outdoor Pirates Cove course which I believe is open until the middle of November. They have 5 courses, totalling 91 holes with different difficulties. We found that it was mainly adults playing the ‘difficult’ course and families with children playing the easier ones (make sure you check out the giant sun dial while you’re there).
Other Wisconsin Dells Indoor Attractions
Tommy Bartlett Exploratory
We came to the conclusion that to get the most out of the Tommy Barlett Exploratory you’d need to be an adult or an older child. There are almost 200 science experiments and brain teaser type puzzles that I think would be lost on a younger visitor. We spent 2 hours playing with the hands on exhibits and had a great time. Entrance is $15 for an adult ticket, but if you pick up one of the Wisconsin Dells travel guides, most have a 20% off discount coupon.
I love escape rooms and there are several different companies that have them in the Wisconsin Dells. We did the 30 minute escape room at the Kalahari, which was Egyptian themed. As 2 adults, we were a little worried it’d be aimed at kids. We breezed through the first 2 rooms but got well and truly stuck on the third! I think some of the escape rooms outside of the resorts are a little more of the standard style which are a bit more challenging.
Downtown Wisconsin Dells
Downtown Wisconsin Dells has lots of shops, restaurants and attractions such as Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, WizardQuest, paintball shooting ranges, old time photo studios and a river walk. I really liked the look of the Bavarian village shops. We ate at Monks Bar & Grills which had good reasonably priced food.
Similar to an escape room, we went to WizardQuest, which considers itself as an ‘interactive scavenger hunt’ and honestly I can’t say enough good things about this place! Even as 2 adults we thought it was absolutely brilliant. The attraction operates across 2 floors and is spilt into 4 realms: air, water, fire and earth. Each team has a tablet where you have around an hour to follow clues and answer riddles to complete the quest. There are tube slides, hidden doors, mirror mazes, tunnels and so much more.
There are several different ‘games’ which are all going on at once, so you’ll see people doing things that have nothing to do with the ‘path’ you might be on. We want to go back and complete one of the other challenges now, because we enjoyed it THAT much! We finished our challenge with 7 minutes to go, BUT we did panic and guessed some of the answers, so felt it was challenging enough for adults too.
Open Friday – Monday in the off season.
Asgard Axe Throwing
Asgard Axe Throwing is kinda like the axe version of a bowling alley. There are several ‘lanes’, but instead of pins, the back wall is made of wood with projected targets to aim at! You can book slots for 30 minutes ($25) or an hour ($35) and are taught the correct way to throw the axes. The staff are fun and it did get pretty busy, so it may be worth booking a time slot in advance if you don’t want to be disappointed!
Other Wisconsin Dells Attractions
Honestly you could spend an absolute fortune at the Wisconsin Dells. I haven’t even touched on the boat trips along the Wisconsin River which range from the Ducks (boats that can drive on the land too!) to jet boats! You’ll find wildlife parks and several other indoor museum type attractions. It’s almost like Wisconsin’s version of a mash up between Las Vegas and Orlando, it’s kinda tacky but I love it!
The Wilderness Canyon Zipline Tour is available to both guests and non guests of the Wilderness Resort and is open year round. Guests of the hotel receive a discount ($45 guests/$65 non guests)! Bigfoot Zipline Tours, another ziplining company in the Wisconsin Dells also operate year round too.
Timbavati Wildlife Park
If visiting Wisconsin Dells in winter, the Timbavati Wildlife Park run 1 hour encounter tours twice a day at 11am and 1pm for a $99 flat rate per group (up to 4 people). Because a lot of the animals are ‘winterised’ during this time, they only offer guides tours with the keepers. The animals sometimes ‘change’ but we saw the lions and tigers, got up close with skunks, tortoises and snakes, held a baby kangaroo and fed baby camels, sheep and 400 lorikeets in a walk in bird aviary.
Places To Eat in Wisconsin Dells
Grateful Shed Truckyard
The Grateful Shed is a very unique place to eat in the Wisconsin Dells! It’s located in an old Greyhound bus depot and features several permanent food trucks and a bar. My favourite part is the seating options! You can sit in the backs of old truck beds, a REAL converted bus that’s ABOVE the bar or in Volkswagen buses!
The decor is SO colourful and there’s an outside seating area with a fire pit, giant Jenga and Bags. I had a burger and a slushy! The food trucks close up at 9pm but the bar, serving several different beers from local Wisconsin and Midwest breweries, is open daily until midnight and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty
I went to Paul Bunyan’s for the all you can eat Lumberjack breakfast. Rather than it being a typical buffet, all the food is served in ‘small amounts’ to the table, the idea being if you finish anything you can then ask for more! The breakfast includes: pancakes, sausage, ham, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, biscuits and gravy, fresh (warm!) homemade donuts, orange or apple juice, coffee and water. We found what was served up was plenty for 2 of us to eat without needing anything else, we only asked for a juice top up!
Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty closes for the season near the end of October and re-opens in early spring. They are also open on various days for lunches and all you can eat dinners.
Moosejaw Pizza and Dells Brewing Co.
First things first. You are not too old to wear the moose antlers!! Every visitor is given cardboard moose antlers to wear…obviously they are optional, but I’m not going to lie, I did judge the adults that chose not to wear them! Even the delivery cars have giant moose on the roofs!
Yes Moosejaw is considered a pizza restaurant, their thick crust pizza bases are most certainly very THICK (and tasty), but they have a wide menu with many other dishes to pick from! I had the Friday ‘cod special’ which was very nice.
For the adults, upstairs is the Dells Brewing Co. microbrewery which has 12 beers always on tap. For the designated drivers (or children), they also make their own sodas with free refills, I had the Kiwi Lime soda. Both the sodas and the beers are available to buy and take away!
Moosejaw also offer a buffet breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings during the off peak season and every day in the summer season.
Buffalo Phil’s Grille
Buffalo Phil’s is the sister restaurant to Moosejaw so has the same Dells Brewing Co. products. However where Moosejaw has the novelty moose antlers, Buffalo Phil’s deliver food and drinks to the tables via miniature railway! I don’t care how old you are, everyone gets excited when you see your food coming in a restaurant, so imagine how much more exciting it is when it comes on the back of a train! There is also a large lego model village in the middle of track which is fun to look at too.
For more information on things to do in the area, check out the Wisconsin Dells website!