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Last year when we were in Jamaica, we were on a tour of a working plantation. We decided to take this tour at the last minute after I had a random conversation with a fellow hotel guest while we were waiting for our sushi to be made. She highly recommended the tour operator and said it was one of the highlights of their visit to the island.
As we were driving off to start our tour the next day, the tour operator asked where we were from and then told us that he had been to the US too. We asked where he had visited and he said “Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dells to be exact”. We were surprised as we were both expecting Florida or Texas, both of which were a lot closer than Wisconsin to Jamaica. He said he has been going there for years and that it is truly a magical place for families.
Since we visited last week, I can't believe that was our first time hearing about the Wisconsin Dells and that we heard about it first in another country!
Wisconsin really is a magical place for families!
Our Wisconsin adventure started with an email from Travel Wisconsin offering to sponsor us for a trip to spend a few days out there learning about this beautiful part of the country. We immediately accepted and started dreaming of how we would fill our days on this adventure. We already knew that Wisconsin is famous for cheese, and we were eager to know what else it could offer families looking for a weekend (or longer) getaway!
We are sharing every moment of our time in Wisconsin in our videos below, and here is more about our trip. Please note, I had planned to write one post, but there is just so much to do, that I broke it up into two posts. I could have easily filled 4 articles but I had to stop at some point. I might add a couple more at a later date.
Our trip started with a 6am flight from San Diego to Detriot, and then to Madison. There are flights from San Diego to Milwaukee, but Madison is only a (beautiful) 45-minute drive to the Dells, and Milwaukee is over 2 hours…so, we chose those flights to maximize our time in the area.
We arrived at our resort for the weekend, the Wilderness Resort, just before the sun started to set. The air had a “fall” feel to it and the leaves looked like they had just started to change from green to a colorful medley of orange and reds. It was the perfect start to the weekend.
Pete made a video of the cabin we stayed in. For a family of five, it was the perfect place for us. As a family who doesn't get any fall weather and who loved the idea of camping, but not of staying in a tent (we like more luxurious accommodations) it was double perfect for us. It had a full kitchen, family room with fireplace, four separate sleeping areas, including one in the loft, and a room with bunk beds! Emmy claimed that room faster than I thought was possible. There were even two bathrooms which is a must when traveling with four girls. It makes getting ready and out the door much quicker than with just one bathroom.
The cabin was a wonderful place to stay, but that was just the beginning of the amenities of the resort. There is a huge indoor waterpark, spa for the parents, multiple restaurants, arcades, miniature golf, fitness centers, stores to shop in, go-karts, laser tag, bumper boats and about 5,000 other things to do right on site. You could come here for a week, never leave the resort, and stay busy having fun. They also offer a Wild Fun Pass that makes the additional activities very affordable. I would plan to spend at least a couple hours enjoying the resort every day.
Emmy's favorite spot in our cabin was this cozy chair by the fire. She took to pretending to fall asleep in it so nobody else could sit there.
This was the view off our cabin where Pete and I had coffee each morning. There is a Starbucks in the lobby, so Pete would drive over and bring us back some drinks.
Pete and the girls went swimming every day too!
Now let's talk about Wisconsin Dells and the surrounding area. We saw so much in our three days out there. Our first morning after arriving we headed straight to Woodside Ranch for some horseback riding, pony rides (for Em), and a feeding frenzy for the llamas and goats.
This was something we were all looking forward to. We seem to be making horseback riding a tradition on our trips. We've done it in Hawaii, Arizona, and now Wisconsin. It is a really good way to get a feel for an area and to talk to people who live there, plus it is just good old fashion fun!
Pete thought he was making friends with the goats. I think they just wanted his food, but we don't have to tell him…
I really enjoyed watching the buffalo. They are magnificent and really something to see!
Em normally is a wild child on horseback. The last time she rode in Arizona she was running her horse around barrels. This was a much slower paced activity, but fun just the same.
It was a bit chilly that morning, which for a Southern Californian means we needed a sweater, ha! But I asked when the weather had changed from summer to fall and they told me it had happened overnight. The day before they said it was hot! I love that they get real seasons in Wisconsin!
After the ranch, we headed to Mirror Lake State Park. With the many walking and hiking paths, this was a really great place to stretch your legs and to take pictures. Pete had to cut me off from taking pictures because I could have stayed there all day clicking away. The tree-lined walking paths were breathtaking!
There were even patched of trees that started to lose their leaves or change colors.
The big girls found this spot overlooking Mirror Lake that they liked, so, of course, I had to take a picture of them there. This is a great spot to enjoy the great outdoors without committing to being gone all day. Perfect for an hour or so walk.
As the day moved into late afternoon, we transitioned over to a more adventurous activity with Heightened Adventures. This is an adventure course with zip lining, tight-walks climbing and more. And it goes as high as 55 feet off the ground. Don't worry, though, they have a detailed safety harness that is used to keep everyone having fun and completely safe. Even little Em got the hang of it really quickly.
This is something that has to be on your itinerary when you visit Wisconsin Dells. Hands down this was a favorite for us! The course has 4 levels that you advance through, and I would say to plan out about three hours to do them all and be sure to make a reservation in advance. If you decide that you have reached your comfort level without completing them all, you can repeat other ones instead of advancing on. It's all fun and a really good way to challenge yourself. Maddie said this was something that she would do all the time if it was closer to us at home. She loved the experience!
I'm going to jump ahead and share another really fun thing we did on our last day. We visited Country Bumpkin Farm Market & Lil' Bumpkin Play Village. I don't even know where to start with this one! You could spend hours here! The owners, Cindy and her husband have turned this labor of love into a very thriving business all centered on family fun. During the Halloween season, they have transformed their farm into a wonderland of activities including multiple petting and feeding areas for their livestock. From chickens to ducks, turkeys, alpacas, and so much more… you can hang out with some new furry friends, or challenge each other to all sorts of games.
Maddie and Pete tried all sorts of things while Em, Ash and I fed the animals, and then we switched back and forth throughout our morning. There are even pedal karts, a train ride, hay ride, and corn maze.
I only wish I could have bought some gourds and pumpkins to take home… they had some beauties!
Here are our video recaps and vlogs of our time in Wisconsin:
I'll be back soon with part two!