Hotel at a Glance: Birchcliff Resort
Birchcliff Resort is within a 5-minute drive of downtown Wisconsin Dells, but it feels a world away from the city's amusement parks. Situated on a quiet swath of woodlands, the resort's log cabins are surrounded by horseshoe pits, a grassy volleyball court, and a stone campfire ring, where you can join nightly campfires. Rugged hiking trails lead from the property to the Wisconsin River, where you'll find sandy beaches good for swimming.
- Log cabins include charcoal grills and picnic tables and color TVs; many also have full kitchens or kitchenettes.
- Good for kids: outdoor pool and playground with a swing set and slide
- Hit up a water park: Noah's Ark, the largest water park in the US, is just 4 miles from Birchcliff Resort. Guests receive free daily passes to Chula Vista's Waterpark, 50% off Mount Olympus Daily, and 50% off Noah's Ark.
Wisconsin Dells: Picturesque Scenery and Family Entertainment
Before the Dells became synonymous with water parks and amusement rides, the Midwestern destination's claim to fame was its scenery. Visitors in the mid-1940s came to see the craggy rock formations that frame both sides of the Wisconsin River. These bluffs—or dells—are still visible today from the downtown area, which is rife with kitschy attractions, from mini-golf courses to go-kart tracks.
But it's safe to say that most visitors nowadays come for the water parks. In fact, the Dells area likely has more water slides per capita than any other spot on the planet. The fun doesn't stop in the cooler months, either, thanks to a slew of indoor aquatic centers, many of which are nearly as elaborate as their outdoor rivals.
For a break from all the chlorinated excitement, take a stroll along the river, where you’ll find antique stores, candy shops, and a Bavarian-themed village. At a handful of German restaurants, you can wash down plates of schnitzel with pints of lager to the sounds of glockenspiels. The H.H. Bennett Studio museum makes for an interesting side trip. Exhibits recount the early history of the Dells through the life of the 19th-century landscape photographer whose work originally attracted tourists to the area. Just down the road, in the town of Baraboo, Victorian buildings and quaint shops lie on the outskirts of Devil's Lake State Park, where 500-foot bluffs present a challenge for intrepid rock climbers.