Safari-Themed Hotel with Massive Indoor Water Park
Halfway around the world from southern Africa, Kalahari Resorts in the Wisconsin Dells pays homage to its desert namesake with elaborate and authentic safari decor. In fact, staff members travel to Africa each year and bring back artifacts to display throughout the hotel, such as hand-carved furniture, sculpture, and paintings. The lobby resembles a rustic village complete with kiosks disguised as thatched-roof huts and a watering-hole fountain surrounded by statues of hippos, elephants, and flamingos. The oasis in the midst of this faux desert is the resort's temperature-controlled indoor water park—Wisconsin’s largest at 125,000 square feet.
Water-park admission is included with your stay, so you can play all day in the wave pool, zip down the Victoria Falls family raft ride, recline on the lazy river, and play on the FlowRider surf ride. After spending some time in the water, check out the indoor theme park, which has a six-story Ferris wheel, go-karts, a climbing wall, 24 bowling lanes, and mini golf.
There are several restaurants onsite, including a buffet, a sports bar, and a cocktail lounge. The resort also boasts the award-winning 27-hole Trappers Turn Golf Club.
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. Today, the bluffs—or dells—are still visible from the downtown area, which is rife with kitschy attractions, from mini-golf courses to go-kart tracks.
Along the river, you’ll find antique stores, candy shops, and a Bavarian-themed village. At a handful of German restaurants, diners can polish off bites of schnitzel with pints of lager as musicians play glockenspiel. For a cultural side trip, the H.H. Bennett Studio museum recounts the 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, a picturesque spot for rock climbing on 500-foot bluffs.