Friday, May 22, 2020

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, USA - Travel Tips and Things to Do


Things to do in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin (Wisconsin Dells Travel Guide & Travel Tips):

Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin was one of my favourite places to take my children when they were younger.  It is roughly an 11-hour drive from my home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, so we can make it in one day if we leave early enough. I usually had just as much fun as my kids because there is something for everyone there. 

Wisconsin Dells is known and marketed as the Waterpark Capital of the World because it has the largest concentration of indoor and outdoor waterparks in the world.

This magical family vacation destination has over 20 waterparks with over 200 waterslides. It also has the largest indoor waterpark in America, the world’s largest outdoor waterpark, and the largest indoor and outdoor combination water park in the world.

Often, many hotels without their own waterpark will offer free tickets for up to 4 people to either Chula Vista or Mt. Olympus per night.

“The Dells” is a popular summer vacation town and is in cottage country for nearby Green Bay, Milwaukee, and Madison, Wisconsin. As such, it is also filled with family fun and other attractions such as small theme parks, mini-golf, go-carts, zip-lines, haunted attractions, entertainment, and shows.

Wisconsin Dells gets its name from the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic, glacially formed gorge that features striking sandstone formations along the riverbanks.  Thus, besides waterparks, the other must-do activity involves taking boat tours down the river. You can take a casual scenic cruise (which we prefer), a thrilling super-fast jet boat tour, or a cool, unique boat tour on amphibious army duck vehicles that both drive on land and become a boat in the river.

Another unique natural attraction is Cave of the Mounds, a beautiful limestone cave with many types of mineral formations called speleothems.

Perhaps the most unique attraction is House on the Hill, Alex Jordan's remarkable retreat built atop a chimney of rock. It now contains:
- the Infinity Room, floating 15 stories above ground and extending an astonishing 218 feet over the valley with nothing underneath and awe-inspiring views,
- a 200' sea creature,
- maritime displays with intricate model ships and Titanic memorabilia,
- a huge steam engine,
- a mechanical calliope (like an organ that sends steam through train whistles),
- an American small-town street of yesteryear,
- a Japanese garden,
- a million-piece miniature circus,
- a collection of automated music machines,
- a Christmas collection with decorations & many Santa Claus figures (during Winter only),
- the world’s largest indoor carousel (with no horses), and
- many other galleries and collections such as model airplanes, suits of armour & ivory carvings.

For our family, we really enjoyed the go-cart tracks that feel like you are in a multi-level Hot Wheels track. They have different tracks for different ages and the smaller kids can ride with a parent on some tracks or get much slower go-carts on other tracks to ride alone.

The mini-golf courses are quite a sight to see with intricate designs & fantastic themes, although we felt that the admission prices were a bit too high.

We also really enjoyed the Tommy Bartlett show, which had an old-Hollywood theme. It provided water-based entertainment such as water-skiers balancing on each other’s shoulders and jumping off ramps as well as someone flying in a water-jet pack. It also included other variety acts on land, such as a man who did acrobatic balancing tricks with his dog and who had previously competed on America's Got Talent.

For shopping, you will find brand names at discounted prices at the outlet mall called Outlet at The Dells and all the little gift and souvenir shops up Broadway Road.  Wisconsin is also very famous for their delicious cheeses, which you really should try.

For accommodations, you can stay in luxurious hotels, small motels, or remote cabins or you can even camp or park your RV in a place like Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park & Camp. We found incredible value at some of the smaller hotels because they gave us free waterpark passes and free hot breakfast. We have also stayed at Mt. Olympus Resort and got free admission to their waterpark and theme park. The best and most expensive place we stayed was Wilderness Lodge, but it was a great hotel with tons of entertainment options, free admission to their many guest-only water parks, and free tickets to the Tommy Bartlett Show. 

When I was a kid, Broadway Road felt like a theme park because it had so many children’s attractions and stores. Imagine yourself as an 8 year-old walking around seeing fudge shops, candy shops, wax museums, arcades, haunted attractions, a fun house, a house of mirrors, and BB-gun shooting ranges.  Sounds like heaven, right. It reminds me of Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls and International Drive in Orlando.

Another cool thing to see on Broadway Road is the Bavarian Village, which is an outdoor shopping area that looks like some fairy-tale German Town. The large Glockenspiel clock offers a free show with large animatronic figures re-enacting the story of the Pied Piper every 30 minutes.

This is a great place to spend your Summers, but probably not the best place to retire if you want to avoid the snow and cold in the Winter. 

Here is a list of things to do in Wisconsin Dells.  For now, I have kept it brief and you can do your own research on any of them that seem interesting to you.

1.    Main Waterparks
a.    Alakai Waterpark Hotel
b.    Atlantis Waterpark Hotel
c.    Chula Vista
d.    Grand Marquis Waterpark Hotel
e.    Great Wolf Lodge Waterpark (only available to guests staying at their hotel)
f.     Kalahari (Largest indoor water park in the USA)
g.    Mt. Olympus (sometimes they offer really cheap admission to their waterpark, which leads to extremely long lineups)
h.    Noah’s Ark (World’s largest outdoor water park)
i.     Polynesian Waterpark Resort
j.     Wilderness Resort (World’s largest indoor & outdoor combination water park)
                            i.    Only available for guests staying at Wilderness Lodge, but worth it.
                            ii.    Indoor
1.    Cubby’s Cove
2.    Klondike Kavern
3.    Margarita’s Swim-up bar
4.    Wild WaterDome
5.    Wild West
                            iii.    Outdoor
1.    Cubby’s Outdoor Waterpark
2.    Lake Wilderness
3.    Lost World
4.    New Frontier
k.     Wintergreen Resort & Waterpark

2.    Amusement & Theme Parks
a.    Kalahari
b.    Mt. Olympus (save money by combining with waterpark admission ticket).
c.    Timbavati Wildlife Park
d.    Timber Falls Adventure Park (roller coaster, log flume, sky scraper, bumper boats, mini golf)

3.    Boat tours
a.    Dells Boat Tours
b.    Dells Army Duck Tours
c.    Jet Boat Adventures
d.    Original Wisconsin Ducks
e.    Wildthing Jet Boats


4.    Go-carts
a.    Adare Go Karts
c.    Lost World Go-Karts (at Wilderness Resort)
d.    Mt. Olympus (included with Mt. Olympus theme park tickets)
e.    Wilderwoods Indoor Go-Kart Trail (at Wilderness Resort)

5.    Zip-lines
a.    Bigfoot Zipline
b.    Chimney Rock Park Zip Line Tours - Vertical Illusions
c.     Heightened Adventures
d.    Wilderness Canyon Zip Line Canopy Tour (2 for 1 for Wilderness Lodge hotel guests from 1-3 PM)

6.    Restaurants – Mostly family-friendly
a.    Buffalo Phil's Pizza & Grille (with a LEGO® BRICK City & Trains attraction)
b.    Cracker Barrel
c.     Famous Dave’s BBQ
d.    Kickers Buffet (might not re-open after Covid-19 pandemic)
f.     Moosejaw Pizza & Dells Brewing Co. (3 levels with 3 bars & a large arcade)
g.    Paul Bunyan's Cook Shanty (next to the Lumberjack show)
h.    Showboat Saloon (live music & karaoke)

7.    Entertainment & Attractions 
a.    4-D Motion Theatre (at Chula Vista)
b.    Alligator Alley
c.    Cave of the Mounds
e.    Dells Mining Co.
f.      Dells Pinball Arcade Museum
g.    Dells Raceway Park (full-sized car racing raceway)
h.    Extreme World
i.      Ghost Outpost Haunted House
j.      H. H. Bennet Studio (photographer of famous picture of boy and dog jumping to rock pillar)
k.     Haunted Mansion
l.      House on the Rock
m.   Indoor 3-D Mini Golf (2 Courses) (at Wilderness Resort)
n.    Jonah’s Underwater Mini Golf
o.    Knuckleheads (trampoline park, bowling, rides & arcade)
p.    Krazy Mirror Maze
q.    Laser Ops Compound
r.     Laser Warfare
s.     Lost Canyon horse-drawn wagon tours
t.      Lost Temple (haunted temple)
u.    Lost World Jurassic Outdoor Mini Golf (at Wilderness Resort)
v.     MagiQuest
w.   Marshall Training Lazer Maze (at Wilderness Resort)
x.     Mr. Marvel's Wondertorium (at Wintergreen Resort)
z.     Northern Lights Arcade (at Wilderness Resort)
aa.  Northern Lights Sky Ropes Course (at Wilderness Resort)
bb.  OK Corral Lazer Tag (at Wilderness Resort)
cc.  Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
ee.  Timberland Playhouse (free)
ff.    Tommy Bartlett Exploratory
gg.  Top Secret
hh.  Vertical Illusions Zip Line, Kayak, and Rock Climbing Center
ii.     Wild Fun Zone
jj.     Wild West Indoor Bumper Boats (at Wilderness Resort)
kk.     Wisconsin Deer Park
ll.  Witches Gulch (narrow gorge that is accessible by car & a stop on most boat tours)
mm.     Wizard Quest





8.    Shows
a.    Bavarian Village & Glockenspiel Pied Piper re-enactment (free)
b.    Circus World Museum & Circus Show
e.    Palace Theater (Dinner Theatre)
f.      Rick Wilcox Magic Show
g.    Tommy Bartlett Show (sometimes you can get free tickets with your hotel stay at Wilderness Lodge)



9.       Dells Trolley Service & Tours – A cool way to get around town and see all the attractions in an old trolley.

Happy Travels,

Kev

P.S. Here are links to my other social media accounts, in case you want to connect that way:
Kevin's Instagram
Kevin's LinkedIn
Kevin's Facebook
Kevin's Pinterest
Kevin's YouTube (You should check out my YouTube Channel for related travel videos)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Retirestyle Travel Bucket List Part 2 - 50 Wonderful Places Still To Go


Tina & Kevin's Retirestyle Travel Bucket List (aka. The Most Wonderful and Photographable Places in the World) - Part 2: 50 Wonderful Places Still To Go.

We want to keep travelling and exploring as long as we can. 

After we retire, we are hopeful that we will spend much more time travelling the world.

Part 1 (see separate blog post called "30 Amazing Places We Have Been" https://retirestyletravel.blogspot.com/2020/05/retirestyle-travel-bucket-list-part-1.html) provided brief information about and pictures of 30 places that we have checked off from our travel bucket list. 

Part 2 of our travel bucket list contains the locations that we want to visit before we kick the bucket. 

Compared to Part 1, which was mostly in or near North America, Part 2 consists mostly of destinations in the rest of the world.  These locations are harder to travel to from Canada and will take more planning to visit in an efficient manner, most likely after we retire. 

This list is separate from the destinations that Kevin and Tina considered for travel as snowbirds each Winter or possibly retiring abroad, but there is some overlap.

Perhaps you share some of these places on your bucket list or you will get some inspiration from our travel bucket list.

I have kept the information about each location brief to make the list easier to read and digest.

Places in bold text are either one of the 7 wonders of the world or 7 natural wonders of the world.

I follow a lot of world travellers online and there are certain locations that are must-have selfie spots or photo opportunities if you can get there. Those are indicated in italic text below. 

NORTH AMERICA

1.       Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

Famous for polar bears, whale watching & the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).

2.       Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Famous for Peggy’s Cove with amazing rocky cliffs and ocean vistas, Kitchen Parties, Pubs, and Lobster Bakes.

3.       Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Famous for lush greenery, perennial flower gardens, and ocean views. Popular with retirees.

4.       New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Famous for the French Quarter, Creole Cuisine, Jazz music, an international Jazz Festival, and Mardi Gras carinval to kick off lent.

5.       Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Famous for nice weather year-round, botanical desert gardens and parks. Phoenix and the surrounding area is loved by Canadian retirees and snowbirds.

6.       Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, USA

Famous for faces of Presidents carved into a mountain.

7.       Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

Famous for Old Faithful Geyser, hot springs & great scenery.

8.       Seattle, Washington, USA

Famous for Pike Place Market, Starbucks & the Space Needle Observatory.

9.       San Francisco, California, USA

Famous for the Golden Gate Bridge, Streetcars, Chinatown, and the Fish Market.

10.   Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Famous as the birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll (Sun Studio), Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Beale Street.

11.   Ixtapa & Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Famous for great beaches, Ixtapa Island, and Mexican food & culture. 


CARRIBBEAN AND CENTRAL AMERICA

12.   Hamilton City, Bermuda

Famous for snorkeling, Sea Glass Beach & Front Street.

13.   Ambergris Caye, Belize

Famous for snorkeling at Hol Chan Marine Reserve & Shark Ray Alley and Secret Beach. Very popular with retirees.

14.   Santa Cruz, Costa Rica

Famous for beaches, ecological parks, wildlife reserves and the wild jungle.

15.   Las Tablas, Panama

Famous for parks, beaches, and culture. Popular with retirees.


SOUTH AMERICA

16.   Medellin, Columbia

Popular with North American retirees and famous for the Medellin Metrocable and Laguna de Guatape.

17.   Cuenca, Ecuador

Famous for El Cajas National Park and beautiful old buildings and churches.

18.   Cusco & Machu Picchu, Peru

Famous for 500 year-old ancient Machu Picchu Incan Ruins high in the mountains on Inca Trail. It is quite a hike to get there, so not the best attraction for people with mobility issues. 

19.   Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Famous for Corcovado the Christ the Redeemer Statue, Sugarloaf Mountain, Ipanema Beach, and Carnaval street festival.

20.   Buenos Aires, Argentina

Famous for Teatro Colon, Puerto Madero, historic culture, and affordable luxury.


EUROPE

21.   Pisa, Italy

Famous for the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Porto di Pisa, & good wine.

22.   Amalfi Coast (Cinque Terra & Positano), Italy

Famous for incredible colourful buildings built into mountain cliffs overlooking the ocean and great views of the ocean.

23.   Paris, France

Famous for the Eifel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre Museum, Musee d’Orsay, Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, the Seine River, and French gourmet cuisine.

24.   Valletta, Malta

Famous for historic architecture, churches, ancient ruins, and the Waterfront.

25.   Santorini & Mykonos, Greece

Famous for white and blue coloured houses and buildings overlooking the bright blue ocean.

26.   Lagos (Algarve), Portugal

The Southern-most part of Portugal with beautiful beaches, grottos (caves), and views of rocky coves. Very popular with retirees and very affordable.

27.   Antalya, Turkey

Famous for Greek & Roman ruins, including Perge Ancient City, Hadrian’s Gate and the church of Saint Nicholas, and the Lower Duden Waterfalls.

28.   Cappadocia & Denizli, Turkey

Famous for balloon rides, a hot air balloon festival, “Fairy Chimneys” rock formations, Cappadocia Cave Dwellings, and Pamukkale Hot Springs.

29.   Gibraltar, Spain

Famous for St. Michael’s Cave, Fort Gibraltar, and the Rock of Gibraltar.

30.   Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain

Located closer to the coast of Morocco and a tropical beach paradise. 

31.   Berlin, Germany

Famous for the Berlin Wall Memorial, Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate, Oktoberfest, beer, and Christmas markets.

32.   Amsterdam, Netherlands

Famous for bike riding, canals, the red-light district, legal cannabis, Anne Frank House, & the Van Gogh Museum.

33.   Geneva, Switzerland

Famous for Lake Geneva, CERN, The Red Cross Museum, clocks, watches, Swiss Army utility knives, cheese and chocolate.

34.   Reykjav√≠k, Iceland

Famous for Hallgrimskirkja Church, Blue Lagoon Hot Springs, geothermal pools, wild nature and waterfalls, geysers, whale-watching, and the Northern Lights.


ASIA

35.   Tokyo, Japan

Our son Dante really wants to go here soon.

Tokyo is Famous for ramen soup, sushi, sumo wrestling, electronic gadgets, robotics, bullet trains, Onsen (natural hot spring bath houses), Mount Fuji, and shopping in districts such as Harajuku (fashion), Akihabara (electronics) and Shibuya

You will also find incredible temples and shrines that are up to 500-years old such as Shitennoji, Zojo-ji, Kanda, Senso-ji, Meiji, and Nogi.

36.   Georgetown, Malaysia

Famous for temples and great beach resorts for a low cost. Popular with retirees.

37.   Chiang-Mai, Thailand

Famous for elephant sanctuaries, the Night Bazaar market, temples (such as Wat Pha Lat and Wat Phra Singh), and great beach resorts for a low cost. Popular with retirees.

38.   Nha Trang / Dalat, Vietnam

Famous for great food, temples and great beach resorts for a low cost. Popular with retirees.

39.   Bali, Indonesia

Famous for Monkey Forest, Mount Agung, rice fields on terraces, ornate temples like Lempuyang & Uluwatu, and great beach resorts for a low cost. Popular with retirees.

40.   Beijing, China

Famous for the Great Wall of China (entry near Mutianyu), which is up to 2,500 years old in parts, 6,000 km long, an average of 6 meters high, and up to 9 meters wide. Also famous for the Forbidden City.

41.   Agra, India

Famous for the Taj Mahal (which is 400 years old), Agra Fort, and Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

42.   Male, Maldives

An island located off the cost of India and a luxury, tropical paradise.


MIDDLE EAST

43.   Petra, Jordan

Petra is an ancient city carved into the desert mountain side over 2,000 years ago.

44.   Cairo, Egypt

Famous for the Great Pyramid (which is 4,500 years old) and the Sphynx on the Gizeh Plateau as well as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, and the Nile River.

45.   Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Famous for luxury and opulence, such as the world’s tallest building (Burj Khalifa), world’s biggest mall (Dubai Mall), an indoor ski hill (at Mall of the Emirates), Dubai Fountain, and a man-made, palm-leaf-shaped island with an ultra-expensive hotel (Burj Al Arab).


AFRICA

46.   Marrakesh, Morocco

Located in Africa, but really close to Spain. Famous for its street and spice markets such as Medina and Jemaa el-Fnaa, and Palacio da Bahia Museum.  

47.   Mahe, Seychelles

One of a series of islands located off the coast of Somalia. An exclusive tropical beach paradise with a great market as well as luxury hotels with rooms on piers over the water.


AUSTRALIA & POLYNESIA

48.   Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Located between Hawaii and New Zealand. A remote tropical beach paradise destination with luxury accomodations.

49.   Tahiti, French Polynesia

Located between Hawaii and New Zealand. A remote tropical beach paradise destination with luxury accomodations.

50.   Sydney, Australia

Famous for the Great Barrier Reef (near Cairns), Sydney Harbour, and the Sydney Opera House.


There are many honourable mentions and I keep finding more. Eventually, we might have to bump some of these off the list for things like Safaris in Africa, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Mt. Olympus in Greece, and Iguazu Falls in Argentina. 

I am sure you would replace some items on our list with your own dream destinations. In the comments below, please give us some more places to research and consider for our travel bucket list. 

Happy Travels,

Kev

P.S. Here are links to my other social media accounts, in case you want to connect that way:
Kevin's Instagram
Kevin's LinkedIn
Kevin's Facebook
Kevin's Pinterest
Kevin's YouTube (You should check out my YouTube Channel for related travel videos)