Family Lodging and Dining in the Dells

Find upscale dining and cozy, family-owned lodging on your vacation to Wisconsin Dells.


My husband likes to joke that at the Wisconsin Dells everything costs $100. Breakfast for four? That’ll be $100, please. Four tickets on the Ducks? That’ll be $100. A round of mini-golf for the family? Yep, that’s $100.

He’s joking, of course. Certainly, you can spend plenty at the Dells. But you don’t have to, particularly right now. As the tourist spot struggles to keep people coming this summer despite the natural disaster that left Lake Delton nearly drained of water, there are plenty of deals for visitors who stay at one of the small mom-and-pop hotels that line the shores of what used to be Lake Delton. A few were flooded and are working to reopen. But most are operating and offering guests 50 percent-off coupons to a number of Dells attractions, including the Tommy Bartlett Show and the Original Wisconsin Ducks. (For more information on Dells activities, read our articles on Dells water parks and family thrills and relaxation.)

Laid-Back Lodging

My family of veteran Dells-goers has stayed at several of the big water park resorts. They’re all nice, large hotels. But we’ve also made last-minute stops at the small one-story motels that line the main drag, Wisconsin Dells Parkway. We’ve always found them to be clean and friendly, and paid just $59 a night at one when we stopped in as evening fell and the guy at the desk—he turned out to be the owner—wanted to rent the last room for the night.

Many, like the Holiday Motel Resort in Lake Delton, have been there for generations. Randy Kulik of Downers Grove, Ill., remembers staying there when he was just 5, and took his family there 45 years later. “It hasn’t changed a bit,” he says. The small hotel has 22 rooms with rates that range from $55 a night for a standard room with two double beds to $150 a night for the biggest room that sleeps eight and has a full kitchen.

For a more rustic Wisconsin experience, try the Birchcliff Resort, a Dells original that first opened in 1917. The log cabins have been renovated and updated—although there are no phones or Wi-Fi—but it retains its Dells charm with the secluded wooded location one-and-a-half miles from the center of town. Many cabins come with full kitchens and two-person whirlpool tubs. Rates range from $65 to $385 a night, depending on the cabin amenities and the time of year. 

Our favorite resort is the Chula Vista. Like Birchcliff, it’s located off the main drag ans away from the bustle of downtown in an idyllic spot overlooking the Wisconsin River. In the spirit of the Dells, the Chula Vista recently expanded its indoor and outdoor water park to 200,000 square feet. Check the Web site ( for deals, such as a recent Internet special that offered a $149-per-night deal that included two free kids’ tickets to several attractions, including the Exploratory.

Where and What to Eat

Like the hotel options, there are a variety of different Dells eating options, from kitschy-themed restaurants to fine dining spots to the ever-popular all-you-can-eat buffets—which I always like with kids, because even my son the picky eater can find something he likes along a buffet line. Wherever you eat, expect large portions, down-home good taste and friendly service. We’ve never been disappointed.

Increasingly, Dells dining is going upscale. Among the finer dining establishments are the Ishnala Supper Club perched out over Mirror Lake, the Kaminski Bros. Chop House at the Chula Vista, which says it is “devoted to the sublime pleasures of hand-cut, dry-aged beef, well-chosen wines and extraordinary service,” and the Del-Bar, a classic Wisconsin supper club where you still get a relish tray with your bread basket.

But casual and kid-friendly are de rigueur at most Dells establishments. Buffalo Phil’s Grille has three floors of Wild West atmosphere, Howie’s Restaurant boasts Howie’s Huge Breakfast—one egg, two pancakes, hash browns, toast and jelly for only $3.49—and for those who need to surf the Web while they eat, the Brat House Grill serves sandwiches along with Internet access at 20 workstations.

Whatever you eat, though, leave room for Dells homemade fudge. You won’t have trouble finding it. The fudge shops are everywhere—and you can work up an appetite watching the sweet stuff being made.


Related Articles

A Family Watery Wonderland at the Dells

The Dells: A Mix of Thrills and Relaxation

Baraboo Celebrates the Circus 


Destinations: Wisconsin Dells

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Eat, Sleep

User Comments

There is a lot of fun and excitement for all ages. will helpful to rediscover the Dells. Certainly there is not a shortage of things to do. the original wisconsin ducks combine history with the breath attacking scenery of the area. The most common reason for the speciality of the Wisconsin’s water park is their indoor water parks, which is very rare in the other locations. Find more about the Wisconsin Attractions

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