16 Cool Things to do in Wisconsin Dells in Winter
Guide to the best winter activities and Wisconsin Dells attractions in the winter
When I explored the “Water Park Capital of the World” in the cold season, I found so many things to do in Wisconsin Dells in winter.
The impressive natural environment in the Dells is the basis for some of the most amazing outdoor activities in Wisconsin in their winter edition.
Wisconsin Dells in winter is much more than great indoor aquapark fun. In fact, it’s one of the best winter destinations in Wisconsin.
The urban environment offers gaming centers, theater shows, original museums, and much more.
Wisconsin Dells attractions in the winter will keep any visitor busy for days, be it adults, families with children, or couples searching for romantic getaways in Wisconsin.
Any list of great Wisconsin Vacation Ideas should include the winter charms of this well-known destination.
Here you will find just a small selection of the most interesting things to do in the Dells in the winter.
You will surely find many more when you are there, so feel free to share them in the comments.
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Where to Stay in Wisconsin Dells in Winter
Wisconsin Dells has some of the best winter resorts in Wisconsin, but a few of my favorite places are:
Alternatively, check out my guide on the best Wisconsin Dells resorts.
If you prefer to stay in a vacation home, there are lots of great AirBnBs in Wisconsin Dells that are perfect for a winter getaway.
1. Enjoy a Romantic Winter Getaway
Wisconsin Dells in winter is an original choice to enjoy a few days with your significant one, hidden away in some of the most romantic hotels in Wisconsin.
The variety of things to do in Wisconsin Dells during winter relies on its gorgeous nature, a solid offer of winter sports, and comfortable spas.
Considering all possible romantic getaways in Wisconsin, this small riverside town is just as good a choice as many larger and more famous resorts.
The following list of suggestions will help you pick the most suitable Wisconsin Dells winter activities for your type of couple.
Relaxed or active, downtown or in nature – there is something for anyone looking to visit Wisconsin Dells in the winter!
2. Try snowmobiling in Wisconsin Dells
Snowmobile trails in Wisconsin form a whopping 25,000-mile system, one of the top three snowmobiling destinations nationwide.
Driving a snowmobile along gorgeous nature trails is one of the most rewarding winter activities in Wisconsin Dells.
Your snowmobile must be registered in Wisconsin if you want to ride in the state, and you need a trail pass.
Consider joining a local organization, like the Association of Sauk County Snowmobile clubs, to get information, assistance, and discounts on the pass.
Add one more touch to the magic of the experience by staying in one of the comfortable winter cabins in Wisconsin.
In the morning, your snowmobile parked outside will be waiting for you to hop on board and start the adventure.
3. Discover skiing in Wisconsin Dells
Do Wisconsin Dells’ winter activities include skiing? Yes!
Wisconsin Dells in winter gets a lot of snow.
Cascade Mountain is the second-largest and one of the best ski resorts in Wisconsin, with 47 trails, served by 11 ski lifts and two high-speed chair lifts.
Night skiing is available until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 9 pm the rest of the week.
A smaller choice (16 runs from beginner to advanced level and 4 lifts) is available on Christmas Mountain, a year-round resort that offers golf in the warm seasons and lots of Wisconsin Dells’ winter attractions when the snow comes.
This is one of the best places for snowboarding and Wisconsin Dells’ winter tubing, especially at night when gorgeous lighting and music create a festive atmosphere.
For the most scenic skiing locations, choose Devil’s Head Resort, close to Devil’s Lake State Park, one of the best state parks in Wisconsin where you can also find some of the most engaging Southern Wisconsin hiking trails.
Sliding down snow-covered slopes enjoying panoramic views of the Wisconsin River is one of my favorite Wisconsin Dells winter activities.
Devil’s Head offers a skiable area of almost 270 acres and a total of 30 trails.
Winter in Wisconsin Dells is a great resource for cool weekend trips in Wisconsin.
4. Solve some Escape Rooms for Indoor Fun
Several indoor attractions in Wisconsin Dells complement all the outdoor things to do in the Dells in winter.
When it comes to escape rooms in Wisconsin, this small provincial center is surprisingly well equipped, with four of these live-action gaming centers.
Have you ever tried an escape room?
You have 60 minutes to solve a mystery, a spy story, or something similar, with clues that you are given, and escape from a locked room.
Try Elusive Escape Rooms (the largest, with 7 different thematic rooms), or D.O.A. Room Escape, where you can experience the thrill of navigating a twister in the dark, one of the most unique things to do in Central Wisconsin!
Then you have Booby Trap Escape Rooms and Dells Escape Rooms, with 5 different available adventures.
When enjoying Wisconsin Dells winter holidays with family or friends, make sure to include one or more escape rooms challenges to spice up your daily program!
5. Get active with Winter Hiking/Trekking/Snowshoeing
Wisconsin Dells in winter has a wealth of magical snowy trails to explore.
Of all the fun winter activities Wisconsin Dells offers, hiking in Wisconsin Dells is an easy pick as it’s one of my favorites year-round.
From the majestic sceneries of the Wisconsin River to the circuits around the national parks of Devil’s Lake, Mirror Lake, Rocky Arbor, you can find some of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.
If you are into fat-tire biking, the Dells has some of the best mountain bike trails in Wisconsin that are kept groomed in the winter.
Snowshoeing, on the other hand, allows you to march on fresh, untrodden covers of perfectly white snow, one of my favorites among the cool things to do in Wisconsin in Winter.
If you don’t have your own, Rent snowshoes at Wildside Action Sports in Baraboo or Vertical Illusions in Wisconsin Dells.
6. Relax in a comfortable Spa Getaway
One of the most fascinating winter activities Wisconsin Dells can offer is swimming outside in a relaxing natural environment, surrounded by snow and ice.
This is one of the most amazing outdoor activities in Wisconsin, but do not fear: the water is nicely warm.
We can thank some of the most creative spa resorts in Wisconsin for the opportunity.
Sundara Inn & Spa is well known for its Infinity Edge Bar Pool and Swim Up Bar Pool, heated year-round at a temperature of 84 degrees, while the adjacent indoor hot soak baths are 102 degrees.
Sundara is a wellness Mecca nestled in a pine forest just minutes away from the center of town.
The resort has many accommodation solutions (from private suites to wilderness cabins), and all possible face and body treatments, plus fitness, yoga, meditation, and other activities.
Hot Springs is another popular winter outdoor pool, part of the Spa Del Sol in the Chula Vista Resort.
Enjoy your outside swimming here against a background of impressive views of the Wisconsin River.
The spa offers a variety of body and facial treatments, stress-relieving massages, plus manicure and pedicure in its specialized Pink Nail Bar.
Chula Vista is one of the largest resorts in the area, packed full of other winter activities in Wisconsin Dells.
This is a good combination if you want more action before or after your relaxing spa time.
The same goes for the Kalahari Spa and Saloon, part of another famous resort with an indoor water park in Baraboo.
Packages are often available at these large resorts.
So check them out and snatch some great deals to take care of your body and face while enjoying additional winter attractions in Wisconsin Dells.
7. Spend the day at a water park
Wisconsin Dells is unique among the places to Vacation in Wisconsin because of its numerous giant water parks.
And fortunately, there is no winter closure for the Water Park Capital of the World!
These resorts have lots of indoor facilities, so Wisconsin Dells’ activities in winter include a lot of splashing, diving, swimming, wild rides down giant slides, and the like.
The Kalahari and Chula Vista Resorts both have indoor waterparks, the most celebrated indoor attractions in Wisconsin Dells: warm pools, “lazy rivers,” roller coasters, and multistorey adrenaline slides.
They top the list of fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells year-round!
Got kids? The Great Wolf Lodge has many children-level pools, slides, and other water games with shallow water and gentler slopes.
Families can have very cool weekend trips in Wisconsin aquapark heaven.
The best indoor “tropical atmosphere” is that of the Wild Waterdome Waterpark of the Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort.
Here you will find America’s largest wave pool, with an impressive see-through roof.
Enjoy the sight of the snow falling outside while laying on a beach with tropical palms, one of the coolest things to do at Christmas in Wisconsin.
The celebrated Mount Olympus, in addition to outdoor and indoor aquaparks, has a theme park full of luna park-style games.
These resorts are a terrific choice for day trips from Milwaukee since it takes less than a two-hour drive to get there.
8. Go to Broadway-style live concerts and musicals
The Crystal Grand Music Theater is a small 2000-seat venue, but its stage is very spacious and has gorgeous lighting effects.
Here you can enjoy a series of great shows in Wisconsin Dells in December.
One of the best things to do at Christmas in Wisconsin in 2021 is to enjoy the performance of the celebrated Mannheim Steamroller at the Crystal Grand.
Chip Davis’s band and orchestra are celebrating the 35th anniversary, and their “Christmas Live” tour stops in Wisconsin Dells too.
Wisconsin Dells’ activities in winter have more choices if you like theatre shows.
Another local venue offering comedies and musicals in Wisconsin Dells in December is the Palace Theater, a “dinner theater” where you enjoy the show sitting at a table, after being served a three-course meal.
9. Try the interactive activities at the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory
The only place on Earth where you can feel and experience an authentic Russian Space Station MIR core module is the Tommy Bartlett Exploratory, one of the historic indoor attractions in Wisconsin Dells.
The late Tommy Bartlett initiated the transformation of Wisconsin Dells into the World Capital of Water Parks, thanks to his legendary show on the water.
For more than 70 years, seeing the Bartlett’s Show has been one of the most unique things to do in Central Wisconsin.
In 1982 Tommy opened a science-oriented exhibition, initially named “Tommy Bartlett’s Robot World.”
Today this is one of the most visited Wisconsin Dells attractions in the winter.
The collection has grown to more than 175 exhibits, from simple puzzles to computerized gadgets, that offer a hands-on experience to visitors and teach scientific concepts in a fun way.
Spending a couple of hours at the Exploratory is one of my favorites among the fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells.
10. Jump on trampolines at Knuckleheads
Knuckleheads’ four high-flying areas include slam dunk basketball hoops, a large open jump area, the ultimate dodge ball court, and the custom BigAir “stunt” bag.
When you are done jumping, discover some more of the most entertaining indoor attractions in Wisconsin Dells.
Knuckleheads has one of the largest arcades in town.
There are 100+ arcade games, a bowling hall with ten state-of-the-art cosmic lanes, a virtual reality gaming system named “Hologate”, go-karts, bumper cars, tornado rides, an indoor roller coaster, a ropes course, and a special “XD Dark Ride”.
When you need some extra fun things to do in Wisconsin Dells, this is the right place!
11. Discover local history through vintage photography
H.H. Bennet Studio is a lovely workshop and museum, one of the most original indoor attractions in Wisconsin Dells. Back in 1865, H.H. Bennet bought a portrait studio in the town known as Kilbourn City at that time.
His photo landscapes of the picturesque Dells of the Wisconsin river made a sensation and marked the beginning of tourism in the area.
The red brick building from 1875 still hosts the photo studio, donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society by Bennet’s descendants.
So now we can all enjoy the treasure left behind by a talented photographer who was also an innovator.
Bennet used stereoscopy too, so you can view several of his works in 3D.
The studio is kept as it was and provides a wealth of information on the history of photography and Wisconsin Dell.
12. Go ice-skating
Where can you find a nice place to go ice-skating in Wisconsin Dells in December?
If your list of things to do at Christmas in Wisconsin does not seem complete without skating, I’ve got you covered!
You can skate every day to your heart’s content at the Keg and Patio.
The Keg is a bar and restaurant downtown that serves tasty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
It runs its own spacious, outdoor ice rink year-round!
They use special synthetic ice that holds even on the hottest summer days.
In the winter holiday season, you can get both access to the rink and skates for 10$ (6$ for kids).
In combination with hockey, another of Wisconsin Dells’ winter attractions, a second option is the Poppy Waterman Ice Arena in Lake Delton.
The Arena is a public sports venue where regular hockey tournaments take place, but it also opens the rink to the public every 3-4 days.
13. Learn how to climb a frozen waterfall
Some winter activities in Wisconsin Dells are hidden gems.
I discovered one of the most amazing outdoor activities in Wisconsin while looking for something else.
That was when I visited Vertical Illusions to inquire about their zipline eco-tour.
The team also organizes ice-climbing tours.
After seeing some photos of climbers in full gear planting their ice-axes on vertical castles of blueish ice, and learning that even absolute beginners can try, my reaction was: “I want this!”.
The theater for beginners is on the waterfalls in Governor Dodge State Park, which means just more than an hour’s drive to get there.
The experience is well worth the effort since ice-climbing is one of the most unique things to do in Central Wisconsin.
Learn to use ropes and climbing harnesses, ice crampons, and screws get a rush of adrenaline, and feel very proud of your prowess.
14. Fly like a bird riding a zipline
The three providers of zipline tours in Wisconsin Dells in winter times are as active as they can be!
I tried Vertical Illusions first because there is an additional snowshoeing hike to get to their starting point.
They have two levels of expertise (Peak 1 and Peak 2) and 14 very tall tree-to-tree lines running on the ridges overlooking Friendship Lake.
The lines are in a private property named Chimney Rock Park because of a spectacular 500-foot bluff with 100-mile views all around.
At Bigfoot Zipline Tours, 4 of the 7 zip lines make you fly above the water.
Their park has a Sasquatch Lake and Bigfoot Island as part of the itinerary.
You will literally fly from tower to tower, at 25 miles per hour, through majestic oaks and Northwood pines, for more than two hours of total fun.
The Wilderness Resort has 5 zip lines, connecting 6 towers and letting you slide over a small canyon.
Guests of the Resort enjoy discounted prices, but access is open to the general public too.
The local tourism industry is putting a lot of effort into proving that Wisconsin Dells’ attractions in the winter are not limited to water parks.
15. Mine gems and precious stones
I love (semi) precious stones, so I was thrilled to discover Dells Mining Co., where I could “mine” for gems indoor.
Wisconsin Dells in winter is not like the beaches of Lake Superior, where you can hunt for amethysts outdoor.
So this original hands-on gem shop is a fun alternative, one of the interesting things to do in the Dells in winter.
How it works: you buy buckets of dirt containing various precious and semi-precious stones, pan them in water with a specially framed case, and get to keep all that you find!
Kids love this little game and get very excited, so if you are planning one of those cool weekend trips in Wisconsin for your family, have this place on your list.
16. Have fun at the Winter Carnival
The traditional Winter Carnival always takes place at Christmas Mountain Village on the first Saturday in February.
The event is open to the public, even if the organizer is a private resort.
This celebrated Wisconsin Dells winter festival is the place to come if you want to see dog sled racing!
More competitions include wood splitting, turkey bowling, ski races, horsedrawn wagon rides, and a chili cook-off.
Live music entertains the public all day. When night falls, a torchlight parade and fireworks add a fiery touch to the celebrations.
Now you know that Wisconsin Dells in winter offers much more than its celebrated water parks.
There are so many fun Wisconsin Dells things to do in winter you definitely won’t be bored!
Wisconsin Dells’ attractions in the winter are surprisingly varied.
Let me know if you follow up on the tips presented in this article and how satisfied you are with the experience.
A Short FAQ About Wisconsin Dells in Winter
1. Is Wisconsin Dells open in winter?
Yes, absolutely! Although some attractions will have shorter hours, nearly everything in Wisconsin Dells is open. Plus there are lots of fun winter-specific activities like snowboarding, snow tubing, skiing, and more!
2. Are there free things to do in Wisconsin Dells in winter?
The Winter Carnival in Wisconsin Dells is free to come and watch! Additionally, many winter sports are free if you already own your own equipment. If you stay at one of the theme park resorts, entrance to the park is often included, which cuts the price down.
3. Where to stay in Wisconsin Dells in winter?
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo.