In the spirit of enjoying the last bit of Chicago’s summer, after finishing my summer internship, my husband and I took our soon-to-be-two-year-old son on a road trip. Considering COVID-19, we wanted to be safe so we were looking for areas within driving distance of Chicago, and ideally a destination that could offer a lot of outdoor activities and allow for social distancing. With wild animals, indoor and outdoor water parks, boat tours, water sports, wine tasting, and hiking we decided on the Wisconsin Dells. An added bonus—it’s only a three-hour drive from Chicago!
Wisconsin Dells is a small town in Wisconsin, about 200 miles north of Chicago. Since we prefer being out in nature, we stayed in a small cabin by the Dells of the Wisconsin River. Of course, there are lots of great places to stay in downtown Wisconsin Dells as well. As you can see from some of the highlights of our trip, we focused on being outdoors and spent a lot of time in various parks and strolling around town. Here are some places you might enjoy too if you’re looking for a fun and family friendly weekend trip from Chicago:
Deer Park – One of the best parts of our trip was definitely the super fun experience at the Wisconsin Deer Park. Deer walk freely in the majority of the park and visitors can feed, pet, and interact with them. We saw deer in various stages of their life cycles, from very young to full maturity. Some were more playful and they were not shy about chasing us around! The best part: we arrived early when the park first opened, so we were the only family in the deer zone, and we got to enjoy all of their attention.
Wildlife Park – My other favorite destination was the Timbavati Wildlife Park. We continued our strategy to arrive early when it first opened and we were the FIRST and ONLY ones feeding the giraffe. It was extremely friendly and Kai (my son) was smiling the whole time! The other animals were also a lot of fun to watch. Coming from China I have always experienced packed zoos (even the Houston Zoo is packed all the time), so I enjoyed the quality time here and all of the attention from the animals.
River Walk – After a fun-filled day, we had dinner at the River Walk Pub, which overlooks the beautiful Upper Dells Wisconsin River. We liked the spacious outdoor seating here right by the river, a perfect way to practice social distancing, while also enjoying the experience of dining out. Especially since we have not been eating out at restaurants since being in quarantine, I was delighted to see that Kai still had great restaurant manners 😉. After dinner we had a short walk along the Dells Scenic River Walk and enjoyed some live music.
Water Parks, theme parks, and more – Wisconsin Dells is also known as the “Waterpark Capital of the World.” In fact, there are more than 20 different waterparks in this town, including the largest waterpark in America. We did not have enough time to visit one of them during this trip, but we drove by a few and noticed that people were safely distancing from one another and they were not crowded at all. There are various other attractions such as theme parks, haunted houses, boat tours, go karts etc., making Wisconsin Dells a great destination for a variety of tourists ranging from college students to families.
If you are a Boothie looking for a great weekend getaway near Chicago that allows you to practice social distancing, the Wisconsin Dells should be on your list.