A day in the Dells with a 4-year-old

Wisconsin Dells Welcome Sign

“Let’s go to the Dells” I said, in the morning.

If you’re like me, life just somehow gets in the way of enjoying all those wonderful moments with family. Last weekend I had a rare occurrence of having the day alone with my daughter and no errands to run – our destination? The Dells.

Deer, Deer, and More Deer

Our first stop was the Wisconsin Deer Park. For over 50 years this 40-acre animal oasis in the middle of Wisconsin Dells has been entertaining and education visitors to the Dells. This is the perfect place for a 4-year-old to experience over 100 deer and other wildlife, in a hands-on and safe atmosphere.

One adult and one child (4-years-old) cost $24, deer food was $4 each and came with a bunch of wafer-style crackers. You can take as many photos and spend as much time in the park as you’d like. As we walked around the deer park grounds, we saw many different kinds of deer. Deer from all over the world. Deer with big antlers (behind the fence) and small antlers, no antlers, and every kind of deer pattern in between. These deer are the main attraction and are incredibly hungry and sweet too.

The gift shop has lots of knickknacks, toys, and games. The prices were pretty fair, so I let my daughter pick out one toy. She grabbed a three-pack of small mermaids, which cost me under $4. With the excitement of our deer park behind us, we headed onward!

“Race Cars”

Driving down Wisconsin Dells Parkway from the back seat I heard “Daddy, let’s go in the race cars!” So, we stopped at Big Chief Go Karts for a ride. The cost was $3 for me and my daughter was free. We hopped into one of the slick, black go-karts with a handy little raised seat for little ones on the left side. Zooming around the hairpin turns, up and down the hills, and back past the start. Round and round we went, as fast as the little kart could muster! “We won” was the first thing out of my daughter’s mouth as we came to a stop.

Lucky Chrystal

Across the connected parking lot was a Dells Mining Company location. Kids love dirt and rocks, right? We sat down on the bench and were given the rundown. There are different colored buckets, each with a different price point, which contain gems worth the same amount as the bucket cost. We picked the lowest cost bucket that still had polished rocks in it, which was $30 (there were cheaper and more expensive options). We were given two mesh sieves and a bucket full of sand and stones. After pouring a bit of sand in the sieve, the two of us got to work.

My daughter really enjoyed sifting the sand out and picking out the pretty stones for us to keep. We went through five or six sieves full of sand before our bucket was empty. We found a lot of really interesting gemstones which we were able to discuss and identify in their gift shop. One of the stones my daughter pulled from the sand was a Chrystal, which we were informed is lucky, so we took it home and put it in my daughter’s school bag.

Sweet Treat in a Bus

Grateful Shed Truckyard

The Grateful Shed Truckyard is right beside the mining company which made it super easy to stop in for lunch. First of all, the atmosphere is amazing! A bunch of old RVs and delivery trucks converted into food trucks, serving a variety of food – an Asian truck, taco truck, and a grilled cheese truck. Talk about something for everyone! There was one more vendor in an old airstream, called the sugar stream. They had slushies loaded with candy, called a “frosty piñata.” Given her choice of flavors between green apple, grape, watermelon, lemonade, and some others my daughter chose green apple – one of her favorites.

Where to sit? There are so many fun seating options like the old VW buses and truck beds that have been converted into picnic tables. The thing that caught our eye was the full-sized bus elevated above the bar. The bus is dubbed the “gratehound” and has booths for additional seating. Of all the new adventures we experienced in the Dells the dessert in the bus was by far her favorite!

Already Planning for Next Time

Wisconsin Dells has so much more than just waterparks! My little girl and I enjoyed a day together, but we have just scratched the surface of what the Dells has to offer. It looks like we’ll have to embark on another daddy/daughter day sooner rather than later because I am pretty sure she’s going to request one of those frosty piñatas soon!