All Grown Up

Look past the theme parks and tourist stops and you’ll find that Wisconsin Dells makes for a decidedly adult getaway

Dec 15, 2010

For more than fifty years,  Wisconsin Dells has cultivated an image as a family-minded summer vacation spot packed with water parks, swimming pools and kitschy restaurants. Yet more recently the city has built up attractions for the sophisticated, grown-up set. Located just an hour north of Madison, it’s a pleasant and convenient destination for dining, shopping, relaxing and other mature pursuits. 


Peace & Quiet

Based on feng shui principles, Sundara Inn and Spa operates with a mindset toward wellness, not pampering. Unwind with the self-guided purifying bath ritual, relax in the quiet room or sit outside—even in the winter—in the whirlpool, heated infinity pool or a chair by the fire pit. Treatments range from massages and facials to body wraps and pedicures, with seasonal, Ayurvedic and couples services also offered. (And if you can't bring yourself to leave, ask about the luxe suites and villas.)

920 Canyon Rd. (608) 253-9200,


Mix & Mingle

After the day’s activities but before heading to dinner, why not stop for a drink? Field’s at the Wilderness is a cool and contemporary steakhouse. Take a seat at the large square bar and have a martini or margarita—or perhaps a special concoction whipped up by the friendly bartender. If you’re hungry, the wood-fired pizzas make a delicious shared appetizer.

511 E. Adams St. (608) 253-1400,


Wine & Dine

A family-owned restaurant open since the 1940s, the Del-Bar is a delight. Featuring striking architecture by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé James Dresser, warm lighting and soft music, the upscale eatery offers steaks, seafood and salads with dressings made in-house. Order a bottle of wine and take your time here. The homemade desserts may help you linger awhile, too.

800 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy. (608) 253-1861,


Warm & Cozy

Tucked within a pretty wooded area of the Dells is the Chula Vista Resort. Visitors looking to spread out and kick back should book one of the spacious one-, two- or three-bedroom condos. Boasting a full kitchen, comfortable living room, fireplaces, a large Jacuzzi and nice views, they invite you to relax at the end of the day and sleep in the next morning.

 2501 River Rd. (608) 254-8366,


Browse & Buy

If you’re in the mood to shop, stop into the Tanger Outlet Center. More than sixty stores fill this open-air shopping center; among them are Coach Factory, Pendleton, the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, the Tommy Hilfiger Company Store and the Nike Factory Store. Before you leave, pop into Harry & David for treats to enjoy on the drive home.

210 Gasser Rd. (608) 253-5380,

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine. 

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