We just got back from an awesome old-fashion, extended family vacation to celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday in the Wisconsin Dells. Have you ever been to the Dells? It's nicknamed the water-park capitol of the world, not sure if that is true or not, but they know how to do water fun! Let me share some highlights with you!
My in-laws generously rented this 5 bedroom cabin for 3 nights at the Wilderness Resort. It's within driving distance for everyone and the resort has 4 indoor water parks and 5 outdoor water parks. The best part is they are only open to registered resort guests so it's not nearly as busy as other area water parks!
The cabin came with wristbands for the family from the day of check-in to the day of check-out which meant we could enjoy the park as early as we arrived on Friday morning and we could enjoy it all day on the day of check out, which we did! They provide transport by bus with an easy call to the operator to any water park you would like!
The house featured 5 bedrooms so every family had their own space plus the kids were able to all stay together in the media room area (think home movie theater). The kitchen was fully stocked with any kitchen essentials you might need and it also had a grill.
My mother-in-law brought food for breakfasts and some of the dinners. With a group of 15, it can be a challenge to eat out and sit together. Although, the Dells are use to large groups so every restaurant was able to accommodate us!
It's about a 5 hour drive from our house so we got up bright and early so we could enjoy the day as much as possible. We met up with our MN cousins for lunch at Buffalo Phil's. The food is delivered by train to your table so we knew the kids would love it (make sure to ask for a train table). I will say you go for the entertainment, not the food, so keep that in mind ;).
After lunch, Nana and Papa had checked into the cabin and so we headed over there to unload and get our swimsuits on so we could enjoy the rest of the afternoon at the water parks. Generally, there is an indoor and outdoor water park connected in one area, so we just chose a different set each day we were there. We didn't even make it to the last set because they were across the lake (but we had been to that one before and it boasts an infinity pool overlooking the lake).
My nephew Jude and Lucy are like an old married couple. They speak in a secret language reserved for just the two of them and they light up when they see each other. He affectionately calls her "Lucci".
I normally don't pack a separate bag for Lucy but I did for this trip filled with extra swim diapers, regular diapers, snacks, a change of clothes, sippy cup and extra pacifiers. She was so excited to wear it ;).
The rest of the day we swam, swam, swam. We came home in time for a lasagna dinner. My mother-in-law had transported our family's favorite lasagna to the Dells in a cooler. So she put it on the oven while we all got changed and showered. The rest of the evening was spent playing games and relaxing at the cabin. We even admired a flock of deer that ran across the golf course green out the windows.
The next morning, we got up bright and early and headed to the water park at 9am. Our favorite water slide, the hurricane, opened early so we all took turns rotating watching the kids and going down the slide. As you can see by our faces, it was really fun!
We chose yet another set of water parks for the day. We packed a lunch of sandwiches and sides to enjoy poolside! We did this everyday because it was so much easier than traipsing back to the cabin and cheaper than eating the poolside food.
There was something for everyone to enjoy which is great for a family of 15. Lucy didn't nap all weekend in her crib, she just catnapped here and there. Oh the life of a baby in the family! Thankfully she just went with it!
Lucy was quite overwhelmed by the water parks on day one but as the weekend wore on, she warmed right up to all the sprinklers, sprayers and water features! They had us write the cabin ID on their hands so in case they got lost they could find us. She also wore her puddle jumper most of the time but the kid pools were about 6 inches deep so she enjoyed those areas too!
Once we were done swimming for the day, we headed back and grilled out for dinner! Then we celebrated Papa with a cake of 70 candles. My nephew really wanted to help Papa with that large flame!
My mother-in-law had all of us contribute reasons why we loved Papa and then she compiled it into a darling keepsake list in a frame. He was humbled for sure and it was fun to show him how much we love him!
The last day we explored yet another set of water parks but first up, was a little photo op with Nana and Papa and the 7 grandchildren.
There was a tense few moments where we thought Solon broke his ankle! We went down a large family tube ride and he was so excited to see what Lucy thought of it (spoiler she didn't like it ;), he stepped down on a metal step at the same time our tube slammed into it. It pinned his ankle between the tube and the metal step. He burst into tears (which he never does) and it immediately started to swell and bruise and he wouldn't walk on it. We got some ice from first aid and about 15 minutes later, he seemed to be able to put pressure on it. Sigh...crisis averted!
That afternoon, we headed to the newest outdoor water park. Most of the adults (not me, I did it once already) did the upside down water slide. Then we all enjoyed the large lazy river complete with a slide and conveyor belt. The kids loved all the kiddie water areas! Everyone but the 3 big kids passed out on the deck chairs for an afternoon siesta before calling it a day!
That evening, we got dressed up a bit (more than our post swimming comfies ;) and took some updated family photos. We only see Scott's brother's family twice a year so we took the opportunity. The youngest girls (only 30 days apart) were a bit skeptical about the whole thing but we got some good ones out of the 50 self-timer shots! Thank goodness for the 10 quick shot self-timer setting!
That night we went to Sprecher's Pub (we called ahead for a reservation). Their specialty is German food so we enjoyed the Jaegerschnitzel, Scotch eggs and homemade root beer! The kids loved the Angry Bird style hats. We decided if you have a restaurant in the Dells, you have to have a funny gimmick and/or crazy hat!
That night we all collapsed in the media room to watch America Ninja Warrior. It was a fun and relaxing way to end our fast but fun weekend together!
The next morning everyone parted ways to head back home. Since we didn't need to be home at any particular time, we opted to stay and enjoy the park with Nana and Papa! They have locker rooms you can shower and change in, since we had to check out of our hotel room!
We said goodbye to Papa and Nana and hit up the outlet mall on our way out of town for a few good deals before grabbing an early drive thru dinner and hitting the road.
We had a great time and are so thankful for the fun trip that Nana and Papa took us on. What a great way to celebrate Papa's 70th birthday! My mother-in-law is already thinking about her 70th birthday in 18 months and possibly another large family vacation.
In case you want to head to the Dells, we stayed here and we also loved these places --
There was so many add-on activities at the Wilderness Resort! For a little extra money, you could visit the virtual reality center, enjoy their indoor jungle gym, do bumper boats, mini golf, drive go-carts, go zip-lining and try your luck at the huge arcade. You can even have pizza delivered poolside (Klondike Pizza Kitchen)! We even got some coupons and free tickets to different attractions like the Tommy Bartlett Ski Show but we just didn't have time to fit it all in.
Think Branson and Pigeon Forge meets water park and thats the Dells! It's open year-round so it would be a fun place to visit in the winter or over spring break too! Have you ever been?
I am going to share my tips for taking large family vacations. Sound off with any questions in the comments and I will be sure to answer them in that post!
Linking up with Johannah for Hello Monday, Becky for Tuesday Talk - check out all the blogs linked up for more reading fun :)
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Labels: family, travel