It isn’t called “The Water Park Capital of the World” for no reason. If you are looking for a place to go with your family that will appease the thrill seekers, lazy river lovers, and water fountain fans, the Wisconsin Dells is the vacation spot for you. But just like any trip you make with your family (and yes, it is called a trip NOT A VACATION), you want to make sure that you remember to pack all the necessities and a fun fun extras for your trip over the border. After going to Wisconsin Dells during each and every season, I have come up with this MASTER list of What to Pack for Wisconsin Dells.
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What to Pack for the Car Ride
Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. I firmly believe that snacks can make or break a road trip, even when you are traveling WITHOUT kids. I bring tried-and-true favorites like Goldfish crackers and pretzels but I also pack a few special treats like Oreos and Twizzlers when we go away for a weekend as a family. Just be sure to avoid nuts, fruit snacks, and other foods that your child can choke on in the car.
I try to keep my kids as “screen free” as possible, especially on car trips, so I load up bags filled with tons of fun games, books, magazines, and activities to keep them busy all car ride long. Some of our favorites?
- Melissa & Doug Water Pen Books
- Sports Illustrated for Kids Magazine
- I Spy Books
- Paint by Sticker Books
Lastly, my family and I have REALLY started to get into podcasts lately, so we will tune in to stories that teach us about what happens to our poop once we flush it down the toilet and what kinds of animals live in the rainforest. I’ll be working on a list of our favorite family-friendly podcasts soon.
What to Pack for the Hotel Room
In order to ensure that we all have the best night of sleep possible, I try to bring as much comfortable bedding from home as I can. Now I’m not stuffing a duvet in the trunk or anything, but I definitely bring some cozy blankets and the pillows we sleep on every night (because there is nothing worse than a bad hotel pillow when traveling). Don’t forget to pack your child’s nightlight, and an extra set of pajamas and clothing in case of accidents.
Board games are always a hit when hanging out in a hotel room, but be sure to bring ones that don’t have a ton of pieces and won’t take up too much room. We also bring our typical bedtime books to keep our bedtime routine as normal as possible, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in watching a movie that the books get ignored. Oh well! As long as I can find something for my kids to use to relax and unwind after a day of playing is great with me.
While there are some great restaurants at Wisconsin Dells like these, many of them are closed during the off-season, so if you make the trek in the winter like we usually do, food options are VERY slim. That’s why we book a hotel room with a kitchen so we can cook most of our meals and utilize pizza and restaurant delivery for our other meals. Here is our food checklist for what to pack for the Wisconsin Dells:
- Drinks–Bottled water, juice boxes, wine, beer
- Breakfast–Muffins or bagels, fruit, cereal, granola bars, pancake mix, eggs, syrup, bacon/sausage
- Lunch–Bread, lunch meat, peanut butter, pasta salad, chips, fruit
- Happy Hour–Cheese, crackers, trail mix, popcorn, cut up fruit and veggies
- Sweets–Cookies and brownies
- Also be sure to pack extra paper towels, disposable plates and cutlery, as well as extra plastic bags for storage.
What to Pack for the Water Parks
I’m a firm believer that you should always OVERPACK when you go to a water park. Why? Because things get wet SO easily, and attempting to dry off an overtired, cranky kid who didn’t want to get out of the pool in the first place with a wet and cold towel is NO fun. My water park packing recommendations?
More bathing suits than you think you need.
Pack your own beach towels because they are larger and much more plush than what indoor water parks provide.
Empty water bottles! Staying hydrated while swimming in pools with tons of chemicals is very important, so bring refillable water bottles to ensure that your family stays hydrated while playing.
A waterproof phone case. Enough said.
Comfortable, non-slip sandals. As hard as staff may try, water park floors can be pretty gross, so bring a pair of sturdy yet cheap (you don’t want to be worried about someone stealing your sandals while you are floating on the lazy river) sandals.
Two pairs of goggles because they always seem to get tangled or leak when you need them the most.
Waterproof sunscreen lotion (use the spray options to reapply, not to set your base).
A backpack instead of a tote bag. Why? Because chances are your exhausted child will want to be carried and it is much easier to carry a kiddo when wearing a backpack.
Most water parks provide life jackets, but if you prefer to use your own, make sure it is Coast Guard certified or you will not be able to use it.
A thick, comfortable robe to wear when walking to and from the pools (especially in the cold and drafty winter season).
Leave balls and rafts at home because they are not allowed in the indoor or outdoor water parks. Worried your child will be bored? Don’t be! There are tons slides, water spouts, and other activities to keep your kiddo entertained.