You've toyed with the idea of taking the family to Europe, exposing the kids to history, brie on bread for breakfast, art and architecture and enchanting accents.
Present that option to them with the alternative vacation -- Wisconsin Dells -- and you're saving thousands on airfare, taxis and needing another vacation after that one.
The absolute truth is that the little berg with big fun is heaven to tots, it's lit for tweens and even high schoolers will manage a grin because a trip to the "Waterpark Capital of the World" is honest, laugh-out-loud, family glee.
You say you've been? Of course you have, but these are going to be your kids' good old days and honestly, will they recall the time they spied the Mona Lisa in a highly packed Louvre or watching Dad flailing down "The World's Largest King Cobra" water ride followed by a blue snow cone? The Dells offers new and updated attractions, eateries and accommodations to keep 'em coming back year after year until it's really time to hit the Louvre.
New at the water parks
Waterparks are like catnip for kids -- just one sniff of the humidity, chlorine and nachos gets them dizzy with delight, so much so that they may not miss a beach. Water parks appeal to kids of all ages, from zygote to college, and those with indoor water features guarantee amusement rain or shine. All water parks have age appropriate activities.
• Noah's Ark Waterpark features a new waterslide for summer 2018 that's perfect for tweens to adults. "Raja -- The World's Largest King Cobra" is a side-by- side race in two-person tubes six stories high. You'll zigzag more than 335 feet at speeds up to 30 mph before plunging into the mouth of a monstrous king cobra.
Noah's Ark, the largest water park in the country, has more than 50 rides and attractions, so there's plenty of excitement for everyone. It also has bragging rights for the tallest waterslides: Scorpion's Tail and Point of No Return are both 10 stories tall.
• Little guppies aren't overlooked at Chula Vista Resort (chulavistaresort.com) where new attractions are just for them. The Chula Choo Choo is an authentic 1/8 scale train that travels around the outdoor water park, perfect for a breather in between bouncing on the new bungee trampoline and maneuvering the inflatable obstacle course. Inside, there's a new Laser Frenzy game great for older kids.
• Wilderness Resort (WildernessResort.com) is home to three water park properties, Wilderness Hotel & Golf Resort, Wilderness on the Lake and Glacier Canyon Lodge, which together make up America's largest water park resort. There are four indoor and as many outdoor water parks reserved exclusively for resort guests. Families with younger kids will want to explore the new Timberland Play Park, four stories of features like slides, swings, tunnels, an arched bridge, and nearly 40 areas to climb and crawl -- all for the 12 and under set. The resort added a separate gated area especially designed for kids age 4 and younger. Nearby, older siblings can head to a new virtual reality game called CyVRerspace where they'll battle nefarious robots in an epic VR adventure. The escape craze has emerged in the Dells and Wilderness Resort boasts three different experiences including the new Titanic DOA Room Escape. Props match actual items on the ill-fated ship and clues relate the true story of the RMS Titanic. Accommodations at Wilderness Resort range from hotel rooms and condos to villas and cabins big enough for entire families.
For a more affordable vacation that focuses on the outdoors, consider tent camping, a cottage or cabin in the woods or RV travel at the Dells.
Campgrounds offer surprising amenities whether you own or are renting an Airstream or have a basic tent. Some have tennis and volleyball courts, hiking and bike trails, heated pools and splash pads, play areas for pets and lakes for fishing and canoeing. Yukon Trails Camping RV Resort will even deliver Friday Fish Fry to your campsite. Yogi Bear Camp-Resort & Water Playground (a href="http://www.dellsjellystone.com">dellsjellystone.com) thrills little kids with theme weekends like Mexican Fiesta, Ho-Ho-Holidays, Jungle Safari and others that include crafts, music, outdoor activities, games and treats. Baraboo Hills Campground (baraboohillscampground.com) offers cabins, yurts and tiny houses. If the kids won't stop yammering about staying at water park resort, opt for Mt. Olympus All Inclusive Camp Resort -- your stay includes access to the ginormous water park.
When the kids have had enough bouncing at Knuckleheads Trampoline Park; scaling climbing walls and driving go-karts at Kalahari Indoor Theme Park; feeding animals at Wisconsin Deer Park; playing a string of mini golf challenges; zip lining; and spinning on the Upper Dells aboard a Wild Thing Jet Boat -- it's time to refuel.
Summer House, a new family dining spot on Lake Delton offering sweet summertime views and handcrafted dishes, opens this season. Nary an adult nor child will offer a peep of dissent when the fam decides to chow down at MACS Macaroni and Cheese Shop. Save one night for a Wisconsin supper club experience -- Field's at the Wilderness and the Ishnala Supper Club are famous for fine dining.
For a memorable breakfast, Belgiis, Wisconsin Dells first and only Liege Waffle Bar, is your ticket and you cannot leave town without a burger at Monk's.
For more info
The Wisconsin Dells Visitor & Convention Bureau is ready for your questions about lodging, attractions, outdoor recreation, live shows and dining. Call (800) 223-3557 or see wisdells.com.