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3 Water Activities To Try this Fall in Wisconsin Dells

September 14, 2020

3 Water Activities To Try this Fall in Wisconsin Dells

September 14, 2020


This week’s adventure was sponsored by Dells Watersports for providing our kayak rentals and the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau for making the arrangements. All plans made and additional costs and opinions are our own.

The school year has begun, the temperatures have dropped, and the leaves are turning, yet the outdoor adventures don’t have to wrap up. We’re determined to keep active this fall and winter and had the perfect opportunity this past weekend. After a week straight of rain, the weather finally looked cooperative so we headed up to Wisconsin Dells with our girls to spend the day.

The Wisconsin Dells is most known for the enormous indoor and outdoor water parks, resort hotels, the hustling downtown strip full of shops, restaurants, and entertainment galore. Living near Madison most of our lives has given us the opportunity to see and do many of those things but we’re now interested in some of the lesser-known day trips. Today we’re sharing three Wisconsin Dells activities that aren’t waterpark-related but are equally as fun and much more beautiful!


The Dells area has some beautiful waterways that can be explored in many modes – via chartered boat tours, Duck tours (check it out if you haven’t heard of them!), and watersport rentals. We’ve mentioned it before, but when traveling we love to explore new places by water. We chose kayaks as our mode of transportation for this adventure.

We partnered with the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau and rented two tandem (double) kayaks for the day through Dells Watersports at Mirror Lake State Park. Check out the website for all that Mirror Lake State Park has to offer. The park is the perfect way to experience the Dells with its close location just a couple miles from town.

Dells Watersports has three locations – Lake Delton, Castle Rock Lake, and within Mirror Lake State Park. As always, make sure to check their website or call for the most updated information regarding hours and availability. The friendly employee working the boat rental helped us load up and get out on our kayaks, along with some tips on where to go for the best scenery. She also told us they’re usually open through September and sometimes into October pending weather.

We paddled out of the boat launch and into a creek, where we were dwarfed by the huge rock formations alongside us. Some of these sandstone bluffs stretched up 10-20 feet above the water and the scenery was so different from other kayak excursions we’ve done in the Madison area. Despite the chilly morning, there were quite a few other paddlers out enjoying the peace and tranquility on the waterway. The creek opens up into Mirror Lake – we’re not sure on distance but our shoulders were burning by the time we got there! Our 7-year old girls gave up co-paddling pretty early on, but they loved relaxing in the kayak and taking in the scenery.

Tandem kayaks with our 7-year-old daughters


Since we had the kayaks for the day, we went back to the boat landing after a couple hours of paddling and docked the kayaks for a while. We kept it simple and ordered curbside takeout from a local restaurant and brought it back to the Mirror Lake State Park beach. The girls ran around in the sand and played waterside while we relaxed in the sunshine.

Years ago when we were in college, we tent-camped together at Mirror Lake State Park with our then-boyfriends / now-husbands for a weekend. In addition to camping, there are opportunities for everyone with biking, hiking, swimming, fishing and watersport activities. Check out the website for all that Mirror Lake State Park has to offer. The park is the perfect way to experience the Dells with the close location just a couple miles on the edge of town.


Our plan was to return to our kayaks after lunch and paddle to the nearby Ishnala Supper Club for a drink on their beautiful waterside patio. It had already been a long day and neither of our arms were quite ready to get back in the kayak and paddle any further, even though it was only about a 15-minute cruise by water. We returned our kayaks, thanked the rental company for their help, and decided to take the walking path to Ishnala instead.

Echo Rock Trail which leads from Mirror Lake State Park to Ishnala Supper Club

The path is the Echo Rock Trail, easily accessed from the parking lot at the boat rental. It was about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot to the restaurant grounds. When we camped years ago, we actually drove to Ishnala for dinner, not realizing this walking path existed!

Entrance to Ishnala Supper Club

You’d be doing yourself a disservice to spend the whole day on Mirror Lake and not pay a visit to Ishnala in the early evening! This supper club overlooks Mirror Lake and is an award-winning and very iconic restaurant and dining experience. If you can’t stay for dinner, we highly recommend grabbing a drink from the bar. Drinks can be taken and enjoyed anywhere on their waterfront, beautifully-landscaped and wooded grounds. It’s also not a true Wisconsin supper club experience without an Old Fashioned, in our opinions!

We had a great day exploring Mirror Lake by kayak, a delicious lunch beachside along the lake, and topped off the fun day with an Old Fashioned at Ishnala. Just because it’s September in Wisconsin during a global pandemic, this doesn’t mean the (socially-distant) adventures have to come to an end!

A huge thanks to Dells Watersports for sponsoring our kayak rentals, and the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau for making the arrangements! Make sure to visit their sites using the links above, and tell them we sent you.

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