MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Looking for family reunion spot near Madison

I'm trying to find a great spot near Madison, Wis. (100 miles) for a birthday weekend for my dad. We would have 10 adults and 8 teens. We'd like a hotel or resort where we have some activities for everyone. The birthday is in January. Any ideas? - Kate, Delmar, Iowa

The logical choice for January would be one of the Wisconsin Dells hotels that have indoor water parks. In fact, I once met a woman who was celebrating her 60th birthday at the Kalahari and had brought in her family from around the country.

Since you'll have teens, you'll want one of the larger parks the Wilderness, the Great Wolf, the Kalahari or the Chula Vista. They all have as many water-park features as anyone could want and lots of other activities, too Lazer Tag, go-carts, mini-golf, even a Ferris wheel at the Kalahari.

The Wilderness has a lot of lodgings that are good for large family groups and often offers the best deals, but some people don't like the walk between parks. The Kalahari has great rides and is next to a cinema, but it hosts conventions and can be overly crowded.

Chula Vista has the best setting, away from the strip on the Wisconsin River. It expanded recently and is the only one at which I haven't stayed, but I've been hearing good things about it. For more water-park comparisons, see Making waves.

Most of the rest of the Dells closes down in winter, but there's downhill skiing and snowboarding at nearby Cascade Mountain teens will like that.

Last updated on October 20, 2009