6-20-12 and 1-15-15 and 6-3-15 and many more
The Wisconsin Dells was founded as Kilbourn City in 1857. The name was changed in 1931. The Dells has been a vacation destination for over 150 years and you can see pictures and postcards of the early years here. The site of one of the early theme parks called Fort Dells is marked by a sign, a Walgreens is there now.
What you will see when you drive into the Dells along the Parkway and Broadway.
The population of the Dells is 2,678. Even though it is known as “The Waterpark Capital of the World”™ now, it is so much more. My own Dells experiences goes back to my childhood in the 1970’s and 80’s. Al’s family went to Jellystone Park, still going strong. History is still an important part of the Dells and is the foundation for their continued relevance in the present and future.
We are going to explore 7 blocks on what is called “The Strip”, or Broadway Rd. We start at the top of Broadway on the 100 block, just after we pass under the Amtrak (Empire Builder route) and Canadian Pacific train overpass. The CP train carries freight, but during the Christmas holidays they host a Holiday Train. On the left side attached to the concrete bridge support is this plaque. We had to carefully walk under the bridge when the road was clear of traffic to get a picture of it.
We took a look at the charming depot. It was built in 1989 after the original was damaged beyond repair in 1982. It resembles many historic depots we have seen in other towns.
Close to here, also a right turn off Broadway are two other historical markers and a very tall flagpole, the long driveway leading to them identified by a brown “historical marker” sign. The first one is a history of the Wisconsin Dells. The other marker is on a large red rock in front of the flagpole, honoring Stanton Peter Helland.
Broadway – 100 Block
This is the view of the 100 block from halfway up the hill near the railroad track. Each block has many great businesses to appeal to both visitors. and residents alike. Downtown Dells has a website of its own since there is so much to do. Since we tend to be frugal travelers, the free parking downtown from October 15-May 15 appealed to us too. The drawback of winter, not all of the businesses/attractions are open.
The first place on our right is the popular Showboat Saloon, styled to look like a river showboat. More than that, it is said that a ghost named Molly lives in this over 100-year old building in the upstairs apartment. The building owner no longer rents it out due to the ghostly disturbances.
Other businesses on that side are Vintage Photos, Wisconsin Dells Fudge, Professor Porter’s Old Time Portraits and Haunted Mansion. We had a saloon picture taken at Old Time Portraits in Nov. 2008. That was fun!
Wizard Quest was on the other side of the street on this block.
In the summer you can stop at this booth for all the boat tour information and tickets. There are several booths available on Broadway. Next to it is Dairy Queen, Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, The Candy Connection, and Yuval Wear clothing. Across from here is Swiss Maid Fudge. This ends the 100 block.
Broadway – 200 Block
We cross River Rd. and the first place is Nig’s Bar, Souvenir City, Uptown Trading Post, the H.H. Bennett Studio and History Center, and Old Abe’s Old Time Portraits. Coincidentally, our visit on January 15 also happened to be H.H. Bennett’s birthday too! We visited the studio on June 14, 2015 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary.
The Bennett studio is the actual one he worked out of, and we saw two historical plaques on the courtyard gate.
Rounding out the block on this side is Cheese Cake Heaven®, open seasonally.
From this side we look across the street to a wide variety of businesses, both old and new. At the right end is T-Shirt Factory. Right next to it is the new Dells Distillery (2013), then MACS-Macaroni and Cheese Shop for great meal choices. We had lunch at the Distillery on 6-14-15. Great food here.
Buy clothes at Alpha Beta Karma next to Macs. Left of this store is another clothing store called Too Cute. Next in line is Wisconsin Dairyland Fudge, here since 1962. Next is Scent-Sations. More great food at Monk’s Bar and Grill, serving the Dells since 1947.
In the tan building next to Monk’s is Xpressit. Then the popular Winnebago Gift Shop, where you can get moccasins and other apparel made by Winnebago (Ho-Chunk) Indians. They have served the Dells since 1949 in a historic 1860 building.
Finishing up this block is the Dells Fudge Company, Animaland for toys and games. Last is the High Rock Cafe. This block is the most dense for businesses on this historic street.
Broadway – 300 Block
We cross Oak Street to see what’s here, still plenty of places to see. This is the left side, beginning with Wally World Arcade, a popular place since opening in 1998. It houses the Dells only antique carousel. Next is Elements Skateboard Shop, then the Dells Discount Outlet. Rounding out this side is Book World, Wisconsin Dells Realty, Subway, Paintball Target Shooting and Best Bargain. A new Great Harvest Bread Co. recently opened here on the end cap of this row.
On the right side we have Native Sun Resortwear and Gifts,
Shirts R-Us (closed) and KDC Traders. On the left is the historic Stroud Bank, now The Wild Fun Zone.
This block concludes with Colotlán Mexican Restaurant and The Frozen Bear Frosty Treats.
Broadway – 400 Block
We are now at the halfway point of exploring this fascinating street in downtown Dells. But wait, there’s more! After crossing Elm St., continuing on the left side is the Goody Goody Gumdrop store. next is Unique, a t-shirt store.
A Dells Visitor Center is next to Unique. This side of the block concludes with Eagle Wings Sportswear, Dells Mining Company and Famous Dave’s BBQ. The right side is even more interesting. We begin with Chalet Lanes and Lounge and the Bavarian Village with German Glockenspiel. Let’s watch it tell the Pied Piper story!
It was so interesting inside, so much candy and treats!
Broadway – 500 Block
At this point we are heading out of the heaviest shopping and attractions part of the street. There are still some places yet to see though. On the last long shopping strip on the left side are several shops.
The first is a BMO Harris Bank on the left corner, then an Italian restaurant called Carvelli Pizza and Pasta House.
Next is Affordable Leather and More, Cutting Edge Fitness, Paint It! Pottery Shop and Clothing Company for women’s clothes. The last business on this side of the street is a women’s boutique called Flirts.
On the right side is Fitzgerald’s Motel.