THE BEACHES OF WISCONSIN DELLS
There are several options for both natural and manmade beaches.
Mt. Olympus Resort has the largest sand beach, which is 16 inches deep and adjacent to Poseidon's Rage, a wave pool that regularly unleashes a 9-foot wave.
Adventure Lagoon at Chula Vista Resort also has a sand beach, which is smaller than Mount Olympus and more suitable for younger kids. It's outfitted with beach chairs, a tiki bar and private cabanas.
Lake Delton, itself a manmade lake supplied by Dell Creek, is a whole lot spiffier than it was several years ago. After heavy rains caused a dike to fail and the lake to drain in 2008, the shorelines were scraped before the lake was refilled. Beaches of note: Baker's Sunset Bay Resort, the Thunderbird Resort and Moonglow Vacation Homes.
The Wisconsin River has its own sandy beaches, a bit more rugged than those on Lake Delton. Here's where you'll find the beaches: Holiday Shores Camp-Resort, Cedar Lodge and Settlement and River's Edge Resort. New this year is Newport Park, which has its own beach, fishing pier and a boat launch that provides access to the Lower Dells of the river.
The essentials: Some Dells water parks, including Mount Olympus, include admission to the park in the price of lodging. That's a pretty good deal. In late August, I paid about $140 per night for a room for two adults and three kids, but by the time we included concession charges (you can pay with a wristband) -- mostly for snacks, taxes and an assortment of fees -- our two-night stay cost more than $600. Prices will be most affordable when demand is lowest, and last-minute deals are often available. During the last week of August, when most Wisconsin children are in school, visitors can land good prices and hop on slides with no lines.