Best Weekend Getaway - 2012
The Wisconsin Dells
Want to get away for a weird weekend? Set your sights southeast down I-94 and pull off the interstate at the Wisconsin Dells. As you look around you may ponder, "Why in the world is this tourist trap here? And how did it come to possess the world's largest collection of circus wagons?" Well, it all makes perfect sense, actually. Originally founded in 1857, the Dells area is at the confluence of several rivers, so it had easy water transport. It also had trees, which brought the lumber industry, which brought the railroads to ship lumber out and people in. And with people, of course, came a desire to view the World's Largest Pink Flamingo, a museum dedicated to torture devices, an "Indian Trading Post," and a tacky wedding chapel. Oh, and the circus wagons? Nearby Baraboo was once the winter home and headquarters for the Ringling Brothers Circus, so the town now boasts not only the largest collection of circus wagons in the world but also a library of circus information and the largest group of original circus structures in North America, dating back to 1897. So don't look on the Dells as the "Waterpark Capital of the World," though it is. Check into one of the Dells' kitschy mid-century motels and imagine a time when folks piled into the family car and headed to destinations like the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, when half the fun was in the journey. And where the only amenity you sought in your roadside inn was a cheery neon sign advertising "Heated Pool" and "Color TV."