A Travel Price Comparison for Wisconsin Milwaukee vs. Wisconsin Dells for Families, Nightlife, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a welcoming, undiscovered, and friendly city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a lighthearted, high energy, and fun-filled city. Visitors also love the food, hiking, and nightlife.

Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with couples
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Wisconsin Dells than Milwaukee, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Wisconsin Dells is better known for its food, nightlife, resorts, and hiking, while Milwaukee is more popular for its museums and shopping. Wisconsin Dells is more touristy than Milwaukee and is popular for its many waterparks and unapologetically playful atmosphere. Also, Wisconsin Dells is famous for Noah's Ark Water Park. Milwaukee is well known for its many breweries and its baseball culture.

How is Milwaukee different from Wisconsin Dells?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Milwaukee is a popular place for its museums and landmarks. However, Wisconsin Dells is a city with minimal options for its historical sights.

Milwaukee offers a variety of museums and landmarks to choose from. There are several unique museums like the Harley-Davidson Museum, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, and the Milwaukee Public Museum. There's also the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Grohmann Museum as well as outdoor sculpture parks and other cultural and historic museums.

While most people don't head to Wisconsin Dells specifically for the museums and attractions, it does offer a few options. There are a couple of art galleries in the area, but most visitors spend the majority of their time at the theme parks and waterparks.


Is the Food Better in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a city with good options for its restaurants. However, Milwaukee is lacking in options for its restaurant scene.

Wisconsin Dells has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. Pizza, pasta, burgers, and steak in a family-friendly atmosphere are the most common options in the area. There are also a few fine dining restaurants as well as pubs and brunch places to choose from.

Milwaukee may not make the list for most foodies, but you'll find what you need while you're in town. The Midwest is known for its artery clogging comfort foods, and Milwaukee is no exception. Cheese curds, fried fish, fruit dumplings, and frozen custard are all popular.

Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Nightlife?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is an excellent place to visit for nightlife and partying. Also, Milwaukee is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its evening party scene.

Wisconsin Dells has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. In the evening the fun-filled atmosphere takes on a different vibe. There are bars, clubs, casinos, and shows that keep things lively throughout the evening.

Milwaukee has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. You'll find a decent number of breweries around town. There are also wine bars, nightclubs, and live music venues that are worth checking out.

Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Resorts?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a city with good options for its luxury resorts. However, Milwaukee is not a resort destination.

With a selection of resorts, Wisconsin Dells makes a nice vacation spot. Many of the waterparks in the area have affiliated resorts that offer family-friendly entertainment.

Milwaukee is not a resort destination.


Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Hiking?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a city with good options for its hiking trails. However, Milwaukee is not a hiking destination.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Wisconsin Dells. Visitors often forget that this was originally a destination for its natural beauty. There are still many hiking trails in the area with some of the favorites found at Mirror Lake State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, and Chimney Rock Private Park.

Milwaukee is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Milwaukee is a popular place for its shopping opportunities. However, Wisconsin Dells is a city with minimal options for its shopping areas.

Milwaukee offers some nice shopping areas. You'll find the standard shopping centers and shopping malls around town, but if you want some more local vendors, check out the areas around the Historic Third Ward and The Village in Wauwatosa.

Wisconsin Dells has some good spots for those that want to go shopping. You'll find shopping malls and shopping centers, as well as gift shops in the area.

Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Families?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is terrific for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Milwaukee is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

Wisconsin Dells is an extremely popular city to visit for families. While it used to be known for its impressive sandstone formations along the Wisconsin River, today it has a more touristy atmosphere with theme parks and amusement parks. It's also become known as the "Water Park Capital of the World", and it won't disappoint. There are both indoor and outdoor waterparks as well as train rides, boat rides, and plenty of family-friendly restaurants.

You'll find plenty of kid-friendly things to do in Milwaukee. Kids will enjoy a visit to Discovery World, which is a science center with hands-on exhibits. There's also the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Younger kids will also enjoy a stop at Betty Brinn Children's Museum.


Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Couples?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a city with good options for its romantic activities. However, Milwaukee is lacking in options for couples.

Wisconsin Dells makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are a number of resorts with spas and romantic atmospheres. There are also wineries and plenty of entertainment options in the area.

Milwaukee is not always the best place to visit for a couple. Take a walk or visit a local restaurant. There are also museums and performances that make for a nice outing.

Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Students?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Milwaukee is a popular place for students. However, Wisconsin Dells is not popular with students.

Milwaukee is popular with students. It's home to a number of colleges and universities, so there is a bit of a college town vibe.

Wisconsin Dells is not popular with students.

Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Milwaukee is a city with a few options for its public transit. However, Wisconsin Dells is a city with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

Public transit is generally limited in Milwaukee. There are buses that travel around town.

Public transit is quite limited in Wisconsin Dells. There's no real public transportation in the area.


Is Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells a more walkable city?

Milwaukee
Wisconsin Dells

Milwaukee is a popular place for its high level of walkability. However, Wisconsin Dells is a city with minimal options for its ease of walking around.

Milwaukee is a somewhat walkable place. Parts of the city are relatively compact and walkable. The most walkable neighborhoods are East Side, Riverwest, Brewers Hill, Downtown, Avenues West/Marquette, Third Ward, Walker's Point, and Bay View.

Wisconsin Dells is generally not a very walkable city. While the downtown area is walkable, you really need a car to access everything that the area has to offer.

For even more information, also check out Is Milwaukee Worth Visiting? and Is Wisconsin Dells Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Wisconsin Dells or Milwaukee?

How long in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

It's fun to spend time in either Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Wisconsin Dells due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Milwaukee, and 2-4 days is enough time in Wisconsin Dells.

Families should spend more time in Wisconsin Dells than Milwaukee. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Wisconsin Dells, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Wisconsin Dells than Milwaukee. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Wisconsin Dells that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Milwaukee than Wisconsin Dells if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Milwaukee.


  • How many days in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells? Ideal Length of Stay
    Milwaukee 1-2 
    Wisconsin Dells 2-4

One day in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

The friendly destination of Milwaukee offers shopping and museums. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One day is usually enough time to experience most activities.

You'll find nightlife and food around the city of Wisconsin Dells. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

The city of Milwaukee offers museums and nightlife. A weekend here is typical. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities.

You'll find food and nightlife around the high energy destination of Wisconsin Dells. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.


Five days in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Milwaukee is a great place to explore. This city offers something for everyone. Most people find that five days is more than enough time to see everything.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the high energy city of Wisconsin Dells. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Many people enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting Milwaukee. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Wisconsin Dells is a popular choice for travelers. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America, and The Best Coach Bus Tours in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Wisconsin Dells or Milwaukee?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Milwaukee is $176, while the average daily cost in Wisconsin Dells is $142. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Milwaukee $99
    Wisconsin Dells $70
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Milwaukee $198
    Wisconsin Dells $140
Compare Hotels in Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells

Looking for a hotel in Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Milwaukee


Hotels in Wisconsin Dells


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Milwaukee Hotel Prices and Wisconsin Dells Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Milwaukee $38
    Wisconsin Dells $35

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Milwaukee

Also for Milwaukee, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Milwaukee - General Mitchell Airport One Way Transfer : $64

Is it cheaper to fly into Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Prices for flights to both Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Milwaukee $52
    Wisconsin Dells $43

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Milwaukee

For Milwaukee, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Family Fun Food Tour: $80
  • Local Food Tour: $97
  • Milwaukee Walking Food Tour With Secret Food Tours: $99
  • Original Milwaukee Guided Brewery Tour with Lunch or Dinner: $139

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Milwaukee $26
    Wisconsin Dells $46

Tours and Activities in Milwaukee

For Milwaukee, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Skip the Line: Museum Admission Ticket - Grohmann Museum: $5.00
  • The Grand Walk: A Self-Guided Audio Tour through Milwaukee: $6.99
  • The Grand Milwaukee Walk: A Self-Guided Audio Tour: $6.99
  • Skip the Line: North Point Lighthouse Admission Ticket: $8.21
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Milwaukee by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Geneva Lake Shore Path: Uncover 21 miles of stories on a self-guided audio tour: $10
  • Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Game Ticket at American Family Field: $11
  • Skip The Line: Harley-Davidson Museum Admission Ticket with Audio Guided Option: $22
  • Macabre Milwaukee Walking Tour: $26
  • Shakers Original Historical Ghost Tour: $27
  • Brew City Ghosts: Macabre Milwaukee By US Ghost Adventures: $30
  • Milwaukee Private or Public Pedal Tavern Tour : $35

Tours and Activities in Wisconsin Dells

Here are a few actual costs in Wisconsin Dells for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • City and History Trolley Tour in Wisconsin Dells: $24

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Milwaukee $33
    Wisconsin Dells $9.14

Sample the Local Flavors in Milwaukee

Also in Milwaukee, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Sip of Milwaukee Guided Brewery Tour with Snack: $99


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells, we can see that Milwaukee is more expensive. And not only is Wisconsin Dells much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Wisconsin Dells would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Wisconsin Dells and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Milwaukee would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Milwaukee than you might in Wisconsin Dells.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Milwaukee Expensive? and Is Wisconsin Dells Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Milwaukee has a larger population, and is about 240 times larger than the population of Wisconsin Dells. When comparing the sizes of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells in the Summer?

Both Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee during the summer are popular places to visit. Many travelers come to Milwaukee for the family-friendly experiences. Also, many visitors come to Wisconsin Dells in the summer for the hiking and the family-friendly experiences.

Milwaukee is around the same temperature as Wisconsin Dells in the summer. The daily temperature in Milwaukee averages around 74°F (23°C) in July, and Wisconsin Dells fluctuates around 74°F (24°C).

In Wisconsin Dells, it's very sunny this time of the year. It's quite sunny in Milwaukee. In the summer, Milwaukee often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wisconsin Dells. Milwaukee gets 321 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wisconsin Dells receives 309 hours of full sun.

Milwaukee usually gets more rain in July than Wisconsin Dells. Milwaukee gets 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain, while Wisconsin Dells receives 3 inches (76 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Milwaukee 74°F (23°C) 
    Wisconsin Dells 74°F (24°C)

Should I visit Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Milwaukee and Wisconsin Dells. Many visitors come to Milwaukee in the autumn for the shopping scene. Also, most visitors come to Wisconsin Dells for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months.

In the autumn, Milwaukee is around the same temperature as Wisconsin Dells. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Milwaukee in October average around 53°F (12°C), and Wisconsin Dells averages at about 52°F (11°C).

Milwaukee usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Wisconsin Dells during autumn. Milwaukee gets 174 hours of sunny skies, while Wisconsin Dells receives 171 hours of full sun in the autumn.

In October, Milwaukee usually receives around the same amount of rain as Wisconsin Dells. Milwaukee gets 2 inches (50 mm) of rain, while Wisconsin Dells receives 1.9 inches (48 mm) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Milwaukee 53°F (12°C) 
    Wisconsin Dells 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Milwaukee as well as Wisconsin Dells. Most visitors come to Milwaukee for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine during these months. Also, the winter months attract visitors to Wisconsin Dells because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

The weather in Wisconsin Dells can be very cold. Milwaukee can be very cold during winter. In January, Milwaukee is generally a little warmer than Wisconsin Dells. Daily temperatures in Milwaukee average around 21°F (-6°C), and Wisconsin Dells fluctuates around 19°F (-7°C).

In the winter, Milwaukee often gets around the same amount of sunshine as Wisconsin Dells. Milwaukee gets 138 hours of sunny skies this time of year, while Wisconsin Dells receives 141 hours of full sun.

Milwaukee usually gets more rain in January than Wisconsin Dells. Milwaukee gets 1.6 inches (41 mm) of rain, while Wisconsin Dells receives 1 inches (25 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Milwaukee 21°F (-6°C) 
    Wisconsin Dells 19°F (-7°C)

Should I visit Milwaukee or Wisconsin Dells in the Spring?

Both Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities.

Milwaukee is cooler than Wisconsin Dells in the spring. The daily temperature in Milwaukee averages around 47°F (8°C) in April, and Wisconsin Dells fluctuates around 49°F (10°C).

It's quite sunny in Wisconsin Dells. The sun comes out a lot this time of the year in Milwaukee. Milwaukee usually receives around the same amount of sunshine as Wisconsin Dells during spring. Milwaukee gets 211 hours of sunny skies, while Wisconsin Dells receives 208 hours of full sun in the spring.

In April, Milwaukee usually receives around the same amount of rain as Wisconsin Dells. Milwaukee gets 2.8 inches (70 mm) of rain, while Wisconsin Dells receives 2.6 inches (65 mm) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Milwaukee 47°F (8°C) 
    Wisconsin Dells 49°F (10°C)

Typical Weather for Wisconsin Dells and Milwaukee

Milwaukee Wisconsin Dells
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 21°F (-6°C) 1.6 inches (41 mm) 19°F (-7°C) 1 inches (25 mm)
Feb 26°F (-4°C) 1.1 inches (29 mm) 24°F (-5°C) 0.8 inches (21 mm)
Mar 36°F (2°C) 2.2 inches (57 mm) 36°F (2°C) 2.2 inches (55 mm)
Apr 47°F (8°C) 2.8 inches (70 mm) 49°F (10°C) 2.6 inches (65 mm)
May 58°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm) 60°F (16°C) 2.9 inches (73 mm)
Jun 68°F (20°C) 3.6 inches (91 mm) 70°F (21°C) 3 inches (76 mm)
Jul 74°F (23°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm) 74°F (24°C) 3 inches (76 mm)
Aug 72°F (22°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm) 72°F (22°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
Sep 65°F (18°C) 3 inches (77 mm) 63°F (17°C) 2.8 inches (70 mm)
Oct 53°F (12°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 52°F (11°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm)
Nov 41°F (5°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 39°F (4°C) 1.7 inches (42 mm)
Dec 27°F (-3°C) 1.7 inches (44 mm) 25°F (-4°C) 1.6 inches (41 mm)