Wisconsin Dells was honored this month for something millions of visitors already know: Wisconsin Dells is a family-friendly vacation destination.
Massachusetts-based TripAdvisor.com released the results of its 2nd annual Travelers' Choice Destination Awards this month that named Wisconsin Dells the No. 1 family vacation destination in the United States and the No. 3 location in the world.
"From an area perspective, it's great when it's voted on by travelers because it's based on people who visit Wisconsin Dells," said Melanie Platt-Gibson, marketing director for the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau. "It means the most to us when we are ranked by travelers."
Bureau Executive Director Romy Snyder added, "I think that (the ranking) says a lot for the customers and how they feel about us as a destination and how they talk about us amongst their friends and relatives."
In all, 576 destinations were chosen as winners by millions of travelers, according to a TripAdvisor press release.
The awards were based on millions of unbiased reviews and opinions from travelers on TripAdvisor.com. Winners were determined by a combination of travelers' destination comments, favorite places and overall destination popularity on the Web site.
Besides the "best for families" category, awards were given for romance, beach and sun, culture and sightseeing, food and wine, nightlife, outdoor and adventure, relaxation and spa, and top emerging destinations.
Wisconsin Dells did not make it onto last year's list, which focused more on specific destinations than entire cities.
The TripAdvisor Web site explained Wisconsin Dells this way, "Shaped by the currents and curves of the Wisconsin River, Wisconsin Dells has been a favorite family vacation destination for more than 150 years. An explosion of indoor waterparks has turned the Dells from a summer hot spot to a year-round destination. Kids will enjoy the seemingly endless supply of fun and games, from go-karts to miniature golf, sideshows to thrill rides. If the weather's right, you can take a Duck tour of land and water, and top it all off with a heaping helping of the local fudge."
Snyder said it's the something-for-everyone diversity of the area's amenities that helps make Wisconsin Dells fun for all ages.
"We have products that appeal to toddlers, family activities that appeal to young children and teenagers, and last year, we identified adults without children as a huge market, and we continue to see that grow," she said.
While Platt-Gibson said both rankings were meaningful, she was more surprised by the No. 3 world ranking because of all the other family destinations in the world that travelers could have chosen.
The TripAdvisor awards are the second reader- or traveler-voted awards Wisconsin Dells has won this year.
In the January edition of SportsEvents magazine, readers named the visitor bureau and JustAgame Fieldhouse as two of the top sports destinations in the United States.
The TripAdvisor and SportsEvents awards aren't necessarily disassociated from each other. As Platt-Gibson pointed out, the Dells' growing sports market helps draw more people, and families, to the area.
For example, last week a dart tournament at Kalahari Resort drew more than 10,000 players, which didn't include family and friends. Last weekend, a 120-plus team tournament at JustAgame drew several thousand more people to Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton.
"People are choosing us because they are finding warm, Midwest hospitality," Platt-Gibson said. "The equity of our brand is better than ever, but people are also coming because of the value and variety."
TripAdvisor Media Networks' 15 Web sites attract nearly 46 million visitors each month and boast 15 million registered members and 30 million reviews and opinions.