By Sue Sveum | Photo courtesy Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau | Sponsored by Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau
If you’re looking for a great getaway, the Fox Cities might just be the perfect choice. Instead of one destination to explore, you get the benefit of 19 communities spread out along Wisconsin’s Fox River.
“We take a lot of pride in offering our visitors an original, authentic experience,” explains Maddie Uhlenbrauck, marketing communications manager with the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We have such a unique combination of outdoor activities, shopping and museums — and the quality of all the experiences are top-notch.”
The Fox Cities dot the shoreline of the Fox River, which was instrumental in shaping area development. Former paper and sawmills are now home to condos, hotels and restaurants, creating the urban and contemporary vibe of the Fox Cities.
If passing through, Uhlenbrauck suggests stopping by one of their local downtowns for some of Wisconsin’s best shopping. “We have eclectic, independent shops and galleries selling locally-made gifts along with clothing boutiques to please the fashionistas,” she says. “And there’s an abundance of restaurants and cafes for a quick lunch.” You get that laid-back, relaxed small town feel with all the amenities of a big city.
“But to many people, the Fox River means water sports, like kayaking, paddling, boating, sailing and fishing, and you’ll find plenty of that, too,” Uhlenbrauck says, adding,“for a more relaxing water activity take a Fox River boat tour with River Tyme Too.”
Hikers and bikers will definitely enjoy the Loop the Lake trail around Little Lake Butte des Morts. “The 31⁄2-mile path is paved, and there are several parks along the way for kids to stop and play,” says Uhlenbrauck. “Or visit High Cliff State Park, with its camp- ground, picnic area and trails for hiking, biking and even horseback riding.”
For family fun try Mulberry Lane Farm, a real working farm with guided tours where kids can see baby chicks and even milk a cow.
“If sports are more your thing, take in a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game,” says Uhlenbrauck, “where fans often get a glimpse of future Brewers at the team’s minor league affiliate club.”
Or kick back with a beer or gourmet soda and cheese curds at Appleton’s Stone Arch Brewpub. More than 150 years old, it’s the oldest continuously running brew pub in the state.
For longer stays, the CVB suggests trying out all the different experiences the Fox Cities have to offer. “In just one day, you can go for a morning hike, visit Bubolz Nature Preserve, sample treats at Wilmar Chocolates and cheer on the Timber Rattlers at night,” she says. “We have plenty of options to fill each day with different activities sure to please everyone.”
Bad weather? Don’t worry, there’s also lots to do indoors. “Kids love the Harry Houdini magic exhibit at the History Museum at the Castle,” says Uhlenbrauck. “Or tour the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass or Hearthstone, the first private residence illuminated with hydroelectricity.” And the literal cherry on top might be a stop at Lamers Dairy in Appleton. “It’s the only family-owned milk bottling plant in Wisconsin,” says Uhlenbrauck. “You can watch the bottling process, buy milk at the country store and end the day with ice cream made with the dairy’s milk.”
Uhlenbrauck adds: “It’s the perfect combination of urban amenities and one-of-a-kind natural wonders.”