While you’re making your summer vacation plans, don’t leave out the Midwest. And no, I’m not talking about Chicago — although it’s a jump, hop and skip away from where I recently visited. But I’m leaning more towards Appleton, Neenah and Menasha, otherwise known as the Fox Cities in Wisconsin. I’m always looking forward to more adventures, and being somewhere with a beautiful downtown, picturesque views and easy access to water is a great spot. There’s plenty to do and some great fun to be had. Here’s what I enjoyed the most.
WHERE TO STAY: There are several places where you can rest your head after a long day of adventure exploring the Fox Cities, including the Holiday Inn Appleton (www.hiappleton.com) and the Country Inn & Suites (www.countryinns.com/little-chute-hotel-wi-54140/wilittle). Either choice is a good decision.
WHERE TO EAT: As much as I look forward to the adventures of exploring a new town, checking out the local dining options is also high on the to-do list. And the Fox Cities did not let me down. Timshel Café (www.timshelcafe.com) is a great spot for a pastry and latte. The cozy atmosphere has great space to work in, as well as relax. For a sophisticated supper club atmosphere, make a stop by Mark’s East Side (www.markseastside.com). The family-owned eatery has everything from crab cakes to steak and delicious cocktails. Looking for a great lunch? Head over to Houdini’s Escape Gastropub (www.houdinisescape.com), named after the famed magician. And when you head to Beefeater’s British Grill & Ale House (www.beefeaterspub.com), be sure to bring an appetite. There are many tasty items on the menu, like Wisconsin’s own cheese curds that you’ll be sure to want to order.
WHAT TO DO: Lamers Dairy (www.lamersdairyinc.com) has a storied history in Appleton. With more than a century in operation, the last family bottling dairy in the state has been a staple in the community. And, luckily for the residents, they still deliver their signature milk in glass bottles door-to-door. I swear everything just tastes fresher and better in the Midwest, including chocolate. A stop at Wilmar’s Chocolates (www.wilmarchocolates.com) was the opportunity to create my own 8-ounce bar. Aside from the opportunity to make your own bar, there are plenty of ready-for-sale items in the quaint store. Just note, that if you visit they are closed the entire month of July — so get those vacation plans in soon! Beer lovers will enjoy a visit to Lion’s Tail Brewing Company (www.lionstailbrewing.com), where in just 15 minutes you can become a brew master and craft your own creation. If you like museums, you’ll enjoy the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass (www.bmmglass.com) as much as I did. Full of beautiful and unique paperweights, glass art displays and sculptures it’s truly a remarkable experience. And who can resist learning more about a place housed in a historic home? To go along with the arts, Appleton is home to a truly extraordinary facility in the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center (www.foxcitiespac.com). It’s a space you have to see to believe. The sleek architecture does no justice to the sophisticated interior of the space. Traveling with kids? Don’t worry they have a space of their own. The Building for Kids Children Museum (www.buildingforkids.org) is a remarkable space. Just think an entire building dedicated to the little ones. There’s even a realistic cockpit of a Gulfstream jet complete with controls.
Photography by LaTria Garnigan and the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau