Local holiday treats!
Posted on 12/10/2013
Posted by: Kelly Ann Hekler, Convention Sales Manager
As some of you might know, I am from Michigan. I don’t think that my family would allow me to visit if I didn’t bring a local treat!
One of my favorite things about the Fox Cities is the variety of local food products. Here are some of my favorites:
- VandeWalle’s Candies- Their caramels are amazing! They also offer a variety of cookies, cakes, and homemade ice cream. My favorite is the milk chocolate covered sea salt caramels.
- Wilmar’s Chocolates- Three words: Cherry Pie Bar. You’re welcome!
- Mike’s Popcorn- Who can resist a caramel/cheese corn mix or their popcorn balls? Not me!
- Simon’s Cheese- Wisconsin parties aren’t complete without a variety of cheese and Simon’s offers just that!
- Kerrigan Brothers Winery- The dinner table isn’t complete without locally produced cherry wine!
- Arty’s Old Fashioned- Being a Michigan girl, I had never heard of old fashioneds (crazy, I know). Arty’s makes these Wisconsin drinks already premixed, just add ice and a garnish!
- Stone Cellar Brew Pub- They have many varieties of beer and even root beer for the little ones.
- Victor Allen- Are you a coffee lover? Although the beans aren’t grown here, Victor Allen processes and flavors your favorite drink. Try the hazelnut.
- Dalla Terra Pasta- Being a vegetarian, I know good pasta! Try the mushroom sage or the tomato basil.
- Carmella’s- Finish your local pasta with Carmella’s famous sauce.
Doesn’t that sounds like a lot of amazing, locally made products? To be honest, I haven’t even scratched the surface. I’d recommend checking out Simon’s Cheese in Little Chute or the downtown Appleton Farmers Market. Most of these products can be found in one of those two locations. If there is a certain product that you’re looking for, please feel free to contact the CVB and we will direct you to the right place. Also, if you have another favorite that wasn’t mentioned, feel free to contact us. As a CVB, we shop local when we can.
Most people don’t realize how lucky they are to have these local businesses. It’s really important to support them, especially during the holidays. A box of Wilmar’s chocolates and bottle of Kerrigan Brothers Wine will go a lot further than anything you’d pick up from the grocery store. Show off your Fox Cities!
I hope that my stocking will be stuffed with local products and I hope yours will as well! Happy Holidays
Get ‘Fired’ up for Christmas!
Posted on 12/5/2013
Posted by: Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator
I’ve been out and about again with my children searching for the perfect way to connect with each other and get Christmas shopping done at the same time. As luck(and the title) would have it, downtown Appleton has the perfect outlet for this…The Fire art studio!
Creative or not, The Fire art studio will take you from start to finish to a beautiful Christmas gift for that special someone, or just yourself if you like. Catering to painting ceramics, creating mosaics and glass fusion; you become the artist here and they fire your work to give it that polished finish!
We’ve been there twice now. The first time trying out ceramics where shelves are filled with unfinished holiday knick-knacks, plates, bowls and many other decorative items waiting for your finishing touch! You pay for the piece, they provide the supplies. They also give you instructions and advice on painting. My kids were so excited to pick up their finished, shiny ceramic pieces and gift wrap them for grandma and grandpa!
The following week we tried our hand at mosaics. They offer pre-cut wood pieces in various shapes and figures in which you pick out from a multitude of colorful tiles to glue on. For finishing you have the option of having them grout it for a nominal fee or they send you home with a grouting kit and instructions to finish the project yourself. I opted to have them grout it and am happy I did as they turned out amazing!
I must admit my daughter, son and I have enjoyed it all! (Which is a huge feat!) From the smooth tunes playing in the background to the laid back feel provided by the especially friendly atmosphere of its employees and artists in the making around you.
I can’t wait to stop in again and try glass fusing! All projects being finished by the art studio take one week to finish so I recommend you stop in soon if you’re looking to create that unique gift in time for Christmas!
For more information on making your own creation visit: www.thefireartstudio.com
The holiday season has begun….it’s official!
Posted on 11/27/2013
Written by: Mary Hirvela, Marketing & Communications Manager
Last night was the first time in 13 years that I experienced the Appleton Downtown Christmas parade. Being a big lover of Christmas and parades, I knew that the largest Christmas parade in the state would not disappoint. Although I’m familiar with the parade, having marched in it during my high school years, I seemed to have forgotten how many people come out to experience it.
My fiancé and I headed to downtown Appleton close to 5:30. With the parade starting at 6:30 and 80,000 spectators expected, I wanted to ensure us a parking and standing spot. We were able to conveniently park one block off of College Ave, behind the PAC parking garage. With time to spare, we decided to head to one of the bar/restaurants to grab a bite to eat before the parade started. The place we chose had windows in front, so we were able to watch the Santa Scamper runners as they went by and we were happy to be inside in the warmth. Once we finished eating, we bundled up in our many layers, ready to brave the single digit wind chills. I was hoping that my excitement and anticipation would be enough to keep me warm.
Upon exiting the bar/restaurant, we quickly realized how many more people had gathered on both sides of the street and it was amazing! Then, the parade started! College Ave. suddenly came alive with blinking lights, horn sounds, familiar music and the voices of the thousands of spectators singing along to the holiday tunes. Even though the cold got the best of us and we weren’t able to stay to see the man in red, the parade was everything I had hoped it would be and even though I’ve been listening to holiday music for over a month now, it officially feels like the holiday season.
I highly recommend you take in this amazing parade if you haven’t before, or even if you have years ago, I recommend you go again. The floats are beautiful, the music cheerful and the atmosphere is electric
On My List … Holidays in the Fox Cities
Posted on 11/21/2013
Posted by: Pam Seidl, Executive Director
The Fox Cities are a favorite holiday shopping destination for many. During this time of year, the tradition of holiday shopping with family and friends is celebrated daily here and while we locals truly appreciate living in ‘Wisconsin’s Shopping Place’ for the ease of finding those great gifts, we also have a few holiday-time traditions that visitors should see and do while they are in town. Consider this my “Townies” Guide to the Holidays in the Fox Cities:
As a local I have the luxury of heading to Fox River Mall during non-peak shopping (aka NOT on Saturday). That’s when I check my list and find special gifts at some of the local shops:
- Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass’ shop
- Wild Apple Gallery
- The Wreath Factory
- Hey Daisy!
- Just Act Natural
- Globally Sound Fair Trade
… and I could go on and on!
Events to Get You in the Holiday Spirit
- Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade
- Downtown for the Holidays in Appleton
- Hearthstone’s Victorian Christmas
- Christmas Stars
- A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols
- Neenah Community Christmas Event
Keeping It Real
A few places to help you get back to the basics of the season.
- Heckrodt Wetland Reserve offers a children’s Christmas gift workshop
- Bubloz Nature Preserve offers basketmaking
- Given’s Farm hosts a holiday tea
Hope you get everything on your list this season!
For information on these and more visit: http://www.foxcities.org
Affordable family fun with a purpose!
Posted on 11/15/2013
Posted by: Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator
Looking for an enjoyable, affordable family fun trip? Not only is the Weis Earth Science Museum that, it is also a fantastic educational experience for all ages. Located at the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley campus in Menasha, budget about an hour of your time as this well kept and laid out museum takes you to the roots of the earth….right down to the core! At only $2 for adults and $1 for children, it’s a welcome break from staying home on an unpredictable Wisconsin weather day!
I enjoyed seeing the displays of unique rocks and stones, not only from our fine state but from all around the world! Reading about the different periods of our earth’s development in a well laid out timeline was fascinating to me! The kids especially enjoyed the fossil rubbing wall. I think I came home with at least 20 chalk-rubbed sketches of the fossil templates from various time periods…a great educational art project that didn’t mess up my house!
If stones and rocks aren’t enough, see the Tyrannosaurus Rex skull replica in their dinosaur den. They include an interesting story on his life and battles he might have fought as indicated by the missing bone fragments.
While there I noticed an area that was closed for a future exhibit. I found out that the director is putting together a “Touching the Earth” exhibit for the blind and visually impaired to experience the various textures of rocks and fossils. This will have braille and large print materials to get the complete experience. She will also be adding blindfolds so everyone can experience this exhibit from a tactile sense as intended. As a parent I know how every child loves to touch, so I can see this being a great time for all!
Thanks Weis Earth Science Museum for a great ‘field’ trip. I can’t wait to go back and ‘touch’ the new exhibit!
For more information visit: http://www.uwfox.uwc.edu/wesm/index.html
Looking for area or state information?
Posted on 8/23/2013
Posted by: Karen Treml, Visitor Services Coordinator
Are you looking for a place in the state to visit or for information on local attractions, hotels and dining options? You’ll find it all when you visit the Fox Cities Visitor Center, located inside the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Here are just a few of the items we have:
- Local attraction brochures including tours, museums, kids activities and more!
- Local dining information
- Bike trail maps
- Travel Wisconsin Guides including Fall & Winter Events Guide and Activity Guide
- Rustic Road Guide
- The Official Travel Guide and Wisconsin State Maps
- Milwaukee Brewer Schedules and Green Bay Packer Schedules
- Wisconsin International Raceway schedules
- Timber Rattlers Schedules
- Destination Guides for most areas of the state including: Door County, Wisconsin Dells, Madison, Bayfield, Cedarburg, La Crosse/Onalaska, Uplands (Southwest Wisconsin) and close to 100 different brochures on places to visit in the state.
Our Visitor Center is located at 3433 W. College Ave and is open Monday – Friday
8am – 5pm and Saturday 9am – 1pm. One really important thing to mention, is that all of our information is FREE! We hope to see you soon
Dining on the shore of Lake Winnebago
Posted on 8/9/2013
Posted by: Karen Treml, Visitor Services Coordinator
Need to relax and unwind? On a summer evening, in the Fox Cities, one of my favorite spots is visiting Waverly Beach on the north shore of Lake Winnebago. The views can be breathtaking, with sailboats in the distance, High Cliff to your east, and the Neenah area to your west. While we were dining, I noticed two wave runners anchored near the shore and a pontoon boat had just anchored with two couples that walked into shore for drinks and dinner.
Monday – Thursday is Mexican Madness from 3pm-close at the Tiki Bar and lower patio. There are frozen margaritas, pina coladas, strawberry daiquiri’s, and Corona all on special. The menu has a great list of sandwich specials and the serve food daily starting at 11am. So if you looking for a place to soak in all the sun and beauty of Lake Winnebago I would recommend this spot. Enjoy! www.waverlybeach.com
A Timeless Treasure Trove
Posted on 7/18/2013
Posted by: Kim Tisler, Operations Manager
Are you looking for that special, one-of-a kind gift item for someone, or perhaps looking to find just the right thing that will add a personal touch to your home or backyard? Look no further than Cedar Habor. Located just north of the downtown Appleton area, Cedar Harbor occupies what was once a meat market opened in 1906 by Otto Sprister. While the main character of the building remains intact, (even the smoke house remains outback!), inside you will find countless treasures for the home, mind and spirit. Cedar Harbor has an unbelievable mix of some old, some new, some reclaimed and handmade items. The owners refinish and refurbish all sorts of items from days gone by, and mixed in with those amazing pieces is everything from interesting glassware and wood bowls to floral pieces, quilts, soaps, framed art, ceramics…. Way too many wonderful treasures to describe!
A stop at Cedar Harbor is a welcoming, calming, peaceful and worthwhile adventure to say the least, and one well-worth sharing with family and friends. Cedar Harbor is located at 611 North Morrison Street. Tell Lisa that Kim at the CVB sent you!
Special memories made at Special Memories Zoo
Posted on 7/5/2013
Posted by: Kelly Hekler, Convention Sales Manager
Last weekend, my mom and 3 year old niece visited from Michigan. When browsing the racks on information at our visitor’s center, one brochure in particular got my attention. I picked up the information for Special Memories Zoo and curiously read thru the information and decided that we were going to give it a try on Saturday. Both my niece and I are BIG animal lovers so the trip would be as much for me as it would be for her!
Special Memories is in Greenville, an easy and well-marked 8-10 minute drive from the Fox River Mall. We were shocked to find only a handful of cars in the zoo parking lot. To our advantage (both for the number of people and how active the animals were), it was a little damp and cool that morning. We entered the zoo and paid our $6.50 admission for the adults and $5 for my niece, a real bargain, and were instantly surprised at what we saw! The zoo, although small, was an amazing experience and value. They had everything from things that you expect to see in a zoo to lions, a rare white tiger, bears (oh my), monkeys, a zebra, a reptile house, an aviary, and so much more! The smaller size of the zoo really worked to our advantage. During the zoos open hours, the animals are in pens no more than 2-3 feet from where people can stand to best view the animals. Their food and water we also towards the front of their pens. We were able to see all of the animals’ right up close and even interact with them.
They also had an amazing petting zoo or as my niece referred to it her “favorite place in the world!” From my experience on petting zoos, most of the animals are so annoyed with people that they tend to hide in a far corner or avoid people. At Special Memories, animals flocked to have you pet them! There were all kinds of animals including baby bunnies, calves, goats, a baby donkey, chickens, pot belly pigs, deer, oxen and more. They also had several rare animals that they would bring out when we asked for us to pet including baby skunks (with their stinkers removed), a baby fox, a rare baby white fox, and more. I could not believe how much we got to see and touch!
One piece of advice is to take the zoo’s train. It isn’t really advertised that I saw, however, if you follow the signs, you can enjoy a 30 minute train ride. My expectation was that it would take us around the park and show us what we just saw… I was wrong. For an additional $2 per person, we were taken back to the woods of the zoo where other animals were kept. When we approached each pen of animals, the driver of the train stopped it and got out to give us a closer look of each of the animals as well as share some interesting information. The woods included animals like rare white wolves, a dancing and friendly badger (who knew there was such a thing), whitetail deer, porcupines, and more. My favorite animal on the ride was the fox. He’s been raised in the petting zoo and was really friendly. When he saw the train approaching, he started jumping and getting excited, much like a dog would. Our driver opened his door and he leaped into her arms. She carried the fox around the train so that everyone could get a close up of him. The fox put on a great show and I know that everyone left thinking that they wanted to go out and get a pet fox!
I would highly recommend Special Memories Zoo to everyone! It was the cleanest and more up close zoo that I’ve ever been to. It was also a great bargain and only $8.50 per adult (including the train ride). When you go, don’t forget to take your picnic basket and grab a picnic table next to your favorite animal. They have a baby giraffe coming soon so that would be my recommendation! I made so many special memories at Special Memories Zoo and can’t wait to go back
A local food truck favorite is now a local eatery too!
Posted on 7/3/2013
Posted by: Kim Tisler, Director of Operations
Since 2011, food lovers have been enjoying a unique cookery on wheels known as the Kangaroostaurant. When the owners announced that they would be opening an actual restaurant too, the news was received with much anticipation and excitement! Not only is the menu interesting and varied, but the food is fantastic as well. The best part is how the owners have made every effort to purchase from local farmers and producers, which ensures that you are getting the highest quality and freshest ingredients.
What was once a rooming house in the heart of downtown Kaukauna is now the beautifully renovated Kangaroost Local Eatery. (formerly Plum Hill) Here you will find a menu that changes seasonally and often, along with pastries from scratch, coffee and espresso, Wisconsin wines and beer.
I love to stop there for breakfast, especially when the weather allows for eating out on the patio. The Happy Bellies Oatmeal Pancakes are my favorite! I took my kids to Kangaroost recently, and they were thrilled to find Poutine on the menu. I can never decide between the Southwest Black Bean & Sweet Potato Veggie Patty and the Maple Glazed Salmon Salad with Gorgonzola Cheese & Orange Viniagrette… everything on the menu is always so fresh and delicious, right down to the sherbert and Crème Brulee! Whether you are a local or only passing through the Fox Cities, a visit to the Kangaroost is a must. You’ll want to linger longer while you are there, and you’ll definitely want to come back!