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Thousands of reasons to love 1,000 Islands Environmental Center

Posted on 4/4/2014

Posted by: Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

unnamedSpring has sprung and so has the time to start exploring all the environmental gems of the Fox Cities.  My recent visit to 1,000 Islands Environmental Center in Kaukauna was the perfect opportunity to take in the scenery and fresh smells of spring.  Encompassing 325 acres of terrain and 7 miles of trails, some along the Fox River, it’s one of the best locations to fish, hike and enjoy wildlife.  It’s also one of the best locations for viewing the majestic bald eagle!

Although the environmental center was closed when we were there, we and the many visitors enjoyed taking in the sites of the high rushing river water and navigating the boardwalk trails.  The spring melt made for beautiful trickling streams all around us.

Not only can you venture this place independently, the environmental center holds numerous events for nature enthusiasts of all ages. Here are a few notables:

1000 islands springTuesday, April 22nd at 6pm: People and the Planet.  Celebrate Earth Day with this family friendly program offering hands-on activities.

Sunday, May 18th: 32nd Annual Nature’s Images Art Fair. Annual fundraiser for the environmental center with  fine art, music, food, and a raffle.

Friday, June 20th at 9:30am: Crayfish and Critter Hunt.  Wear your old tennis shoes and have lots of fun trying to catch critters!

These are just a few events. To see all 1,000 Islands has to offer click here.



Kaukauna’s Coffee Gem

Posted on 3/10/2014

Posted by Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services CoordinatorImage

Hidden in the depths of downtown Kaukauna is a quaint coffee shop with a cozy hometown feel.  I recently visited Kaukauna Coffee and Tea with a few girlfriends for our monthly Sunday brunch.  From the moment I walked in I was enchanted by the aromas of fresh coffee and it’s retro decor.

The staff is friendly and the coffee and fresh pastries were delightful.  They also serve organic teas, homemade soups and fresh made-to-order sandwiches.  I got the Focaccia Bold sandwich as a carry out and enjoyed how flavorful and fresh it was. Kaukauna Coffee and Tea keeps those with dietary needs in mind by offering gluten free alternatives, using organic ingredients and making fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies. This cafe isn’t simply for the cold weather months but also the warm weather months as they have a deck out back with a beautiful look of the Fox River. My girlfriends and I agreed this is definitely worth a revisit.

If you’re a crochet or knitting enthusiast a small corner of the cafe is devoted to hand-dyed, small batch yarn and knitting supplies for sale.  Opt to join one of their knitting sessions open to the public and offered on ‘odd’ Thursdays.

Make it a day trip on your visit to Kaukauna with a hike at 1000 Islands Environmental Center after your morning cup of gourmet coffee!

To find out more about Kaukauna Coffee and Tea click here

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In The Mood For Love?

Posted on 1/31/2014

Posted by Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

February is well known for the nationally recognized celebration for lovers…Valentine’s Day.  From singing Valentines to dinner at the ball park, the Fox Cities has many options for you to enjoy the holiday with your special someone.

A few unique notables are:

Singing Valentines! Offered by the Fox Valleyaires, this quartet of tuxedo clad gentlemen will personally deliver a long stem rose, card, and sing two songs to the one you love!  A unique sentiment to leave a lasting impression.

Death by Chocolate! Does your special someone have a sweet tooth? Attend downtown Appleton’s ‘Death by Chocolate’ event! Stop in at participating local downtown businesses and sample some of their chocolate delights. Visit for more details.  Don’t forget the Fox Cities also has some amazing chocolatiers such as VandeWalles Candies and Wilmars.

For the more active couple, try a moonlight ski and snowshoe.  The candlelit trails of Bubolz Nature Preserve are sure to create a memorable evening! Finish off the evening there with hot beverages and food.

Valentines dinner at Fox Cities Stadium? The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are opening the doors to their banquet facility and club suites for a romantic, four-course dinner-for-two event.  They will add an extra personal touch by displaying the names of each couple attending on the field videoboard!  For more information on this event and pricing please call: 800-WI-TIMBER.

Fox Cities also has many romantic dining options such as Cena, Lombardi’s Steakhouse, Apollon and more!  Many hotels offer ‘Romance’ packages to complete the lovers get-away!

Want to know more about these and other events happening on the Fox Cities?  Sign up for our e-newsletter here! Comments

Enjoy the holidays outdoors in the Fox Cities!

Posted on 12/23/2013

Posted by Chadd Scott, Director of Sales

This past Saturday, my wife and I decided to attend a ”Holiday in the Woods” event at a friend’s residence in Appleton.  It was fun, very relaxing and peaceful.  We joined over 100 other people with a stroll through the snow covered woods via candlelight to an area where we enjoyed a campfire, holiday songs and great conversation with friends.  Afterwards, we gathered in their home for drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  This is a great way to connect with family, friends and colleagues during the holidays.  If you’re looking for a way to get out and enjoy the Holiday season, look no further, the Fox Cities has so many different and amazing winter family fun venues, events and activities to offer.

Here are a few suggestions for you to explore:

Sleigh rides:  What better way to reunite with family and friends over the holiday season than at Cavanaugh Carriages in Neenah. They offer sleigh rides for groups, large or small with a bonfire and a rustic party room…bring your own hot cocoa and marshmallows for the full experience!

Cross-country skiing and Snowshoeing:  Heckrodt Wetland Reserve has a candlelight snowshoe event at the end of January complete with snowshoe rental and hot cocoa for only $3.  1000 Islands Environmental Center in Kaukauna and Bubolz Nature Preserve offer groomed cross-country ski trails and snowshoeing.  Most offer rentals as well.

Sledding:  Anyone can sled and the Fox Cities has numerous parks with sleds worthy of lots of enjoyment for kids both big and small.  A few parks with noteworthy sledding hills are Plamann Park, Pierce Park and Memorial Park.

Grab your winter gear and enjoy the holidays outdoors with loved ones.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

For more details on these as well as more outdoor fun visit:

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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!dsc_2533
  • 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

IMG_20131204_171455I’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!

IMG_20131204_171438The 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!

Happy Holidays!

For more information on making your own creation visit: Comments

The holiday season has begun….it’s official!

Posted on 11/27/2013

Written by: Mary Hirvela, Marketing & Communications Manager

ImageLast 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 holiday parade distance 2013garage. 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

DowntownAppletonChristmasParade2Posted 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
  • Vintique
  • The Wreath Factory
  • Eco-Candle
  • 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: Comments

Affordable family fun with a purpose!

Posted on 11/15/2013

Posted by:  Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

get-attachmentLooking 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: Comments

Looking for area or state information?

Posted on 8/23/2013

ImagePosted 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:

  • ImageLocal 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

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