By Carrie Steinweg
The Times of Northwest Indiana
November 9, 2002
The chilly air and the darker days bring an end to weekend
trips to campgrounds and beaches where the focus is on spending
time outdoors under warm, sunny skies.
A weekend getaway with the family this time of year means
finding a place that has a lot to do inside. But many options
either too expensive, too far away or lack fun and interesting activities to occupy antsy children.
Appleton, Wis., is a destination that should satisfy the
youngsters. It’s close enough for a weekend trip, but
far enough away to
feel like a real getaway. Attractions are reasonably priced and there is plenty of indoor fun to fill the day.
If you're one who can't pass up bargains, you may want to
make a stop as you head north on U.S. 41 toward Appleton at
Prime Outlets in Oshkosh. Even those in the family who aren’t shopping gurus will find a store they'll want to visit.
If you're hungry when you hit Appleton, the first place you'll
want to try is Funset Boulevard. This family entertainment
is along the lines of Chuck E. Cheese, but better. They've got the pizza, video games and a large soft maze to explore. However, they take it a step further with the Hollywood theme.
Some of the seating choices in the diner include a table that resembles a Batmobile and stools that actually are saddles. There's an indoor carousel and virtual reality games. Funset Boulevard also attached to a movie theater, right after some pizza and play, you can hop next door for a family flick.
Air It Up is one of the newest family attractions in Appleton.
Two huge arenas offer plenty of safe, inflatable action -
smaller kids, one for older kids, separated by a parents lounge with windows on both sides.
One of the most unusual attractions is the human foosball
"We definitely put high priority on cleanliness and on make it a family place. It's about physical activity, rather than just
plunking quarters in a machine," said Heather Anderson, general manager.
Air It Up also features a 30-foot slide. The building was
specially designed to accommodate the monster slide. Because
place gets extremely busy on weekends with parties and regular customers, it is recommend to call ahead for reservations.
The highlight of the Appleton area for most little ones is
the Fox Cities Childrens' Museum, located on the second story
Avenue Mall [now City Center Plaza]. While it can't compete in size to biggies like the Chicago Children's Museum and the
Indianapolis Children's Museum, it's no less appealing to youngsters. The inviting layout places each exhibit side by side in a U-shaped design. No walking down long corridors or walking ramps to get from one activity to another. You won't find
anything in the place that kids aren't allowed to play with.
The wee ones can enjoy the Happy Baby Garden, an area specifically
for children under age 3, which is filled with interesting
and colorful padded toys that go along with the garden theme.
Be prepared for some resistance when it's time to go home,
but you won't be able to blame them. After driving a real
car, fire engine and boat, playing restaurant and post office and trying out the earthquake simulator, your youngster will want to
move in permanently.
Just down the hall from the children’s museum is the
Amelia Bubolz Doll Collection, with china dolls, puppets,
nesting dolls and
paper dolls of all shapes and sizes. The two rooms include antique dolls of all kinds and more modern collectibles resembling such celebrities as Princess Dianna.
Older children may enjoy visiting the Houdini Historical
Center, which is located a couple of blocks down the street
children's museum. The center is part of the Outagamie Historical Museum and includes pieces from Houdini's person collection, which were used in his various escapes.
A great lodging option is the Comfort Suites, located on
College Avenue, which has the biggest indoor swimming pool
area and also a pool table and small arcade. The continental breakfast that is included has a wide range of foods. Even the
pickiest kids will find something on the buffet that they’ll like.
What to Bring…
-- All the essentials of a road trip with the family - snacks, CDs with some peppy music - and Tylenol.
-- Your camera. You'll have lots of photo opportunities at all the great family friendly place in Appleton, especially at the Fox
Cities Children’s Museum.
-- Swimsuits. It may be tool chilly for outdoor swimming, but the Comfort Suites has the largest indoor pool in the area - a
great place for your little aqua fans to burn off some energy.
-- Plastic. Besides needing cash or credit cards for admissions to the attractions and meals, you might find it hard to pass the
Prime Outlets in Oshkosh, just a little south of Appleton, without doing a little shopping.
Family fun galore. Spend a weekend splashing in the pool, going through an inflatable obstacle course, eating pizza in the
Batmobile and learning about the inner workings of the human heart in a fun way.
Playing at Air It Up just as much as the kids. Twenty minutes of running around there and you can pass on your morning
Kids will like…
Taking a weekend vacation where the focus is on them. From the time you arrive in Appleton, you can be sure to find plenty of
places to play. The kiddies can learn the fun way that there's more than cheese in Wisconsin.
And don't miss…
Take a moment to check out the doll collection just outside the Fox Cities Children's Museum. You'll be amazed at how many
different versions of the playthings have been made.
If you go…
For more information on Appleton attractions, contact the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau: (800) 2DO-MORE or
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