Thousands of reasons to love 1,000 Islands Environmental Center

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.



Affordable family fun with a purpose!

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:

A Visit to Wilmar’s

Posted by: Kelly Hekler

Kelly's mom watching her candy bar being made

Kelly’s mom watching her candy bar being made

Have you ever been eating a plain chocolate bar and thought to yourself “This would be soooo good if I could put (blank) in it?”  Well, now you can!  Wilmar Chocolates is mixing up almost any creation you can dream!

The process is simple: pick out what type of chocolate you would like (milk, semi-sweet, or a blend), choose up to 4 mix in’s, and watch your bar made before your eyes!  I was amazed at the variety of mix in’s to choose from.  Wilmar’s offered everything people would want in a chocolate bar including nuts, dried fruit, gummy worms, pop rocks, cayenne pepper, and even potato chips!  During the 15 minute drying time, you can stroll thru Wilmar’s store, sample delicious chocolates, and pick out a few snacks for later including cashew turtles and chocolate covered cherries.

I recently took my mom to Wilmar’s for this one of a kind experience.  She concocted a chocolate bar with marshmallows, dried cherries, pretzels, caramel chips, and sea salt all mixed together in gooey milk chocolate.  My bar included malt powder, malted milk balls, potato chips, sprinkles, and sea salt in blended chocolate.  Both combinations were amazing!  Not feeling creative?  Don’t worry.  Wilmar’s offered a variety of premade, local favorite bars included cherry pie (dried cherries, sea salt, cinnamon, almonds, and graham crackers), a kid-favorite bar (gummy worms, pop rocks, sprinkles, M&M’s) and a variety of others.

You and your family are sure to love this experience unique to Appleton!  For more information, visit where you can also order your bar online.

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion

posted by: Pam Seidl

Pam Seidl
Director of Marketing & Community Relations
Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau

Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion is currently on exhibit at The History Museum at the Castle… and it is spectacular. On display are 40 operational, actual-size working machine replicas of da Vinci’s amazing machines, all built by modern day scientists and artisans according to da Vinci’s famous codices. The exhibit includes a revolving crane, a full-size armored tank large enough for several visitors to explore from the inside, a working robot, and four flying machines.

My favorite was the tank. It looks like a giant hut and needs six people to fully operate it, but the fact that da Vinci had the vision to design it four decades before we began using this type of machinery is amazing. 

The exhibit is very kid-friendly… you can operate almost every piece … and truly illustrates the genius of da Vinci.   And you thought he just did that little painting at the Sistine Chapel!


By: Kelly Ann Hekler, Convention Sales Manager

Why do I feel like I am always blogging about food?  I’d like to think that it’s because there are so many choices in the Fox Cities and not just that I like to eat!!

The build-your-own frozen yogurt market has recently hit the Fox Cities!  CherryBerry has opened in Darboy and serves up some of the most delicious soft serve frozen yogurt!  Enjoy your custom created dessert in the fun and vibrant environment.  The walls are painted cherry red with bright lime green tiles as an accent.  It’s hard to not enjoy yourself there! 

The concept is simple:

1) Grab a bowl. 

2) Choose your flavor(s) of frozen yogurt from the variety of about 15 choices including birthday cake, triple berry, cheesecake and cookies-n-cream. 

3) Load your frozen yogurt with as many toppings as you would like from the dozens of options including fresh raspberries, Kit Kat candy bar bits, crushed graham cracker, chocolate rocks and gummy bears.

 4) Pour on your favorite sauce. 

5) Garnish with sprinkles and a cherry on top.

6) Pay by the ounce.

I personally think I made the best creation, although my boyfriend thinks he did!  With all of the flavors of frozen yogurt and the variety of toppings, the combinations are endless! 

For more information, visit  So much for making boring old chocolate sundae’s at home… head on out to CherryBerry where you can create exactly what you want!

Hop on Over to Frogg’s!

By: Kelly Ann Heckler, Convention Sales Manager

Looking for a cool way to beat the summer heat?  Hop on over to Frogg’s Ice Cream in Sherwood.  Located on the outskirts of the Fox Cities, Sherwood is a quick 15 minute drive from downtown Appleton.  Frogg’s is right on the main drag in Sherwood.  They offer a variety of ice cream menu items including shakes, sundaes, blizzards, and cookie sandwiches.  All of their menu items have creative, amphibian themed names like Frogg on a Log, the Turtle and Cricket Carmel Cashew. 

My boyfriend and I stop by Frogg’s for a refreshing treat about once a month.  I prefer a small twist in a cone covered in sprinkles.  Don’t let the word small fool you!  For $1.85, you get a cone that Dairy Queen would consider a large and charge twice the price for!  My boyfriend prefers vanilla in a cup sprinkled with their own “crunch” topping.  All sundaes come topped with their signature green and white gummy frog, true to their theme!

Check out Frogg’s website at for directions and hours.  Hop in the car with the family and check out what the outskirts of the Fox Cities have to offer!  While enjoying your ice cream treat, take a drive down to High Cliff State Park, less than a mile away or enjoy the beautiful views of Lake Winnebago surrounded by amazing homes.  Once you’ve tried Frogg’s Ice Cream, you are sure to be hopping back there as often as you can!

Just Say (Simon’s) Cheese

When putting together a gift basket for an out of state bid, I wanted to fill it full of Wisconsin items.  I had heard that Simon’s Cheese had a great selection of Wisconsin-made products… I wasn’t disappointed!. They had everything!I picked up Door County Kettle Chips (Milwaukee), Bald Eagle Food’s Black Bear Salsa (Plymouth), Fireworks Popcorn (Port Washington), Vande Walle’s Caramel Corn (Appleton), Point Premium Black Cherry Cream Soda (Stevens Point), Simon’s Cheese BBQ Sauce (Green Lake), Door County Hazelnut Crème Coffee (Sturgeon Bay), Cow Pies (Baraboo), and countless other items, all made right here in Wisconsin.  They also offered Wisconsin wines, honey, sausage, cooking mixes, and even dog treats!  They also had cheese in any kind of shape you could ask for- football, badger, cow, giraffe, apple!  Not only was I surprised at the number of items that Wisconsin produces but, I was also surprised that they could all be found under one roof, at Simon’s cheese.Simon’s Cheese also sells their own fresh cheese curds that make your teeth squeak, shredded cheeses, and milk in a glass bottle.  They are always offering free samples of cheese curds, cheese spreads, meats, and homemade fudge and candies.  Simon’s Along with their food and beverage products, they also have a great selection of specialty gift items like Wisconsin clothing, jewelry, birdbaths, dishes, and other unique items.

There is something for everyone at Simon’s Cheese.  Stop in, try a sample, and support numerous Wisconsin businesses.  They are located just off for Hwy. 41 on County Road N in Little Chute.

Kitchen Dreams

Ricky Bernstein remembers the kitchen of his youth as a chaotic, funny place …. kind of like mine, but his is much better to look at.  This morning my friends at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum invited me to hear Bernstein talk about his exhibit that runs April 14-September 2, 2012 at the museum.

It was an awesome opportunity to hear how the artist works, what inspires him and how “Kitchen Dreams” came to be.  The exhibit takes you into a comical world of 1950′s pop culture.  Using glass, aluminum and childhood

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memories, Bernstein pieces together everyday life through a caricature of social roles and cultural icons.  The life-sized collages are bold, bright and bound to bring you a good belly laugh.

My favorite was “Dog Dreams” .. because I have that dog… and all of the ladies with curlers in their hair.  Brought back some memories from my childhood (sorry mom).

The entire family will love this exhibit…they even have colorging books for the kids.

Great Gift Idea from the Fox Cities PAC

Whether your loved one is a fan of musicals or dramas, comedy, dance or the Fox Valley Symphony, a Fox Cities PAC gift certificate will provide a a lasting memory and an inspiration in the new year. Plus, a gift certificate allows your giftee to pick the show that’s just right for their tastes and their schedule.

Order online by December 16, and you’ll get a present too – a free iTunes Broadway show tune sampler!

Order your Fox Cities P.A.C. gift certificate by 4:00 p.m. on December 16 to ensure your loved one receives their Fox Cities P.A.C. gift certificate by Christmas Day.