Last Minute ‘Back to School’ fun in the Fox Cities!

Posted by: Mary Ann Minten, Group Visitor Services Coordinator

Looking to have some last minute family fun, before the kids head back to school?  The Fox Cities is your one-stop shop for fun ideas.

Here are 20 suggestions:

Enjoy the last days of summer Fox Cities style!  For more ideas on fun in the Fox Cities, click here.

High Cliff State Park…a geological gem

Posted by: Amy Karas, Convention Sales Representative

Growing up in Door County, I was surrounded by scenic shoreline and had plenty of parks available for swimming or hiking. When I moved to Appleton 9 years ago, I was excited to find that I could still enjoy nature while living in a bigger city. One of my favorite places to hike is at High Cliff State Park. The park is located on the northeastern shore of Lake Winnebago in Sherwood, Wisconsin, just a short 15 to 20 minute drive from Appleton, Wisconsin, the Fox Cities’ largest community.

High Cliff1High Cliff State Park has over 26 miles of trails including the Bike and Horse trails, Forest Management Trail, Butterfly Pond Trail, Indian Mound Trail and the Lime-Kiln Trail which is the one I hiked this past Thursday with friends and family. This trail is a combination of hiking near the Winnebago shoreline, in the steep Niagra Escarpment and through the kiln remains. From 1895 to 1956 a company town operated the limestone quarry in this area. All that remains today are the kiln ruins and the store. I have included pictures of the kiln ruins and other beautiful scenery from the Lime-Kiln Trail.

There are many other activities to do at High Cliff State Park for any season although the spring, summer and fall have the largest variety including picnicking, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, boating, biking, horseback riding and fishing. It is definitely worth climbing the tower to look out across the fields from the observation deck.

High Cliff3I have also utilized the group campsites which can hold up to 60 people and are separate from the family campground. The field in the middle of the group sites is perfect for volleyball nets and other recreational activities. During the winter months, the trails are converted to snowshoe and cross country ski paths as well. Visitors do need a state park sticker for entry. Day passes are also available.

The scenic 18-hole High Cliff Public Golf Course is located just outside of the park and overlooks the Niagra Escarpment and Winnebago shoreline. High Cliff Restaurant and Banquets is also just outside of the park and is open year round for events. If camping is not your thing, but you would still like to experience the park, golf course or banquet hall, arrange to stay at the High Cliff Resort Suites in Sherwood or any of our Fox Cities hotels just a short drive away.

Celebrate Independence Day the Fox Cities Way!

Posted by:  Mary Ann Minten, Group & Visitor Services Coordinator

Celebrating the anniversary of our independence is a great American tradition.  Fireworks, parades, music, food and fun…the Fox Cities has it all!  Here is your guide to some notable celebrations in our area.

Appleton celebrates Independence Day on July 3rd from 5pm-11pm at Memorial Park. Family friendly fun that includes food and children’s activities such as face painting, inflatables and balloon animals!  Music entertainment is Eminence, followed by headliner Boogie and the Yo-yo’s!  Cap off the evening with fireworks at dusk.

Neenah and Menasha offer two days of celebrations starting on July 3rd with the Parade of Lights.  Starting at Riverside Park at 9:15pm in Neenah and travelling to Milwaukee Street in Menasha enjoy floats ablaze with lights and music.  On July 4th from noon until dusk enjoy a host of activities, food and entertainment.  See a water-ski show, the Venetian boat parade and enjoy children’s activities. End your evening with fireworks!

If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate, check out a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game on July 3rd at Fox Cities Stadium.  Nothing beats watching America’s favorite past-time and ending the evening watching fireworks over the field.

Lastly Kaukauna hosts it’s annual Firecracker 5k starting at 8am on July 4th.  Even if you don’t run, you’ll be wowed by skydivers landing just prior to the race start and runners being welcomed across the finish line by the University of Wisconsin Marching Band!

On behalf of our team at the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau,  we wish you a safe and happy 4th of July!

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: http://www.uwfox.uwc.edu/wesm/index.html

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 www.wilmarchocolates.com 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!