Hidden Holiday Gems

Pam Seidl, Executive Director

Tis the holiday shopping season and the Fox Cities have something for everyone with a shopping list.  Fox River Mall is the obvious choice to start your shopping and our local downtowns, especially Appleton and Neenah, have many locally-owned shops with great gift options.  So enough of the marketing message … let’s talk about a few places that only the locals know about.

The Garden in Neenah is a store focused on growing with healthy soil.  Their wheelhouse is summer produce grown on-site or nearby as well as products to help home gardeners grow organically, but they are open year-round and have a great selection of wreaths, sprays and Christmas trees. Inside the shop you will find a large selection of Himalayan pink salt – everything from lamps and shot glasses to large slabs for cooking, candles with essential oils and some lovely holiday décor.  (The Garden, 833 E. Cecil St., Neenah).

The Wreath Factory and Wild Apple Studio are two gems in downtown Menasha.  The Wreath Factory specializes in home décor and has one of the most extensive displays of Christmas trees and festive holiday  ideas for your home.  Those with a crafty bent can purchase greens for creating their own seasonal decorations.

Wild Apple Studio is owned by local glass artist Mary Weidert.  She showcases her own works plus those of other local artisans.  I appreciate the variety of items and prices in this shop.  A great place to find gifts for teachers, babysitters and the like.

While we are on the locally-owned and sourced subject, I’ve tried a few new restaurants all focusing on locally sourced ingredients.  In close proximity to Fox River Mall are SAP and Gather Americana. SAP features breakfast all day and an amazing bakery.  Expect a wait almost anytime and especially during the breakfast, lunch or dinner hour. Gather Americana is just south of the mall, and may afford a bit of a respite from the mall holiday shopping crowds.  Great beer and wine list and lots of small plates to share.

Also on the must-visit list is Rye located in the CopperLeaf hotel in downtown Appleton. Nice variety of takes on comfort food and something to please everyone. Try the crab croquettes!

A little more off the beaten path is The Source Public House. A family friendly restaurant serving lunch and dinner with brunch on Sundays with a casual atmosphere.  The focus is on clean, fresh, natural and sustainable.  Try the Wisconsin platter of cheese, jerky and honey or the Andouille Mac & Cheese.

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