Category: Family Fun

Kids Shopping Made Easy at the Elf Shop!

Written by: Matt Ten Haken, Director of Sports Marketing
Elf ShopThe popular One Stop Elf Shop for kids is back at the Appleton farm market!
The Farmer’s Market is always great place to find a unique gift for that hard-to-buy-for loved one. With the One Stop Elf Shop, that holiday shopping experience has gotten a little easier for kids too. Last Saturday, our family stopped in at the Elf Shop for our two girls (ages 2 and 5) to buy gifts for each other. We were greeted by a host of friendly elves, that escorted our girls around the shop and helped them each spend their money. There were plenty of unique gifts to choose from featuring items from many of Downtown Appleton’s favorite retailers. In no time, our girls found the perfect gifts for each other and were checked out. Then, they were able to decorate a gift bag for their presents. Located at the far west side of indoor farmer’s market, the Elf Shop has a little bit of something for every shopper.
Elf Shop3
Overall, it was a great experience for the girls and a rare stress-free shopping experience for the parents! The One Stop Elf Shop will be open on Saturdays from 9am-1pm during the Farm Market inside City Center until December 17. BONUS: Mrs. Claus made an appearance on Saturday morning and stopped and talked with the girls for a bit. The girls had wide eyes listening to how many cookies Mrs. Claus needs to bake for Mr. Claus!
Fox Cities Home for the Holidays

Fox Cities Home for the Holidays

While the weather is still unseasonably warm (not complaining), it’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is only a couple short weeks away! Holiday events, shopping and Santa too of course! The Fox Cities has everything you need to get in the spirit of the season!


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Downtown Appleton  Decorated Windows– Downtown Appleton held a special Window Walk event on November 11th to showcase the many businesses that decorated their windows to celebrate the season. Even though that event has passed, you can still enjoy the beauty of the store windows throughout the months of November and December!

Festival of Trees at Trout Museum of Art – Local businesses and artists have decorated and designed wreaths, trees and stockings that will be on display at the museum through November and into December. Join them on December 1 as all of them will be up for silent auction with proceeds to benefit local non-profit organizations. This exhibit is free to enjoy so don’t miss it!

Downtown Appleton Christmas Parade – Tuesday, November 22, Wisconsin’s largest night-time light parade and the theme this year is “Christmas Lights on Parade” and will feature 20 marching bands and 75 floats! You won’t want to miss it! Parade start time is 7pm.

Fang’s Holiday Extravaganza!  – Sunday, November 27 head out to Fox Cities Stadium and join Fang and Whiffer for some holiday fun at the ballpark! Cookie decorating, fun kids activities, and visit Santa and his reindeer! Come anytime from 10:30am – 1pm, admission is FREE!

A Very Neenah Christmas – Friday, December 2 from 5-8pm. Visit downtown Neenah for festivities. Featuring their popular living window displays, horse-drawn carriage rides, fun family activities and visits with Santa!

St. Nick’s Night at Scheels – Tuesday, December 6 from 5pm-8pm. Games to play and Christmas crafts throughout the store!

Downtown Appleton Avenue of Ice – Saturday, December 17 head down to Houdini Plaza from 10:30am – 2:30pm for live music, ice carving displays, horse-drawn carriage rides, refreshments and a visit with Santa!

Christmas ParadeSANTA!

Fox River Mall, November 12 – December 24. Santa will be in the Macy’s wing of the mall. Schedule will vary check their website for details!

Breakfast with Santa  – Come have breakfast with Santa on Sunday, December 11 from 8am-Noon at the Thompson Center on Lourdes. Tickets are $6, children 3 and under are FREE!


dsc_6817Downtown Appleton Small Business Saturday – Saturday, November 26; Shop or dine at nearly 100 businesses. Pick up a Shop Appleton Passport and take it to participating stores, get at least 5 stamps and you can enter to win great prizes! Over $1500 in prizes to give away including a $350 shopping spree!

Harley Davidson of Appleton – Men’s Shopping Night, Friday December 9 from 5-8pm; Stone Cellar will be pouring seasonal craft beers, free gift to the first 200 customers and enter to win some great prizes! Ladies Night, Friday, November 18 from 5-8pm; Receive FREE gift wrapping, snacks, refreshments, manicures, prizes and more!

Christmas Market at Rose and Bee in Kaukauna – December 2, 5-8pm and December 3, 10am-5pm. You’ll find new and vintage furniture, decor, handmade items and more!

For even more Holiday events and activities click here

Trick or Treat Fox Cities!

Trick or Treat Fox Cities!

With the Fox Cities being home to 20 different communities there’s no shortage of Trick-or-Treating options! Check out the list below for all of our area trick or treat hours. Happy candy hunting!

Halloween2Appleton: Oct 31, 4 pm – 8 pm

Buchanan: Oct 31, 4 pm – 8 pm

Combined Locks: Oct. 31, 5 pm – 7 pm

Fox Crossing (formerly Town of Menasha): Oct. 31, 4 pm – 7 pm

Freedom: Oct. 31, 4 pm – 7 pm

Grand Chute: Oct. 31, 4 pm – 7 pm

Greenville: Oct. 31, 4 pm – 7 pm

Harrison: Oct. 31, 4 pm – 7 pm

Hortonville: Oct. 30, 3 pm – 5 pm

Kaukauna: Oct. 31, 4 pm – 6 pm

Kimberly: Oct. 31, 5 pm – 7 pm

Little Chute: Oct. 31, 5 pm – 8 pm

Neenah (city and town): Oct. 31, 4 pm – 7 pm


Our Fox Cities Fall Traditions

Written by: Matt Ten Haken, Director of Sports MarketingLotsOfPumpkins

Apple Picking, Friday Night Football, Pumpkin-flavored everything, Jumping in huge leaf piles….what is there not to like about the fall?! Every family has their favorite fall traditions, here are some of the best autumn activities we like to do, and they’re all right here in the Fox Cities.
Pumpkin & Apple Picking
There are oodles of options for picking your favorite fall produce in the area. We have frequented Sprangers Orchard over the last few years. You can pick your own, or they have a huge pre-picked selection for you to choose from as well. Also, try their delicious apple cider and caramel apples. Sprangers staff is always friendly and helpful, it makes the experience really enjoyable! They are located just outside Appleton, in the Heart of the Valley area, check out their Facebook page.
Pumpkin Carving
A hidden gem that we love to go to each year is the Rades Family Pumpkin Carving Display on Appleton’s east side. Each year the Rades family transform their entire front yard into a pumpkin-themed paradise. They carve intricate designs into dozens of pumpkins and add in special lighting, music, and displays. Our girls have been especially fond of the Disney princess carvings over the years. The display runs the nights of October 29-31, this is non-scary event so it’s great for the whole family. Donations are accepted and appreciated for the Fox Valley Humane Association. Click here for details!
Freaky 5K
The final run/walk that we do each season is the YMCA’s Freaky 5K on October 29. Starting and finishing at Appleton’s Pierce Park, the run takes competitors through three parks and some of the city’s most distinct neighborhoods. Costumes are encouraged! Our girls love the 1/4 Mile Mini-Monster Dash. The 5K field ranges from competitive runners looking for a personal best to novice walkers looking to show off their Halloween costumes. This is a great family event that culminates with post-event food, drinks, and activities. Click here for more information!
dsc_2255Hike our Nature Preserves
We love to head out and take hikes with our kids this time of year and with three different nature preserves located right here in the Fox Cities, it’s an easy drive to any of them and a great way to spend a gorgeous fall day! 1000 Islands Environmental Center, Heckrodt Wetland Reserve and Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve all offer free access to their trails and nature centers. The trails aren’t too long so it’s great for kids and there’s plenty of nature to take in while you’re there. Stop in and visit their nature centers too where you’ll find information about the area, animals, and activities to engage the kids!

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Written by: Amy Karas, Convention Sales and Marketing Manager

Fall is here and that means football season is too. Here in the Fox Cities, with Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, just a short 30 minute drive away; there are plenty of opportunities for both area residents and visitors alike to catch a home game. Don’t want to deal with the game day traffic? Hop on a shuttle from one of our local bars and enjoy the ride! The Bar on Lynndale or the Bar on College Ave, D2, or Tanner’s Bar and Grill in Kimberly, all offer transportation and beverages for just $20 per person!

13925839_10154203901144733_8403565281344930166_oWith our 20 communities and Lawrence University in Appleton, the Fox Cities is also home to countless local football teams and plenty of games to catch on any given fall weekend. Lawrence University plays their home games on Saturday afternoons at the Banta Bowl in Appleton. Area public and private high schools have varsity football games on Friday nights at Appleton East, North and West, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Neenah, Menasha, Fox Valley Lutheran, Xavier and St. Mary’s Central fields.


14355697_1467980143216059_811243965567511418_n.jpgDuring football season, Monday nights in the Fox Cities is the place to be if you want to talk shop with Packer players. Clubhouse Live is a weekly pro sports talk program hosted by Green Bay Packers wide receiver Ty Montgomery and his special guests. Watch it live at 6:30pm at The Clubhouse Sports Pub & Grill inside the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in downtown Appleton, or stream it at or ‘In the Huddle’ is a Packer radio show hosted by Justin Hull, Packers safety Chris Banjo and tight end Jared Cook. Watch it live at Game Day Sports Bar in Appleton from 6-7pm or listen to it on 105.7 WAPL. Both shows are free to the public!

1973584_10152820185483513_6731381116984047219_o.jpgThere is also an abundance of sports bars throughout the Fox Cities for game-day fun. They offer plenty of flat screen tv’s and game day specials including drinks, food, trivia and giveaways. Some of the more unique venues with great game day specials include Holidays in Neenah, where Packer fans congregate downstairs and Chicago Bears fans come together upstairs; Bad Badger Sports Bar in downtown Appleton, which is a popular venue for Wisconsin pro and college games and features a bowling lane as a bar top; and Game Day Sports Bar in Appleton, with plenty of flat screens playing multiple games you’re always on top of what’s happening in any game, food and drink specials, and their heated outdoor patio is open year-round!

*Photo credit: Lawrence University facebook page; Inside the Huddle facebook page; Bad Badger Sports Bar facebook page.

Instagram-Worthy Fox Cities Spots

Instagram has fast become a place to not just post a photo, but to show your followers the world from your perspective. We love seeing photos of the Fox Cities from a view we maybe haven’t seen before. From our cool downtown’s to our beautiful parks and nature centers, we’ve put together a little list of great Instagram-worthy spots. Thanks for sharing your Fox Cities view! #explorefoxcities #foxcitieswi

  • Vibrant Downtowns

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Pictured from Top Left: Downtown Appleton; Shattuck Park, Downtown Neenah; Lawrence University Main Hall, Appleton; 222 Building, Appleton; Art Alley Project, Appleton; Shattuck Park, Neenah; Fox Cities Performing Arts Center; Houdini Plaza, Appleton; Shattuck Park, Arial view; Downtown Appleton Farm Market; :Lawrence Memorial Chapel, Appleton; Octoberfest, Appleton

  • Beautiful Trails and Nature
    You’ll find more than just city amenities here, we’ve got plenty of gorgeous nature centers and parks waiting for you to enjoy!

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Pictured from Top Left: Heckrodt Wetleand Reserve, Menasha; Appleton Sunset; Trestle Trail, Menasha; Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, Appleton; Trestle Trail, Menasha; Jones Park, Appleton; Menasha Locks Bridge; 1000 Islands Environmental Center; High Cliff State Park, Sherwood; Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, Appleton; High Cliff state Park, Sherwood. 

  • Fox Cities Foodies
    The Fox Cities is home to countless great locally owned restaurants.

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Pictured from Top Left: Broken Tree Pizza, Neenah; Rye, Appleton; SAP, Appleton; Appleton Beer Factory, Appleton; The Source Public House, Menasha; Happy Bellies, Appleton; Antojitos Mexicanos, Appleton; Zuppas Cafe, Neenah; Stone Cellar Brew Pub, Appleton; Timshel Cafe, Neenah; Lion’s Tail Brewing Co, Neenah; Mark’s East Side, Appleton

  • Take Me Out to the Ball Game
    Wisconsin Timber Rattlers at Fox Cities Stadium

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  • Waterfront Oasis
    Gorgeous views on the Fox River and Lake Winnebago

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*Photo Credits to the following Instagram users:
@kruegerphotos, @lindsayghintz, @lindseyschmidt, @kimjwillems22, @g_toxx, @alikoestner, @hintzilla, @jkehring, @mitslittle, @brianne_zinger, @chuckzachariasphotography, @kimthielphoto, @joshdukelow, @therealtorsofc21ace, @particktcooper, @vaughnlowery, @maryrhode, @ellieg17, @patrickjnowak, @michelle.a.gauthier, @kaijuluvspnut, @pampi_25

September “Fests” Keeping Summer Alive



Written by: Pam Seidl, Executive Director

While many may view Labor Day weekend as the unofficial end of summer, September in the Fox Cities is full of summer-like festivals that keep the fun going!

Fox Jazz Fest kicks off the month with great music on Labor Day weekend (September 3 and 4 this year).  Fox Jazz Fest is a free, 2-day concert from local, regional and national jazz artists. The 2016 Jazz Fest theme this year is ‘How My Heart Sings’.

2013 seafood fest logoSeafood Fest is September 9 & 10.  This legendary event is a fundraiser for several local Rotary clubs.  Lobster and salmon plated dinners, live music both nights and, new for this year, the Fox Valley Food Truck Rally will also be offering delicious food for any palette. Fun for the whole family!

IMG_2060The Fox Cities Marathon is a festival of races September 16 through 18.  The Guardian Kids Run & the Kimberly Clark Diaper Dash & Toddler Trot take place at the Fox Cities Stadium.  A 5k course starts and finishes at Riverside Park in Neenah on Saturday.  The main marathon, half-marathon and relay races start at UW Fox Valley and finish at Riverside Park. If you’re not a runner, not a problem! There’s plenty of fun to be had by spectators as well!

OctoberfestChalk_dsc_0165f6Octoberfest, the biggest “fest” of all, wraps up the September fun on the 24th.  This community-driven festival that provides family-friendly events for all ages while raising funds for more than 100 local nonprofit organizations.  Locals and visitor alike enjoy this summer-ending days of live music on five stages and great food at one of the 100+ food booths!


These signature festivals plus many other events like Fox Cities Restaurant Week, make September a great time to plan a  visit to the Fox Cities today!