Category: Family Fun

One Stop Elf Shop just for Kids!

Elf ShopWritten by: Matt Ten Haken, Director of Sports Marketing
The Appleton 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 Shop3Overall, 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 in City Center until December 19. 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!

Thanksgiving Weekend Family Fun!

Looking for some Thanksgiving break fun for you and your kids? Whether you’re a Fox Cities resident or here visiting family, the Fox Cities has plenty of weekend specials and fun events going on to keep you and your family busy!

arcadeBadgerSportsPark_AppletonWI1102Badger Sports Park is offering special pricing on their Utopia package. With laser tag, mini bowling, inflatables and more. This package is sure to please!

Funset Boulevard
has special pricing on wristbands, game tickets and food!

Let the kids jump out some energy! With trampolines, laser maze, rock climbing walls and more, Xtreme Air trampoline park is fun for kids of all ages!

Kaukauna Public Library’s Schools Out, Fall Crafts event. Let the kids tap into their creative side with arts and crafts!

Paper Valley Model Railroad Club, Open House –  A free event for the whole family. Come check out built to scale model trains in action!

Holiday Drop-in Studio at the Trout Museum of Art – Stop in and make your own holiday crafts, featuring upcycled Christmas ornaments! Free!

Fang’s Holiday Extravaganza! – Head out to Fox Cities stadium for some holiday fun with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers mascots Fang and Whiffer! Plenty of kids activities and visits from Santa and Buddy the Elf!

One Stop Elf Shop Kids Market – Let the kids pick out gifts for parents, siblings, or grandparents with the help of their own elf shopper!

Last but very not least…pay a visit to the big man himself! Head out to the Fox River Mall to visit and get photos with Santa! Click here for schedule and details.

Visit our website for more events!


Fox Cities Trick or Treat Hours

Halloween2Whether you’re a local resident or you happen to be visiting our area this Halloween weekend, here is a quick look at the trick or treating hours for our Fox Cities area. All cities and times listed below are for Saturday, October 31st.

  • Appleton, 4-8pm
  • Grand Chute: 4-7 p.m.
  • Greenville: 4-7 p.m.
  • Harrison (town and village): 4-7 p.m.
  • Hortonville: 3-5 p.m.
  • Little Chute: 5-7 p.m.
  • Menasha (city & town): 4-7 p.m.
  • Neenah (city and town): 4-7 p.m.

We hope you and your little goblins have a safe and fun Halloween!

For a listing of other fun or spooky events happening this weekend, click here

Test Your Secret Agent Skills…Can You Escape?

IMG_2406 (1)Written by: Jen Hecht, Group Marketing and Services Manager

Whenever I’m asked what my favorite part of my job is my response has always been getting to experience all of the fun in the Fox Cities so I can share my first-hand knowledge with our visitors. This week was a perfect example of that as our staff visited Escape Room Wisconsin, one of Appleton’s newest attractions, for our annual staff retreat.

Escape Room Wisconsin officially opened its first location in Appleton in September this year. Escape rooms are a type of adventure game where the participants are “locked” (don’t worry –  there is a “panic” button) in a heavily themed room and need to use elements of the room to locate clues, solve puzzles and find the key to escape within a set time limit. Players must act fast utilizing their critical thinking skills if they want to beat the odds and escape before the clock runs out!

We put our investigative skills to the test in The Office of Secret Agent 22 Escape Room. Our mission was to explore Secret Agent 22’s father’s office to determine his identity and exact location for the FBI. 10549980_979946605409091_8355880553144319615_oWe had 45 minutes to find the clues, solve the puzzles, diffuse a bomb and find the key to our escape. Our group had a memorable team-building experience trying our hardest to work together to figure out the puzzles, crack the codes and escape the room. Ultimately we were not among the small percentage (about 25%) of successful missions completed since Escape Room Wisconsin’s opening, but we certainly had fun trying!

Escape Room Wisconsin is an exciting and unique activity for so many different occasions from corporate team-building to date night and everything in between. In addition to Secret Agent 22, another escape room “Snape Escape” is scheduled to open this December and the “Date Night” room will open in January. Book a private event any time or sign up for scheduled times to try your hand (or head) at escaping Thursday – Sunday. Visit their website to book your fun escape!

Great Hiking with some Hidden Adventure


Written by: Jeni Strom, Marketing and Visitor Services Coordinator

If you haven’t yet visited High Cliff State Park, you should definitely add it to your list. A beautiful park located on the shores of Lake Winnebago, and with nothing short of great views and leisurely hikes along its many trails, it’s sure to please.

HighCliffStatePark_SherwoodWIlakeviewtwoI love to hike and the more nature involved the better. I’ve hiked at High Cliff many times before, and while it’s always beautiful scenery, I like to try and venture down a path I’ve never gone or hike a trail in the opposite direction, just to see what new things or views I might stumble upon. I recently discovered a new adventure available at the park and I can’t wait to try it! I read an article that mentioned letterboxes at High Cliff, I had never heard of them before, so naturally I was curious. Apparently, there are 3 of these letterboxes hidden in the park somewhere along its trails. After I read the article, I had to Google it and find out more. It brought me to the website Atlas Quest , you can search for all letterboxes in the Untied States, narrow down to a specific area, and gives you clues to print out before your search to point you in the right direction. Turns out there’s a few other spots in the Fox Cities with hidden boxes too!

HighCliffStatePark_SherwoodWIfallviewNow is a great time to get out and enjoy the park, the weather is changing and fall colors turning soon, a nice hike in the fall is never a bad idea. I’ll definitely be heading out to High Cliff State Park to have my own hiking treasure hunt soon and I just might have to try my luck at the other spots too!

Click here to check out the article I read to find out more about her experience at High Cliff and her letterbox adventure!

Appleton Octoberfest: A Mile of Fun!

Octoberfest_Appleton Sidewalk

Written by: Adam Schanke, Sports Marketing Manager

Since 1981, one of the most popular annual events in the Fox Cities is Appleton’s Octoberfest. Octoberfest takes place on a blocked-off mile-long stretch of College Avenue in downtown Appleton on Friday, September 25th and Saturday, September 26th.

License to Cruise 2014The fun kicks off on Friday with License to Cruise, featuring over 400+ classic cars, live music, and food from local restaurants. Every year 50,000+ people walk College Avenue to check out their dream cars. This year’s feature vehicle is a Volkswagen, which can be found in front of City Center plaza. Live music starts at 6:00pm with The Doo-Wop Daddies in Houdini Plaza. Several other musicians will be roaming the Ave and performing on street corners.

IMG_7429_100925On Saturday, the party continues with an estimated expected attendance of 100,000 people. Five stages of music, endless food options, and beer highlight the event. Each music stage is devoted to a specific genre of music. Headliners this year include Vic Ferrari, Cool Waters Band, The Doo-Wop Daddies, and more. With approximately 100 nonprofit food vendors, there will be a large variety of delicious choices. Bring your appetite! The beer stands will offer Budweiser products, in addition to several craft beers.

Also an Octoberfest tradition is an arts and crafts area located on the east end of College Avenue by Lawrence University. Over 150 vendors will offer various items from jewelry, clothing, and pottery, to home décor.

The festival is also family-friendly, with an entire area designated for family fun. This area features magicians, karate demonstrations, carnival games, and more.

Octoberfest still has a few open slots for volunteers. Available volunteer roles include being a block captain and bartending. By volunteering, you will be helping Octoberfest assist hundreds of nonprofit organizations in the Fox Cities.

Although it may not be available at Octoberfest, Stone Arch/Stone Cellar brews a seasonal Stonetoberfest beer, which can be found on tap and in stores this fall. Additionally, Fox River Brewing Company recently released their Foxtoberfest and Appleton Beer Factory tapped their Oktoberfest earlier this week.

Be sure to check out the Octoberfest website, Facebook, and Twitter for details and updates.

The Community First Fox Cities Marathon has something for everyone!

Written by: Matt Ten Haken, Director of Sports Marketing

A general misconception is that you need to be an ultra-fit athlete with 3% body fat who trains year-round to enjoy the marathon weekend of events. But the thousands of participants, spectators, and fans who take part in the annual September tradition will tell you it has something for everyone. I have taken part in almost everything the marathon weekend has to offer, so let me give you my thoughts:

Marathon 2 photo for 2013 runners near waterSunday Race Day (The Marathon, Half Marathon, & Marathon Relay) – I have completed the half marathon and been on a team in the marathon relay, but haven’t done the big one yet. I loved the feeling of the start of the race. The sound of thousands of footsteps running in unison at the crack of dawn to one common goal was invigorating. I wish my time would have been better and my legs weren’t as tired, but the finish line is fun too. Tons of food, drinks, entertainment to enjoy. The Sunday races will go on a new route this year to showcase more of the Fox Cities great trail system and waterways.

The 5K Run/Walk – If you are working your way up to the longer races on Sunday, Saturday’s 5K Run/Walk is a great option. The 5K uses the same finish line at Riverside Park in Neenah as the Sunday races and brings along a lot of the same festive atmosphere. The route is relatively flat, so it’s nice for us who don’t enjoy hills!

The Kids Fun Run – It is impossible to attend this event and not smile. Hundreds of little kids participating in running events and other games and activities makes for a great time. My girls have done the diaper dash, toddler trot, and mini-dash (around the bases at Fox Cities Stadium). This year our oldest might move up to the ¼ mile run. There is also a half mile option as well. If you have young kids, I highly encourage you to bring them out to Fox Cities Stadium on Friday night.

The Expo – The expo at UW-Fox Valley is always a great opportunity to get all your registration information, the latest gear, or sit in on an educational presentation. There is a great deal of excitement and anticipation at the expo and runners prepare for the start of their race.

IMG_0479Spectating – If we aren’t running, we like to bring our family out to the race course and cheer on the runners early on Sunday morning. The runners really appreciate the encouragement (and the momentary distraction) and our kids love picking out runners and saying, “Go Green Runner” or “Go Pink Runner”. And if you are from the area, chances are you are going to see at least one person you know.

Volunteering – It takes 2,300 volunteers to pull off the marathon weekend of events. If running isn’t your thing, the event organizers are always looking for a few extra helping hands!

This year’s Community First Fox Cities Marathon will be held September 18-20 and will be the celebration of the 25th Marathon. For more information on the weekend of events, go to: