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Great Escape: Fall for Wisconsin’s Fox Cities

Written By | Mar 6, 2017

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2017 — The often-overlooked Midwest is a terrific getaway destination for those looking to eschew big cities in favor of nostalgia, kitsch, and beautiful vistas. One fine example: the Wisconsin cities located along the Fox River (Appleton, Kaukauna, Menasha, and Neenah), known collectively as the Fox Cities.

Here are seven excellent reasons to put Wisconsin’s Fox Cities on your travel list this year:

  1. Houdini’s Escape Gastropub
houdinis feta salad

Watermelon and feta salad at Houdini’s Escape Gastropub

Did you know that famed magician Harry Houdini lived for several years in Fox Cities, WI? He was so beloved by the locals, there’s now a local gastropub named after him where you’ll find a vast selection of craft beers on tap. You’ll want to bring along several friends to share the magnificent dishes listed on their standout menu. Think Oxtail empanadas, feta watermelon salad, and chimichurri salmon.

2. Mark’s East Side

supper club wisconsin

Enjoy a cocktail in the lounge before dinner at a Fox Cities Supper Club.

It would be a crime to visit Fox Cities but neglect to dine at a supper club like Mark’s East Side during your visit. Popping up after World War II, these restaurants are throw backs to decades ago. The décor is decidedly ’70s or ’80s kitsch. Start your meal at Mark’s with a Brandy Old Fashioned (sweet not sour), the supper club’s drink of choice. Sit in the lounge and order some fried cheese curds to go with your drink. Typical foods you’ll find on the menu are fried fish or Prime rib. After dinner, it’s common practice to return to the bar and get a dessert type drink like a Grasshopper or a Pink Squirrel, an almond-flavored ice cream drink.

3. Urban Evolutions

Repurposed furniture and more at Urban Evolutions.

What started out as a couple’s quest to restore an old home eventually led to a national business. Jeff and Robin Janson started restoring their dream home with one requirement: to use as many repurposed pieces of furniture as possible. Their passion turned into something they actually had a knack for. Suddenly they were inundated with calls from other places calling them to take on repurposed items that would otherwise be thrown away. So they opened Urban Evolutions in Fox Cities. The couple has become sought after by major stores as well, working with Urban Outfitters to design their stores.

4. Wilmar Chocolates

A few of Wilmar Chocolates’ delectable creations.

Anyone with a sweet tooth should stop in at Wilmar Chocolates to have your pick of exquisite candies. Ever wanted to create your own chocolate bar? For under $10 you can pick four high quality ingredients (think pistachio, toasted coconut, toffee, and even potato chips) and do just that. Go in the back of the candy-filled store and watch as your fresh chocolate and ingredients are mixed up and then baked. While you wait, browse the selection of chocolates in the store or watch as caramel apples are coated in chocolate by hand.

5. Lion’s Tail Brewing
You’ve been to brewpubs and tasted their myriad of tasty hops. But Lion’s Tail has an incredible selection of brews that will rival those of the best breweries you’ve ever visited. Here are just a few of the brews they offer:

  • Royale with Bees – a French-Style Saison with local honey
  • Nitro Stout – Nitro gas forms much smaller bubbles, giving the beer a rich, creamy mouthfeel
  • King Kula – Rum barrel aged beer

6. Lamer’s Dairy
When you taste milk from Lamer’s Dairy, you are having milk that was in the cow that morning. The 100+ year old company remains family owned, and supports farms within 30 miles of Fox Cities. Besides RBGH free milk, you’ll find local wines as a vast selection of cheese. Sample their fresh milk of course, but don’t leave without sampling some of their made in house ice cream too. The seasonal Pumpkin Spice is a highlight.

Balcony view of the state at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Wisconsin.

7. Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
When it comes to attending Broadway shows, many believe the only way to catch one is to head to a really big city like Chicago or New York. The problem is, tickets can be pricey or hard to come in those locales, and you’ll often find yourself competing for tickets to the best shows with a large and well-heeled population of experienced theater goers. But here’s a secret that many don’t know. Numerous touring Broadway shows often make a stop at the very well regarded Fox Cities Performing Arts Center before heading to Chicago. The large theater here offers terrific views of the stage from most reasonably-priced seats and routinely features shows like Book of Mormon, Mama Mia and Wicked.

Malika Bowling

Malika Bowling is the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Atlanta and Food Blogging 101. She has been featured on HGTV, Playboy, Chowhound and Travelgirl and has been a contributing writer to USA Today. Malika also has served as a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals, including The World Food Championships, where she is a certified judge. Besides food, travel is her passion and her most recent adventure is leading international culinary trips.