I’ve lived in Wisconsin for fourteen years now and had never visited Fond du Lac despite it being just a quick jog up the highway. I had passed through it plenty of times on my way to other places, but never realized how many little gems are hidden just off of Highway 41. Luckily, I was invited to explore all that Fond du Lac has to offer a few weeks ago and am thrilled to share my experiences in hopes that you too will stop by and visit Fond du Lac, Wisconsin and explore some of these fun attractions!
I had heard about Road America in the context of car racing but had no idea how much more there is to do there. I had my first ever off-roading experience and it was nothing short of thrilling. In addition to off roading and racing, Road America offers go-karting, zip-lining, driving schools, vintage car events, and some seriously breathtaking views of the local foliage. I can’t wait to return with my family and share all of the fun Road America has to offer! Learn more at RoadAmerica.com.
I’m a museum nerd for sure, but as an educator, children’s museums have a special place in my heart. The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac creates a magical and educational journey for kids of all ages through the power of play. Their Passport to the World exhibits allow children to travel from Lake Winnebago to an Italian pizzeria and the African Savannah. Visitors can cast images in the Shadow Safari, explore the Great Toddler Reef, build a Great Wall of China, exchange money for world currencies, put on a show in the Big Apple Theater or produce a radio broadcast. Visitors can also learn more about the area’s largest employer, Mercury Marine, and see some of the motors made by the company as well as a few products they may not be aware of. Learn more about The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac here.
You may have seen the Kelley family on Good Morning America when their family owned creamery was featured as one of the best places to get ice cream in the country or maybe you saw them named in USA Today as Wisconsin’s best ice cream. A fourth generation operation, Kelley Country Creamery offers fresh ice cream made from their own cows who wander in the fields just outside the shop as you enjoy your favorite original flavor. Come with a hearty appetite as you will want to try all of their many delicious treats! Learn more about them here.
If you’ve got active children (or an adventurous spirit yourself), Fondy Sports Park is the perfect place to wear them out! Offerings include paint ball, trampoline basketball, go karts, a rock wall, batting cages, mini golf, and a zero gravity spinning contraption that is sure to make you beg for mercy. Be sure to book the better part of a day to spend so that you can try each and every activity. Fondy Sports Park so a great place for parties and corporate events. Check it out here.
If sailing and surfing are your thing, you are probably also a fan of windsurfing. If that is the case, you definitely need to check out Wind Power where you can rent or buy all of the supplies you might need for wind surfing, kiting, or stand up paddling for both adults and kids. You can also take lessons from one of the best coaches around! Learn more at www.windpowerwindsurfing.com and be sure to check out their informative blog as well.
With all of the snowy activities that my family takes part in, I honestly never even thought about dog sledding. I had always pictured that as something that was only available in climates like Alaska. Who knew there was dog sledding just a hop, skip, and jump away up the road? Jim Feyen and his wife have rescued countless Siberian Huskies and trained them to pull sleds (or converted go-karts in the warmer months) through their gorgeous property. The joy the dogs get from this is evident the moment the harnesses are brought out and riding behind these amazing creatures is absolutely a once in a lifetime experience! Siberian Outpost offers tours and demonstrations for all ages. A location map can be found here.
If crafting is up your alley (or if you are like me and just like buying other people’s crafts) you need to take some time to explore Kreative Kraftwerks. I had the chance to attempt to be crafty and made my own essential oil lotion and a firestarter for our firepit. The rest of my time was spent oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the gorgeous homemade soaps, candles, and crafts. Some are even made by the owner’s own entrepreneurial children! Take a class or just shop for something fun. Learn more here. (And when you are done, be sure to pop into the Just Fare Market where all good are fair market certified!)
Another multigenerational business, The Little Farmer boasts the best caramel apples in the area. Schedule some extra time to include checking out the apple house, the bakery, the craft barn, a hayride as well as a trip out to the pumpkin patch and apple orchard to do some picking. In fact, you might just want to spend the whole day there! Schools and groups can schedule special tours but the average family might want to schedule a mid-week visit as the venue is packed on weekends as you might imagine. Get directions, hours, and other helpful information on their website.
The Meuer is a 150 acre working farm that also boasts year round activities including maple tree tapping in February and March, strawberry fields in early summer, a corn maze, as well as other corn related fun throughout the fall. Whether you want to play in the “corn box”, shoot an ear of corn at a barrel, or slide down the huge slide into the pumpkin patch, you’ll have a blast at the Meuer’s farm! Check out their schedule of events on the website.
If you are a fan of cheese or anything goat related, LaClare Farm is a must see. Their award winning cheese is available for sale in their shop, or take a minute to rest and enjoy the cafe’s offerings made from scratch and featuring locally sourced products. Wander out to the enclosed area and cuddle with a goat or two or make your way into the milking area at 4:30 pm and watch the process firsthand. Be sure to bring some of the cheese home to enjoy after your visit or order it online.
How brave are you? Do you dare to skip the haunted houses this Halloween and visit an entire village that is haunted? If you love all things spooky and creepy, the Galloway House and Village transform into a land inhabited by ghosts and goblins. Your tour is led by a masked, silent being who guides you from building to building and through the grounds. While relatively tame compared to some other haunted venues, this activity is probably not appropriate for young children. Learn more on the Ghosts of Galloway Facebook page.
By now, you’ve probably realized you are going to need several days to explore all of the cool things to do in Fond du Lac. So where to stay while you are there? Check out The Retlaw Hotel. Located in the heart of all the action, the Retlaw offers a historic flavor you cannot find often these days. Even though it is on the National Registrar of Historic Places, the Retlaw still offers all of the conveniences of a modern hotel such as in room fridge, microwave, and complimentary wireless internet access. While the hotel is rumored to be haunted, the only spooky occurrence this guest had was the eerie ability of the staff to anticipate my every need. In fact, I slept so well the first night there, I almost missed the delicious breakfast available downstairs! Speaking of food, the adjacent restaurant, Mancino’s, had the best gluten-free pizza I’ve had!