Monday, October 20, 2014

Part 1: Adventures in Eating, Playing and Staying in Fond du Lac, WI {#VisitFDL}

Fond du Lac logo
While there are plenty of times when I've complained about living here in Wisconsin (mainly during the middle of winter when the temperatures don't go above freezing), it really is a great place to live.

People's personalities alternate between Midwestern hospitality and hard-core sports fan, there is never a dull moment with activities and events going on in each season, and, currently, the amazing colors, scents and tastes of fall are in a category of beauty all their own.

Most recently, I was able to experience an area in Eastern Wisconsin in which I've never been and it proved yet again why this state has every right to be proud of its cities. Thanks to the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau I have been introduced to the incredible attractions, restaurants and shops of the one and only Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Fond du Lac c'mon in

Nestled along the shores of Lake Winnebago, Fond du Lac is the perfect combination of small town charm with big city amenities. No matter if your interests include hiking, windsurfing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, biking, shopping, golfing, dancing or just having a vacation filled with tons of fun, this is one location that is full of some of the most family-friendly activities around.

Where To Stay

Retlaw Plaza Hotel

While there are over 700 guest rooms in Fond du Lac to provide a comfortable place to rest and sleep, I'm not sure any of them compare to the elegance and history of the Retlaw Plaza Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, the Retlaw is truly Fond du Lac's premier hotel, combining the elegance of its historical two story lobby and crystal chandeliers with 21st century updates and technology (wireless internet is always a must).

The Retlaw has plenty of rumors of haunted happenings and sightings over the years, so if you're into that sort of thing, you'll love finding out more about what spooky, ghostly occurrences have been said to happen. If you're not, however (hand raised! Self-described wimp right here!), you'll instead get to enjoy the friendly, helpful staff, baked-to-order omelets, complimentary access to the Retlaw Health Club and more.

Retlaw Hotel Fond du Lac

Where To Eat

Schreiner's Restaurant and Bernie's Pub

A Fond du Lac landmark since 1938, Schreiner's Restaurant is famous for scratch-prepared food and professional service. Whether you stop in to enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner or just come in for a bowl of their famous New England Style Clam Chowder and a slice of award-winning pie, it's no wonder that they're known as the Fond du Lac destination for comfort food for over 75 years.

Along with their full menu, Schreiner's also offers a Pub Menu served in their cozy Bernie's Pub portion of the restaurant. It's the perfect place to grab a delicious drink and a basket of cheese curds or fried pickles!

Trinity Restaurant

Originally Trinity Lutheran Church of Fond du Lac, the beautiful building was completely renovated and repurposed into Trinity Restaurant in 2012. With a passion to deliver an extraordinary experience for every guest, Trinity is committed to serving the highest quality steak, seafood, handcrafted cocktails and award-winning wines. The result is a unique and unforgettable dining experience filled with ambiance, hospitality and charm.

Confections For Any Occasion by Joel

confections for any occasion by joelFounded by Joel Bernhard, a young blind entrepreneur in the fall of 2000, Confections for Any Occasion is located down the road from Fond du Lac in Theresa, WI. This charming shop offers everything including candies, chocolates, wines, fudge, ice cream and a small menu of burgers, soups and sandwiches, all served with a smile from Joel himself.

Kelley Country Creamery

If you are in the mood for old-fashioned premium ice cream, there is no better place than Wisconsin's BEST ice cream shop (as ranked by USA Today), Kelley Country Creamery. With a dairy farmstead that has been part of the Kelley family since 1861, Kelley Country Creamery uses farm-fresh, non-homogenized milk from their own cows and carefully crafts it into their 300+ amazing flavors.

Best enjoyed with family or friends when you can come inside and sit for a while (or pick your favorite wooden rocking chair that line the wrap-around porch), the most difficult part of visiting Kelley Country Creamery is deciding which of their scrumptious flavors is your favorite. It's no wonder that folks travel from across the globe for a visit and that this family-owned creamery has been featured on Good Morning America!

Kelley Country Creamery Fond du Lac
Don't let the plain appearance of my ice cream fool you. This is the Pumpkin Bumpkin flavor and it is divine!!

Where To Find An Adventure

Road America

Situated on 640 grassy acres of rolling, wooded hills, Road America is a world-acclaimed facility offering a wide range of opportunities for groups and events of all sizes. Along with fulfilling your need for speed in their race cars (they are home to the fastest permanent road racing circuit in the world), Road America offers off-road UTV trails, go-karts, hayrides, a new 1400-foot dual racing zipline, Sunset Cruising, geocaching, paintball, disc golf, snowshoeing and more.

We had a blast experiencing only a portion of what Road America has to offer and I think I'm hooked on UTV-ing! Maybe it was the amazing fall colors or maybe it was the feeling of power when you press the gas pedal and that little vehicle goes roaring straight up a hill, but this is a new one on my favorites list!

Road America Fond du Lac

Fondy Sports Park

Open daily from April to October, Fondy Sports Park has family entertainment covered on every level. Options include arcade games, a rock wall, batting cages, mini golf, bumper boats, go-karts, off-road ATV-style go-karts, a paintball shooting gallery, trampolines, Hi-ball, a climbing crazy maze, a zero gravity spinner and a driving range, so there's no chance of getting bored here — I need to bring my kids, stat!

Fondy Sports Park Fond du Lac

Wind Power Windsurfing & Kiting Center

Have you ever been windsurfing or kiting? Me, neither! But if you've ever wanted to give either one a try or purchase equipment for them, then there's no better place to go than the Midwest's only on-the-water full service shop, Wind Power Windsurfing & Kiting Center.

Here, you'll find friendly and knowledgeable staff that can give the entire family lessons on windsurfing and kitesurfing (whether on the water or on the ice and snow!) as well as stand-up-paddling, kayaking, sailing and more.

Wind Power Fond du Lac

The Siberian Outpost

If you're looking for a unique experience, look no further than The Siberian Outpost. Home to many adorable Siberian Huskies (many of them rescues), these amazing dogs have been trained as a team to do rides and demonstrations tailored to their visitors. No matter what time of year you visit, you'll fall instantly in love with the passion of the owner, the excitement of the dogs and the overall incredible adventure.

The Siberian Outpost Fond du Lac

Indoor Attractions

Children's Museum of Fond du Lac

The Children's Museum of Fond du Lac's mission is to create hands-on learning experiences through interactive exhibits and educational programs that will engage children and their caregivers in the partnership of learning through play. No matter what your child is interested in, this creative, touchable, learn-by-doing atmosphere will have them constructing, learning, discovering and more both inside and out!

Hint: The Children's Museum of Fond du Lac is part of the Association of Children's Museums, meaning that if you have a membership to your local museum (that is also a part of the Association), you will receive half off admission!

Children's Museum of Fond du Lac

Mercury Marine Museum

Located inside of the Children's Museum of Fond du Lac, the Mercury Marine Museum brings Mercury's rich history to life in exhibits and interactive displays. A haven for any boat-lovers or historians, this museum traces Mercury's heritage decade by decade from the birth of the company through World War II and into the present.

Mercury Marine museum

Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts

A premiere venue for arts and entertainment in downtown Fond du Lac, the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts itself is a sight to see with its majestic pillars, grand staircase and the perfect blend of the historic and the modern. Whether you are there to visit the exhibits in their two-level art gallery, watch a film or listen to a concert in their beautiful Great Hall or want to rent this amazing space for your next corporate or social gathering, THELMA is home to it all.

Thinking that there is a lot more to Fond du Lac, WI than you had originally thought? This is only the half of it! I've still got plenty more to tell about the farms, the shopping and more, so head over to Part 2 to see the rest and visit the Fond du Lac Convention and Visitors Bureau so that you can start planning your own trip to the area!

A special thank you to the Fond du Lac Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for putting together a wonderful Midwest Bloggers Meetup. Although I received free items/admissions throughout this trip, all opinions shared are completely honest and my own.