New Social Animation App. Raises $600k in Combined Locks, WI

Dodles App in Action. With Mario animation

Big Tech in Small Town Wisconsin

(Note: Full video interview with Dodles founder here.)

Imagine you have a crazy experience with a stranger at the grocery store. You want to tell people, but you need to show them. Do you go tell the story to your mom? Maybe your three best friends in person? What if you could quickly make your story into a cartoon, and share it to the world?

Dodles wants you to make your story into an engaging animation, and share it with your friends, all on your phone. The app was conceived by Craig Doriot with money from one of his past startups, an online mortgage engine.

Dodles sign inside the Combined Locks Headquarters. A refurbished church.

When you think about social media startups, you probably think of Silicon Valley. So what about Combined Locks, WI, a small village on the Fox River outside of Appleton? A few months ago Dodles, a mobile social animation app, closed on a $600,000 round of fundraising, and have launched the beta version of the app in smaller markets around the world.

The app is meant to bring animation to a broader audience. Just in time considering the constant rise in video content online. YouTube alone says 1 billion hours of video are consumed each day on their platform alone.

Dodles And Autism

Dodles also intends their product to be useful in engaging autistic users. Playing to their strengths by allowing them to express themselves through technologies, and also giving them an opportunity to make money on the app if they are creative enough. Doriot says that some members of the Dodles team, including himself, are on the autism spectrum.

“Traditionally we’ve had a hard time with gainful employment because of being on the spectrum usually presents a number of interpersonal challenges that employers have a hard time with.”

A senior developer at Dodles.

According to autism.org, people with autism, “are often disadvantaged when it comes to getting and keeping a job because of difficulties with social communication and interaction, other people’s lack of understanding, and sensory issues.” Dodles is a tool that works well with this group’s strengths and weaknesses.

Funding Dodles

It is unusual for Northeast Wisconsin to see this type of startup outside of Green Bay or the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dodles continues picking up steam. They just finished their third round of funding, picking up $600,000. Doriot initially invested two million dollars of his own capital into Dodles. He says of Northeast Wisconsin, “I believe you can build a good technology company here. As well as you can build it in any other place.”

Dodles app in action.

Cost of living was cited as a benefit to starting a tech company here in Wisconsin, along with other factors. The company has launched the app in beta in secondary markets around the world.

Writer’s Thoughts

The prospect of a well executed app that can deliver on making animation accessible to a broader audience on your phone is very promising. I hope that Dodles acts as an example to local tech companies in Northeast Wisconsin. Showing the region and other entrepreneurs and investors what’s possible. I highly recommend you watch the full interview here! What are your thoughts on Dodles? Let’s start a discussion in the comments!

Five Reasons Hartman Creek State Park Should Be Your Next Adventure

Hartman Creek is the most versatile state park I have been too within an hour of Appleton! During the two hours I spent there exploring and watching all the different activities going on there I was truly in shock with how much potential this park has to so many people. So, the whole point of writing this is to give you the insight you need to get out there and experience this truly awe-inspiring place! I had the opportunity to visit with my girlfriend this fall, and our journey was great.

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Hiking

At Hartman Creek the beauty of their hiking trails is spectacular! I had the personal opportunity to hike these awesome trails. My favorite ran right along the water, and gave us an amazing view of Allen lake and the number of trails is enough for you to hike all day if that’s what you desire to do. But I highly suggest going in the fall, the true beauty of all the fall colors on your hike is amazing. Just looking across the lake and seeing the trees filled with oranges and reds is sure to drop your jaw in awe.

Fishing

Hartman Creek has some amazing fishing! We know that’s the truth because Hartman Creek was once a fish hatchery before it was even a state park! Fun fact! Plus, all the lakes around it are all spring fed. That makes for great fishing! You can expect to catch largemouth bass, perch (my favorite), blue gill, and other types of panfish. There are four lakes to choose from at Hartman Creek: Lake Allen, Lake Hartman, Lake Grebe, and Lake Middle. Along with that if you don’t have fishing gear you can rent it for free right at Hartman Creek! If you end up going to Hartman Creek don’t forget your fishing License.

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Winter Activities

Winter is just as much fun at Hartman Creek as the fall and summer are. You have winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking trails! When snowshoeing you have free reign to venture off the trials or stay right on path. There are six miles of cross-country skiing trails and three and a half miles of snowshoeing trails! That’s a lot of winter wonderland to explore!

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IMG_9592-2Kayaking/Canoeing

Kayakers can launch from Manomin Lake and paddle through Pope Lake, and Marl Lake. Don’t forget to stop and look at the crystal clear water and all the amazing red and orange colors from the trees surrounding each lake.  Then you can stop and have a lunch break at Whispering Pines picnic area!

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Swimming

Hartman Creek provides an amazing 300 foot sand beach which is great to bring your family to or go on a date! What’s even better is that the beach is right next to a three acre, multi use area which is perfect for social games like spike ball and bags or just having grill outs and getting together with family and friends for the weekend! Along with that if you’re from further out of town, they have plenty of camping sites for tents and Trailers!

From hiking to swimming and all the things in between you can clearly see how amazing Hartman Creek is. Not only a great stop during the spring and summer, but a place to explore all year long. So why not head out to Hartman Creek for an adventure?

10+ Spots to Take Your Pup in the Fox Cities

If a dog is a man’s best friend, then they deserve to be allowed to join us humans in some of our favorite activities, right? Sure, we can take our dogs on the same walk around the block every day but that gets boring for everyone involved rather quickly. Downtown Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities are currently undergoing a “dog friendly initiative,” which is great news for our four legged pals. Here are 10+ of the best spots in our neck of the woods to spend some quality time with our furry friends.

1. CU Saloon in Appleton

“Yappy hour,” the next best thing to “happy hour.” Take your Wednesday night to a whole new level, and bring your pup with you for a midweek recess and enjoy a beer with a friend while your dog socializes with other people’s dogs who clearly have the same interests as you do. CU Saloon offers a couple different beers from Bare Bones Brewery for their two legged guests to enjoy, and $1 from each of those beer purchases gets donated to Downtown Appleton’s Dog Friendly Initiative as well as the Grey Muzzle Organization. It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Dog ordering a beer
Yappy Hour at the CU Saloon. Credit: @real_frankie_whitman

2. Drool in the Pool

It’s really not as gross as it sounds! With summer being right around the corner, (we hope,) our pups need to cool off just like we do every once in a while. Thankfully, local pools such as Mead Pool in Appleton and Neenah Public in Neenah will sometimes host all the well behaved neighborhood dogs for an evening in the pool. Typically, humans are to stay out of the pool while the dogs swim and do dog-like things in the water. Follow our local pools on Facebook for updates on when these unique events are hosted. The best part is, most of the proceeds typically go towards local animal shelters.

3. Lucy’s Closet

You just heard about “Drool in the Pool,” so now you have to find the perfect swimsuit for your favorite companion to debut on their first swimming outing of the summer. Well you’re in luck, Lucy’s Closet in Neenah is likely to carry something that is fashionable enough for your pup. They carry everything from dog jackets to dog carriers, and they allow your dog to shop with you. After all, they will be wearing it so they might as well help in the shopping process.

P.S. No, swimsuits aren’t required at Drool in the Pool, though appreciated for humorous purposes.

4. The Depawsitory

Very similar to Lucy’s Closet but The Depawsitory is located right in downtown Appleton. Stop in this cute little boutique during any of their fun pet related events, or just when you’re feeling extra generous and want to get your furry friend a homemade healthy treat. Follow them on their Facebook page to hear about all of their fun events.

5. High Cliff State Park

It is no hidden gem, almost everyone in the area has spent a day hiking here or climbing the infamous lookout tower but it is one of those places that you don’t get sick of. Pack a leash and a baggy, and get ready to tire your dog out on over 16 miles of hiking trails. During your hike, have your camera ready in order to catch astonishing views of limestone cliffs and the beauty of Lake Winnebago.

Girl and dog overlooking Lake Winnebago

6. Outagamie Dog Park

A whole 17 acres of land designated for all dogs to run off some energy and meet others of their kind. North Park includes 5 acres of open field where you and your dog can practice a good ol’ game of fetch. South Field is a partially wooded 12 acre lot that includes tall grasses and trails, for a more structured outing. If you’re someone that has a small dog, there is a designated area for those who are under 17 inches tall! Located on the corner of French Road and “OO”. This wonderful place only has 3 rules: pick up after your dog, control your children, and share water if possible! Website here.

7. Wiouwash Trail

This trail can be a great challenge for those adventurous dog owners, and of course, dogs. The lower trail stretches for 22 miles from Hortonville to Oshkosh. You can choose to do a short portion of it, or the entire trail in one day. It’s the perfect spot to practice long distance hikes with your dog in preparation for a future trip. This specific part of the trail takes you along Lake Butte Des Morts and then through tall grasses and wildlife areas. Pack a picnic lunch for you and the pup, and check out this neat Wisconsin trail.

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Good pupper on the WIOUWASH Trail. Credit: @caritam925

8. Fox Cities Trestle Trail

Who knew there were so many good hiking spots right in our immediate neighborhood? This trail is located in Menasha, and you can access it starting at Fritse Park. The trail has a 1,600 foot pedestrian bridge, the longest one in Wisconsin! From the trail you can also access Rydell Conservancy, which is another one mile, well maintained wood chip trail.

9. Pet Friendly Restaurants

A few restaurants in the Fox Cities have outdoor seating that allows pets. A few include:

Carmel Crisp – Oshkosh

Ardy & Ed’s Drive-In – Oshkosh

Leon’s Frozen Custard – Oshkosh

Bare Bones Brewery – Oshkosh

Brewed Awakenings – Appleton

Fox River House – Appleton

10. Winnebago County Park

Best Friends Dog Park is located within Winnebago County Park. Bring your own water when you go. There is a separate area for little pups at the park and there are lights for night trips!

With so many options so close to home, it is nearly impossible to stay home cooped up with your pup. Get out there to explore these areas, and let’s work hard to help Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities to become more dog friendly.

Coworking Spaces Are Destroying the Cubicle in Northeast Wisconsin

T2 Coworking Space in Green Bay, WI

With the dawn of startups, tech, and the death of the cubicle, co-working spaces have been a popular new office environment across the country. The benefit of coworking spaces is they are low cost and for businesses that are just starting or consist of a small team, these spaces are a great way to collaborate with others and network. These spaces are inhabited by all types of businesses; independent contractors, small startups, and satellite offices for large companies. This creates a low cost, high production environment where commerce and innovation can thrive.

What is exciting is that Northeast Wisconsin is investing heavily in these new spaces, and that means more people able to follow their dreams with less barrier to entry. We thought it is important to let people know that these co-working spaces are available, and where they can find one.

1. Rise & Grind – Oshkosh

A very successful coworking space is The Grind in the Beach Building in Oshkosh. The Grind packed with small, medium, and large businesses. Businesses like Verve Credit Union, Mirrorless Productions, and contractors for everything from social media to architecture.

Also embedded in The Grind is Planet Perk Coffee Shop, so you don’t have to bring any coffee because members get a discount. For more information visit their website.

2. T2 Accelerator – Green Bay

T2 is brand new to Green Bay. Depending on when you are reading this it might not be open yet, but it is slated to open early 2018. T2 is located near Titletown Brewery and the Cannery, and has a pretty cool view from the second floor.

For a better look at the space, check out the video.

3. Docking Station – Green Bay

Just down the street from T2 Accelerator is The Docking Station. The Docking station is geared specifically towards small time free lancers, independents, and solo-preneurs. This coworking space has a cafe feeling to it, and gives its small team/solo members a productive area to work and collaborate. More at their website!

4. Rise & Grind – Green Bay

Opens March 2018, this Rise & Grind is on the third floor of the Brown County Library. Visit their website for more details or to become a member.

5. Regus – Appleton

Regus Building in Appleton
Source: Regus

The Regus building is right next to The Fox River Mall, and many aren’t aware of the coworking space within. the building is host to many companies, and now they offer fixed desk and flexible desk coworking space. Visit their website for more.

6. World Headquarters – Appleton

World Headquarters is working on being everything! They have coffee, catering, and you can hire a virtual assistant through them to take care of things like data entry, marketing, and booking. In 2018 World Headquarters plans to roll out child care and an art studio.

World Headquarters is located on Northland on the north side of Appleton. Check our their website for more.

7. Appleton Coworking – Yep, Appleton

Appleton Coworking is a nonprofit coworking space. Located behind Antojitos Mexican Restaurant in Downtown Appleton, this is the most downtown located co-working space in Appleton. Appleton Coworking has a kitchenette, and you can learn about their memberships here.

8. Menlo Park – Appleton

Menlo Park is right next to the River Heath development on the Fox River in Appleton. Menlo Park is right above Tempest Coffee and also has a kitchen available. The biggest perk of Menlo Park however, is the views of the Fox River. Here is their website for more information.

Menlo Park Fireplace
Source: Menlo Park

9. Blank Slate Collective – Appleton

Not exactly a coworking space, but you’ll want to keep your eye on Blank Slate. This is an up and coming project for Appleton entrepreneur Brad Cebulski. The space is a place where members can have access to creative tools such as hardware and software for video, audio, music, etc. The hope to give creators access to tools they may not otherwise be able to afford and allow them a space to collaborate and create. Here is their Facebook account to follow along with the progress.

10. Jake’s Cafe – Sheboygan

Home to over 30 businesses, Jake’s Coffee is a homey coworking space in Sheboygan. Jake’s Coffee is a few blocks from Lake Michigan, and you can learn more about this cool place at their website.

Jake's Coffee in Sheboygan
Source: Jake’s Coffee

Coworking spaces are growing fast! Many of the places on this list are either brand new or nearly at capacity. The benefits of collaboration, and the cost savings as compared to renting your own office space has done tremendous things for many small businesses. If you are curious about any of these spaces, follow them on social and more importantly, check them out! If we missed any co-working spaces in Northeast Wisconsin, please let us know in the comments.

11 Fun Hangouts in The Fox Cities This Winter Break

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If you live in Wisconsin, you’ve no doubt had a conversation and either defended or cursed the Wisconsin winter. Although we agree that the winters can get dragging and sometimes make it difficult to get out of bed, we at Venture Wisconsin know that Wisconsin winters are what you make of them. If you are looking for ways to not be bored this 2017-2018 winter season, here are some suggestions to start getting you into the season.

1. See Larry the Cable Guy

Oshkosh just built an awesome new stadium next to Lake Winnebago for their new basketball team. The benefits of that new stadium are opportunities for awesome live events. Live events like Larry the Cable Guy! Buy tickets and watch The Cable Guy live on January 27th.

2. Candlelight Hikes Through the Woods

Hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski through Northeast Wisconsin’s landscapes via candle light. A few state parks, nature centers, and public lands are hosting candlelight hikes and walks like this through January, including: Navarino Nature CenterHartman Creek State Park, and Horicon Marsh. Check out this link for DNR sponsored candlelight walks across the state this winter.

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3. Keep warm with a show at the PAC

The PAC has a few events this winter. Most notably The King and I and The Nutcracker. Either way, it’s worth checking out. Buy a friend tickets to go with you to a show this winter or plan a date night!

4. Go to the Green Bay Garden of Lights

Bring some friends to the classic Green Bay Botanical gardens for their annual Garden of Lights. It’s their 21st year of operation in Green Bay, and they have some special events this year.

5. View Christmas Lights with Your Friends

Warm up the car and take your friends on a cruise around the Fox Valley or Northeast Wisconsin in general checking out some of the awesome Christmas decorations that people work on. Go Valley Kids even made it easy, they have a list of the best lights in town here.

6. Watch a Laser Light Show at Barlow Planetarium

Barlow has a great variety of popular music and holiday based light shows. Some of the music shows include classic albums like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, or groups of artists like their Laser Tribute, which features the mega hits of music superstars of the past that have passed away. Either way, at $10, it’s a new experience to have while the weather outside is below freezing.

7. Go Ice Skating

You could skate at indoor locations like Memorial Park in Appleton, or you could head up to Green Bay and check out the new Titletown Skate Rink near Lambeau Field! The outdoor skate rink resembles something that you would see in Chicago, and is definitely worth checking out.

8. Remember Bowling?

For some people bowling is what they do. Many who aren’t in bowling leagues often don’t think of bowling when looking for things to do. The Fox Cities has a good number of bowling alleys waiting for you to visit.

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Bowling. Remember how fun it is?

9. Visit the Theater

Visit one of the local movie theaters this winter and enjoy the newly updated recliners at many of the locations.

10. Go Cross-Country Skiing

Nature spots on the West side of Lake Winnebago are pretty easy to count on both hands, and many of them have cross-country skiing available. There are many more places for cross country skiing once you go east of Lake Winnebago. Here is a list to check out. We recommend the Reforestation Camp in Green Bay by the NEW Zoo.

11. Go to One of Northeast Wisconsin’s Museums

If you are stuck inside and want to get out on your day off, check out one of Northeast Wisconsin’s niche museums. Northeast Wisconsin doesn’t have much outside of the Appleton History Museum and Neville Public Museum for regular exhibit museums. NE Wisconsin does however, have many crazy weird niche museums focusing on things like paper, paper weights, airplanes, railroads, many artists, and more. For some museums you can check out this list.

You have to visit this Oshkosh gem near the new stadium

Martini Pour

The Brooklyn Grill is a humble little Oshkosh gem. Located just across the Main Street bridge on the South side of town. You have to try one of their hamburgers! The restaurant is located just a few blocks from the new Wisconsin Herd stadium.

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A Brooklyn Grill Burger and Pub Chips

If you aren’t hungry, one of their award winning martinis before or after a game will definitely add value to your night. The Brooklyn Grill is ran by owner Dave Kinderman, and you can usually find him on site. Watch his story on the video above and give The Brooklyn Grill a shot next time you are looking for a new place to try!

Check out their Facebook for more updates!

Top 12 Touristy Things to do in Door County

Graffiti House in Ephraim, Door County

Door County is a tourism hot spot for Wisconsin. One of the most unique ecosystems in the state and one of the largest tourism centers in the Midwest. In Door County there are many “go to spots” that capture much of the tourism as well as many hidden gems that many tourist and even some locals miss. Here we compiled a list of the must see spots and activities that sum up a typical first timers trip to Door County.

Visit a Farmers Market

Door County has many small towns that multiply with the visitors and snow birds who spend their summers on the peninsula. Just about all of these small towns put on a farmers market at different times, so there is never a shortage of cute locals, crafts, and foods to visit. Farmers markets in Door County are a must. Here is a link to most of the farmers markets in Door County.

Anderson’s Dock in Ephraim

On Anderson’s Dock in Ephraim is the the iconic dock house full of graffiti. It is a highly Instagrammed tourist gathering in Door County, and very interesting.

Get a Burger and Ice Cream at Wilson’s in Ephraim

Until this past year Ephraim was a “dry town.” Alcohol was not allowed to be sold in the small Wisconsin town, and out of that circumstance Wilson’s, a classic 1950’s soda bar thrived. Wilson’s often has lines out the door for ice cream during summer weekends. Definitely a tourist hot spot worth checking out on your visit through the county!

Take a Kayak Tour

Being a peninsula, Door County has hundreds of miles of shore line to explore. Shorelines with sites including limestone bluffs, ship wrecks, harbors, islands, and 11 lighthouses to explore. There are multiple options for rentals and guided tours across the whole county to enjoy.

Kayak over looking Sturgeon Bay

Visit Peninsula State Park

Peninsula is beautiful, and Wisconsin’s second state park. Door County’s most popular state park. There you can find hundreds of campsites, limestone bluffs along the trails, and a beach equipped with kayak rentals. In a few years expect a handicapped accessible observation tower!

Get some Ice Cream at Last Lick

Just outside of Peninsula State Park is a small ice cream joint that is located on Fish Creek in Fish Creek. Enjoy delicious ice cream and feed the ducks that inhabit the site. Definitely a fun stop before or after Peninsula State Park.

Shop at the Fish Creek Outlets

The Fish Creek Outlets and shopping in general in Door County is a popular tourist activity for the area. The shops feature unique and high end stores that you won’t find outside of metropolitan areas.

Visit Cave Point County Park

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Cave Point County Park

The touristy parts of Door County will always take your to the West side of the peninsula or the side on the Bay of Green Bay. This is because the water is calmer and warmer. Cave Point and Whitefish Dunes are the exception. Mainly Cave Point brings tons of visitors to jump off the cliffs (not safely, and not advised), check out the shallow limestone caves, and the flat rock beach. Next time you go to cave point give the state park next door some love, they have a great visitor’s center. If you are looking for hidden gems, the East side is where you want to be.

Take the Ferry to Washington Island

Washington Island is the oldest Icelandic settlement in the US. (Of course… A small island). There is a small community as well as some public parks and trails and a lavender farm. A popular visit for tourists. Our favorite part of taking the ferry to Washington island is that is gets you one ferry away from Rock Island State Park!

Pick Some Cherries

Door County is famous for their cherries, so if you are there in the mid to late summer, be sure to pick some! Door County provides one third of Wisconsin’s cherries and apples because of the limestone soil the trees thrive.

Fish Salmon on a Charter Boat

Salmon were introduced by the DNR a few decades ago, and now Door County has one of the best salmon fishing in the world. Many charters run throughout the county from southern door county to Sturgeon Bay to Bailey’s Harbor and north. If you are ready to spend a few dollars and possibly wake up early you won’t be disappointed.

Sip at a Local Winery

Girl Tasting Wine
Girl Tasting Wine

Wine is probably the number one Door County export after nature in general. Although we don’t recommend you fact check that last statement, if you are looking for something fun and popular to do in Door County, a wine tasting at one of the many wineries is recommended!

 

If you have ever been to Door County you probably know we missed a few tourist favorites, so you’ll just have to ask the locals! If you are looking for some more secretive spots in Door County, check out this post. We hope this post helped you. If you tried one of these or think our list is lacking, share your expertise in the comments as to what is should be included.

 

8 Outdoor Things to do in Door County that the Tourists Don’t Know About

In 2016, I was a kayak tour guide for the summer. I lived among the locals for 3 months, and while there, I decided that I would find unknown or underappreciated gems in the county. Although this is a good list of some of the hidden gems in Door County, I had to leave a couple secret beaches out for the locals to continue to enjoy. So it looks like you’ll have to do some more digging if you want more true hidden gems. For now, enjoy these secrets of Door County that most tourists never find.

Door County Land Trusts

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Land Trust in Ephraim! Credit: Door County Land Trust

Starting with the Land Trusts is crucial. These are truly hidden gems! There are 14 land trusts in Door County, which are just pieces of land set aside for the public to enjoy that keep the native nature and wildlife in tact. These are all unique ecosystems with diffhttps://wordpress.com/post/venturewisconsin.blog/1690erent sights and trails to see. The Land Trusts are run by a non-governmental organization which is why they are under advertised.

Cana Island Light House

One of Door County’s 11 lighthouses (the third most lighthouses in any US county.) Being off the beaten path and on an island on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula, Cana Island is not as well advertised of an attraction. If you want a unique Door County experience, walk across the land bridge and explore the Cana Island light house!

Newport State Park

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Newport Nightsky. Photo by Denny Moutray

It’s hard to call a state park a hidden gem, but of the FIVE state parks in Door County, Newport State Park is the least know among tourists. A mile or two off the beaten path, Newport is actually IDA certified as a Dark Skies Park and Wisconsin’s only wilderness-designated state park. What that means is that Newport is a huge nature reserve that has very limited infrastructure, so that visitors can get a genuine nature experience!

Mink River Estuary

The Mink River almost cuts through the northern tip of the Door Peninsula. Located just West of Newport State park, the river is spring fed and runs into Rawley’s Bay. A Ramsar certified Wetlands of International Importance. Click the link and ctrl+f “Door County Coastal Wetlands.” The Mink River can be toured via your own kayak or canoe or rented from local companies. The Mink river is home to a large variety of birds and mammals, and is very pristine. SECRET: A hidden gem within a hidden gem is the grass beach and the only public place where you can access the Mink from land! Click the link for approximate directions!

Europe Beach

Another hidden gem on the East side of the peninsula, Europe Bay, Europe Lake, and Europe Beach are basically attached to Newport State Park on the north end. If you visit, you will find an intense and well maintained beach that overlooks the vast Lake Michigan. You will also find peace and quiet. This beach is much less visited, so if you visit the area, especially during the week, you may be visiting it alone. At least with many less people than say, Peninsula State Park’s beach. As for Europe Lake, it joins Clark Lake and Kangaroo Lake as the three impounded lakes of Door County. What’s an impounded lake? You’ll have to visit the nature centers and ask! Mention Venture Wisconsin if you ask. 🙂

Garrett Bay

I would argue Garrett Bay is in the top 3 for hidden gems on this list. It is a small, quick stop that has something for everybody. Just a mile-ish off the main path (Hwy 42), Garrett Bay has a public boat launch where you can skip perfectly flat rocks at the stone beach, launch you kayak, or just look across the bay at the Deathdoor Bluff. If you do bring a kayak or book a tour of the bay with a local kayak tour company, you will find the Fleetwing Shipwreck right off the shore and an amazing view of Door Bluff County Park and the rest of Door County to once you get around the corner. (If you read this far and are wondering which corner, it’s around the left corner.)

Door Bluff County Park

Right next to Garrett Bay, Door Bluff County Park is the hidden gem version of Ellison Bluff County Park. (Another kind of hidden gem you should check out.) The cliffs of limestone become more prominent as you travel north on the peninsula. So naturally Peninsula State Park is not the only spot where you can catch a beautiful bluff. Drive to the flat stone beach at Garrett Bay, skip some stones, and drive 2 minutes to the park to see trails less traveled and a unique perspective of Lake Michigan.

Pick Thimbleberries

Thimble berries are unique to the great lakes region, and are relatively unknown within the general public as they are not sold at many market places. These sweet red berries are widespread in the norther half of Door County. If you are a visitor, a common place you will find them and didn’t even know it is Whitefish Dunes State Park along the hiking trails! Note: They are very soft, so don’t be concerned if you think they are too ripe.

Thimbleberries on a leaf
This is what Thimbleberries look like!

This article should be titled, “The Lake Michigan side of Door County.” Most of the larger towns, shops, and attractions are on the Green Bay side of the Door Peninisula, so don’t be afraid to explore the East side and use these suggestions as an excuse! I hope you like this list and at least check out a few of these awesome things to do outside while you visit one of the Midwest’s favorite touring regions! If I missed any or you try them out, and want to share your tips and experiences with others looking for the less traveled trails of  let me know in the comments.

Top 7 Touristy Things to do in Appleton

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Appleton natives don’t always think of their clean, humble city in Northeast Wisconsin as a place where tourists come to find things to do. There are plenty of unfamiliar visitors of Appleton between Appleton’s huge events Octoberfest, the Mile of Music, the PAC, and the EAA in Oshkosh which brings tons of tourists through Appleton. Appleton is also a hub for UW Oshkosh and Lawrence University families and students to find things to do during drop off, visits, and holidays. If you are a visitor or a local to Appleton, here are some touristy things to do while you are here.

Visit the History Museum in the Castle

Appleton has some serious pride in the arts and Harry Houdini. Both can be found at the History Museum. There is rotating local history and unique exhibits as well as the Harry Houdini Exhibit. There are often locally driven art exhibits at the museum as well that come and go, keeping things fresh and local.

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Exhibit at the Appleton History Museum

Walk Along the Fox River at Lutz Park

I recommend walking along the Fox River at Lutz Park. At Lutz Park you will find a quiet little park with a bridge to the middle of the river. If you visit during the summer, you are likely to find local fishermen trolling the current of the Fox. Another great place to view the river in a more historical manner is the Vulcan Heritage Park. This spot is right next to one of the many dams along the Fox River, and nestled in right next to the Paper Discovery Center where the old paper mills used to run the city of Appleton.

Learn at the Paper Discovery Center

Paper is what Northeast WI’s economy was built on. Now that many of the mills are closed, the Paper Discovery Center is a great place to learn about the area, and its paper making history.

Bring Your Little People to the Building for Kids

The Building for Kids has amazing interactive displays for kids to have fun, learn, and explore. Plus, the museum is right in the heart of Downtown Appleton across the street from the Houdini Plaza and the Trout Museum of Art.

Visit the Hearthstone Historic House

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The Hearthstone House

This house was the first to run off of electricity from a centrally located hydro-electric source using the Edison system. In 1882 the system went live, at the time there was only one other plant running off of steam in New York. Check out this little touring spot to learn more about Appleton history.

Shop Your Heart Out at the Fox River Mall

By number of stores, the Fox River Mall in Appleton is the largest mall in WI. If you are touring the area and looking for something to do during the day, look through their traditional and unique stores as you browse through the enclosed marketplace. Make sure to stop and get some food while you are there!

Visit a light show event at Barlow Planetarium

Barlow Planetarium hosts many astronomy and music based shows. Not every place has their own planetarium committed to bringing things to do to their city. Stop by UW Fox Valley Community College and enjoy one of Barlow’s shows such as Pink Floyd’s Darkside of the Moon Lightshow, Beatles and Led Zeppelin themed shows and more!

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The Barlow Planetarium at UW Fox Valley

Appleton, WI has a rich history with the Fox River, Native Americans, Paper, and even innovation. At the beginning of the 20th century, Appleton seemed positioned to be a large city. They had a lot of firsts. If you find youself traveling to or through Appleton for business or any large event like the EAA, stop and check out these touristy things to do. If that’s what you are into.

 

WI Pride! 9 Things Northeast Wisconsin does Better Than the Rest of the World

Aaron Rodgers number 1

When most of the world thinks about Wisconsin, often they don’t think about a world competitor with great local leadership and thriving communities. Most of the world thinks of cheese and cheese heads. Even if you asked our neighbors in the Midwest what Wisconsin was known for, they would likely take the Packers and cheese and add beer, Milwaukee, Madison, and a lot of lakes. Even though Northeast Wisconsin only has a regional population well under 2 million, they hold many unique titles, and many top ten spots in some unexpected lists.

Official Bests

Sheboygan Best Freshwater Surfing

Sheboygan claims the best freshwater surfing in the world. Called the Malibu of the Midwest, Sheboygan is best surfed from August to April when the water is freezing and wind blows between 20-25 miles per hour. Apparently Sheboygan has embraced freshwater surfing for over 50 years!

Home to the only NFL team owned by fans

Northeast Wisconsin hosts one of the most humble football programs in the NFL. Not only are the Green Bay Packers located in one of the smallest cities for a professional football team, but they are the only professional team in the country that is owned by its fans! Operating as a “publicly-owned non-profit,” the Packers sell stock to their fans, and consider themselves a “community project.” This type of mentality brings the Packers to often make decisions that are in the best interest of the community rather than profit.

This model is not even allowed to be adopted anymore. There was a rule written in the 60s that states that teams entering the NFL can not exceed 32 owners. Despite this model, the Packers are the 17th most valuable team in sports according to Forbes.

Fox River Flows North

Not exactly the world’s only, but the Fox River, much like the Nile in Egypt, flows opposite of neighboring rivers. Due to an elevation change, roughly the same as Niagara Falls, from Appleton to Green Bay, the Fox River Flows north into the Bay of Green Bay. Joining a list of a little over 30 rivers known for this behavior.

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Fox River elevation profile. Credit: FoxLocks.org

UW Oshkosh Third Most Sustainable School in US

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (UWO) prides itself in sustainability. In 2015 UWO was rankest the third most sustainable school in the US by the Sierra Club. Beating schools like Colorado State, UC Sand Diego, and oh yeah… every other university except UC Davis and UC Irvine! UWO is part of a biodigester project that burns methane from food waste to provide 20% of the heat for its buildings. They also have cutting edge environmental programs, and hold the designation of a Tree Campus USA school.

EAA Airventure

Oshkosh, WI is home to, “the world’s largest and most significant annual aviation event.” The event quickly turns the humble Wittman Regional Airport into the busiest airport in the country, if you measure by flights per hour. The last event had approximately 590,000 attendees! Generating approximately $110,000,000 throughout Eastern Wisconsin communities. Money aside, a large number of aviation enthusiasts call Oshkosh home for a week each summer!

EAA
EAA Airshow. Credit AOPA.org

Most Lighthouses in any US County

Door County is not number one, but number three. They are behind Suffolk and Barnstable Counties, which are host to Long Island and Cape Cod respectively, Door County, WI has the third most lighthouses in any county. The county has 11 lighthouses in total, and there are many options to tour them all! Long Island has 15 and Cape Cod has 13.

 

Largest Cattail Marsh in the World

Northeast Wisconsin also is partial host of the world’s largest cattail marsh. Although closer to Southern Wisconsin, Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the world! Serving as one of the largest wetlands in the United States and critical home to Redhead Ducks.

Horicon Marsh
Horicon Marsh

Largest Lake in the State and the World

Lake Winnebago is located exclusively in Northeast Wisconsin, and is the largest lake in Wisconsin. Even more impressive to learn Wisconsin has lakes throughout the state, and that Winnebago is the 27th largest lake in the United States. Also interestingly enough, according to the University of Wisconsin, Lake Michigan and Huron are technically two halves of one lake. This makes Michigan-Huron the largest freshwater lake in the world. Although not exclusive to Northeast Wisconsin, the Door Peninsula, Bay of Green Bay, Rock Island, and Washington Island are very unique area and access points to the largest freshwater lake in the world, and that is pretty cool.

First House Powered by Hydroelectric Energy

Owned originally by a paper company entrepreneur, the first house to run off of a hydroelectric powered plant using the Edison System. Now called the Hearthstone House Museum in Appleton, WI. The Fox River and paper industry put Appleton in a position for success in the late 1800’s.

 

Self-Proclaimed Firsts

First Commercially Successful Electric Street Car Company

A list of street car companies lists Wisconsin Traction Light Heat & Power as beginning operation in 1886 in Appleton Wisconsin. We found claim that this company was the first commercially successful electric street car company in America.

First Enclosed Mall in America

Appleton used to be home to the Valley Fair Shopping Center. Built in 1954 and enclosed sometime after that. The center laid claim to have been the first enclosed shopping mall in America. Although this claim has been disputed.

First State to Recycle Paper in 1860s

Another broad claim that we could not back up with our resources, but would be interesting, and falls in line with Northeast Wisconsin’s impressive paper history.

First Hamburger

Seymour Wisconsin claims to be the official “Home of the Hamburger.” Even owning the domain homeofthehamburger.org, and backed up by legislation by the state of Wisconsin. This is also claimed by White Castle and New Haven, Connecticut among others. Here is a list of others that claim to have invented the hamburger.

 

Welcome to Seymour sign
Seymour, WI

Northeast Wisconsin has one of the world’s most unique sports franchises, many unique natural occurrences, rich history, and strong local traditions. In a region with less than two million people, we also are home to a handful of world renowned companies like Kohler, including Fortune 500 companies Kimberly-Clark and Oshkosh Corp, and a handful of Fortune 1000 companies like Plexus, Bemis, and Manitowoc. Northeast Wisconsin citizens no doubt take pride in their region!

At Venture Wisconsin, we categorizes Northeast Wisconsin from Sheboygan to Waupon to Ripon to Waupaca to Green Bay to the tip of the Door Peninsula and back to Sheboygan. If you liked this post, share it and tag a friend that would enjoy it. Thanks for reading and if we missed any Northeast Wisconsin bests, let us know in the comments.