Family Fun: Exploring the Area West of the Fox Cities

kids posing in front of mural in new london
New London

Are you looking for a small-scale adventure not too far from home? Then, exploring the area just west of the Fox Cities is a perfect option! Filled with charming small towns, a variety of options to get outdoors and dive into nature, some delicious local fare, and a handful of playgrounds ready for exploration, a day trip journeying through Outagamie, Winnebago, and Waupaca counties will not disappoint!

Charlie’s Drive-In


Hortonville boasts Outagamie Co’s largest lake! Black Otter Lake is a great place to fish (in any season) or kayak. While you’re exploring this small town, don’t forget to stop in at Charlie’s Drive-in for a good burger or a malt. Passing through town in the evening? Check out the Black Otter Supper Club for a steak dinner and amazing salad bar that will not disappoint.

A Closer Look:

Charlie’s Drive-in, 806 W Main Street, Hortonville, Wisconsin
Hours: Open daily 11 am – 9 pm

Black Otter Supper Club, 503 South Nash Street, Hortonville, Wisconsin
Hours: Monday CLOSED
Tuesday through Thursday 4 pm – 8:30 pm
Friday and Saturday (summer) 4 pm – 10 pm
Saturday (September 1 through May 31) 3 pm – 9 pm

READ MORE: Kids Fishing Guide – Northeast Wisconsin

New London

New London boasts a variety of options for a day of family fun. Start out your day here by grabbing a breakfast sandwich or scone and a coffee at Familiar Grounds. This coffee shop and cafe is huge and offers seating for all moods and needs, including a children’s play area.

Mosquito Hill Nature Center is definitely worth the visit and the hike to the top of the hill. New London is home to the Wolf River and also some fantastic water-sport opportunities. Check out Dragonfly Paddlers for a canoe or kayak rental or Wolf River Trips & Campground to experience tubing down the river.

New London, er Dublin, is also the local hot spot for Irish festivities and grub surrounding St. Patrick’s Day. There is even a parade! 

Mural lover? You won’t want to miss all of the beautiful artwork and photo-ops available in this little town. Use our Guide to Murals in New London to help you navigate!

A Closer Look:

Familiar Grounds, 206 North Pearl Street, New London, Wisconsin
Hours: Monday CLOSED
Tuesday through Friday 6 am – 4 pm
Saturday through Sunday 6:30 am – 4 pm

Mosquito Hill Nature Center, N3880 Rogers Road, New London, Wisconsin
Hours: Monday CLOSED
Tuesday through Friday 8 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday through Sunday 10 am – 3 pm

Dragonfly Paddlers, W7855 Morgan Road, Shiocton, Wisconsin
Hours: Monday CLOSED
Tuesday through Saturday 8 am – 4 pm
Sunday 8 am – 2 pm

Wolf River Trips & Campground, E8130 Flease Road, New London, Wisconsin
Hours: Monday through Thursday 9 am – 9 pm
Friday 9 am – 11 pm
Saturday 8 am – 11 pm
Sunday 8 am – 8 pm

New London also makes a great destination for a winter day trip as well!

Mosquito Hill Nature Center, New London


The Waupaca area is a gem and an absolute must for any Northeast Wisconsinite or visitor! From the breathtaking Chain O’ Lakes and Crystal River to the trails and beaches at Hartman Creek State Park and South Beach Park, Waupaca is definitely a haven for outdoor fun for anyone. 

Hungry? Little Fat Gretchen’s in downtown Waupaca boasts delicious breakfast and pie. Have the opportunity to head out this way on a date night? Try a good old-fashioned Wisconsin fish fry or steak dinner at Simpson’s.

Downtown Waupaca has several other treasures, including a farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, city band concerts in the summer, and various charming stores. 

A Closer Look:

Hartman Creek State Park, N2480 Hartman Creek Road, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Hours: Daily 6 am – 11 pm

South Beach Park, 921 South Main Street, Waupaca, Wisconsin
Hours: Monday through Thursday 10 am – 6 pm
Friday through Saturday 10 am – 8 pm
Sunday 12 pm – 6 pm

Little Fat Gretchen’s, 108 South Main Street, Waupaca, Wisconsin
HOURS: Monday through Thursday 7 am – 2 pm
Friday through Saturday 7 am – 4 pm
Sunday 7 am – 2 pm

Simpson’s Restaurant, 222 South Main Street, Waupaca, Wisconsin
HOURS: Daily 3 pm – 10 pm

Looking for other trinkets, treats, and treasures? Check out the Red Mill Gift Shop and Cottage Garden Farm to satiate your itch for browsing.

If Waupaca sounds dreamy, check out this Go Valley Kids day trip with Creek Stomping, Ice Cream, and a Picture Perfect Bridge, and other nearby attractions.

kids hiking on trails at Hartman Creek Wisconsin State Park in Waupaca
Hartman Creek State Park, Waupaca

Weyauwega & Fremont

If you’re in the mood for a tasty side stop, check out Weyauwega Star Dairy, Inc or Union Star Cheese Factory (located in Fremont). They both offer a factory store with loads of the dairy state’s finest flavors.

Find details for these stops and 8 other great places to get cheese!

A Closer Look:

Union Star Cheese Factory, 7742 County Road II, Fremont, Wisconsin
HOURS: Monday through Saturday 6 am – 5 pm
Sunday 10:30 am – 5 pm

Weyauwega Star Dairy, Inc, 109 North Mill Street, Weyauwega, Wisconsin
HOURS: Monday through Saturday 8 am – 5 pm
Sunday 9 am – 5 pm

Red Covered Bridge at Red Mill Waupaca
Red Mill, Waupaca

Other Must-Sees

Other notable destinations include the Wiouwash State Trail. This trail runs from Oshkosh to Hortonville and beyond into Shawano Co. There are several great entry points to the trail, including Medina Junction Rd in the Rat River Wildlife Area. There is a railroad crossing here which offers excellent train spotting for young and old enthusiasts alike.

Another wonderful spot for agritourism nearly year-round is Cuff Farms in the greater Hortonville area. Bringing the family out in June for strawberry picking is an adventure sure to make memories, and their chemical-free berries are delicious! Pro tip: load up the family and come out to pick early in the morning. The sun and bugs are more manageable for young pickers in these earlier hours. Cuff’s is also a favorite place in September and October for a hayride, pumpkin picking, and a variety of other fall fun.

A Closer Look:

Cuff Farms, N2299 Ledge Hill Road, Hortonville, Wisconsin
HOURS: varies with seasonal offerings

READ MORE: Exploring Somewhere New – 15 Unexpected Family-Friendly Day Trips

Fall at Cuff Farms, Hortonville

Playground Round-Up

A novel playground is sure to cheer up any car-weary youngster or parent! This area is home to several fun and exciting playgrounds to explore. If you have a train lover, we especially recommend Daufen Memorial Park in Dale!

  • Dale: Daufen Memorial Park, W9747 WI-96, Fremont, Wisconsin
  • Medina: Medina Playground Park, Intersection of Hwy 96 & County Hwy M, Medina, Wisconsin
  • Winchester: park located behind the Winchester Fire and EMS building, 8522 Parkway Lane, Larsen, WIsconsin
  • New London: Franklin Park, 500 Division Street, New London, Wisconsin
  • Larsen: Trailhead Park, 8384 Co Road T, Larsen, Wisconsin
  • Hortonville: Alonzo Park, 301 East Main Street, Hortonville, Wisconsin
  • Waupaca: playground at South Park Beach, 921 South Main Street, Waupaca, Wisconsin

Whether you’re looking for a day trip with varied stops along the way or want to soak up just one town at your leisure, add the area west of the Fox Valley to your next local getaway!

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