29 Reasons to Love the Fox Cities

We are head over heels for the place we call home. Here’s the short list why, with one reason for each day of this February leap year.

1. No one thinks twice about pushing a stranger’s car up an icy hill.

A lovely side effect of being a procrastinator when it comes to car maintenance while living in the Fox Cities, is you really get to witness the kindness of strangers. On more than one winter’s day, average citizens have pushed my bald-tired vehicle out of snowy ditches and up ice-covered hills without missing a beat. I’m not advocating others adopt my level of irresponsibility, but it (and winter) sure reveal the hardworking, helpful nature of area residents. –Amelia Compton Wolff, senior editor, FOX CITIES Magazine 

2. We put the “fresh” in farmers markets. 

Residents and visitors will find the freshest local produce and edible goods at farmers markets in communities across the Fox Cities. The Downtown Appleton Farm Market is the largest and runs along College Avenue on Saturdays, June through October, from 8 a.m. to12:30 p.m.

3. Our schools are top-notch. 

We moved to Appleton 19 years ago when our adult children were 3 and 1, and then were blessed with a third child once here. It has been an amazing place to raise kids with good schools and a wide variety of activities. We believe the Appleton Area School District has a high percentage of dedicated, caring teachers and administrators. In addition to having a wide variety of thought-provoking and challenging classes, the district has some great music teachers, our kids had opportunities to explore sports with supportive coaches, and the theater department at Appleton North is beyond amazing. –Marty Arnold, SVP & chief underwriting officer, Secura Insurance 

4. Commuting is less time consuming. 

The average American working a full-time job spends nine days a year commuting, with an average one-way drive to work of just over 27 minutes. In the Fox Cities, we spend a considerable less amount of time driving to work. Our average commute is 19.8 minutes. That adds up to three whole days less that we spend driving to and from work.

5. Crime is low, attractions are many. 

The Fox Cities really are the best of both worlds – the feeling of a safe, smaller community with the amenities of a large city. Having lived here for over 20 years, I love the fact that people can enjoy their usual favorite local attractions or explore the ever-changing new entertainment opportunities right here in the place we all call home! –Becky Bartoszek, president/CEO, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce

6. Money goes further in the Fox Cities. 

In the Fox Cities region, we enjoy a stable housing market, lower housing costs and better home appreciation. According to the Fox Cities Regional Partnership, median home costs in the Fox Cities are lower than the U.S. and Wisconsin averages – $152,100 in the Fox Cities, $165,900 in Wisconsin and $175,700 in the United States.

7. We are rivaling for “Music City” status.

There are countless things to love in our community, and it seems every year I find something new, undiscovered and beautiful to explore. That being said, the one thing I absolutely live for is Mile of Music. The talent that gathers in our community from around the country, for a few very special days, is second to none. A true honor for us music lovers! –Angie Kane, business development coordinator, Watters Plumbing 

8. There are so many ways to move.

Recreation is aplenty in the Fox Cities. Maybe that’s why Fitbit ranked Appleton as the second fittest city in America in 2017. From runs and races like the Community First Fox Cities Marathon to adult sport leagues and our abundant parks and trails, the Fox Cities support an active lifestyle through a variety of opportunities.

9. Residents take pride in the place they call home. 

I love the Fox Cities because of our commitment to making this a great place to live, work, and play. Of course I love the Fox Cities P.A.C. because it’s where I have the privilege of working, as well as the area’s arts scene. We also have amazing sports, music, hiking trails and outdoor activities that make it a well-rounded place to be. –Trisha Witt, director of marketing and communications, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

10. Everyone knows your name.

There’s no shortage of hometown, friendly taverns – a bar on every corner and cheap shots of whiskey! –Julie Schnese, graphic designer, FOX CITIES Magazine

11. Vintage lovers will surely unearth a few treasures. 

Are thrifting and antiquing your favorite pastimes? Antique and vintage options abound in the Fox Cities, from large malls (like the Fox River Antique Mall in Appleton, Memories Antique Mall in Little Chute and Neenah Vintage Mall) to small boutiques (like Yesterday’s, Cedar Harbor, Whimsical Charm and Vintage Garden). The Fox Cities also boasts vintage co-ops like Ye Old Goat and Amaze & Grace as well as vintage clothing stores, resale shops and events like the Fox Cities Antique, Art & Vintage Show in April.  

12. Our proximity to nature and urban amenities is second-to-none.

Geographically everything you could need or want is relatively close. Natural resources close to the urban areas make for easy transport to outdoor recreational activities like biking, trails and water sports. My husband and I really have it all. Living in Fremont gives us the seclusion we love, living close to nature, yet 20 miles away we have a variety of shopping areas to choose from, a wonderful easy-to-navigate airport, loads of restaurant choices, and differing wellness options all connected by well-maintained roads. –Carolyn Schmidt, account executive, FOX CITIES Magazine

13. Our waterways are pure magic…

I feel that the lakes and river in our community really make this a place to love. Whether it’s being active in water activities or just watching nature at the water, every moment is unique. I have observed a winter setting with the quiet, flowing river and majestic bald eagles intently watching from the trees. I’ve seen the full moon rising over Lake Winnebago, lighting up the night, and been hypnotized by sparkling ripples in the night, making no sound at all. –Karl Volkman, First Weber Group realtor, The Karl Volkman Group

14. …and a huge reason any of us are here in the first place. 

Much of the area’s development is a result of the waterways that flow through the Fox Cities, bringing settlers from around the world and providing power to source industry. –Ruth Ann Heeter, publisher, FOX CITIES Magazine 

15. Parking is painless.

Whether you are attending a Broadway show at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center or dining and shopping in any of our downtowns, parking can be found easily, near your destination and generally for under $2 (or no dollars at all). 

16. Our communities are becoming more diverse and inclusive. 

Diversity is beginning to be appreciated. The City of Appleton mayor created an office for diversity. Hmong, Hispanic and African American people are beginning to find the Fox Cities an attractive place to live where diversity is celebrated. I like the growth and support the community is working to provide toward gender-equality as well with organizations like The Women’s Fund, Voices of Men and others. I think this is a place where women can excel in all aspects — financial, career, home and family, entrepreneurship, personal development and more. –Cheryl Kaczmarek, account executive, FOX CITIES Magazine

17. The locally-made craft beer scene is exploding. 

Enough said.

18. Family fun is easily found.

From The Building for Kids Children’s Museum to Mulberry Lane Far, families have so many opportunities for fun activities year round. Check out any of the Fox Cities’ YMCA locations and libraries for classes and events geared toward children birth through teens.

19. We value knowledge. 

Our higher learning institutions provide theatrical performances, concerts, exhibitions, speakers and more that are open to the public. From UW Oshkosh Fox Cities campus to Fox Valley Technical College to Lawrence University, these institutions offer a wealth of opportunities for people of every age and skill level to learn something new.

20. Appleton’s family-friendly, yet urban downtown vibe is worth exploring. 

There are so many trendy places to eat, coffee shops, boutiques and parks that it is a wonderful destination to bring your family to! –Emily Heiges, owner, Copper Rock Coffee Company

21. Adventurers of all kinds will find their next thrill. 

The Fox Cities are ripe for adventure. From wander-worthy trails and outdoor recreation spots to an illuminating arts, cultural, dining and sports scene to storied historical spots, there are endless opportunities to explore, experience, enjoy and expand your horizons in our own backyard – in our vibrant, safe, economical and welcoming local communities. –Beth Knapinski, director of marketing communications, Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau 

22. We know how to throw a party.

Festival season in the Fox Cities (generally speaking, May through September) should not be taken lightly. Summer is fleeting and we know how to make the most of it. Little Chute’s Cheese Fest in June kicks off the season. Neenah and Menasha’s CommunityFest is a favorite Fourth of July celebration. Other not-to-be-missed “festies” include Mile of Music in August, Octoberfest in September and the Bazaar After Dark series which pop up year round.

23. The Kaukauna Public Library is fine free.

Kaukauna Public Library axed their 10 cent a day late fee as of January 1, making them the first public library in the Fox Cities to go fine free. The policy was adopted to reduce barriers for the people who need library services the most.

24. Our scenic parks serve as nature-made photography studios.

Riverside Park in Neenah encapsulates everything I love about the Fox Cities. Not only is it a wonderful “studio” to shoot at, it provides us with a space for so many events. Our little girls and us like to get a treat at Dairy Queen and go to the “rocket park” to have a picnic in the van and then go play. It also serves as my number one go-to spot for photographing engagement sessions and wedding photos. It has gorgeous waterfront, wonderful fall colors and a lot of variety. It also hosts so many community events we’ve enjoyed like Riverside Players theater productions, Neenah’s CommunityFest on the 4th of July and community band concerts. –Adam Shea, owner, Adam Shea Photography

25. Art is everywhere…

Love Mural, Irineo Medina

Public art can be found throughout the Fox Cities in the form of murals and sculpture. Poetry is literally stamped into the sidewalks around Appleton. Local theater groups produce shows year round. Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra and community musical ensembles perform at venues in each community. There is no shortage of artistic endeavors taking place. 

26. …and creativity is whole-heartedly supported. 

The reason I love the Fox Cities is simple, it’s a place full of just that “love” and support. The community itself is so welcoming of creative ideas and artistic ventures that it makes my heart happy! We truly embrace the “shop/support local” movement. –Aj Miller, venue management and events coordinator, The 513.

27. We honor our history.

No matter which of the communities you reside in, you will find traces of our shared past and pride for the place we call home. Learn about local history at any number of museums including the Appleton Historical Society Museum, Hiram Smith Octagon House, The History Museum at the Castle , Paper Discovery Center and Hall of Fame and Little Chute Windmill. 

28. Our communities are stronger together.

Where else can 18 distinct communities band together to be greater than the sum of their parts? 

29. Giving back is taken seriously. 

Philanthropy runs deep in the Fox Cities. People here donate their time, talents and treasures in exorbitant amounts. In fiscal year 2019, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region awarded a record $30.8 million in grants to more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations. Volunteer Fox Cities works with nearly 5,500 volunteers to meet the needs of their 100 nonprofit partners. If you have a cause, chances are there will be people here willing to support it. 

There’s more to love.

Our 2020 City Guide, the Fox Cities’ premier resource for newcomers and residents, is now available. Click here or send a message to [email protected] for more information.

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