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Wisconsin Parent

Girlfriends Getaway in Fond du Lac

Oct 19, 2014 08:00AM ● By Julie Henning
If Mama ain't happy, ain't no one happy! Or so that's how the saying goes.

While we love our children and family vacation is important to all of us Wisconsin Parents, we sometimes need a chance to hang out with girlfriends and get back to being carefree and kid-free every once in a while. A fun little town for shopping, culture, and fine dining, the Fond du Lac area is a great place to getaway without going too far from home. Here are some of our favorite places to go:


Kreative Kraftwerks:

Family owned and operated since 2002, this adorable craft store features handmade soy candles, goat milk and honey lotion, and accessories for your home. But why not register for one of the lotion or candle making classes and make your own trip souvenir? This is really fun!

Just Fare Market:

Located in the same shopping complex as Kreative Kraftwerks, Just Fare Market is a faith based nonprofit organization offering "fair trade" items imported from around the world. Raising awareness about the social and environmental consequences of how products are made, purchased, and consumed, you'll find handcrafted items, clothing, and food created by artisans and farmers in developing countries. As women, we all can feel good about supporting this initiative.

Just Fare

The Plaid Squirrel:

Featuring artwork and gifts created by Wisconsin artists, The Plaid Squirrel is a re-furbished country home turned eclectic consignment shop. Items vary by the season and the artist, and some are made from re-purposed material while others have been created entirely from scratch. If the weather is nice, you can sit in the garden and enjoy the fresh air. Unless you have a peanut allergy, look for the basket of free nuts located by the front door.

Plaid Squirrel

The Arts

Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts:

Downtown Fond du Lac's cultural hub, the Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts (aka, THELMA) is a two -story contemporary art center that features prominent art exhibits in the Contemporary Wing. A popular venue for events and social gatherings, the THELMA features films played on the big screen in the beautifully restored Great Hall. If the second-floor bar is open, grab a cocktail and wander your way around. This is an easy walk from the Retlaw Plaza Hotel (see below).

THELMA gallery1-Photo credit Antonio Sirna

Rural Arts Road Trip:

A self-guided road trip on rural roads and scenic small towns, the Rural Arts Road Trip is an annual event that features some of the region's most beloved artists, attractions, and food. Held when the fall colors are in their prime, the 2014 event just happened, but check the website for details on future events.

Rural Arts Road Trip

Fine Dining

LaClare Farms:

Highly-acclaimed for their award-winning goat milk cheese, LaClare Farms features a Retail Shoppe, Cafe, and Farmstead Creamery. A fabulous year-round destination for sampling wine and cheese, enjoy your pairings on the outdoor patio or in the viewing room for the 4:30 PM milking (you may see adorable baby goats napping in Rubbermaid totes). Inside the Retail Shoppe, visitors will find local wines and a variety of Wisconsin artisan and farmstead cheeses (made with goat, cow, and sheep milk), ice cream, and craft beer and soda.

LaClare Farms makes 10 different varieties of cheeses, but be sure to try the 2011 U.S. Championship Cheese, LaClare Farms Evalon. Cheesemaking rooms can be viewed through the windows inside the Cafe, which features an impressive menu that mixes gourmet "slow food" with regional favorites.

LaClare cheese

Trinity Restaurant and Hall:

Formerly the Trinity Lutheran Church, Trinity Restaurant and Hall has been a "restaurant destination" in downtown Fond du Lac since June 2012. The building has been restored and re-purposed into a restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio open in warmer months. An upsacale menu features wood fired pizza, fresh seafood, steak burgers, and Midwest staples like Ruben and meatloaf sandwiches. This is also an easy walk from the Retlaw Plaza Hotel (see below).

Trinity Restaurant 1

Bernie's Pub:

Built inside the Schreiner's Restaurant just off of Highway 41, Bernie's Pub is a cozy Irish bar and restaurant. Menu items include traditional appetizers (fried pickles, cheese curds, and onion rings) along with leg of lamb and French onion soup. It's the extensive craft-cocktail menu that sets Bernie's apart from other dining establishments (rumor has it they serve the best Bloody Mary in town).

Bernie's Pub


Shut Up and Dance! Weekly Dance Lessons at the Eagles Club Ballroom:
 Shut Up & Dance is a Thursday-night dance party at the Eagle's Club ballroom. Participants learn traditional ballroom, swing, Latin, and salsa style dancing and you don't need to pre-register or have a partner or previous dance experience. Admission is $10 and the 7PM class is for beginners (intermediate dancers take the floor at 8PM).


Retlaw Plaza Hotel:

Located in the heart of downtown, the Retlaw Plaza Hotel is one of the original lodging destinations in Fond du Lac. Within within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and attractions (like the THELMA Center for the Arts and the Trinity Restaurant and Hall), the Retlaw is also home to Mancinos Downtown and is connected to the Midtown Pub, a more traditional bar with a pool table, local entertainment, and karaoke. Rooms at the Retlaw are comfortable and the hotel has had several upgrades and remodeled areas in 2014. Look here for a 25% off lodging coupon (valid Sunday-Thursday).

Retlaw-guest room