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Wilmar Chocolates, a landmark candy shop since 1956, encourages creativity with a build-your-own supersized chocolate bar. Need help deciding what to include? Try their combinations, such as cherry pie, with Door County cherries, almonds and cinnamon; curry and coconut with pistachios; or the “Kid Stuff” with gummy bears, M&Ms and Pop Rocks (1-920-733-6182; www.wilmarchocolates.com).
Catch a brat: Fans of old-fashioned baseball know to save a night for Timber Rattlers minor league baseball, with a sandbox behind the outfield for kids and a “bratzooka” that shoots bratwurst into the audience. Games run April through early September (1-920-733-4152; timberrattlers.com).
Enjoy the lake: Get out of town and hike at High Cliff State Park, with a beach, marina and cliff-top trails along the Niagara Escarpment. There’s also a limestone quarry and a 40-foot tower overlooking Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin’s largest inland lake (dnr.wi.gov).
Appleton is almost five hours east of Minneapolis and a half-hour southwest of Green Bay. Take Interstate 94 east into Wisconsin and past Eau Claire to connect with eastbound Hwy. 10 at Osseo. More information on the area is available through the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau (1-920-734-3358; foxcities.org).
Where to sleep
The Copperleaf Boutique Hotel and Spa, with 75 rooms and suites, sits along W. College Avenue in the hub of museums and shopping and a block from the Performing Arts Center ($120 and up; 1-920-749-0303; www.copperleafhotel.com). The Holiday Inn Neenah Riverwalk has 107 rooms, some with views of the Fox River, with downtown Neenah nearby ($110 and up; 1-920-725-8441; www.hineenah.com).
Where to eat
Grab a homey bowl of soup, a breakfast strata, fresh salad or panini at Atlas Coffee Mill and Café, which is attached to the Paper Discovery Center (1-920-734-6871; atlascoffeemill.com).
Indulge in the pervasive Packer-mania and enjoy a white-tablecloth dinner at Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse. Diners can sip wine and tuck into filet mignon, chops or seafood while surrounded by photos and memorabilia from the legendary 1960s Packers coach (1-920-380-9390; vincelombardi steakhouse.com).
Head to Simon’s Specialty Cheese for a bag of fresh curds, chocolate cheese fudge, mozzarella whips or aged cheddars, sausages and Wisconsin wine and beer (1-920-788-6311; www.simonscheese.com).
St. Cloud-based Lisa Meyers McClintick (lisamcclintick.com) wrote “Day Trips From the Twin Cities.”