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In Travel & Visitors Guide

Fond du Lac is Fun du Full! Bikes on poles line the Downtown streets to mark the upcoming Commonwealth Classic. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Get a malt at Gilles. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Marlene Hansen, owner of the amazing Octagon House. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The lighthouse in Lakeside Park is the symbol of Fond du Lac. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Fond du Lac means "foot of the lake." And it is beautiful. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

More Fondy beauty. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The carousel in Lakeside Park. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Backyard Grill is fun for all ages. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

The Children's Museum offers mask-making opportunities. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Bagelmeister! (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Fond du Lac-made Faris popcorn. Sinful and delicious. (PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

Fond du Lac serves up affordable, active family fun

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on June 17, 2012 at 9:08 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

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We ate in a variety of tasty and very affordable restaurants. All of the sandwiches and entrees were about $2-3 less than we usually pay in Milwaukee.

We ate at the Main Exchange which has an early 20th century decor, a kids' menu, popcorn on the floor, a full bar and a vintage "love detector" that, for a quarter, will measure your passion level.

But our favorite eatery of the weekend was Trepanier's Backyard Grill & Bar. It has a lively atmosphere, a nice patio and a really diverse menu offering soups, salads, wraps, burger, chicken sandwiches, steaks, ribs, pastas, fish and a kid's menu. Inside, the walls are adorned with hundreds of license plates which were fun to look at it.

We also had a good fish fry at Schmitty's Oar House; malts at Gille's – always a blast to go to a drive-in and eat in the car – and bagels and coffee at Bagelmeister. Next time, we hope to visit one of the supper clubs, perhaps Sunset Supper Club or Jim & Linda's.

Plus, all weekend we munched on locally made, small-batch Faris Popcorn, which comes in dozens of different flavors. We recommend the peanut butter and jelly.

Nina Schmidt has lived in Fond du Lac her entire life. She grew up in North Fond du Lac, and currently lives in town with her husband and three school-aged kids.

"We have been really lucky to find a school with teachers that embrace the idea that it takes a community to raise and educate kids. I lean heavily on our school for support and help with our kids," says Schmidt. "I appreciate being able to walk to anywhere I really need to go, or drive an extra three minutes and be in the country or out in the woods."

The Children's Museum of Fond du Lac is about a quarter of the size of the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, but makes excellent use of the space. The kids had a great time making colorful animal masks, "broadcasting" in the radio station, "working" at the pizzeria, "fishing" in the pond and making shadows on the massive shadow wall. (This was particularly cool and unlike anything we'd seen before.)

Admission to the museum is $5 and it's open every day except Mondays. According to an employee, the museum plans to move this year to a new, undetermined location.

We stopped at Do-It-All Sports, a family-friendly indoor recreation arena. Once we got accustomed to the smell (what do you expect in an enclosed space with so many people exerting themselves?), we really had a good time and got more exercise as a family than we have in ages. The kids played on the climbing structure; we played basketball and soccer; we boxed.

There's also a pool table, air hockey game, arcade, snack bar and paintball area. The cost is $5 per half hour or $7 per hour. Paintball is extra.

Later, we bowled two games at Ledgeview Lanes, which offered us lanes next to each other, one for kids with bumpers and one for the adults without. We appreciated this, along with the fact they had lots of low-weight balls for kids.

We ended our trip with a stop at Chimera Hobby to get reading material for the return ride. The kids stocked up on Archie comics, including one featuring Barack Obama. We also picked up a "peg game" – the one that has a triangular board – that they took turns playing on the short trip home. The game reminded me of Fond du Lac: simple, classic and fun.

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