An Affordable Night Out in the Fox Valley


Photo by: Craig Augustine

Anna Foucault, Student of Journalism

As the months go on and it gets colder outside, it begins to get harder to find cheap alternatives to hammocking in a park or going to the pool when looking to go out. The question always is where can I go? The Fox Valley can get expensive quickly especially if individuals do not know where to look.

The Fox Valley stretches from Oshkosh to Appleton, including the cities, of Neenah and Kakaunah in there, as well as many smaller cities and towns nearby. With a whole family, it is not easy to find a good winter alternative for a price the wallet likes as well. From an arcade with a playground to a planetarium that offers many different light shows. Here are six businesses that I have visited that may be the perfect night out in the Fox Valley for a reasonable price. Each place offers a variety of different activities for a fun night out. The Fox Valley has options for everyone.


Funset Boulevard (3916 W College Avenue Appleton)

Funset Boulevard is an arcade meant for family fun with over 100 games. With laser tag, bumper cars and a playground they offer a wide variety of fun for all ages. Connected next door is even a cinema. Funset is good for affordability, $12.95 for their basic wrist band, which includes unlimited access to bumper cars, the carousel, train rides and the playground. Their deluxe wristband is $15.95 and includes the same attractions as the basic wristband along with unlimited access to laser tag.

I love going there to hang out with my friends and have a good time. All I have to do is purchase a wristband and I am set to visit the attractions. Some of my best memories as a kid were at Funset, from birthday parties to going with my friends, it is always been a fun place. It is super easy to win tickets in the arcades to get prizes. They have different types of arcade games for everyone. It is a great place for families with younger kids who need to get some energy out and for teenagers to test their luck at the arcade.

Badger Sports Park (3600 E Evergreen Drive Appleton)

Badger Sports Park is another arcade in the Fox Valley; it has attractions from laser tag to inflatable fun. Depending on plans to do while visiting Badger Sports Park, it can stay pretty affordable. The inflatable fun pass is $10 for an entire day. All the other attractions are paid for separately, laser tag is $15 per session and mini bowling is only $3 per 10 frames. If seeking more information on their pricing, visit their page for pricing.

Badger Sports Park is a great place to visit with friends when individuals want a fun day out. Either by destroying them in laser tag or beating them down the inflatable slides there is so much fun to go around. Whenever I need something to do on a snowy day or a gloomy night Badger Sports park would be the place I go. Laser tag is my favorite, I can beat my brothers in it, or they can beat me. To be honest, I’m definitely not the best at laser tag. Either way, it is such a fun place to go for some friendly competition.


Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass (165 N. Park Avenue Neenah)

When looking for a nice relaxing outing, the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass is the place to go. It features different artists and their beautiful glasswork on display throughout the year. The glass museum is free admission to the public during their general hours featured and easily on accessible on their website. They appreciate donations, but it is not necessary to enter the museum.

Every couple of months they have new exhibits from artists all over. I enjoy looking at the new exhibits as they arrive. Patrons can see all the hard work and time put in by reading the descriptions of the pieces and by looking at them. The Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass hosts festivals and events all throughout the year with featured artists, so the community can come in and admire the work. If glass art or a calm evening sounds intriguing then I highly recommend the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass. 


Barlow Planetarium (1478 Midway Road Menasha)

Barlow Planetarium is an excellent night out for the family. They have star shows and laser shows, along with many scheduled special event shows that include Christmas shows as the holiday season goes on. They even do themed shows to different music groups like Pink Floyd, which performs on Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. Pricing for their shows ranges from $11 on general admission days and as low as $7 for seniors and students on specifically scheduled show days.

Some may be thinking why this is categorized in the outside section of this review when a planetarium is an indoor viewing place. It is because the planetarium teaches about the outside world and universe. One can learn so much about the solar system with one planetarium show. I have gone on field trips to Barlow Planetarium, and every time I am more amazed by the technology and the program. To look for more information about show dates their website easily lays out all of the shows and their times and dates.

Heckrodt Wetland Reserve (1305 Plak Road Menasha)

Heckrodt Wetland Reserve is located in Menasha and is not just for exploring in the summertime. Heckrodt is open year-round and only closes for major weather events. Their trails are open through the winter for visitors to explore the 91-acre property. Heckrodt is home to mammals, amphibians, reptiles, songbirds and waterfowl. There is always wildlife to see no matter the weather condition. Heckrodt is free to the public and one can view the trail map on their website for more information. 

Although I have only ever visited Heckrodt in the spring and summer months, visiting it in the winter would sound equally as exciting. They have a large wooden playground for kids to play on and many trails to walk on and explore. Each trail varies in length and depending on one’s abilities and time one can choose one trail for a good fit. There is always wildlife to see whether it’s birds, bats or rabbits. If it is quite enough spotting a deer is quite possible. Heckrodt is a great place for hand son exploring and adventures for everyone.

There are many affordable options out there in the Fox Valley in a wide variety of categories. From nature walks to arcades there is something for everyone to enjoy. As the winter trudges on and break is right around the corner, keeping the kids occupied is not going to be easy. This review for an affordable night out in the Fox Valley can be a reminder that spending heaps of money for one night out does not have to come true. With a little research and a good heart, a night out is right around the corner.