Out & About
Economic Resurgence in Downtown Fond du Lac
Luxury comes to Fond du Lac’s Downtown District with the opening of Hotel Retlaw. Already dubbed a “don’t miss” place in the heart of the Downtown District, the ripple effect that the Hotel Retlaw is having on adjacent properties is notable in this very walkable downtown. With a rich history of hosting presidents & celebrities, all guests at Hotel Retlaw are made to feel special. And that’s a feeling that’s palpable throughout the downtown, especially in the uptick of upscale businesses neighboring the Retlaw. The Espresso Café & Wine Bar in the hotel is a popular gathering place in the morning before work and again in the late afternoon as it is transformed with an elevated wine list.
Whether staying at the beautiful Hotel Retlaw, visiting or residing in the area, plan your perfect regimen to relax, unwind and renew at the Quintessence Spa. The Spa features the Relaxation Salt Therapy Pool, Co-ed Eucalyptus Steam Room, Zen Tranquility Lounge and luxury private locker rooms with changing facilities equipped with essential grooming needs. The Spa Boutique features the perfect skin care options, providing a number of ways to continue your transformative experience at home – or share with others. Be sure to save time for the Aroma Design Bar and Spa Café.
Around the corner from Hotel Retlaw is a community gem – Thelma Sadoff Center for the Arts (THELMA). Thelma draws a great crowd of people interested in the arts and hosts a number of unique events and experiences that, I believe, are important when you are seeking to attract the new workforce interested in quality of life experiences.
Anchor stores to the Downtown District for your shopping experience include: The Goldsmith specializing in creating one-of-kind jewelry designs and repairs; Woods Floral and Gifts with a unique collection of home décor and gift items; Gallery & Frame Shop where we love to pick up notecards and postcards of Fond du Lac’s Lighthouse while selecting the perfect frame for our newest piece of art; Lillians of Fond du Lac for my wife’s not so secret passion for avant-garde clothing.
Just down the street is the Fond du Lac Farmers’ Market that happens on Saturdays in May through October and Wednesdays in the summer. Ours is second to none. It is a great community gathering point. There’s a variety in what you see, hear, taste and smell.
There are several outdoor dining venues in the Downtown District we enjoy including; Fat Joe’s where you can enjoy a vast menu al fresco atop the rooftop patio and Top Shelf Sports Bar & Grill which features a park-like atmosphere. Then head to the Downtown YMCA to work off those calories in a group fitness class. The YMCA is so much more than just a gym. It’s a community gathering point that offers “Les Mills” classes, group cycling, and open gym for infants to six year-olds – which will come in handy with my young son.
In any downtown, there is a certain churn of ideas. The mark of a good community is that it does not stagnate. We don’t in Fond du Lac. We have incentives in place to continue to fill our downtown storefronts. Annie’s Fountain City Café is a testimony to a community coming together to create a unique Main Street storefront façade.
Dan and Laurie Baumhardt, along with support from family and friends, have restored and renovated a historic late 1800s downtown building known as The Brick House. The blend of historic architecture with new design elements gives you the feel of being in a metropolitan city.
When we have family or friends visiting we suggest the self-guided Downtown Walking Tour. They can take a peek into the quirky, fun and sometimes sordid details of our community evolving through time.
Another really fun and free way to explore downtown and Fond du Lac‘s art scene is Gallery Night. We like to stop at some of the studios for the artists’ talks. The atmosphere as you stroll the streets Downtown is party-like and casual.
I’m optimistic that this growth in Fond du Lac will continue. It is just one of the many reasons my family has planted its stake in this ground.
For more information about Fond du Lac and Lake Winnebago region go to www.fdl.com
Joe Venhuizen of Fond du Lac
Director of Membership
Envision Greater Fond du Lac