Lake Winnebago is the primary source for the Fox River, which ultimately reaches Lake Michigan at Green Bay. The so-called “Fox Cities” – Appleton, Neenah, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac – surround the lake, and the area, known as the Fox River Valley, is a prosperous forest products, papermaking and manufacturing region. Appleton is the largest of and most diverse of the Fox Cities. Downtown Appleton- clean, attractive, active and livable- sits right at the lake, with livable city neighborhoods spreading east and northeast until reaching farmland outside the city.
Lawrence University, a highly rated liberal arts school, adds a college town element. Blue collar and white collar elements mix well in this town. Cost of living is low and standards of living are high. Future job growth projections have been healthy for a manufacturing area as companies discover the strong local labor force. That said, the future of the paper industry has been a concern. Nearby water, state parks, and the vast forested areas of upstate Wisconsin provide above average recreation opportunities, both summer and winter.
The Fox Cities sit in a mostly level valley plain surrounded by areas of low rolling and densely wooded hills. The decidedly continental climate receives the full effects of continental air masses, particularly in winter. Summers are pleasantly warm and sometimes humid, with occasional hot spells and cool evenings. Most precipitation arrives as thunderstorms from May through September. Winters are harsh and cold, although the coldest days are often sunny and dry. Most winter precipitation comes as snow with persistent snow cover. First freeze is early October, last is mid-May.