Appleton, Wisconsin, nestled in the heart of the Fox River Valley, is a city that boasts a rich history, vibrant culture, and a wide array of attractions that cater to visitors .
1. History and Culture
The History Museum at the Castle
Located in a stunning and historic downtown building, The History Museum at the Castle offers an intriguing glimpse into Appleton’s past. It features exhibits on everything from the paper industry, which played a significant role in the city’s development, to a captivating display on life.
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Hearthstone Historic House Museum
Hearthstone Historic House Museum is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. It’s the world’s first house to be lit by a hydroelectric central station, designed by Thomas Edison himself. The guided tour through this beautifully restored mansion provides an immersive experience into life during the late 19th century.
Appleton’s Ties to Harry Houdini
Appleton proudly claims legendary magician and escape artist Harry Houdini as one of its own. Explore Houdini Plaza in downtown Appleton, where you’ll find a statue dedicated to the illusionist. Additionally, the History Museum at the Castle mentioned earlier offers extensive exhibits on Houdini’s life and career.
Nestled in the heart of Appleton is Lawrence University, a liberal arts college known for its beautiful campus and cultural offerings. Be sure to check the schedule for concerts, art exhibitions, and other events that are often open to the public.
2. Natural Beauty
High Cliff State Park
High Cliff State Park, situated along the shores of Lake Winnebago, is a natural wonderland. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, stunning lake views, and opportunities for birdwatching. The park also features an observation tower that provides breathtaking panoramic vistas of the lake and surrounding landscape.
Fox River Trails
If you’re a fan of outdoor activities, the Fox River Trails system is a fantastic option. These scenic trails wind along the Fox River and offer opportunities for biking, jogging, and leisurely strolls. In the winter, some sections are groomed for cross-country skiing.
Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin
Nature lovers will be enchanted by the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin. This magical place is a haven for colourful butterflies and features beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors can stroll among the fluttering butterflies and learn about their life cycle and habitat.
Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
For a night of world-class entertainment, head to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. This state-of-the-art venue hosts a diverse array of performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, ballets, and comedy acts.
Appleton’s Thriving Music Scene
Appleton’s music scene is vibrant and diverse. Check out local bars and clubs for live music performances, especially if you’re a fan of indie, rock, or blues. Several venues showcase emerging talent and established acts alike.
The Building for Kids Children’s Museum
Travelling with little ones? The Building for Kids Children’s Museum is a fantastic destination. It’s filled with interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that stimulate creativity and learning in children of all ages.
4. Culinary Delights
Appleton’s dining scene is a delightful mix of farm-to-table restaurants, cosy cafes, and international cuisine. Enjoy locally sourced ingredients prepared by talented chefs who take pride in showcasing Wisconsin’s culinary offerings.
Iconic Wisconsin Supper Clubs
Don’t miss the chance to experience a classic Wisconsin supper club. These dining establishments offer a unique blend of hearty Midwestern fare, retro charm, and a welcoming atmosphere. Try the Friday night fish fry, a Wisconsin tradition.
Local Breweries and Wineries
Wisconsin is known for its beer and cheese, and Appleton is no exception. Explore local breweries and wineries to sample craft beers and wines made right in the region. Many offer tours and tastings for a behind-the-scenes look at the production process.
Downtown Appleton is a shopper’s paradise. You’ll find unique gifts, clothing, jewelry, and home decor items while soaking in the city’s charming atmosphere.
Fox River Mall
For a more extensive shopping experience, visit the Fox River Mall. This spacious small house houses a wide range of stores, from high-end retailers to popular brands, making it the perfect place for a shopping spree.
Art and Antique Shops
Art enthusiasts and collectors will appreciate Appleton’s art and antique shops. Discover hidden treasures, vintage finds, and locally crafted artwork as you browse through these charming boutiques.
6. Outdoor Activities
Kayaking and Canoeing
Explore the Fox River and its tributaries by renting a kayak or canoe. Paddle along peaceful waterways while taking in the serene natural beauty and perhaps spotting some wildlife along the banks.
Appleton offers several golf courses for enthusiasts of the sport. Whether you’re a seasoned golfer or just looking to enjoy a relaxing round with friends, you’ll find a course that suits your skill level.
Biking enthusiasts will find a network of scenic trails in and around Appleton. These trails cater to cyclists of all levels, from leisurely riders to avid mountain bikers. Don’t forget to bring your bike or rent one locally.
7. Festivals and Events
Mile of Music
Plan your visit around Mile of Music, an annual festival that celebrates original music from a variety of genres. With over a hundred artists performing at various venues throughout the city, it’s a musical extravaganza you won’t want to miss.
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8. Day Trips
Just a short drive from Appleton, Green Bay is home to Lambeau Field, the historic football stadium where the Green Bay Packers play. Tour the stadium, visit the Packers Hall of Fame, and soak in the rich football culture.
For a picturesque day trip, head to Door County, known for its stunning landscapes, charming villages, and numerous outdoor activities. Explore lighthouses, go hiking, and indulge in fresh cherry products—the region’s specialty.