Things to Do in Appleton: Explore the Hidden Gems of the City


Are you planning a trip to Appleton and wondering about the exciting things to do in this charming city? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will uncover the hidden gems of Appleton, Wisconsin, and provide you with a curated list of activities that will make your visit truly memorable. From cultural attractions to outdoor adventures, Appleton has something for everyone. So, let’s dive in and discover the top things to do in Appleton!

Getting Acquainted with Appleton

Before we jump into the exciting activities, let’s take a moment to get acquainted with the city of Appleton. Located in Outagamie County, Appleton is nestled in the heart of the Fox River Valley. With a population of approximately 75,000, Appleton boasts a vibrant arts scene, stunning natural beauty, and a rich history that is sure to captivate visitors.

Exploring the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

One of the highlights of Appleton is the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. Whether you are a fan of theater, dance, or music, this state-of-the-art venue offers a diverse range of performances that cater to all tastes. From Broadway shows to local productions, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center guarantees a night filled with entertainment and cultural enrichment.

Immerse Yourself in History at Hearthstone Historic House Museum

Step back in time and discover the fascinating history of Appleton at the Hearthstone Historic House Museum. This beautifully restored Victorian mansion was the first house in the world to be powered by a hydroelectric central station using the Edison system. Take a guided tour and learn about the innovative technology that revolutionized the way we live today.

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Engage with Nature at the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the tranquil beauty of the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin. This enchanting sanctuary is home to thousands of butterflies from around the world. Walk among the vibrant flowers, watch the graceful butterflies flutter by, and experience a sense of serenity and wonder.

Discover the History of Papermaking at the Paper Discovery Center

Appleton has a rich history in papermaking, and the Paper Discovery Center is the perfect place to explore this unique aspect of the city’s heritage. Engage in interactive exhibits, learn about the papermaking process, and even make your own sheet of paper. It’s a hands-on experience that educates and entertains visitors of all ages.

Indulge in Shopping and Dining at the Fox River Mall

If you’re a shopaholic or a food enthusiast, the Fox River Mall is a must-visit destination in Appleton. With over 180 stores and a wide array of dining options, this premier shopping center offers a delightful experience for all. From high-end fashion brands to local boutiques, you’ll find everything you need under one roof.

Unwind at the Gardens of the Fox Cities

Nature lovers will find solace in the serene surroundings of the Gardens of the Fox Cities. Stroll through beautifully manicured gardens, discover hidden pathways, and admire the vibrant display of flora. With themed gardens, water features, and stunning sculptures, this botanical oasis provides a peaceful escape from the hustle of everyday life.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve

For those seeking outdoor adventures, the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve is the ideal destination. Spanning over 700 acres, this preserve offers a variety of activities throughout the year. From hiking and birdwatching to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, there are endless opportunities to connect with nature and embrace the beauty of the Fox River Valley.

Dive into History at the History Museum at the Castle

Discover the captivating stories of Appleton’s past at the History Museum at the Castle. Housed in a stunning Tudor Revival mansion, this museum showcases exhibits that bring the history of the city to life. From interactive displays to engaging artifacts, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the people and events that shaped Appleton into what it is today.

Embrace the Arts at the Trout Museum of Art

Art enthusiasts will be delighted by the impressive collection at the Trout Museum of Art. This contemporary art museum showcases a wide range of artistic expressions, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and more. With rotating exhibitions and educational programs, the Trout Museum of Art offers a vibrant cultural experience for visitors of all ages.

Discover the Thriving Music Scene at Mile of Music

If you happen to visit Appleton during August, don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Mile of Music. This annual festival celebrates original music and features hundreds of artists performing at various venues throughout the city. From intimate acoustic sessions to energetic performances, Mile of Music is a must-attend event for music lovers.

Get Active at High Cliff State Park

For outdoor enthusiasts craving more adventure, a visit to High Cliff State Park is a must. Located just a short drive from Appleton, this state park offers stunning views of Lake Winnebago, scenic hiking trails, and opportunities for boating, fishing, and camping. With its diverse natural landscapes, High Cliff State Park is a paradise for outdoor recreation.

Soak up the Atmosphere at the Appleton Farmers Market

Immerse yourself in the local culture and experience the vibrant atmosphere of the Appleton Farmers Market. Held every Saturday, this bustling market offers a wide selection of fresh produce, artisanal goods, and unique crafts. Support local vendors, savor delicious treats, and engage with the friendly community that makes Appleton special.

Enjoy a Taste of History at the Stone Arch Brewpub

Quench your thirst and savor delicious brews at the Stone Arch Brewpub. Housed in a historic building with an inviting ambiance, this local favorite is known for its handcrafted beers and mouthwatering pub fare. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or simply looking for a casual dining experience, the Stone Arch Brewpub won’t disappoint.

Discover the Charming Neighborhood of College Avenue

Take a leisurely stroll along College Avenue, the heart of downtown Appleton. Lined with unique shops, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants, this vibrant street offers endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. From trendy fashion boutiques to cozy coffee shops, College Avenue has something for every taste and style.

Experience the Magic of the Fox River

No visit to Appleton is complete without experiencing the beauty of the Fox River. Take a scenic boat tour, rent a kayak or paddleboard, or simply relax on the riverfront and enjoy the tranquil views. The Fox River offers a peaceful respite from the urban environment and a chance to connect with nature in the heart of the city.

Indulge in Culinary Delights at Local Restaurants

Appleton is a haven for food lovers, with a thriving culinary scene that offers diverse flavors and innovative dishes. From farm-to-table eateries to international cuisine, you’ll find a plethora of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the local specialties and experience the culinary excellence that Appleton has to offer.

Immerse Yourself in the Outagamie Museum

Learn about the rich history and culture of the Fox Valley region at the Outagamie Museum. Explorethe exhibits that showcase the heritage of the area, including Native American artifacts, pioneer life, and the contributions of local industries. With engaging displays and interactive experiences, the Outagamie Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the past.

Discover Hidden Gems at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass

Art enthusiasts and glass aficionados will be captivated by the stunning collection at the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass. This hidden gem houses a diverse range of glass art, from ancient to contemporary pieces. Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship and vibrant colors as you explore the galleries and learn about the artistry behind each masterpiece.

Unwind at the Appleton Memorial Park

Escape to nature and enjoy some relaxation at the Appleton Memorial Park. This expansive park offers beautiful walking trails, picnic areas, and recreational facilities. Whether you want to take a peaceful stroll, have a family outing, or engage in sports activities, the Appleton Memorial Park provides a serene setting for outdoor enjoyment.

Experience the Excitement of a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Game

For sports enthusiasts, catching a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball game at the Neuroscience Group Field is a thrilling experience. Cheer on the home team as they compete against other Midwest League opponents. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, indulge in ballpark snacks, and witness the excitement of America’s favorite pastime.

Get Your Adrenaline Pumping at the Escape Room Wisconsin

Put your problem-solving skills to the test at the Escape Room Wisconsin. Gather a group of friends or family and immerse yourself in a thrilling adventure where you must solve puzzles and unravel mysteries to escape within a time limit. With different themed rooms to choose from, the Escape Room Wisconsin offers an exhilarating and immersive experience.

Explore the EAA Aviation Museum

Aviation enthusiasts will be in awe at the EAA Aviation Museum, located just a short drive from Appleton in Oshkosh. This world-class museum showcases a remarkable collection of historic aircraft and offers interactive exhibits that highlight the evolution of aviation. From vintage planes to modern marvels, the EAA Aviation Museum is a must-visit for anyone with a fascination for flight.

Test Your Skills at Badger Sports Park

Looking for a place to have some fun with the whole family? Look no further than Badger Sports Park. This entertainment complex features a wide range of activities, including go-kart racing, mini-golf, laser tag, batting cages, and arcade games. Spend a day filled with laughter, friendly competition, and memorable moments at Badger Sports Park.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the best outdoor activities in Appleton?

  • Enjoy a scenic boat tour along the Fox River.
  • Explore the hiking trails at High Cliff State Park.
  • Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the Fox River.
  • Visit the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve for outdoor adventures.

2. Which museums are worth visiting in Appleton?

  • The History Museum at the Castle offers a fascinating look into Appleton’s past.
  • The Trout Museum of Art showcases a diverse collection of contemporary art.
  • The Hearthstone Historic House Museum provides insights into the city’s history.
  • The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass displays captivating glass art.

3. Where can I find unique shopping experiences in Appleton?

  • Explore the boutiques and shops along College Avenue.
  • Visit the Fox River Mall for a wide range of shopping options.
  • Discover local artisanal goods at the Appleton Farmers Market.

4. What are some family-friendly activities in Appleton?

  • Enjoy a fun-filled day at Badger Sports Park.
  • Visit the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin and immerse yourself in nature.
  • Explore the interactive exhibits at the Paper Discovery Center.
  • Catch a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball game at the Neuroscience Group Field.

5. Are there any annual events or festivals in Appleton?

  • Mile of Music, held in August, celebrates original music with performances throughout the city.
  • The Appleton Farmers Market takes place every Saturday and offers a lively atmosphere.

6. What are some recommended dining options in Appleton?

  • Experience the culinary delights at the Stone Arch Brewpub.
  • Indulge in local specialties at various restaurants along College Avenue.
  • Discover diverse flavors at the array of dining options in the Fox River Mall.


Appleton, Wisconsin, is a city that seamlessly blends history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in exploring museums, immersing yourself in nature, enjoying live performances, or indulging in culinary delights, Appleton has it all. From the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center to the beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this charming city. So, pack your bags and get ready to uncover the hidden gems of Appleton, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

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