20 Things to Do in Appleton, WI

Appleton also known by the nickname “The Paper Valley, is located in the heart of Outagamie County.

Founded in 1847, Appleton has a storied history that traces back to the arrival of European settlers and the establishment of a bustling fur trading post. Over the years, the city’s economy grew, driven by industries like paper manufacturing, which earned Appleton the nickname “The Paper Valley.”

With a population of approximately 75,000 locals take pride in their city’s heritage and embrace a strong spirit of camaraderie that contributes to Appleton’s friendly atmosphere.

Come and experience the warm hospitality, cultural treasures, and natural wonders that make Appleton a true gem in the heart of Outagamie County!

Things to Do in Appleton, WI

1. Explore the History Museum at the Castle

History Museum at the Castle
Image source: wisconsinmeetings.com

Begin your journey in Appleton, WI, by exploring the History Museum at the Castle.

Housed in a historic building, the museum is dedicated to preserving and sharing the stories of Appleton’s past.

The exhibits showcase the life and accomplishments of Harry Houdini, the famous magician and escape artist who called Appleton his hometown.

The History Museum at the Castle is an enlightening experience that invites visitors of all ages to connect with the city’s rich past and discover the stories that have left a lasting impact on Appleton’s identity.

2. Visit the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
Image source: govalleykids.com

For a dose of cultural entertainment, make your way to the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in downtown Appleton. This state-of-the-art venue hosts a diverse array of performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, dance performances, and more.

Check the performance schedule to catch a show that piques your interest, whether it’s a musical, a symphony performance, or a captivating dance production.

3. Discover the Paper Discovery Center

Appleton holds a unique connection to the paper industry, and you can explore this fascinating aspect at the Paper Discovery Center.

Located along the Fox River, this interactive museum celebrates the city’s paper-making heritage and its significant contributions to the industry.

Learn about the history of paper manufacturing in Appleton and the innovations that have shaped the industry over the years.

4. Enjoy the outdoors at Appleton Memorial Park

Appleton Memorial Park
Image source: govalleykids.com

Stroll along the scenic walking trails that wind through lush greenery and peaceful woodlands.

If you’re feeling active, the park offers opportunities for biking, jogging, and picnicking in its spacious areas.

Appleton Memorial Park is also home to a charming butterfly garden, providing a tranquil spot to observe these colorful creatures and other wildlife.

It’s a perfect destination for families, nature enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a moment of tranquility in the heart of the city.

5. Attend a live performance at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music

Lawrence University Conservatory of Music
Image source: lawrence.edu

Immerse yourself in the world of music and artistry by attending a live performance at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music. Located in Appleton, this prestigious conservatory showcases the exceptional talent of its students and faculty through a diverse range of concerts and recitals.

Experience the magic of classical, jazz, and contemporary music as talented musicians and vocalists grace the stage.

The conservatory’s intimate performance spaces allow for a unique and immersive experience, where you can truly appreciate the artistry and skill of the performers.

6. Stroll through the beautiful gardens at the Appleton Memorial Park Arboretum

Appleton Memorial Park Arboretum

For a leisurely and scenic escape, take a stroll through the Appleton Memorial Park Arboretum. This enchanting garden sanctuary offers a delightful variety of trees, plants, and flowers, making it a haven for nature lovers and photography enthusiasts.

The arboretum features well-maintained walking paths that wind through the lush landscape, providing a peaceful ambiance for relaxation and contemplation. Admire the seasonal blooms and the changing colors of the foliage, each season offering its unique charm.

The Appleton Memorial Park Arboretum is an idyllic spot to connect with nature, breathe in the fresh air, and savor the beauty of the outdoors.

7. Shop and dine at the Fox River Mall

Fox River Mall
Image source: foxrivermall.com

For a day of shopping, dining, and entertainment, head to the Fox River Mall, the largest shopping center in the Fox Cities region. This modern mall houses an extensive selection of stores, boutiques, and restaurants, offering a diverse shopping and dining experience.

Browse through well-known retailers, specialty shops, and fashion boutiques to find the perfect gifts, clothing, and souvenirs. After shopping, take a break and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the mall’s restaurants or food court options.

8. Experience the Fox Cities Children’s Museum

Fox Cities Children's Museum
Image source: bossdisplay.com

If you’re visiting Appleton with children, the Fox Cities Children’s Museum is a must-visit attraction. This interactive museum offers a world of fun and learning for kids of all ages.

Explore hands-on exhibits that encourage imaginative play, creativity, and exploration. From a kid-sized grocery store and construction zone to science exhibits and art studios, the museum provides a safe and engaging environment for children to learn through play.

The Fox Cities Children’s Museum promises a day of joy and discovery, making it a wonderful family-friendly activity in Appleton.

9. Take a walk along the Fox Riverfront

This scenic pathway meanders alongside the river, offering stunning views of the water, picturesque bridges, and the surrounding landscape.

As you stroll along the riverfront, you’ll find benches and green spaces, providing perfect spots to pause and enjoy the tranquility of the flowing water.

The area is dotted with public art installations and historical markers, adding an artistic and cultural touch to your walk.

10. Visit the Trout Museum of Art

Trout Museum of Art
Image source: troutmuseum.org

Indulge your artistic senses at the Trout Museum of Art, a cultural gem in downtown Appleton. This dynamic museum showcases a diverse collection of contemporary and traditional art, featuring works by both local and nationally recognized artists.

Explore the thought-provoking exhibits that encompass various artistic styles, media, and themes. The museum often hosts special exhibitions and community events that contribute to the vibrant arts scene of the region.

From paintings and sculptures to photography and multimedia installations, the Trout Museum of Art provides an inspiring and enriching experience for art enthusiasts of all ages.

11. Enjoy a picnic at Pierce Park

Picnic in the park

For a delightful outdoor activity, pack a picnic basket and head to Pierce Park in Appleton. This charming park offers an inviting setting for a relaxed picnic with family and friends.

Spread out a blanket on the lush green lawn or find a shaded spot beneath the trees. The park features playgrounds for kids, making it a great destination for families to enjoy quality time together.

After your meal, take a leisurely walk through the park’s trails, or simply unwind and savor the peaceful ambiance of the outdoors.

12. Attend a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball game at Fox Cities Stadium

Fox Cities Stadium

Experience the excitement of America’s favorite pastime by attending a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers baseball game at Fox Cities Stadium. Cheer on the home team as they compete in Minor League Baseball, providing a thrilling and family-friendly sports experience.

Fox Cities Stadium offers modern amenities and a lively atmosphere, making it a perfect venue to enjoy a game with friends and family. Indulge in ballpark favorites like hot dogs, popcorn, and ice-cold beverages while immersing yourself in the cheers and camaraderie of fellow fans.

13. Explore the Hearthstone Historic House Museum, the first electrically lit house in the world

Located in Appleton, this historic house offers a glimpse into the technological advancements of the late 19th century.

Learn about the innovative mind of Henry J. Rogers, who designed and built the house with a hydroelectric system that used the nearby Fox River to generate electricity.

The Hearthstone Historic House Museum is a fascinating journey back in time, offering a unique perspective on the pioneering spirit that shaped the region’s history.

14. Attend the Mile of Music Festival, a popular annual music event

If you love music, don’t miss the Mile of Music Festival, a beloved annual event that takes over downtown Appleton each summer.

This grassroots music festival features hundreds of artists and bands performing at various venues, including bars, restaurants, parks, and outdoor stages.

Join the lively crowd, explore the vibrant streets of downtown Appleton, and discover new and emerging talents from across the country during this memorable music-filled event.

15. Play golf at one of the local courses, like Reid Golf Course

People playing golf

For golf enthusiasts, Appleton offers excellent golfing opportunities, and one of the standout courses is Reid Golf Course.

This public golf course boasts well-manicured fairways, challenging holes, and picturesque views of the surrounding landscape.

Challenge yourself on the course, improve your swing, and revel in the joy of the sport in the heart of Appleton.

16. Take a brewery tour at Stone Arch Brewpub

Stone Arch Brewpub

Appleton’s craft beer scene is thriving, and a brewery tour at Stone Arch Brewpub offers a chance to savor local craft beers and learn about the art of brewing. Located in a historic building along the Fox River, Stone Arch Brewpub offers a charming and inviting setting to enjoy their handcrafted brews.

During the brewery tour, you’ll get an inside look at the beer-making process, from the selection of ingredients to the brewing and fermentation stages.

After the tour, indulge in a tasting session, where you can sample a variety of their beers and find your favorite.

17. Experience the Paper Valley Hotel’s Escape Room

For a thrilling and immersive adventure, test your problem-solving skills at the Paper Valley Hotel’s Escape Room. Gather a group of friends or family and challenge yourselves to solve puzzles, decipher clues, and work together to unlock the mystery and escape the room before time runs out.

The escape room offers various themed scenarios, each with its unique challenges and storylines.

The Paper Valley Hotel’s Escape Room is an ideal activity for those seeking a dose of mystery and excitement during their stay in Appleton.

18. Enjoy the seasonal events at the Fox Cities Stadium, like the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra’s Independence Day Celebration

Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra's Independence Day Celebration

Fox Cities Stadium is not only home to baseball but also a vibrant venue for various seasonal events and celebrations. One such event is the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra’s Independence Day Celebration, held during the Fourth of July festivities.

Gather at the stadium’s open-air setting to enjoy an evening of patriotic music, stunning fireworks, and a sense of community. The Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra’s performance adds a touch of elegance to the celebration, creating a memorable and uplifting experience for attendees of all ages.

Keep an eye on the stadium’s event calendar for other seasonal events, concerts, and community gatherings that take place throughout the year.

19. Take a scenic drive along the Fox River

Appleton’s scenic beauty shines along the banks of the Fox River, and taking a leisurely drive along its course is a wonderful way to appreciate the city’s natural charm.

The Fox River runs through the heart of Appleton, offering picturesque views and numerous vantage points to enjoy the serene waters and lush landscapes.

Follow the river’s path as it winds through the city and explore nearby parks and scenic spots. Many of the riverside areas offer opportunities for picnicking, photography, and birdwatching.

20. Explore the Building for Kids Children’s Museum for hands-on educational exhibits and activities

The Building for Kids Children’s Museum is an engaging and educational destination for young minds to explore, learn, and play. This interactive museum offers a variety of hands-on exhibits and activities that encourage creativity, curiosity, and discovery.

Children can engage in imaginative play, learn about science and nature, and experiment with various educational stations. The museum’s exhibits are designed to foster a love for learning while making education fun and exciting for kids.

Families with children of all ages will find the Building for Kids Children’s Museum to be an inspiring and delightful experience, providing a safe and enriching environment for little ones to explore and grow.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Appleton Wisconsin famous?

Appleton, Wisconsin is famous for its contributions to the paper and printing industry, as well as being the hometown of magician Harry Houdini.

Is Appleton a nice place to live?

Appleton is often considered a nice place to live due to its safe and friendly community, good schools, and cultural attractions.

Is Appleton a small town?

Appleton is a mid-sized city in Wisconsin, so it’s not a small town, but it’s not a major metropolis either.

Which state is Appleton Wisconsin?

Appleton is located in the state of Wisconsin.

What city is near Appleton?

Green Bay is a city near Appleton in Wisconsin.

Is Appleton walkable?

Appleton is somewhat walkable, but it depends on the specific neighborhood, and a car may be necessary for some errands.

Is Appleton a good place to raise a family?

Many people find Appleton to be a good place to raise a family due to its family-friendly environment, education options, and recreational activities.

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