18 Best Things to Do in Appleton, WI

Appleton, WI
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Home to the splendid Fox River Valley, Appleton is one of the most charming places in Wisconsin.

Are you looking for a fun and scenic place to enjoy a holiday?

Appleton may be the place for you, as it offers action, adventure, and natural beauty.

Watch the art of making paper at the Paper Discovery Center, make friends with some butterflies, or take a scenic hike.

Here are the best things to do in Appleton, Wisconsin:

Visit the Hearthstone Historic House Museum

Exterior of Hearthstone Historic House
self, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Would you like to see the first house in the entire world to have been lit up by Edison's electric bulbs?

The world-famous house has been turned into a museum.

The Hearthstone Historic House Museum was built during the Victorian era, and the interior design and architecture say it all.

You can still see the beautifully decorated furniture inside.

The best part of everything is that they still have some of Edison's original inventions.

They're almost 300 years old.

Go on a Self-Guided Tour along Fox Trot Trail

If you're hoping to see multiple attractions in one afternoon, the best way is to take a stroll along Fox Trot Trail.

The 2-mile walk starts from the Houdini Plaza and gives you the best of the downtown area and the riverfront.

Not only will you be enchanted by the Fox River's enchanting beauty, but you will also come across some attraction spots on this trail.

Zuelke Building, Lawrence University, and the History Museum at the Castle are some of the top attractions you'll see along the way.

Spend the Day at Appleton Memorial Park

Spending an afternoon at Appleton Memorial Park means it will be a fun day for you and your kids.

The place has everything starting from playgrounds and trails to ponds and nature.

There are different courts where you can play tennis, volleyball, and even basketball.

You can play soccer and golf here as well.

People of all ages enjoy Appleton Memorial Park for there is no shortage of opportunities to have fun here.

During the winter, the park provides excellent skating opportunities.

Enjoy the Trout Museum of Art

Exterior of Trout Museum of Art
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No matter what kind of art enthusiast you are, the Trout Museum of Art will surely take your breath away.

The place is a haven for aspiring artists.

The genius team at Appleton Artists Guild started this museum because they thought their talents deserved to have their work permanently displayed somewhere people could appreciate them.

They influence local artists not to give up on their dreams.

The Trout Museum of Art holds educational exhibits here as well.

Educate Yourself about the City at the History Museum at the Castle

Exterior of Museum at the Castle
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Initially called the Houdini Historical Center, the History Museum at the Castle eventually became one of the most popular attractions in Appleton.

Fox River Valley's history is depicted quite well here, and you can see some ancient artifacts.

Some of them are almost 200 years old.

Closer exterior view of History Museum at the Castle
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Did you know that the History Museum at the Castle was once a Masonic temple?

Its architecture makes people appreciate it even more.

The building is quite famous and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sample the Local Cuisine at Downtown Appleton Farmer's Market

Want to get to know the different flavors of Appleton?

From June to October, the visitors of Appleton get to see a new side of the city.

Downtown Appleton Farmer's Market is the place you visit if you want to get in touch with the soul of Appleton.

It's located on College Avenue and extends across four blocks.

The farmer's market's main attraction has to be its food.

While meat and bread are abundant here, their other baked goods should not be ignored.

You can taste the local fresh fruits, too.

Have a Colorful Day at Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin

Do you happen to be in Appleton during the summer?

This vibrant location is sure to win your heart and lift your mood.

At the Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin, you can see a kaleidoscope of colors.

The different species here are native to the region.

At the Butterfly Gardens, visitors get to see the butterflies in different stages of life.

You can even see a pupa here.

The gardens also comprise a butterfly bridge and butterfly maze.

On top of that, there are other animals here as well.

You can come across deer and many other birds.

Appreciate Nature at Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve

For the past 45 years, Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve has played an enormous role in preserving the nature of Appleton.

Its top priorities include making people realize how blessed they are to be surrounded by different shades of green.

Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve is a lovely amalgamation of recreation and education.

Not only does it teach people the importance of nature, but it also allows visitors to partake in a lot of activities.

You can engage in a lot of hiking and trekking tours around here.

The preserve is vast, so there are a plethora of options to choose from.

Learn a New Skill at the Paper Discovery Center

Exterior of Paper Discovery Center
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Appleton's leading industries happens to be the paper industry.

For that reason, the city has its very own Paper Discovery Center.

In this center, they make paper and teach visitors this particular art.

The Purdy-Weissenborn Paper Lab is a fascinating place to check out.

They guide you around and show you all the hacks for making paper.

If you are interested, you can sign up for one of the workshops here.

Spend an Afternoon beside Fox River

 Trees surrounding Fox River
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Why not take a break, sit down, and soak in majestic views?

The Lower Fox River decorates the city and adds to its beauty.

It carves its path across the city's heart and leaves tourists mesmerized.

However, this attraction is at its most enchanting after sunset.

Bridge over the Fox River
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It is a fact that the river looks beautiful throughout the day, but in the evening, it's magnificent on an entirely different level.

Want to explore the area further?

Go hiking around the river.

The paths are well-maintained, and the views are brilliant.

A house near Fox River
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Indulge Your Inner Shopaholic at the Local Stores

Road of Downtown Appleton
self, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

If you consider yourself a shopaholic, Appleton has some treats for you.

The downtown area is studded with so many shops that it'll be challenging to choose which one to visit first.

There are lots of gift shops, branded stores, and boutiques all across the area.

Aerial view of downtown Appleton
Ragingpeasant at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to buy some gifts, you can get them at an affordable rate.

Besides downtown Appleton, there's also the Fox River Mall.

Home to over a hundred retailers, it's one of the most popular shopping centers in the city.

Check Out the Prestigious Lawrence University

Aerial view of the beautiful Lawrence University
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Appleton also happens to house one of the most prestigious art schools in the United States.

The vast campus is open to the public, so tourists are welcome to explore its grounds.

Fall trees in front of Lawrence University's building
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You can see a lot of tourists roaming around, checking out the music conservatory, and snapping photos.

Throughout the year, many events and functions take place on the campus grounds.

If you happen to be in town during one of these events, don't miss out on your chance to participate.

Exterior of Lawrence University's main hall
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Treat Yourself to a Pint at Appleton Beer Factory

Appleton has some of the best breweries in Wisconsin, and tourists love the craft beers.

Among the best places to sample Wisconsin's brews, Appleton Beer Factory is located downtown.

They pride themselves on taking their beer seriously and using only the freshest, finest ingredients.

Besides beer, they also serve delicious bites like burgers, steak tacos, and fries.

After a long day of sightseeing, head to this pub, sample their beer selection and grab a pint of your favorite.

Catch a Performance at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Exterior of Fox Cities Performing Arts Center
Keith Homan / Shutterstock.com

Since 2002, this downtown Appleton theater has hosted many big-name Broadway productions.

Looking for something to do in Appleton for a night to remember?

Put the Pacific Amphitheatre (PAC) on your list of things to see and do in Appleton.

The PAC offers diverse events and cultural acts, ranging from hip-hop concerts to classic Broadway musicals.

Besides that, the center provides educational activities, theater performances, and talks.

Broadway Across America - Fox Cities, Boldt Arts Alive!, the Fox Valley Symphony, and the Thrivent Education Series all have their home performances at the center.

Have Your Kids Explore Their Imagination at Building For Kids Children's Museum

The Fox Cities Children's Museum was founded in downtown Appleton in 1991 and opened its doors to the public in November 1992, occupying just a portion of its present second-floor space.

The Building for Kids was renamed and enlarged in 2006, with new displays developed by children for children.

This nonprofit museum is located in City Center Plaza and has hands-on exhibitions for children ages seven and under.

One of the best things to do in Appleton with children is to visit this play-based museum.

The museum's educational interactive displays inspire children to learn in a secure and creative setting via its interactive educational exhibits.

Take advantage of its fun features, such as the palace-themed miniature golf course and the 10-foot heart play structure, with the little ones.

The Harp Gallery, a brick-and-mortar business created in 1985, specializes in historic furniture appropriate for today's lifestyle.

Its in-house team has thoroughly restored all of the furniture they sell, including cabinetmakers and finishers with years of expertise.

Refurbished antiques retain their original character and charm while enhancing their value, beauty, and practicality.

The 20,000 square-foot gallery features an ever-changing selection of products that currently account for 75 percent of its sales.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Take on Adventures at High Cliff State Park

Snow-covered trail of High Cliff State Park
Theo Wecker / Shutterstock.com

Want access to the beautiful Lake Winnebago?

High Cliff State Park is your place.

Not does it provide the path to absolute beauty, but it's gorgeous in itself.

You can participate in all sorts of summer activities at High Cliff State Park.

Frozen Lake Winnebago at High Cliff State Park
Theo Wecker / Shutterstock.com

The trails are endless and offer some of the best views, too.

There are options for mountain biking if you are interested.

It is beautiful in the winter, too.

The snow covers the ground, and you can even go sledding.

View of Lake Winnebago from High Cliff State Park
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Go Fishing at Little Lake Butte Des Morts

Scenic view of Little Lake Butte des Morts
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Little Lake Butte Des Morts lies a few blocks away from the Hearthstone Historic House Museum and the Appleton Water Works.

It isn't exactly in Appleton but is just a 15-minute drive away from downtown.

For the most part, the lake is a widening of the Fox River that provides a peaceful haven for visitors.

The French named Lake Butte des Morts after a nearby Native American burial mound.

To unwind, you may go fishing for largemouth bass or golden perch or take a stroll around the lake.

It is one of the best lakes in Wisconsin because of its magnificent scenery and plenty of wildlife.

Final Thoughts

Known for its museums, parks, and historic residences, Appleton is known for its exhilarating sports and exciting past.

The city also has a quaint, pleasant, and welcoming vibe.

Motivated to pay a visit to this place?

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