15 Best Things to Do in Neenah, WI

Neenah, WI
Mark Herreid / shutterstock.com

The best things to do in Neenah will give visitors a wealth of options in the neighborhood, both culturally and historically rich.

The Neenah Foundry's manholes ensure you always have a piece of Wisconsin beneath your feet.

Neenah is a town in Winnebago County, Wisconsin, in the north-central part of the United States.

Around 40 miles southwest of Green Bay, it lies on the Fox River, Little Lake Butte des Morts, and the shoreline of Lake Winnebago.

Governor James Duane Doty named the city Neenah after the Hoocąk word for "water" or "flowing water."

In 1872, the Kimberly-Clark company started here.

In 1873, the city became a lumber hotspot, inspiring the construction of an important paper mill.

Entrepreneurship and other industries flourished because of lumber's profitability.

Discover the best things to do in Neenah, WI.

Take Photos with the Kimberly Point Lighthouse

Scenic view of Kimberly Point Lighthouse
Mark Herreid / Shutterstock.com

John Alfred Kimberly was instrumental in the success of the Kimberly-Clark company in its early years.

Initially, the firm manufactured paper products before moving toward personal items.

The latter accounts for the bulk of its revenue.

The Kimberly family made significant contributions to Neenah because of the success of the firm.

In 1939, John's daughter, the community activist Helen Kimberly Stuart, started planning the construction of a lighthouse at Kimberly Point Park.

This lighthouse stands where the Fox River and Lake Winnebago meet.

In 1945, they first started work on the 39.5-foot-tall lighthouse.

Aerial view of Kimberly Point Lighthouse
Christopher Rand, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They dedicated the structure to James C. Kimberly, a generous donor who made the project possible.

You may go kayaking, fishing, or just watching the boats.

Parking and restrooms are nearby.

Picnic tables and seats are available for anyone who wants a break.

It also features an open area where children of all ages can play.

As a centerpiece, the lighthouse is lovely.

You may walk toward Riverside Park and the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass from the lighthouse.

Learn the Art of Glassmaking at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass

Inaugurated in 1959, the John Nelson Bergstrom Art Center is a private foundation that runs and maintains the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass and its glass holdings.

The museum underwent three major expansions between 1965 and 1997.

Every year, the museum welcomes more than 20,000 visitors.

The Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass has the world's most comprehensive collection of glass paperweights.

Check out paperweights from the 19th-century French artisans to modern masters.

The museum's glass collection contains more than 3,500 pieces.

The glass-collecting community worldwide regards this collection highly.

Additionally, the Glass Studio provides seminars and camps for adults and children interested in glassmaking.

The Museum Shop offers various unique glass items for every budget.

All sales directly fund the museum's programs.

Explore the Milwaukee and Northern Railway Historical Society

Established in 1964, the Milwaukee and Northern Railway Historical Society (MNRHS) preserves the locomotive history of the region.

A local group modeled Milwaukee and Northern's Menasha Branch on O Scale.

In 1871, they built Hilbert Junction to Menasha on the Menasha Branch of the Winnebago Railroad.

First, they added the branches of Appleton and Neenah.

At least once a year, the society welcomes the public into the depot.

Learn about its prototype railroad's history and the joys of model railroading while you're there.

Hike the Loop the Little Lake Trail

The "Loop" is a 3.5-mile path that connects three territories (Fox Crossing, Menasha, and Neenah) while providing connections for pedestrians and cyclists.

It offers picturesque panoramas and access to Little Lake Butte des Morts.

Off-road cycle/pedestrian paths, four trestles of varying lengths, plus parts of on-road bike lanes and sidewalks compose the route.

Visitors will see four parks equipped with bathrooms and an undeveloped garden.

The crossing of each trestle is unique.

At the Fox Cities Trestle, for example, you can see the whole lake, the paper mills, 441 bridge, open space, and the shoreline housing complex.

The Slough Trestle provides views of the natural coastline.

You can also spot egrets, osprey, and blue herons there.

Likewise, you can see a slow-moving body of water influenced by the lake level.

Go Fishing at Neenah Lake

Neenah Lake is a 54-acre lake in Marquette County.

It's also a popular spot for fishing and swimming.

Likewise, the lake reaches a depth of 14 feet.

A public boat launch provides access to the lake for visitors.

You can fish for crappie, carp, sunfish, northern pike, rainbow trout, bream/bluegill, and muskie on the lake.

Fishing here is a solid bet, whether you're fly casting, spinning, or baitcasting.

Go to Neenah Lake with your favorite fly fishing gear, and have a great day.

Explore the Past at the Smith Octagon House

Exterior of Neenah Historical Society
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are few buildings in Neenah more iconic than the Smith Octagon House.

The Neenah Historical Society's museum and archives are in this building.

More than a decade after the first settlers came, in the 1850s, they built this structure on the site.

The people who lived around the area must have marveled at the eight-sided building.

Little Lake Butte des Morts was only steps away from the house, with a broad front porch that looked out over the lawn.

One of Fowler's most popular books was about the home.

He admired the buildings and claimed he was the one who first thought of them.

To him, having windows on eight sides of the house increased natural light and ventilation.

It removed the gloomy corners typical of traditional dwellings.

Between 1850 and 1860, people built over a thousand inventive residences in the United States.

Forty of them were in Wisconsin, and the others were in New England and New York State.

Edward Smith, a wealthy flour mill owner, was the first occupant of Neenah's Octagon House.

At a later point in time, his businessman brother Hiram acquired the property.

He also owned a paper mill and manufactured stoves.

Smith was also the founder of Manufacturers' National Bank, known as Chase Bank.

The Smith family has lived in the home for approximately seven decades.

In 1993, the Neenah Historical Society purchased the house after the Quinn family bought John Brown's home.

The National Register of Historic Places has added the building to its record.

Unwind at Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel

The Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel is a ten-minute drive from Lake Winnebago and the Fox River Mall.

It offers a free airport shuttle and a complimentary water park.

Ground Round, the hotel's on-site restaurant, provides breakfast, lunch, and supper 24 hours a day.

Enjoy the bar/lounge, a gym, and in-room amenities, including refrigerators and microwaves at this posh resort.

Guests have praised the Best Western Premier Bridgewood Resort Hotel's swimming pool and nice bedrooms.

See a Play by the Riverside Players

Riverside Players delivers Neenah's longest-running community theatrical program.

The troupe offers a unique and exciting outdoor theatrical experience to the players and audience members.

The Riverside Players are unique among Wisconsin's community theaters because they receive government funding, community engagement, and a beautiful setting.

Their "Theatre in the Park" series has gone on since the early 1950s.

The players conduct a variety of free shows for the public throughout the summer.

The auditions usually take place in April or March, and the performances generally go until the end of June or July.

Enjoy the Views at Shattuck Park

There are three distinct areas in Shattuck Park.

First, you have the 165-foot walk-out pier (made of precast and steel) in the inner harbor.

It offers spectacular views of the Fox River and fishing and mooring for boats.

Then, you have an interactive fountain.

Likewise, you can go to the concert lawn and a 2,900-square-foot pavilion.

Its pavilion features a restroom, fireplace, and an elevator with a viewing deck.

This multi-faceted effort to beautify the neighborhood includes seating areas, park lighting, and an accessible waterfront boardwalk.

This is a great place to bring the kids for a fun day out.

The 1.5-mile Neenah Riverwalk-Shattuck Park Riverwalk is free of barriers and runs beside the city's shoreline.

Stroll around Arrowhead Park

The 30-acre Arrowhead Park is on Little Butte des Morts and immediately west of downtown Neenah, Wisconsin.

The Loop the Little Lake trail system includes the asphalt route and connecting trestles.

With its array of stores, eateries, and corporate offices, Neenah's Arrowhead Park is both a trailhead and gateway to the surrounding countryside.

The Park and Recreation Commission has designated Arrowhead Park as a potential site for integrating public art and sculpture into the park's design.

Nature and art create a unique cultural experience.

Since the inauguration of the Little Lake Trail, Neenah has put its first piece of public art in Arrowhead Park.

Visit the Doty Cabin

Exterior of Doty Cabin
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The James Duane Doty Cabin is a recreation of the original log cabin where one of Wisconsin's first territorial governors lived.

Built in 1845, the cabin went by the moniker Grand Loggery for many years.

In 1948, the city gave it a facelift.

The city also established a history museum at Doty Park to preserve the structure.

It houses historical artifacts, including those from the Doty family.

Grab Fresh Produce at Future Neenah Farmers Market

There are roughly 40 stalls at the Future Neenah Farmers' Market.

You'll find everything you need at the market.

Grab fresh zucchini to asparagus, along with seasonal fruits like crisp autumn apples and early summer strawberries.

However, the market offers more than just fresh produce.

Grab meats, lamb meat, farm-fresh eggs, wool, bedding, home plants, fresh-cut flower bouquets, delicious and sticky maple syrup, and honey.

You may also find greeting cards, crochet goods, jewelry, tie-dye, and even wood crafts here.

Additionally, some delights are already cooked and ready to consume.

Shop for Antiques at Neenah Vintage Mall

The Neenah Vintage Mall is great for finding antiques, furniture, home decor, and more.

NVM offers chic products and stylish home decor in a wide range of styles, including classic, farmhouse-style, and Americana-inspired designs.

Take a trip down memory lane by browsing various collections, including furniture and primitives, glassware, porcelain, jewelry, and more.

Otherwise, you may find retro or vintage decor to be more your taste.

What about "trash to treasure" items made from recovered and repurposed materials?

There are many ways to transform unexpected treasures into beautiful home décor.

You can also use them to make a profit by selling them back.

Try Retail Therapy at Neenah Plaza

The Plaza is a year-round meeting space for the residents of Neenah.

It features a public ice skating rink from November through March.

Outside winter, you can enjoy mini-concerts, art fairs, nighttime movies, and workout classes at the Plaza.

Artists have also installed numerous artworks across the area.

Artist Vala Ola's "The Chief" sculpture adorns the wall over the room's central fireplace.

The two bronze statues, 'Chief Washakie' and 'Appeal to the Great Spirit,' greet visitors to Manor Haus.

Spot Public Art around the CIty

Thomas Jefferson statue at Neenah
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

The public art in Neenah reflects the city's rich culture and history.

You can see the Jefferson Monument in front of One Neenah Center.

Here are a few examples of the public art you can see around downtown.

George Lundeen, a Colorado-based sculptor, created the monumental works.

A miniature version of the Statue of Liberty stands guard over the city, near North Commercial Street and West Wisconsin Avenue.

Artist Timothy Haglun created the mural for Neenah Public Library's Children's Department.

Miniature statue of liberty at Neenah
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

The mural depicts youngsters having a great time reading, playing, canoeing, and working together.

These kids live in a fantasy world filled with characters and animals from children's books.

The artist believes this painting will encourage youngsters to dream and read about other planets.

Then, go behind the library to see Lyman Whitaker's Wind Sculpture, a tribute to Joyce Chase.

The Double Helix wind sculpture is organic and natural, which a gentle breeze can move.

Don't forget to snap photos as a reminder of your visit.

Final Thoughts

You can try a wide range of activities and events in Neenah, making it an excellent destination for people of all ages and interest.

Discover everything this quaint city has to offer with this list of the best things to do in Neenah, WI.

Book your trip today!