Things To Do In the Fox Cities

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Escape to the family-friendly charm of the Fox Cities, just 30 minutes from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Explore our guide to discover unique experiences, from crafting your own chocolate bar to enjoying captivating performances and delving into local history. Embrace the diverse attractions that make the Fox Cities a perfect getaway destination for everyone.

Group of pictures of a chicken, caramel apples, stage, and firefighter helmets.

1. Learn Something New at the History Museum at the Castle

Castle in Wisconsin.

Located in a beautiful castle that was originally erected as a Masonic Temple, the History Museum at the Castle in Appleton houses memorabilia of one of the city’s most famous residents, Harry Houdini.

Houdini claimed that he was born in Appleton, but that is not true. He was originally born in Budapest, Hungary, and his family immigrated to the United States. Houdini’s fondest memories were of the time when the family lived in Appleton, which helps explain why he claims it as his birthplace.

Jail bar display in a museum.

Other exhibits include Play which features classic and locally made toys, A Stone of Hope about black history in the Fox Cities from the 1700s to the present, (In)visible: Homelessness in Appleton, and Tools of Change, an exhibit that examines the tools, the work and everyday life in the Fox Valley region from 1840 to 1950.

Toys on display.

The History Museum at the Castle is located in a former Masonic Temple in Appleton at 330 E. College Avenue. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am until 4 pm and is part of the Time Travelers network. Admission is $10 for adults and $7.50 for children ages 3-17.

2. Pet Cuddly Animals at Mulberry Lane Farm

A trip to Wisconsin would not be complete without visiting a farm. I cannot think of a better way of doing so than by going to Mulberry Lane Farm in Sherwood. With over 100 acres and 300 animals to pet, Mulberry Lane Farm is a treat for the young and old alike.

Red tractor on a farm.
Lady holding black bunny.

Mulberry Lane Farm is a short drive from Appleton (approximately 15-20 minutes).  With admission, visitors can go on a hayride, milk a cow, feed the goats, pet the farm animals, and in the Fall, even pick a pumpkin to take home.

Large white rooster.

It’s not simply a fun place to visit – it’s educational, too. I learned that a freemartin is a female twin to a male. (The situation causes her to be infertile.) I also learned that piglets have a teat order (and they are sticklers at keeping that order) and that they gain about one pound per day.

Brown sheep.

Mulberry Lane Farm occupies the former Schwabenlander Homestead which dates back to 1881 when the property was initially purchased by John and Margaret Pretchel. The Pretchels built the farmhouse which still stands to this day and serves as a dressing area for brides-to-be as they prepare for their country wedding at the farm.

Rustic wedding venue in a barn.

Mulberry Lane Farms is open to visitors from the beginning of May until the end of October. It’s located at W3190 County Road B in Hilbert, Wisconsin.

I love that included with the price of admission is, well…everything. The admission fee is all-inclusive. Included are the children’s pony ride, your hayride, milking the cow, grain to feed the goats…and all the fun farm activities. You even pick your own FREE pumpkin in the fall. There are no hidden fees.

3. Take In a Show at Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Though Appleton’s population is fewer than 100,000, the nonprofit Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is able to attract award-winning Broadway performances to its state-of-the-art theater. More than 350 performances take place annually in the 2100-seat Thrivent Financial Hall and the smaller, multi-purpose Kimberly-Clark Theater.

Performing arts center.

Past productions included The Sound of Music, The Bodyguard, Cabaret, Finding Neverland, Mama Mia!, Beautiful: The Carole Kane Musical, and Wicked.

Lobby of performing arts center.

The main hall was designed so that no seat is more than 108 feet away from the stage.  I sat on the balcony and was able to see and hear the performance of The Book of Mormon very well.

View of stage from a balcony.

The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is located at 400 W College Avenue in Appleton.

4. Build Your Own Chocolate Bar at Wilmar Chocolates

For sixty years, Appleton residents and visitors have been able to satisfy their chocolate cravings with freshly made treats at Wilmar Chocolates.

Wilmar Chocolate store building.

 Wilmar Chocolates takes its name from the original proprietors, Wil(bur) and Mar(y Jane) Srnka. The store has been specializing in handcrafted chocolate treats in Appleton since 1956.

Chocolate covered apples.

On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 11 – 5, customers can build their own custom candy bars. They can select up to 4 add-ins as well as optional spices and watch as a chocolatier crafts their unique bar. Some of the other add-ins include potato chips, goji berries, pineapple, marshmallows, Oreos, Pop Rocks, sprinkles, and espresso.

Wilmar Chocolates is located at 1222 N Superior Street in Appleton. It is open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

5. Get Hands-On Play at the Building For Kids Children’s Museum

The Building For Kids Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum designed specifically for little kids.

Firefighter helmets.

Some of the hands-on exhibits include the Discovery Tree which has five tree forts and nets to climb through, the Gulfstream Aircraft where kids can pretend to be a pilot or a passenger on a plane, and the Pierce Firetruck exhibit where kids can put on firemen coats and helmets and play on an actual firetruck which has been adapted for the museum.  

Kids can also put on a raincoat and play in the Thrivent Mutual Funds Water Gallery.  That’s not all!  Other exhibits include:

  • The Amazing Heart
  • Castle Adventure
  • Construction Junction by The Boldt Company
  • daVinci Studio
  • Everybody Play and Imagination Playground
  • Fox Communities Credit Union’s Littlest Branch
  • Happy Baby Garden
  • Kid’s Town
  • Move It
  • Renewable Energy House
People putting fingers in water feature.

The Building For Kids Children’s Museum is located in downtown Appleton and is open Tuesday through Sunday.  The museum welcomes memberships in the Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Network and the Association of Science Technology Centers Travel Passport Program.

The Building For Kids Children’s Museum is located at 100 W College Avenue in Appleton. It is open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. (It is closed on Monday.) Admission is $11 per person.

6. Learn About Paper

Where does one go when they want to celebrate paper?  The Paper Discovery Center in Appleton – that’s where.

Doors to Paper Discovery Center.

The Paper Discovery Center walks visitors through the history of papermaking.  From raw materials to the finished product, it’s all there.  Visitors can also see recycling in action by making their own recycled works of paper art.

Raw materials display.

Young and old alike can take pieces of newspaper and recycled colored paper, throw in some sparkles, and a few steps later have a special memento from the Paper Discovery Center.

Old comic papers.

The Paper Discovery Center is located along the banks of the Fox River in the historic Atlas Mill Building in Appleton.  The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am until 4 pm.

Person holding homemade paper.

7. Try Something Gluten-Free at Happy Bellies Bake Shop

Gluten-free chocolate cupcake with frosting.

Remember the “something for everyone” mentioned at the beginning of this post?  At Happy Bellies Bake Shop, that is so true.  Not only are the baked goods handcrafted from natural ingredients and fresh, but they are all gluten-free.  Happy Bellies also has dairy-free, vegan, refined sugar-free, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free options.  The best part is that they taste amazing!

Happy Bellies is located at 2107 N Richmond Street in Appleton. It is open on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.


Location

The Fox Cities is a region located in northeastern Wisconsin that includes the cities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, and Kaukauna.

Why is the area called the “Fox Cities?”

The name “Fox Cities” comes from the Fox River, which flows through the region.


Fox Cities has many more places to explore, both indoors and out.  For more information on what to see and do, where to stay, dining and shopping, as well as events and more, visit www.FoxCities.org.

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