It’s summertime and the weather is as perfect as we could ask for. Unfortunately, this season has been served up with a side of pandemic. While we’re fortunate to have many family-friendly attractions in our community, it still feels like we’re searching to discover something new. With the pandemic, people are nervous to venture out to movie theatres, theme parks, and large events like concerts. With the current limitations we’re facing, it’s time to re-discover or in some cases learn about some of the many fun yet safe gems we have right here in our backyard.
From Green Bay to Oshkosh, we’re fortunate to have some famous venues and host some of the greatest events the Midwest has to offer. From the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, the EAA, Mile of Music or Country USA, there is no shortage of live music and entertainment, particularly in the summer months.
I’m guessing you have been to your fair share of festivals, every town has one. I’m sure you have been to more Timber Rattler games that you can count, I know I have. We’re fortunate to have a community with an abundance of live music and farmers’ markets. With many of these events no longer happening, I wanted to share a few fun and affordable things you should be adding to your calendar this summer.
Hiking at High Cliff State Park
Located just 20 minutes outside of Appleton, High Cliff State Park is the only state-owned recreational area on Lake Winnebago. The 1,147-acre park features, a golf course, fantastic trails, a campground, picnic areas, a beach, marina, several historic sites, watchable wildlife, and my favorite the observation tour at the top of the cliff. Ditch the electronics and take advantage of this affordable family fun.
Interested in a unique date with a spouse or a family outing. Take the family strawberry picking at Cuff Farms. Enjoy some sunshine and fresh air while picking delicious and healthy strawberries. It’s a short drive from just about anywhere in the Fox Cities.
Bergstrom Mahler Museum
Located in Downtown Neenah, Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass features a stellar glass collection that includes the largest collection of antique and contemporary paperweights in the world, Germanic drinking vessels, Victorian-era glass and an ever-expanding collection of contemporary glass sculpture. The museum frequently hosts temporary glass exhibitions and offers glass art classes for youth and adults. There is no reason not to go, admission is free.
Special Memories Zoo
Is located in Greenville, about 10 minutes west of Appleton. The zoo is a surprisingly big venue and features animals from all over the world. Special Memories also has train rides, a petting zoo, playground, and gift shop. It’s a great place for youth birthday parties and family picnics.
The Social Station offers themed pedal-powered tours through Downtown Appleton on their unique 15-seat Mega Cycle. Enjoy a leisurely ride while pedaling, listening to music, and sightseeing with friends. Themes include Pub crawls, Coffee & Scenic Tours, and Exercise Expeditions. Tours are 2-hours in length, typically include 2-3 stops. You can even bring your own beer and snacks. Group tours start at $330.
Fox Trot Trail Appleton
These self-guided tours are free and easy. This scenic two-mile loop of Appleton’s downtown and riverfront will highlight some of Appleton’s rich history, the beautiful Fox River and are heavily tied to the north-flowing Fox River and the paper industry. The trail is marked by blue fox paw prints on the sidewalk which guide you to each stop on the trail. There are 16 stopping points along the way.
History Museum at the Castle
The History Museum is known for its Harry Houdini exhibit which is a fun and educational experience for the entire family. It also features award-winning exhibits and on-going events about Fox Valley history. I will bet you didn’t know they offer programs for all ages throughout the year, including walking tours, pub crawls, bicycle tours, and unique social events.
Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin
The Butterfly Garden of Wisconsin is located just north of Appleton off Hwy 47. The facility features a 2-acre maze designed in the form of a monarch butterfly. It’s not uncommon visitors will see deer, turkeys, mink, birds, and other animals. You can observe the entire maze from a viewing bridge. Along with their butterfly hoop house, they also have a frog, toad, turtle, and beehive exhibit. The property also features a wedding chapel and a gift shop.
Fox River Tours
I think you already know that there happens to be a beautiful river flowing right through the heart Appleton. Fox River Tours, new as of this year offers chartered tours on their 35-passenger riverboat. They operate May-October and serve alcohol on board. Tour prices start at $17 per person.
Looking for a laid back and educational craft beer experience, they’ve got something for you? Or maybe you’re a wine drinker and interested in a tour (and tastings) of local wineries, they’ve got you covered there. Tours start at $35/person and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They offer a wide variety of themed tours that take you all over Northeast Wisconsin. Services also include private bookings for weddings, corporate outings, and beyond.
Fox River Kayaking Company
A new and exciting attraction in the Fox Cities is Kayak tours. Fox River Kayaking Company offers guided excursions, stand up paddleboard yoga, and gear rentals for independent outings on the Fox River and surrounding waterways. They have plenty of options for early morning tours to late evening tours.
Buboltz Nature Centre
It’s cleverly hidden just off Highway 41 and Lynndale and features a surprising 775 acres filled with an amazing 8-mile trail, and features an abundance of wildlife. They also have a variety of educational programs for kids and families.
Did I miss one of your favorites? If so, let me know what it is in the comments below.