Harry Houdini was legendary for his daring escapes, but he's still never escaped the public's imagination. To wit: AKA Houdini, whose artifacts offer a hands-on glimpse into some of his most infamous tricks. Along with the Appleton-raised illusionist, The History Museum at the Castle's award-winning exhibits focus on other notable Fox Valley natives, including Senator Joseph McCarthy. Dating back to the 1840s, the museum's collection of Fox Valley artifacts includes 35,000 photographs and 20,000 pieces, such as parts of a vintage gas station. At an exhibit tracing the origins of the area's most famous foods, such as frozen custard and fish fries, visitors can even spear sturgeons inside a life-size virtual ice shanty.
These pieces of Fox Valley history are housed inside a Masonic temple listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1923, the temple exemplifies the medieval, Norman Revival style with rough-hewn stone, vaulted ceilings, and fire-breathing dragons guarding its entrance. Designed as a community center, the temple continues to serve that function by hosting the museum's year-round events, including papermaking programs and magic workshops.
Super Bowl appeases pin-pulverizers of all ages and experience levels with 48 lanes, a sizeable sports bar and grill, and a live-music venue. Guests can slip out of their rubber fishing galoshes and strap on a pair of rental shoes for a rollicking round of spares, strikes, and follow-throughs. Choose from standard lanes, or pair lightweight balls with kid-friendly bumper lanes to accommodate pipsqueak players. Parties can refuel after ball-bombarding sessions with a 16-inch pizza and a pitcher of a preferred potation from the grill, and fritter away their milk money in one of the center's two arcades.
Skaters Edge entertains inner children and regular children with a 22,000-square-foot skating facility, lined with gleaming maple wood and accented by a glowing arcade. A pair of classic-style roller skates gather speed over the slick surface, propelled by retro tunes and an opulent light show. An online schedule outlines the skate house's availability for open skate hours. This Groupon includes skate rental, but patrons can bring their own skates or rollerblades provided they adhere to the Skaters Edge rink rules and the no-cooties rule.
The crisp sound of ice skates slicing across fresh ice fills Appleton Family Ice Center, a nonprofit community rink that hosts ice-based sports, skating lessons, and open-skate times. New renovations present visitors with healthier options at the concession stand and a brand-new skating surface as smooth as a silk scarf wrapped around Kenny G. When it’s not hosting birthday parties or serving as the home base for the Fox Cities Ice Dogs or Valley Figure Skating Club, the center also welcomes the public for evening events that include live music, refreshments, and periodic sweeps from a Zamboni decorated like a fire truck.