The servicemen of Pearl Harbor's naval base were taking some much-needed R&R between early-morning repairs inside Hangar 37 when suddenly they heard a buzzing overhead. With the humming of their own planes and battleships periodically filling the air, this rapidly approaching sound wasn't foreign to their ears, but this instance proved to be drastically different. Thunderous explosions soon overtook Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona struggled to stay afloat as the Imperial Japanese Navy delivered a surprise military strike, which resulted in one of the most devastating attacks on American soil. With a mission to preserve the history of this tragic event, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor opened that very same hangar to the public, hundreds of feet from where ships burned and men courageously fought more than 70 years ago.
Hangar 37's 42,000-square-foot space currently houses many of the museum's artifacts, which include a World War II–era B-25B bomber, Japanese Zero, and naval planes such as the SBD Dauntless. Also open to the public, Hangar 79 displays the actual bullet holes that pierced its windows during the attack, while an authentic WWII maintenance shop contains an exhibit that explains how planes ran on Lucky Strike cigarette materials. Visitors can experience the museum's ever-evolving collection of exhibits––which has included segments dedicated to the Korean War's MiG Alley and the Flying Tigers––through guided tours in both hangars and submerse themselves in the virtual world of the museum's combat flight simulator.
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.
In 1976, educator, musician, and kinesiologist Robin Wes opened The Little Gym based on his new take on physical education. His curriculum emphasized motivating children to achieve instead of pressuring them to win. As a result, The Little Gym became a noncompetitive, positive, nurturing environment where young ones could develop physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Since then, The Little Gyms have sprouted up across the country. The programs and classes aim to help kids develop skills such as rhythm and coordination, and kids camps during winter, spring, and summer breaks prevent children from creating finger paintings that express the existential ennui they feel when school is out of session.
Before Bob Burns was a tournament winner, he was operating a one-man golf center just north of Appleton. Bob Burns Golf was founded in 1975, and in those days specialized in repairs, custom-built clubs, and golf instruction. By the 1980s, the company had grown?as had its reputation?and Burns was being invited to host seminars on club design, manufacture, and repair by leaders in the industry. His career on a perpetual upswing, the PGA Master Professional invented his trademark No Bananas driver around the same time. Today, his golf lessons are considered among the top 50 in the world by Golf Range Magazine, and in his downtime he acts as the accessible golf editor for Palaestra, where he focuses on making the game accessible for those with disabilities.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
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.