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.
Sometimes numbers speak louder than letters. And sometimes they come together to tell a wonderfully vociferous story: six large-screen TVs, 700 full CDs, and 2,000 music videos. That's the tale of the tape at Third Base Sports Bar & Grill, where the staff navigates around a pool table and dartboard to serve pizza, burgers, and sandwiches. The menu includes a BLT stack and a philly wrap with shredded steak, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and mozzarella. The team rents out a party room for $15 per hour, which includes a lighting-and-sound system and a dancing stage that actually gets up and dances in front of the floors of the other rooms. The libation department complements the food team by serving Budweiser, Blue Moon, and Miller Lite.
At Badger Sports Park players armed with laser systems battle it out in a two-story laser tag arena, defending positions from attackers while seizing new ground elsewhere. Alternately, the Badger Inflatable Arena lets children ages 2–10 bounce safely inside sports-themed, air filled slides and forts. At the mini-bowing area players face off against human opponents, while video games pit them against computer-based challengers. Meanwhile during games of skee-ball, players compete against themselves, which could lead to trash talking in front of a hand mirror. Other attractions include eight batting cages and an 18-hole mini golf course with obstacles themed around Wisconsin sports.
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.