Sky-blue walls and sand-colored carpets greet each family at Kids Unleashed, where slides, hula hoops, and playhouses invite young ones to explore as they hone their gross motor skills. The make-believe beach beckons stocking-dressed feet to roam its shores, where children ride rocking horses and parents surf free WiFi instead of the carpet in a nearby lounge filled with coffee, conversation, and clear views of the kids’ activities. Story time piques young children’s interest in reading, and ping-pong tables help older kids to develop enough hand-eye coordination to read a book while performing a cartwheel. Parents may depart during most of the center’s classes and camps, as the creation of art projects stimulates inventiveness in each child, and cupcake-baking demonstrates that cakes have children too. After class or playtime, the café teems with homemade, health-conscious snacks.
Films still gasping for air from their first runs stop by to grace the screens of Fox Cinema Cafe, a second-run theater with weekend matinees and evening shows. Like a deep-fried VHS of Citizen Kane, the theater combines the best aspects of food and film with servers who deliver handmade pizzas, popcorn, snacks, and sandwiches to patrons’ tables as they watch their movie. Private rooms host birthday parties and corporate gatherings where guests can spread out to play games, unwrap presents, and reenact climactic speed-reading battles from their favorite films.
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.
Snap Fitness, bustling with cardio and strength-training gear, throws open the doors to its facilities 24/7. Before exercisers put sneakers to treadmills or lift their first weights, staff meet with them to talk about their fitness goals before suggesting personalized fitness plans based on clients' strength, cardio condition, and bionic-limb manufacturers. The gym keeps members motivated with regular check-in calls and demystifies healthful eating with custom online meal plans designed by nutritionists. Staff also forestall exercise-routine boredom by working individually with clients on a routine basis.
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.
Founded by PGA Master Professional Bob Burns in 1975, the indoor-outdoor golf practice facility fosters score-shaving skills for golfletes of all abilities. In each 45-minute lesson, pupils cure chronic slices or snap-hooks at the organically-spiked feet of Bob’s son Chris Burns. Computer swing analysis amplifies Chris’s preternatural shot-assessing abilities, granting players invaluable, raw data about their swing and how to shore up deficient techniques. The instructor tailors lessons to each student’s objectives, whether it’s to perfect a solid stance and good grip or to stop burying expensive clubs and then forgetting their location. With today’s first option, club-toting clientele also receive a large bucket of driving range balls, which affords them a wellspring of 115 spheroids that willfully subject themselves to swing experimentations and remain quiet during motivational speeches delivered to your nine-iron. Lessons and practice sessions can be conducted in one of three indoor hitting bays in the event of inclement weather. Call 24 hours in advance to schedule your lessons, which are available seven days a week.