Three fun-filled days was all it took for me to fall in love with the Fox Cities region in Eastern Wisconsin. In the Fox River Valley you’ll find a versatile mix of classic foods, sports, and nightlife to keep anyone entertained. While it’s often touted as a great place for shopping, I found more than enough to plan a fantastic guys weekend. Appleton, the heart of the region, is the perfect base to set up shop for a fun and affordable summer getaway.
What’s a Guy to do in Appleton?
You can’t go wrong with a baseball game and the Timber Rattlers are a major draw to Appleton. This Class A team is a minor league affiliate to the Milwaukee Brewers and plays roughly 70 home games between April and early September. The Fox Cities stadium regularly holds promotional events and there is plenty of fun between innings, such as the Bratzooka. That’s right, they have an air cannon which shoots bratwurst into the crowd! While you’re there, try the unique fan designed snacks. This year they are serving some amazing bratwurst and kraut Rangoons. Check here for the current Timber Rattlers schedule and tickets.
If football is more your thing, Wisconsin won’t let you down. Being in Packers country, NFL fans and locals alike will be flocking to the History Museum at the Castle this summer to see the NFL Hall of Fame exhibit. Beginning June 30, 2018 Grid Iron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame will take over the main exhibit hall. A special Green Bay Packers section will be added to the already amazing collection of football memorabilia. If you need a little extra football fix, the Green Bay Packers museum is only half an hour away.
Start off one of your mornings with a round of golf. Appleton features two public courses; Reid Municipal on the east side of town and Chaska next to the airport. Both are 18 hole courses and have challenging combination of woods, hills, and water features. It’s the perfect way to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of the Fox River Valley.
Stretch your legs and hop on a Social Station tour. The 15 seat megacycle is a pedal powered trolley that will take you on a 2 to 3 hour tour around town. You can choose an exercise or scenic tour, but why not go straight for the pub crawl. Downtown Appleton has several bars and a few brewpubs to satisfy your thirst. Even if you only have a few people in your group, the Social Station can accommodate you.
A Guy’s Gotta Eat, Right?
Skip the generic hotel breakfast buffet and head into downtown Appleton for a delicious start to your day. For a full meal, check out the Queen Bee restaurant for classic meat, eggs, and hash browns or order up a stack of fruit topped pancakes. On the lighter side, Bagelicious serves up, well, bagels. Here you’ll find more than a dozen classic New York style varieties along with flavored cream cheeses and sandwich options.
My recommendation for a morning jump start is the Copper Rock Coffee Company. You can’t go wrong with a fresh made breakfast sandwich and a cup of coffee. From a basic cup o’ Joe to a strong and chocolaty Jimminy latte, they have you covered. The owner, Bill, takes his coffee seriously and imports and roasts only the top grades in house. The smell when you walk in the door is enough to perk you right up.
Before heading out on your adventures, stop by Simon’s Specialty Cheeses for a classic taste of Wisconsin. Stock up on locally made cheese (the factory is right across the parking lot) and sausages. A favorite of mine is their aged white cheddar, but mild varieties are also available. Swing by the cooler featuring cold locally made beers and sodas to quench your thirst.
For lunch, and a drink, stop in at the Stone Arch Brewpub. The owners brew some amazing beers and serve top notch food. Inspired by classic British pubs, you’ll find the typical fare on the menu plus a few unique items. At Stone Arch they work within the local food scene to provide dishes like cheese curds, elk pastrami wraps, bison burgers, and a local & organic salad bar. But let’s get back to the brewery side. Stone Arch brews smaller batches to keep several varieties on tap at any time. They also create their own sodas and root beer, plus feature other local brews on tap.
No guys trip to Appleton is complete without dinner at Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse. Instead of the cases of old jerseys and trophies you’d find at a typical sports bar, this elegant eatery is furnished in rich wood and covered with more personal items and pictures from the great coach’s life. From hand sketched plays to photographs on the field, you’ll get an up close look at the legend. Of note is the Lombardi Trophy sitting atop a pedestal in the main dining room. It is the only replica and is made from the original Tiffany molds. It took a call from Vince Lombardi’s son to make that happen. The food is also outstanding. The steaks are insanely good and the side dishes equally delicious. Tip: arrive a little early and you might get a peak inside before dinner service begins.
If you’re looking for a more casual meal, Frank’s Pizza Palace has what you need. Frank’s introduced Appleton to pizza back in the 1950s and hasn’t stopped turning out their distinctive thin crust pies since. Current owner, Jeannie, has followed in her father’s footsteps to provide the top rated pizza in town. Try the “Frank’s Special” loaded with a double dose of their house made sausage and piles of mushrooms.
Cap off a Busy Day with some Appleton Night Life
A variety of bars line the College Ave strip downtown. Popular favorites include the Appleton Beer Factory for micro brews, Deja vu Martini Bar for live music and karaoke, and the eclectic holiday décor at Cleo’s. Appleton has several live music performances throughout the summer, including the Mile of Music Festival in August where around 200 bands and performers take over the downtown strip and other venues. Back at the Stone Arch Brewing Company, you’ll find an outdoor patio in the warm summer months and the Skyline Comedy Club churning out laughs Thursday through Saturday nights.
Guys Getaways and More in Appleton
Appleton, Wisconsin is a versatile and affordable location for a fun-filled guys weekend getaway. From baseball games to brew pubs, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone in your group happy. Whether you’re planning a vacation centered around sports, shopping, or the local food scene, it’s easy to put together a flexible itinerary in Appleton. Visit the Fox Cities CVB for more information on locations mentioned in this article and other great activities.