Cincinnati Family Magazine

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October 7, 2022

Wonders of Wisconsin

From Lake Winnebago to museums in Appleton ... Wisconsin will keep your family busy!

Eagles glide above Lake Winnebago, boats lower into it, and families share picnics on the playgrounds surrounding it. But the lake and surrounding area of High Cliff State Park showed us why campers from all over the world come back to enjoy Wisconsin’s largest inland lake year after year.

We toured through forests both paved and rugged with animal tracks and budding wildflowers dotting the trails as well as fascinating landmarks. We went inside a charming General Store filled with artifacts and stories from the 1800s through the 1950s, observed historic limestone quarries and a climbed a 40-foot observation tower. Despite its many, many stairs and dizzying height, the tower was worth climbing for the view of the vast lake and limestone cliffs that give the park its name not to mention the beginning of the Niagara Escarpment, formed by ancient glaciers.

When it’s time for more exploration, head to the Weis Earth Science Museum in Menasha where you can jump to measure earthquakes, get a close-up view of the world’s most complete dinosaur nest with eggs, and walk through a lead mine tunnel. Next door, at the Barlow Planetarium, kid-friendly shows are the norm. “We keep the sound down, and the lights up until our audience is comfortable,” our host told us. The Planetarium has a 48-foot projection dome, interactive keypads at each seat, and a variety of shows, all ending with a tour of the current nighttime sky — stars, constellations and planets.

Wisconsin 2

Station 99’s fire truck

On to Appleton

About 10 minutes from Menasha you come to Appleton. Downtown, at the Building for Kids Children Museum, kids can reach for the sky in a Gulfstream Jet — a realistic cockpit and control tower. They can also climb and slide all over the Story Book Tree and have fun among its five forts. Sit in the driver’s seat of Station 99’s fire truck (pictured) to bring fire safety to life, soar into the Imagination Playground for limitless fun, and create art and science projects at the Da Vinci Studio. Water play, a ball pit, construction area and more exhibits also teach and entertain, and there’s even a place for the toddler set: Huggies Happy Baby Garden gives kids 0 – 3 a safe place to play, slide, and explore music.

Now, just two blocks away, explore and learn at the History Museum at the Castle. Formerly a Masonic Temple, this museum has a breathtaking entry hall complete with storied stained glass and architectural secrets, speaking of which, Harry Houdini claimed Appleton as his hometown, and the museum reveals some of the tricks behind a few of his most famous illusions — you can even try your hand at them!

Mosey on over to the Paper Discovery Center on Water Street. A short film introduces paper’s contributions to civilization, and then exhibits take visitors on a sensory-rich journey through the process of making paper. Interactive stations let you make paper crafts or paper itself in a hands-on lab overlooking the rushing Fox River.

WHERE TO VISIT

HIGH CLIFF STATE PARK
N7630 State Park Road,
 Sherwood, WI
920-989-1106
dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/highcliff/

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-FOX VALLEY
1478 Midway Road, Menasha, WI
920-832-2925
uwfox.uwc.edu/wesm

FOX VALLEY BARLOW PLANETARIUM
1478 Midway Road, Menasha, WI
920-832-2848
uwfox.uwc.edu/barlow

THE BUILDING FOR KIDS CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
100 W. College Ave., Appleton, WI
920-734-3226
buildingforkids.org

HISTORY MUSEUM AT THE CASTLE
330 E. College Ave., Appleton, WI
920-735-9370
myhistorymuseum.org

PAPER DISCOVERY CENTER
425 W. Water St., Appleton, WI
920-380-7491
paperdiscoverycenter.org

About the Author

Barbara David

Barbara David, mother of five and an award-winning columnist for Cincinnati Family Magazine, enjoys travel, writing, and restoring her century-old, west-side home.