Every woman I know loves getting away with the girls — myself included.
While there are countless places to go, Appleton, Wis. is one you’ve likely never considered, but should.
Appleton is part of the Fox Cities region, consisting of 19 cities and towns along the Fox River. With a combined population of 360,000, they create the third-largest metropolis in Wisconsin.
I think Fox Cities has become so popular for girlfriend getaways because women like to shop. And eat. Myself included. I know it’s stereotyping, but then again, it’s pretty much true.
Fortunately you can do plenty of both in Appleton, where the cheese does not stand alone.
It’s no secret Wisconsin is home to voracious football fans known as ‘cheeseheads’, 1,200 cheesemakers, and 600 cheese varieties. At Appleton’s Green Gecko Grocer & Deli, you can sample divine dairy snacks, sip wine, and enjoy tantalizing tapas prepared from local ingredients.
For heartier meals, Vince Lombardi’s Steakhouse is must-visit for NFL fans. Named after the infamous Green Bay Packers coach, it’s as much museum as restaurant. The dark wood-panelled interior is brimming with authentic football memorabilia, photos, jerseys, and all sorts of guy candy. It also boasts the only exact replica of football’s Holy Grail — the Vince Lombardi trophy.
The History Museum is another fascinating place, housing an award-winning tribute to one of Appleton’s most legendary residents. Harry Houdini was born in Budapest in 1874, and moved with his family to Appleton in 1878. In later years, he often claimed Appleton as his birthplace.
The AKA Houdini Exhibit offers a glimpse into the world and mind of the renowned magician. Hands-on activities reveal some of his secrets, including a real-life straitjacket that yours truly attempted to get out of — and succeeded! Thanks to step-by-step instructions posted on the wall, anyway.
The Fox Cities also have awesome urban shopping options. Downtown streets in each town are lined with funky and often inexpensive boutiques featuring cool vintage fashions, unique one-of-a-kind creations, and other trendy and timeless items. A couple of must-shop places are Hey Daisy in Appleton, and Vintique in neighbouring Neenah.
Fox River Mall is second largest in the state, and next door to the brand new Hampton Inn. The hotel guarantees 100% satisfaction or money back, but I doubt they ever have to honour this. They get top marks for cleanliness and comfort, all-day snacks and beverages, and a hot breakfast that offers an ‘on the run breakfast bag’ upon request.
I was even pleasantly surprised to find a rubber duckie living in my bathroom. However, I can’t say the same for the real-life fowl living nearby…
There’s a beautiful path beside the hotel, so naturally I went exploring. It’s part of The Paper Trail, a 42-mile loop around the Fox Cities. It’s also home to a crazy massive goose that runs after, flies toward, and dive-bombs at anyone who comes near. It was the scariest bird I’ve ever encountered, adding a whole new meaning to ‘wild goose chase’.
I’m just glad I ducked.
RoseAnna Schick is an avid traveller who seeks inspiration wherever she goes. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.