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Wisconsin, Land of Legends

History Museum at the Castle, Appleton

Appleton is the cultural center of the Fox Cities, a conglomerate of 19 communities nestled along the Fox River. Groups can learn about some of the region’s most fascinating historic components at the Museum at the Castle, a small but excellent museum that is inside a former Masonic temple.

The exhibit “AKA Houdini” focuses on legendary illusionist and stunt performer Harry Houdini, who spent several years of his childhood in Appleton. In “Play: Golden Age of Toys,” visitors can browse whimsical displays and interactive toy stations that showcase Appleton’s historic toy industry.

The museum also houses an exceptional traveling exhibition called “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” which will remain on display until January 2019.

While you’re there: One of Appleton’s most notable sites is the Hearthstone Historic House Museum, a Queen Anne-style residence that claims national significance as the first house in the United States with an Edison Electric System and a hydroelectric power station.

H.H. Bennett Studio, Wisconsin Dells

Named after the Dells of the Wisconsin River, a scenic five-mile gorge with unusual sandstone rock formations and tributary canyons, the city of Wisconsin Dells was made famous by landscape photographer H.H. Bennett, who popularized outdoor photography at a time when most professionals in his field preferred to work within the confines of a studio.

Today, visitors can tour Bennett’s 1875 studio in downtown to learn about his long-standing legacy and influence. One of his most notable contributions was the invention of the stop-action camera shutter, which revolutionized the world of photography. Groups can also learn about the evolution of camera technology through the hands-on exhibits, and they can pick up a handmade Bennett print from the gift shop.

While you’re there: Known as the Water Park Capital of the World, Wisconsin Dells is home to the world’s largest concentration of indoor and outdoor water parks, as well as the largest water park in America. There are also various other amusements in the area, including boat tours and musical revues.