Live music is performed during Mile of Music in Memorial Chapel.
Mile of Music is just one of many opportunities to catch live music in Appleton. (Photos by Danny Damiani)

Lawrence University’s deepening partnerships with downtown Appleton via the Fox Commons development and the joint building project with Trout Museum of Art is a reminder of what a vibrant community this is.

The benefits of calling Appleton and the Fox Cities home go well beyond those two exciting projects. Here are 10 reasons the Lawrence community can embrace the Fox Cities as home.

1: Downtown Appleton

Signage says Downtown Appleton: One Great Place.

Lawrence is wonderfully located on the east end of a bustling downtown. From a variety of restaurants and coffee shops to numerous performing and visual arts spaces, the downtown beckons. Everything is walkable whether you are exploring shops and diners or the Saturday morning farmer’s market or the bevy of arts venues. Lawrentians get a price break as well courtesy of the Viking Downtown Deals discount. Check out more about what the downtown offers via Appleton Downtown Inc.

2: Fox Cities Performing Arts Center

Mile of Music participants dance on stage at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.
The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is one of the jewels of downtown Appleton.

This world-class performing arts center is just a few blocks west of the Lawrence campus. It draws a full season of touring Broadway shows each year, as well as a full schedule of other performances ranging from symphony concerts to pop and country shows to dance. Watch for student discounts for many of the performances. It's extra fun when Lawrence students take to the Fox Cities PAC stage for Kaleidoscope concerts or when Lawrence alums come home as part of touring productions

3: Fox River

A view of the Fox River near campus.
Lawrence University is situated along the banks of the Fox River.

Yes, a river runs through the heart of Appleton, and it is beautiful. Lawrence is located where it is because of the Fox River. The beauty of the region first drew the attention of Amos Lawrence, who set in motion plans to establish an institution of learning along the shores of the Fox River in the mid-1800s. The City of Appleton and the wider Fox Cities would then grow around the university. The views of the river from the windows in Warch Campus Center and from other vantage points on campus are breathtaking.

4: Trails and parks

The Lawe Street Trestle Trail, just south of campus, will open in early August. (Photos by Danny Damiani)
A trestle bridge spans the Fox River near campus, connecting to walking and biking trails. 

There are many easily accessible trails close to campus, including a beautiful trestle bridge that opened in 2020. Same goes for city parks. You can explore them on foot or on bike. If you want to venture a little farther, there are more than 100 miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails in and around the Fox Cities.

5: Exploring history

You don’t have to go far to explore the history of the Fox Valley region. The History Museum at the Castle is right across the street from campus at the intersection of College Avenue and Drew Street. Among other cool things, you can check out the history of escape artist Harry Houdini, who called Appleton home. You also won’t have to go far to scratch your history itch on everything from aviation (EAA Aviation Museum is 30 minutes to the south) to the Green Bay Packers (the team’s Hall of Fame is 30 minutes to the north). But you also will find plenty of history right on campus—in the LU Archives located in Mudd Library, in Chapman Hall’s Teakwood Room, in rocks and other materials in the Geosciences Department and across campus, in the art collections in Wriston Art Center, and so much more.

6: Let’s eat

Appleton has a wonderful array of locally owned restaurant choices. From restaurants with great views of the river, to culturally diverse options that will take your taste buds on a trip around the world, to low-key take-out and delivery, the possibilities are worth exploring.  

7: Get your professional sports fix

Lawrence students enjoy a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game at Fox Cities Stadium. (Photo by Danny Damiani)
Lawrence students enjoy a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game at Fox Cities Stadium. 

The Fox Cities is home to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a High-A minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Watch tomorrow’s MLB stars at beautiful Fox Cities Stadium, six miles west of campus. It’s among the best places to spend a spring or summer day in northeast Wisconsin. Also, did you know the iconic Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, is less than 30 minutes from campus? It’s worth a road trip for many things beyond game day. There’s the Titletown District that surrounds the stadium, tours, restaurants, the Hall of Fame, a massive gift shop, and opportunities to watch the team practice.

8: Visual arts are everywhere

There are plenty of options to explore the visual arts without ever leaving the downtown. That, of course, includes Lawrence’s own Wriston Art Galleries. Also downtown is the beautiful Trout Museum of Art (soon to be right on campus), which features exhibitions and classes all year long. You can flex your own creative muscles at downtown shops such as The Fire (ceramics, mosaics, glass); Board & Brush (DIY workshops), Pinot’s Palette (painting), and Mud & Prints (ceramics).

9: Live music

A music performance is seen at Mile of Music in 2023.
Live music venues are active in Appleton all year long.

The annual Mile of Music festival gets most of the attention, but downtown Appleton offers a steady dose of live music all year long. Check out Gibson Music Hall (21+ unless noted) for starters. Poplar Hall, a Viking Downtown Deals partner, is an events venue located along the Fox River that presents concerts. And the Fox Cities Performing Arts Centers has a variety of concert options on its calendar. That, of course, is all in addition to the musical brilliance happening regularly on the stages of the Conservatory of Music, from student ensembles to faculty showcases to the Performing Arts Series.

10: Transportation

No car? No problem. Yes, downtown Appleton is very walkable. But there is much more to explore. Lawrence University students can ride Valley Transit buses for free. Just show your LU ID and you can get anywhere in the Fox Cities. There are campus shuttle services available as well. And if you are flying in and out of the area, you will love the Appleton International Airport. It’s big enough to handle your flying needs but small enough to lessen the stress of flying. The airport has nonstop routes to 18 destinations in the U.S. (and 285 domestic destinations and 90 international destinations with one stop).

Bonus: We recently shared reasons the Fox Cities can be a winter wonderland.