A colorful nighttime view of a bridge in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Oshkosh, By Gosh

The Winnebago County seat may still evoke the eponymous apparel company founded in 1895, but linking Oshkosh solely with old-timey work clothes is an oversimplification akin to associating Chicago only with Tommy guns. There are a number of reasons to visit the lakeside community, none of which have to do with bib overalls. Here, three reasons to go right now:

  1. Exhibition on Main Street
    Since March, Oshkosh’s Main Street has been undergoing extensive renovations: From the Fox River Bridge to Irving Avenue, sidewalks have been widened, trees planted, and new street lamps installed, among other improvements designed to make the aging thoroughfare (established around the mid-19th century when saw mills lined the Fox) more pedestrian-friendly. This weekend’s Gallery Walk celebrates the completion of the project, with more than 40 shops and galleries collaborating on a multi-block party from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 6th. Live bands will perform throughout the Main Street district, while retailers will offer patrons hors d’oeuvres and open-house sales. We recommend visiting The Jambalaya Co-Op (413 N. Main St.; 920-559-7448, jambalayacoop.com) for paintings, sculptures, pottery, jewelry, and wearable fiber pieces by a collective of local artists; Pedestrian Arts (664 N. Main St.; 920-231-9790) to look at stained-glass creations by Marla Tonn; and Dainty Daisies (317 Market St., daintydaisies.com) for handcrafted clothing and cozy winter must-haves including mittens, scarves, and hats.
  2. Go Fish
    Not particularly lured by the prospect of shopping? Oshkosh is a skip and a holler from lakes superior for fishing. Locals assert that Winnebago’s chain of lakes system—more than 150,000 liquid acres spread across Lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan—is home to one of the world’s largest sturgeon populations. The waterways linked by the Fox and Wolf rivers are also rich with bass, pike, and bluegill. For more information about fishing opportunities, click here.
  3. Flight and Weight
    Oshkosh and the surrounding area are also home to several idiosyncratic museums. The EAA AirVenture Museum (3000 Poberezny Rd.; 920-426-4818, airventuremuseum.org) contains more than 250 historic airplanes, five theaters where you can watch various aviation-related films, and exhibits on barnstormers, wing walkers, and fighter pilots. For smaller treasures, head about 15 miles north of Oshkosh, where, among other glass oddities (collections of early 19th century Victorian baskets and 16th century Germanic drinking vessels), the world’s most diverse paperweight collection rests in the Bergstrom-Mahler Museum (165 N. Park Ave., Neenah; 920-751-4658, bergstrom-mahlermuseum.com). The collection began when one Evangeline Bergstrom left 652 heavy glass desk doodads to the museum in 1958. Since then, the museum has acquired 3,000 more.

Where to stay and eat: For lodging, try the Brayton Bed and Breakfast (143 Church Ave., Oshkosh; 920-267-0300, braytonbb.net). The 140-plus-year-old Italianate mansion served as a “Bachelor’s Hall” (men’s boarding house) in the 1920s; rates range from $89 to $169. For dinner, Becket’s (1 City Center at Jackson Street and the Fox River; 920-230-3333, becketsrestaurant.com) offers good food and a lovely view; tenderloin “lollipops” (served on a bed of garlic mushrooms) are a house specialty.

GO Oshkosh, Wisconsin Gallery Walk; Main Street from the Fox River to Lincoln Avenue, 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 6th. For information about Gallery Walk, go to oshkoshgallerywalk.com or contact Jim Evans at 920-426-3232 or arthaus@ntd.net.