15 Best Things to Do in Eau Claire, WI

Eau Claire, WI skyline
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Eau Claire is a quirky indie town, teeming with beautiful attractions.

Located at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers, this Wisconsin town values local businesses, being outside, and appreciating the arts.

Its name "Eau Claire" came from the French word "Eaux Claires," which translates as "Clear Waters."

Legend has it that the river got its name from the early European voyagers.

When French explorers were traveling down the rain-soiled Chippewa River, they shouted, "Voici l'eau claire!" upon seeing the confluence of the Eau Claire River.

This line which means "Here is the clear water!" can be found on the city seal and is now used as a city motto.

However, local Native American tribes have lived in the area for a long time, dating back thousands of years. European settlement began in the mid-19th century when logging, and fur trapping was the primary businesses.

Eau Claire is home to several notable people, including a journalist and published novelist, and locals savor their summers when Phoenix Park on the river hosts a live music concert series.

Today, the bustling city is a sanctuary for outdoor adventure, shopping, live music, and history.

Eau Claire residents like participating in community events, making it a great place to meet others with similar interests.

You'll be able to fill your schedule to the brim with things to do, from their performing arts center to the various music festivals they organize throughout the year, the Eau Claire Marathon, and a slew of museums.

Check out our list of the top 15 things to do in Eau Claire when you're ready to go out and discover it.

Watch Sports Game at Carson Park

View of Carson Park
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At the core of Eau Claire is the noteworthy, rambling Carson Park.

The 134-section of land landmass park sits roosted over Half Moon Lake.

The land that currently holds the recreation center was once the property of William Carson, a wood nobleman from the space.

Ducks at Carson Park
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Today the recreation center is a center point of action for the occupants and guests to Eau Claire, from the baseball and football arena to the tennis courts, strolling trails, and fishing spots.

Talking about the baseball arena, Carson Park's arena has exceptional recorded importance for the city of Eau Claire.

View of Carson Park
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An individual from the National Register of Historic Places, the arena held its first game in 1937.

Different focal points inside the recreation center incorporate the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum, which recounts Eau Claire's blundering history, just as the Chippewa Valley Museum, which is devoted to territorial history.

Wander Around Chippewa Valley Museum

Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley was witness to centuries of history.

First domestic to the Ojibwe Native Americans, then to German, Scandinavian, or even Hmong immigrants, the Chippewa Valley and its cultures and heritages have helped form the face of today’s Eau Claire.

There's no higher vicinity to tour thru Eau Claire's records than on the Chippewa Valley Museum.

It all began in the seventeenth century, while the Chippewa Valley was once home to its first European settlers.

The museum features farm life, the influx of recent immigrants, folk music, and the Wisconsin of today.

You will also spot a 1950s ice-cream parlor in the museum.

The museum stands at Carson Park, and with this, there are lots to do close by to keep you busy the whole afternoon, or maybe the entire day.

Visit the Ager House

The next stop is the Ager House at Madison Street, a museum established to honor the Norweigian-American author and writer Waldemar Ager.

As you explore his home, you will be able to get to know Ager’s seven novels as well as reflect on his personal and professional life.

This 1890s restored Victorian home bore witness to the Ager and his wife’s endeavors in raising their nine children.

The Waldemar Ager Association currently manages this home as part of the National Register’s list of Historic Places.

It offers guided tours that explore the works of Waldemar Ager and the mark made by other Chippewa Valley immigrants.

Hike the Chippewa River Trail

This 26-mile trail system covers both urban and rural settings.

The hike replicates the path of the Chippewa River from Phoenix Park, to the confluence of Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers, to Durand, and finally at the Red Cedar State Trail.

Chippewa River State Trail used to be a railroad corridor that went through splendid sceneries and land formations.

View at Chippewa River Trail
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The trail also passes through smaller-sized trails in certain parts of Eau Claire, including a delightful walking trail at Putnam Park.

The trail also leads to the renowned Phoenix Park’s farmers’ market.

The trail has an 11-mile paved at the downtown area of Eau Claire, perfect for cycling, in-line skating, and mountain biking.

Take a Trip to Children's Museum of Eau Claire With Your Kids

This interactive museum will spark your kids’ creativity and imagination.

Its miniature city setup allows them to see, think, touch, act and play around, trying the displays of different zones such as a kids' construction area, a Hollywood theatre area to try all aspects of production, and more.

Toddler Park, Water Works, interactive farm exhibits, and a Body Parts area for hands-on learning about the body.

Static exhibits include the sizeable digestive system, the fantastic world of water, and the design and construction of a fortress.

The museum also offers different programs for kids of all ages, like art classes and science labs.

Ride Train at the Chippewa Valley Railroad

The Chippewa Valley Railroad is just within Carson Park.

This site boasts a mini 1880 steam locomotive which has its coaches still intact.

Vintage may it seem but believe it or not, you can climb aboard and join its short trips within the park.

This train runs on coal and diesel.

Find a spot where you can comfortably settle in while the train covers a half-mile journey.

To adhere to the historical train theme, the conductors also wear engineer caps so you can really take a trip back in time.

The Chippewa Valley Railroad played an important role in the country’s railroad history.

Through this route, people were able to cross Midwest by train.

Go Winetasting at Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery

After trying Eau Claire’s artisan beers, experience the tasting rooms of Infinity Beverages Winery & Distillery.

While wines are the main products of this location, it also boasts vodka, whiskey, and experimental drinks for different occasions.

It offers guided tours of the area with an emphasis on its history and humble beginning.

You will also get to hear how its owners propelled the business to where Infinity is today.

The site also caters to private gatherings and customized group excursions.

Buy Fresh Farm Produce at Downtown Farmers Market

View of the farmers market and Phoenix Park
mattckaiser / shutterstock.com

Week after week, this downtown farmers’ market located at Phoenix Park brighten up with local color.

If you want to experience the real Eau Claire, explore its local products: from bread fresh from the oven to the local harvests.

Here, you will also find value-added products like kombucha, dressings for your salad dressings, sweets, flowers, to name a few.

The farmers market also runs during winter, but it moves to another venue, the Lismore Hotel.

You will also enjoy musical performances by local artists on Saturdays, all year-round.

Try the Brewing Projekt’s Artisan Beers

Established in 2013, this local taproom aims to produce crafted and artisan brews and provide a welcoming atmosphere.

The taproom of Brewing Projekt features an eclectic vibe where you can try some of its best beers and ale.

Its rotating beer lineup makes this place very interesting: you’ll never know what you’ll get, and you’ll get to try different flavors made by local artisans.

Some of its signature flavors are Chamomile WitBier, Dare Mighty Things IPA, GunPowder IPA, WISCoast Hybrid Pale, and Skull Duggery IPA.

Play Disc Golf at Chippewa Mount Simon Park

Have you ever played disc golf?

This game is pretty much like golf, except that you throw a disk instead of a ball at a target (hole) and can be played by single or double teams.

Mount Simon Park’s nine-hole disc golf course is the perfect venue for you to learn and enjoy this game in Eau Claire.

The 49-acre Mount Simon Park overlooks Dells Pond and Eau Claire along the banks of the Chippewa River.

During summer, this park is full of people who love to picnic, play disc golf, volleyball, and go boating at Dells Pond since the area provides facilities.

Aside from these activities, you may also enjoy trekking nature trails, playing baseball, and climbing to the top of Mount Simon.

Upon reaching its summit, you will understand why Mount Simon is called by the locals the "Top of the World" since it offers one of the most breathtaking sights of Eau Claire.

Do Group Yoga at Phoenix Park

Night at  Phoenix Park
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In this city, the best place to do yoga outdoors in at Phoenix Park.

Locals flock to this area during the summer months with its proximity to the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers.

The Park comes to life as picnic blankets in different colors and designs are spread all over.

Aside from outdoor yoga, the park is also ideal for games and outdoor workouts.

People at Phoenix Park
TessTalks, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Park also hosts the weekly farmers’ market.

It is also well-known for its Food Truck Fridays when food trucks featuring different food park in the park and offers the locals a variety of meals to enjoy,

In winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland as trees become alive with twinkling lights.

Learn About the Local Legend at Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum

The Paul Bunyan Logging Camp is a living exhibition hall.

It shows exhibits on 1890s logging, featuring the historical backdrop of Eau Claire and displaying preserved structures.

Set up in 1934, the historical center is spread across a few expertly reproduced structures, including a metal forger's shop, a bunkhouse, a cook's lodge, and a gear shed.

Every one of which houses unique antiques, articles, and things from the time.

The gallery includes a magnificent subject, with larger than average fiberglass sculptures of Paul Bunyan and his sidekick, Babe the blue bull.

It also has an assortment of attractions, like shooting displays, flumes, and the sky is the limit from there.

Cycle at Northwest Park Bike Trails

If you love outdoor adventure, Northwest Park Bike Trails offer you several trails to explore on your bike.

This trail network spans approximately a total of six miles.

While cycling, your eyes will feast on the views of the hills and the woods.

This trail was developed specifically for bikes.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an adrenaline junkie; be careful on some slopes and land formations because it won’t be a smooth ride.

Skate at Hobbs Municipal Ice Center

View at Hobbs Municipal Ice Center
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This municipal ice center features a studio ice sheet, two full-size ice sheets, a training room, meeting rooms, and a fitness center.

Funded by the Hobbs Foundation, the Hobbs Municipal Ice Center was completed in 1974.

Today, it is home to the men's and women's hockey teams of UW–Eau Claire Blugolds and its men's hockey teams.

Meanwhile, it also offers rooms for private gatherings and celebrations.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Beaver Creek Reserve

The 400-acre Beaver Creek Reserve offers a breathtaking view of landscapes and wildlife where you can find different plants and animals.

Among this nature reserve’s highlights include woodlands and wetlands and nine-mile hiking trails.

Beaver Creek Reserve also features a science center for all ages, an observatory, a charter school, a summer camp, as well as a lepidopterarium, or a butterfly house.

Here, you may hike, ride a mountain bike, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and enjoy other outdoor activities such as archery, bird banding, and animal tracking.

Final Thoughts

Planning to take a weekend getaway at Eau Claire?

Try some, if not, all of the activities we have mentioned on our list, and you’re up for a great time!