25 Best Things to Do in Wausau, WI

Wausau, WI
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Wausau is a picturesque city in Marathon County with abundant heavenly natural beauty.

The region's towering mountains, serene lakes, mesmerizing rivers, dense and vast greenery, diverse wildlife, scenic parks, and enchanting waterfalls provide access to numerous outdoor recreational activities.

These include hiking, swimming, skiing, ice skating, wildlife viewing, rock climbing, mountain biking, camping, fishing, kayaking, snowboarding, and plenty more.

The Wisconsin River meanders through the spectacular landscapes of this city. It also has an impressive list of award-winning museums and art galleries.

Numerous vibrant festivals are hosted here all year round.

Wausau is the perfect vacation destination for you to experience nature, no matter what season you happen to visit.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Wausau, Wisconsin:

Enjoy Snow Activities at Granite Peak Ski Area

Scenic view of Granite Peak Ski Area
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Encompassing over 200 acres, this renowned ski resort is located in Rib Mountain state park.

It features a 700-foot vertical drop and over 70 runs.

The terrain is suitable for skiers of all skill levels.

A young man skiing down the Granite Peak Ski Area
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Enjoy magical views of snow-covered landscapes from the high-speed chairlifts.

Founded in 1937, this resort is one of Wisconsin's prime tourist spots, attracting visitors from across the world.

Gorge on delicious food and beer at the chalets while enjoying the live musical performances.

Locals enjoying skiing and snowboarding at Granite Peak Ski Area
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Rental skis and snowboards are available here.

This is one of the best places to ski and snowboard in the region.

Bring along your friends and family and have an unforgettable experience.

Explore Rib Mountain State Park

Scenic view of Rib Mountain State Park
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This park features dense foliage, extraordinary panoramic views, a popular ski area, nature trails, and plenty more.

Enjoy an invigorating hike on the trails that traverse the picturesque landscape of the park.

Climb to the top of the observation tower and feast your eyes on unparalleled views of Wausau and the mesmerizing river that meanders through this charming city.

Sign board at Rib Mountain State Park
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Bring along a nice picnic to enjoy against the stunning backdrops.

Various entertaining events are organized at the park’s amphitheater.

Owing to its splendid natural beauty, this park is a popular destination for weddings.

Rows of perfectly aligned maple trees at Rib Mountain State Park
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The Granite Peak Ski Area is also located on this mountain.

Go on an adventure at this park to experience nature and create fond memories to cherish.

Surround Yourself with Beauty at the Monk Botanical Gardens

This popular tourist attraction is renowned for its scenic, landscaped gardens.

Encompassing 30 acres, it features a vegetable and kitchen garden, a meditation garden,  a treehouse, library, gazebos, a memory garden, event lawns, densely forested areas, nature trails, a serene pond, and more.

It is a perfect place for experiencing nature, meditating, hiking, geocaching, and picnicking.

You can view monarch butterflies and chimney swifts at these gardens.

It also features an observation tower offering enchanting bird’s-eye views of the site’s vast greenery.

Take a break from the mundane life and come here to relax and revitalize.

Tour the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Scenic view of Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
User:Royalbroil / CC BY-SA

This award-winning art gallery is among Wisconsin's top cultural attractions.

Its distinctive feature is that all its exhibits are avian-themed.

The museum won a national award medal in 2017—the highest honor given to museums in the United States.

Side entrance of Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
User:Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

It consists of a sculpture garden, rotating exhibitions in multiple galleries, and a special interactive gallery for children.

All of their galleries display outstanding works by both national and international artists.

Various events, workshops, and educational programs are organized here throughout the year.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Nine Mile County Forest Recreation Area

This is a popular site for hiking, biking, and camping in the summer.

Meanwhile, winters here provide excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Miles of trails meander through the densely forested region.

Spend a night here camping to experience the region’s vast wilderness or enjoy a scenic hike on the verdant trails.

You can witness songbirds, squirrels, bears, porcupines, and more.

The snowy landscapes in winters are a particularly heavenly sight.

The area features broad and well-maintained skiing and snowshoeing trails that can accommodate persons of any skill level.

You can rent snow gear like skis, snowshoes, and boots onsite.

Canoe or Kayak at Wausau Whitewater Park

Go on a water adventure on the mesmerizing Wisconsin River.

This excursion offers breathtaking wilderness views featuring dense foliage and the rushing river.

Spend your day canoeing and kayaking at this riverside park.

It is suitable for all ages and training sessions are provided.

You are bound to have a fantastic time here.

Visit the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art

Art enthusiasts will love the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, located in Wausau's downtown area.  

This museum features extraordinary works by both national and international artists.

They also hold limited-time exhibitions and special workshops.

Besides that, the museum also hosts various events, programs, and performances through all four seasons.

Visit this museum and explore the captivating pieces of art.

Attend One of Central Wisconsin’s Water Ski Shows

These water ski shows are performed every year from June to August.

They feature mind-blowing performances presented by a team of professional water skiers.

Every year, there is a new theme to the show.

Dating back to 1997, this annual event is a significant part of the local culture of Wausau.

The venues include Lake Wausau and Lake Dubay.

The shows are free for all.

Plan your visit and be prepared to be stunned.

Watch a Performance at The Grand Theater

Front view of The Grand Theatre
Billertl / CC BY-SA, via Wikimedia Commons

This renowned theater presents outstanding plays, musicals, dance performances, comedies, film screenings, concerts, and various other entertaining shows all year round.

The building’s grand architecture is aesthetically very pleasing.

Interior of The Grand Theater
Billertl, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It is located at the site of a former opera house that dates back to the late 19th century.

The current theater was built in 1987.

It is a great place for a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

Bask in Nature's Beauty at Sylvan Hill Park

Encompassing 70 acres, Sylvanian Hill Park features 3 miles of nature trails for hiking and mountain biking, a tubing hill, picnic areas, and spectacular views of sprawling greenery.

Spend a relaxing day here with your friends and family and enjoy a delicious picnic while admiring the natural beauty of the park.

Go for an early morning workout and breathe in the beautiful, fresh air.

It provides fantastic opportunities for downhill tubing and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Enjoy breathtaking views at this park no matter the time of year.

Hike, Swim, or Relax at Dells of the Eau Claire County Park

Scenic view of Dells of the Eau Claire Park
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Located on the banks of the Eau Claire River, this 190-acre park features ancient rock formations, charming waterfalls, dense foliage, and fire rings.

You can also enjoy its swimming holes, hiking trails, picnic areas, campsites, and a playground.

Beautiful wooden bridge covered with autumn leaves at Eau Claire County Park
Robert Vandenbeg / Shutterstock.com

It offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, camping, hiking, rock climbing, and picnicking.

The Ice Age Trail also traverses this park.

Experience nature, dive in for a refreshing swim, hike the verdant trails, and end your day with a lovely picnic.

Narrow dusty hiking path at Eau Claire County Park
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Visit the Yawkey House Museum

Exterior of Yawkey House Museum
Ben Wendt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This historic building dates back to the early 20th century and was once the most expensive house in the city.

Formerly to the Yawkey family, it was eventually donated to the Marathon County Historical Society in the 1950s.

View of the Yawkey House Museum from across the street
Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The house was maintained to accurately represent its original appearance as if the family was still residing there.

It features the original furniture and crockery, a beautifully landscaped garden, local memorabilia, and more.

Take a tour of the house and learn about the lifestyle of the region’s 1950s elite.

Spend the Day at Bluegill Bay County Park

This park features a vast array of birds, views of Lake Wausau, and lush greenery.

There are also picnic areas, barbecue grills, volleyball courts, and more.

Watch the mesmerizing view of the sunrise, go fishing on the lake, hike on the verdant trails, view colorful birds, and enjoy a nice lakeside picnic.

You can also spot turkeys and deer at the site.

It's the perfect place to spend a relaxing day.

Kick Back and Relax at Sunny Vale County Park

Known for its astounding natural beauty, visitors frequent this 300-acre park during all seasons.

The Big Rib River meanders through this scenic park offering paradisiacal views.

The park also features a serene lake, endless greenery, picnic areas with barbecue grills, hiking trails, volleyball courts, and more.

In summers, go for a hike, swim in the lake, catch fish, play a softball or volleyball game, and enjoy a picnic.

Try out snow biking and snowshoeing in the enchanting snowy landscape of the park in winters.

Treat Yourself Beer and Bites at Red Eye Brewing Company

Of course, you have to take the opportunity to enjoy Wausau's local cuisine.

Red Eye Brewing Company is one of the most popular restaurants in the city and is renowned for its craft beer and delectable food.

They take pride in sourcing most of their ingredients from regional farms.

Try out their chicken wings, pizzas, Wisconsin burger, tater tots, wraps, and beer.

Their menu is very pocket-friendly.

Join in the Fun at the International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival

This festival takes place every September.

Wisconsin is responsible for the majority of the USA's ginseng production.

Hence, you can enjoy a lot of ginseng-themed activities and sample ginseng-based dishes here.

On top of that, the vibrant festival features musical concerts, dance performances, cooking classes, health runs, educational programs, and plenty more.

Catch a glimpse of the local culture at this festival.

Purchase Tickets to the Badger State Games

A Person in Badger State Games
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The Badger State Games is a biannual sporting event for amateur sportspersons.

They hold games both in the summer and in the winter.

The summer season games feature 5K runs, archery, baseball, lacrosse, volleyball, weightlifting, kayaking, swimming, bowling, softball, and more.

Winter games include ski jumping, snowshoe running, figure skating, ice hockey, disc golf, snowmobiling, martial arts, and several others.

Get tickets and enjoy a great game.

Have a Fun Day Outdoors at Marathon Park

This park encompasses nearly 80 acres and offers picnic areas with barbeque grills, over 30 campsites, playgrounds, a splash pad, tennis courts, sports fields, basketball courts, nature trails, and plenty more.

You can have an amazing time at the park’s ice skating rink, which is open in the winter.

Rental skates are available onsite.

Go hiking on the scenic trails, enjoy a game of tennis, make some delicious burgers on the grills, and camp here at night.

This park offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Quench Your Taste Buds at Timekeeper Distillery

Built in 1901, Milwaukee's famous former train depot has adopted a new identity as Timekeeper Distillery.

The iconic building is famous for its creative architecture courtesy of renowned Charles Sumner Frost.

But now, Timekeeper Distillery Dan Weber and Kimm VanDen Heuvel have taken over ownership and renovated it into a stunning place.

Timekeeper Distillery is unique as it’s Wisconsin’s only major craft distillery and tasting room in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Its goal is to maximize flavors by presenting innovative liquors and cocktails to the community.

Without a doubt, anyone who regularly visits Timekeeper Distillery will get to fully enjoy these products, as they consist of great drinks that are sure to quench your taste buds.

Furthermore, they make their seltzers gluten-free wheat and free of high-fructose corn syrup.

Have a Romantic Date at Willow Springs Garden

Plants, lawn and a red barn at Willow Springs Garden
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Willow Springs Garden is an independent, family-owned and operated venue dedicated to preserving local history.

When the idea to relocate Maine Town Hall and eventually the Round Barn came along, owner Peggy Griffin decided to relocate them onto an empty field to preserve the state's history.

Tourists enjoying the horse cart ride at Willow Springs Garden
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Willow Springs Garden receives part of its revenue from visitors who hold their weddings or special events here.

The money made from the lovely celebrations held here goes towards restoring the historical buildings.

People driving vintage tractors at Willow Springs Garden
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Watch a Baseball Game at the Athletic Park

Exterior of Athletic Park
User:Cmz4474, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Athletic Park is the home of Wausau's favorite summer pastime.

The stadium hosts loads and loads of games every season in order to entertain baseball lovers from all across North America.

This stadium opened in 1936 and has hosted local Minor League teams until 1990.

It holds around 4,000 spectators and is also useful for other things like football.

It's no wonder why it's been the most popular athletes' spot in Wausau, Wisconsin, for many years now.

The Athletic Park had gone through many changes, with the latest renovation being in 2014 when the team moved up to AAA.

In 1950, a roof was added, but by 1977, fans were getting tired of sitting on wet benches, so concession stands were built.

In 1981, the park got new restrooms (including an elevator for disabled visitors), and its last upgrade happened between 2013 and 2014 when a new seating structure with disability access was put up, replacing the old, dilapidated one.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Check Out the 45×90 Geographical Marker

Sign of 45×90 Geographical Marker
Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take this chance to see the "Center of the Northwestern World."

The 45x90 Geographical Marker is located at the center of the western half of the northern hemisphere.

The geographical point is equidistant from the north pole and the equator.

Bronze marker on 45×90 Geographical marker ground
Gstalnaker, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Its coordinates are  45°0′0″N 90°0′0″W.

A bronze marker indicates the exact location.

This site is a 25-minute drive from Wausau and is a popular tourist attraction.

Cool Down at Logger’s Landing Indoor Waterpark

Beat the heat and spend a relaxing day at this popular waterpark.

It features multiple pools, enormous water slides, a lazy river, a jacuzzi, a water playground, bucket dumps, a restaurant, and plenty more.

There are many facilities to enjoy, regardless of your age.

It is a 15-minutes drive from Wausau and is located inside the premises of the Grand Lodge Hotel.

Have a refreshing time at this water-themed park.

Final Thoughts

Wausau is an excellent place to travel if you love exploring the great outdoors, taking in majestic views, and immersing yourself in different cultures.

Whether you visit in the summer or the winter, you're sure to enjoy your fill of exciting activities.

Start planning your trip to the city and bookmark this list of things to do in Wausau!