15 Best Things to Do in Marathon County, WI

Marathon County

Growing up and living in the heart of Wisconsin, specifically Marathon County, has given me a unique perspective on the beauty and charm tucked away in our slice of the Midwest.

You might think you've seen it all regarding rural beauty, but I can assure you - you haven't truly experienced it until you've spent a day, a week, or even a lifetime here.

Our rolling hills, diverse culture, and robust year-round recreational activities create a distinctive atmosphere that never grows old.

From thrilling outdoor adventures to quiet moments of tranquility, Marathon County has something for everyone.

In this article, I'll share some of the best things to do in Marathon County, Wisconsin.

About this article: This article was written by a local contributor based on their own experiences and those around them. While this list showcases some remarkable places, it's important to note that this is an opinion piece, and there are many other exceptional places to visit that are not featured here.
Our aim is not just to guide you to popular places but to encourage you to venture out and experience the city for yourself.

Explore the Trails of Rib Mountain State Park

View from Rib Mountain State Park's hiking trail
Gerald A. DeBoer / Shutterstock.com

I lace up my hiking boots every weekend and head out to Rib Mountain State Park.

This place holds a unique charm for me.

Maybe it's the billion-year-old mountain that whispers ancient secrets or the scenic trails that beckon me to discover more.

What always surprises me is the informative and educational signs scattered around the park.

They give a great insight into the site's geology, telling the story of the formation of the mountain and the diverse rock formations that provide Rib Mountain its rugged appeal.

As you ascend the mountain, the trails get rocky and challenging, making it a real treat for adventure seekers.

Whether I take the red or blue trail loops, each hike is a unique experience, testing my endurance and rewarding me with breathtaking panoramic views.

One of the crowning jewels of the park is the iconic observation tower, standing tall and proud.

From the top, you'll witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding landscapes, a sight that never fails to leave me spellbound.

Road sign of Rib Mountain State Park
Michael Tatman / Shutterstock.com

You can see the bustling ski area from this vantage point, which is an absolute spectacle in the winter season.

Rib Mountain State Park remains my go-to place for a refreshing escape.

It's also a fantastic ski resort if you're not opposed to spending.

The prices may seem steep at first - $100 for a weekend pass and $60 for a rental - but the thrill of gliding down the snowy slopes of Rib Mountain is genuinely priceless.

Tall trees at Rib Mountain State Park
heatherlopezphotography / Shutterstock.com

Explore the Beauty of Monk Botanical Gardens

When it comes to finding a sanctuary amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, I often find myself drawn to the beauty of Monk Botanical Gardens.

It's a sprawling 29-acre park offering an array of themed areas such as a meditation garden, extensive trails, and even a treehouse.

As I navigate through the well-marked trails, the canopy of trees casts a gentle shade that provides respite from the sun.

I occasionally find myself on slightly uneven surfaces during my walks, particularly after rain.

The gardens also offer an open space with many picturesque spots perfect for a photo session.

What stands out in the Monk Botanical Gardens is the accessibility it provides to everyone.

Even the treehouse is wheelchair accessible!

This place is a testament to the fact that beauty and fun can be inclusive and accessible to all.

And the best part? The gardens are currently a free attraction, with a suggested donation of $5.

The gardens are a unique and beautiful escape, worth every moment spent.

Take a Stroll through McMillan Marsh State Wildlife Area

One of my favorite things about living here is our natural paradise, the McMillan Marsh State Wildlife Area.

The moment you step foot on the marsh, you're transported to a different world - a world where nature reigns supreme.

The sprawling 6,500 acres of marshland, grassland, and woodland never fail to leave me in awe.

Listen to the symphony of chirping birds, the rustling of leaves, and the gentle whispers of the wind, a unique soundscape that is music to my ears.

In the heart of the marsh, you'll find a diverse range of wildlife making their homes.

From the majestic blue heron and the elusive otter to the playful mink and the graceful white-tailed deer, every visit brings with it the thrill of discovery.

The marsh also serves as a sanctuary for migratory birds, a seasonal spectacle I look forward to every year.

Witnessing the arrival of hundreds of birds, their vibrant plumage painting the sky is an experience that words alone cannot do justice.

But it's not just the wildlife that makes McMillan Marsh unique. The recreational opportunities are endless.

Hiking, bird watching, hunting, trapping, and nature photography, there's something for every nature enthusiast.

And when winter comes, the marsh transforms into a snowy wonderland made for snowshoeing and skiing.

Let's also not forget about the educational aspect.

McMillan Marsh is a living, breathing outdoor classroom.

I've seen countless school groups come here to learn about wetland ecosystems, wildlife habitats, and the importance of conservation firsthand.

A walk through McMillan Marsh is more than just a walk.

It explores nature's wonders, an eye-opening educational experience, and a soulful journey into the wild.

Each visit is an adventure, a story waiting to be discovered.

Unleash Your Warrior Spirit at Blades and Boards

When I first heard about the axe-throwing trend, I can't lie. I was a bit skeptical.

But curiosity led me to Blades and Boards, and Iโ€™ve been hooked ever since.

The experience was nothing short of amazing, just the perfect change of pace from the usual bowling or movie night.

One thing that stands out about Blades and Boards is their flexibility.

On one occasion, I went there on a double date.

We were allowed to bring food and drinks, making the experience even more enjoyable.

And I was impressed by how well they handled our booking.

Our time started late due to a larger group needing their attention, but they adjusted our time, so we still got the entire hour.

In my opinion, Blades and Boards is a great spot to mix things up a bit.

Whether you're looking for a fun family activity, a unique date night, or a chance to try something new, itโ€™s worth visiting.

After a few holidays, I might set some targets to practice in my backyard. Who knows, I might uncover a hidden talent!

Uncover Art at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

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

Now and then, I find myself strolling down the familiar streets of my town toward the ever-inviting Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

This art sanctuary, nestled in the heart of my city, has always been a source of fascination for me.

I'm drawn not just by the stunningly intricate bird artwork constantly on display here but also by the diverse exhibits that intrigue me.

I recently marveled at a unique collection of hats from around the globe.

The headgear adorned with old coins was a sight to behold!

And how can I forget the hilarious Yooper dog hat that brought a wide grin across my face?

The best part about the Woodson Art Museum is that it's free, although they gratefully accept donations.

It's a blessing to have such a world-class museum just around the corner, where I can immerse myself in the beauty of art without worrying about admission fees.

Front entrance to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
User:Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Parking is never an issue, with plenty of spaces available, and more often than not, I find myself making a beeline for the sculpture garden after a leisurely browse through the exhibits.

The rooftop sculpture garden is a must-visit spot that offers a panoramic view of the city alongside some exquisite sculptures.

Moreover, the Woodson Art Museum is a thriving, engaging community space.

Their permanent and rotating displays and interactive areas that children and adults can create make for a fulfilling and enriching visit.

Whether I drop by for a quick lunch break or spend a leisurely afternoon exploring a new exhibit, every visit to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is memorable.

Join Exhilarating Races at State Park Speedway

My heart pounds in my chest every time I hear the engines rev at the start of a race at State Park Speedway.

Something about the smell of burning rubber and the roar of the crowd makes me feel alive.

I've never missed a race since I moved to this town. It's a tradition for me and my family.

The first time I stepped foot on the track was a thrilling experience. The anticipation, the energy, the adrenaline โ€“ it was all too exciting!

I decided to take a car for a spin, and it was a wild ride. Unfortunately, I crashed, but that didn't take away the fun.

Now, Iโ€™m more of a spectator, but the thrill remains.

The exhilaration coursed through my veins with such intensity, making every race a memory to remember.

However, the Speedway is also about community.

Families gather here, making it a perfect place for a weekend outing.

Children's laughter fills the air as they cheer for their favorite racers.

Being at the State Park Speedway feels like part of a big, happy family. I can hardly wait for the next race!

Enjoy a Delightful Supper at Pinewood Supper Club

Ah, the Pinewood Supper Club, a gem nestled on the lakeshore.

This is where you can't help but soak in the rustic, lodge-like ambiance as you tuck into their delectable seafood, steak, and pasta.

It's a family-owned establishment that's won my heart and taste buds over the years.

Right off the bat, let me tell you about their fresh halibut special.

One bite and you'd think you were dining in a coastal town.

The halibut was cooked to perfection, moist and flavorful, and it's a dish I find myself ordering repeatedly.

But what's a supper without an appetizer? Their calamari is a must-try, and their onion is gigantic and flavorful.

Unless you fancy taking half of it home, you might want to share it with someone.

Beyond their delightful seafood options, Pinewood Supper Club serves some hearty steaks and fish.

The Walleye, in particular, is one to write home about. The portions are generous, so come with an appetite.

Nothing matches the Northwoods feel of the place.

The picturesque lakeside setting is perfect for a stroll after your meal. You see families, couples, and groups of friends all basking in the warm, inviting atmosphere.

So, if you're ever in the mood for an exceptional supper in a rustic, lakeside setting, Pinewood Supper Club is the place to be. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.

Bowl and Dine at Dale's Weston Lanes

Have you ever been to a place where you can delight in an array of delicious meals, bowl to your heart's content, and experience top-notch customer service?

Well, let me tell you about one of my favorite places, Dale's Weston Lanes.

Continuing with the food, oh, where do I begin? Let me tell you about my Monday night routine.

It's a date night with my significant other, and the menu always makes us smile.

We relish the taste of their chili, one of the best in town.

I have seen the friendly gentleman chef preparing it from scratch.

My wife savors their hamburgers and crinkle fries.

She has tried their chicken tenders too, and they are simply delicious.

In addition, the chicken cordon blue wrap is a must-try.

Last week, we also hosted an evening for our extended family at Dale's Weston Lanes.

Everyone was impressed, including my fussy father, who thoroughly enjoyed his plain burger with only fried onions.

The pizza is also a hit among our family members.

And let's not forget about the bowling.

With 60 lanes, there's ample space for everyone.

They are accommodating, even for small groups, and the customer service is commendable.

So if you're ever in the mood for great food, bowling, and exceptional service, you know where to go. Dale's Weston Lanes - it's a joy every time!

Relish a Marvel of Geography at 45 ร— 90

Daytime view of the 45 ร— 90 marker
Bobak Ha'Eri, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Living in the heart of Marathon County, I've always found the 45 ร— 90 Geographical Marker fascinating.

It's a simple yet intriguing piece of land that feels like a secret shared only amongst those who genuinely appreciate geography.

Walking the well-maintained trail leading to the marker is an experience in itself.

The air is always fresher, the silence only broken by birds' occasional chirping or leaf rustling.

Meanwhile, the walk isn't too long, just enough to keep you engaged.

Along the way, there are a couple of benches perfectly placed for anyone who would love to sit, relax, and soak in the beauty of nature.

Once you reach the spot, you can feel the excitement of standing at a unique geographic point.

It's thrilling to think you're at the spot precisely halfway between the equator, the North Pole, the Prime Meridian, and the International Date Line.

The marker site is also equipped with comprehensive illustrated informational boards, making it easier for anyone to understand the significance of this geographic gem.

And, of course, it's a perfect spot for a photo op.

There might not be a lot of activities to do, but the tranquility and the unique thrill it offers make it worthwhile.

It's a spot where you can just be and enjoy the magic of geography.

You can find more about the 45 ร— 90 Geographical Marker and other parks in Marathon County on the county's official website.

Enjoy a Haven at The Eau Claire River Conservancy

There's a saying that goes, "Home is where the heart is."

Well, my heart has always found its home in the tranquil respite of the Eau Claire River Conservancy.

This place's breathtaking beauty and serene atmosphere can serenade even the most restless of souls.

As I navigate the winding trails, the harmonious symphony of the river flowing alongside me becomes my constant companion.

The chirping birds, the rustling leaves, and the bubbling river compose a symphony that soothes and rejuvenates.

Often, I find myself leisurely sprawled on the lush green grass, enamored by the vibrant hues of the setting sun, painting an awe-inspiring palette on the vast canvas of the sky.

The Conservancy is not just a haven for me but also for the diverse wildlife it nurtures.

Whether a playful squirrel darting across the woods or a deer glancing curiously from the undergrowth, their presence lends an enchanting charm to the place.

It feels like I am a part of a magical kingdom, surrounded by the wonders of Mother Nature.

The Conservancy is draped in a snowy blanket during the winter, transforming into a winter wonderland.

The once-green trails now glisten under the winter sun, offering a refreshing change of scenery and a whole new world to explore.

Each visit to the Eau Claire River Conservancy feels like a new adventure awaiting to unfold.

If you ever find yourself in our lovely town, I recommend stopping at the Eau Claire River Conservancy.

Enjoy the Magical Experience at Jurustic Park & Hobbit House

What a delight it was to stumble upon the enchanting world of the Jurustic Park & Hobbit House, nestled right here in my hometown!

This whimsical wonderland is home to a captivating collection of creations made from repurposed metal, each with quirky charm.

One cannot help but marvel at the brilliance of Clyde Wynia, the artist behind these fascinating sculptures.

His creativity knows no bounds, with his park populated by ironclad dinosaurs, mystical creatures, and even an adorable rendition of a hobbit house!

As I meandered around the park, every corner seemed to reveal yet another marvel that left me stunned.

The old-world charm of the Hobbit House, in particular, was a sight to behold.

Moreover, the attention to detail is awe-inspiring, with every nook and cranny brimming with unique elements that transport you straight to Middle Earth.

And to think, all this magic is conjured up right in an old building on McMillan Marsh!

But the magic doesn't stop at the visual spectacle.

The stories that Clyde weaves around each of his creations add another dimension to the experience.

His tales are as captivating as the creatures themselves, visiting Jurustic Park & Hobbit House as much a mental journey as a physical one.

So, if you're ever in the neighborhood and looking for a delightful dose of whimsy, I can't recommend Jurustic Park & Hobbit House enough.

Discover Art in Wausau: A Visit to WMOCA

I always look forward to visiting the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, a hidden gem in our city.

It's housed in this beautiful red brick building from 1901.

There's something about the contrast of being in an old-fashioned building while experiencing modern and contemporary art that makes the visit even more unique.

It serves as a perfect retreat from the Wisconsin heat on hot summer days.

The museum's cool interiors provide physical relief and stimulate the mind with fresh artistic expressions.

I have spent countless afternoons exploring different exhibits, discovering new perspectives from various American artists.

One of my personal favorites has been the International Portrait Exhibition.

I was amazed by the talent showcased in that exhibition.

The ability of the artists to capture the essence of their subjects in such realistic and detailed manners was genuinely astounding.

And yes, you might even get tempted to purchase a painting or two for your home.

Now and then, WMOCA often has national and international artists visiting, bringing a global perspective to our local art scene.

With every passing exhibition, I find myself excited for the future.

What contemporary visions will grace the walls of our beloved museum next? Only time will tell, but I certainly can't wait to see.

Conquer the Slopes at Granite Peak Ski Area

Skiing at Granite Peak Ski Area
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

There is an exciting thrill that comes with the chill of winter here in Wisconsin.

And there's one place where this thrill hits its peak, the Granite Peak Ski Area.

It's been a part of my life since I was a kid learning to navigate my first pair of skis, and even now, it's my go-to spot for winter fun.

Tucked away in the heart of our snowy paradise, Granite Peak is the marquee attraction of Wisconsin winters.

The first time you visit, you'll realize the magic of this 265-acre resort.

With ski runs for all levels, terrain parks, and a base village, the resort is more than just a place to ski - a winter wonderland that comes to life!

There's something for everyone, from beginners like us to seasoned professionals.

Ski slope at Granite Peak Ski Area
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

It's all about the rush here, whether you're whooshing down a green run or challenging yourself on a blue.

Apart from the incredible slopes, the resort offers a seamless experience.

I've always been impressed with the quick service at the check-ins, especially if you've been savvy enough to book your tickets and rentals online.

The ski patrol is ever vigilant, ensuring the safety of all guests, and the staff is friendly and attentive.

But Granite Peak isn't just about skiing.

The charm of its chalets and the warmth of the base village is a soothing balm for the cold outside.

You can relax by a roaring fire, treat yourself to a hearty meal, or browse through the shops for a souvenir to take home.

So, if you've never experienced a Wisconsin winter or are looking for a new thrill, Granite Peak Ski Area is where you need to be. See you on the slopes!

Ski lift chairs at Granite Peak Ski Area
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy the Day at Seehafer Acres Inc

Every Saturday is a day to remember when you spend it at Seehafer Acres Inc!

In particular, my family and I have grown fond of the resident pigs, cupcakes, and Porkchop.

A hayride around the farm is always on our agenda, and it never fails to make for a beautiful family day out.

I must say, the ice cream they serve is second to none. It's so delicious.

Each scoop melts in your mouth, leaving a taste enticing you to return for more.

Besides its mouthwatering treats, the shop is also a feast for the eyes.

Beautifully decorated, it has a warm, welcoming ambiance that beckons you from afar.

You haven't truly experienced Wisconsin until you've tried the cheese at Seehafer Acres.

It's remarkable and has become a must-buy item every time we visit.

And to top it all off, they serve the tastiest ice cream that I've ever had the pleasure of trying.

Visiting Seehafer Acres Inc is a delightful culinary and visual treat for the whole family.

Grab a Meal at the Straight Home Bar & Grill

If you happen to be in the neighborhood and have an appetite for a hearty meal, I suggest you visit Straight Home Bar & Grill.

Now, let me tell you about their burgers - they're not just good but great! I mean, these burgers are a severe affair. They're massive!

The first time I tried one, I was taken aback by the sheer size of it. But once I took a bite, I was sold.

The meat was cooked to perfection, and the flavors were on point.

Moreover, I've found that the quality has remained consistent throughout my visits, which is why it has become my go-to place for a satisfying burger fix.

And if you love fries as much as I do, you've got to try their sweet potato fries.

They're amazing! Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy inside - just as a perfect fry should be.

Pair it with one of their excellent drinks, and you have a winning combo.

But it's not just about the food here.

The atmosphere is inviting, and the service is friendly, making you feel at home. It's where you can relax and have a good time with friends and family.

However, Straight Home Bar & Grill has won my heart with its delicious food, pleasant atmosphere, and friendly service.

If you're in town, do give it a try. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

Final Thoughts

Living in Marathon County, Wisconsin, is an everyday adventure filled with nature's beauty and vibrant culture.

Indeed, living here is a journey of constant exploration, adventure, and delight.

Visitors will agree that Marathon County is a place of wonder and excitement waiting to be explored.

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