Guide to the best Eau Claire attractions and activities to do in the city and surrounding area to make your next visit unforgettable!
Eau Claire is known for the charm of its arts scene, now famous as the hometown of Bon Iver.
Its name means “clear water,” a name it has earned from the scores of beautiful lakes around it – just some of the many wonderful things to do in Eau Claire, WI, when you visit!
This is a small city, with a population of just 69,000, and nearby is the even smaller Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
While its size makes it a pleasant place to spend a vacation, there will not be as much to do as if you visited a state capital.
But this article is here to help with the best things to do in Eau Claire, WI – including fun things to do, see, and regular events that you can attend.
Many of these are things to do in Eau Claire today and every day, but make sure to check when special events are happening so you can plan your trip around them.
No matter what you are going to Eau Claire to experience, you will definitely find something to fit your unique needs.
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Table of Contents
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Overview: Top 5 Things to do in Eau Claire, WI
- Big Falls County Park
- Blue Ox Music Festival
- Chippewa River Trail
- Pablo Center at the Confluence
- Street Art Murals
1. Big Falls County Park
Eau Claire has scores of lakes surrounding it, including Lake Wissota and Lake Hallie, and the Chippewa River.
These are some of the best lakes in Wisconsin and are definitely worth a visit while in Eau Claire!
You can find where the water flows into Eau Claire by visiting Big Falls Country Park; Big Falls Eau Claire is a riverside park on the banks of the Jump River.
There are plenty of things to do near Eau Claire, WI if you visit this park, such as walking amongst the red and white pines and exploring the wild rivers.
The park is a short drive to the East of Eau Claire, however, for even more convenience, you can camp out in the park.
This gives you an opportunity to barbeque and sleep out under the stars, away from the noise of the big city.
The abundance of trails in the park means this attraction also gives you great opportunities for hiking near Eau Claire.
The falls are some of the best spots to go in Wisconsin in November as they’re often just starting to freeze over.
2. Downtown Farmers Market
Staying in one of the hotels in Eau Claire, WI will allow you to spend more time in the downtown area of the city, where you will find plenty of things to do in Eau Claire, WI.
One regular event that all visitors should attend is the Downtown Farmers Market.
This is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Northern Wisconsin.
It is located in an open-air pavilion in Phoenix Park next to the Chippewa River.
This is a producers-only market which means you can guarantee any food you buy will be fresh and locally grown.
It is a great idea to visit on a Saturday as local musicians perform at the market on the weekend.
3. Visit an Escape Room (Tactical Escape 101)
If you are in Eau Claire with your family or friends, Tactical Escape 101 can be a great way to spend quality time together.
In an escape room, you are locked in a room and have a range of fun puzzles that you need to solve before the time runs out.
Whether you are an experienced player or have never tried an escape room before, Tactical Escape 101 is amongst the most fun things to do in Eau Claire and one of the best escape rooms in Wisconsin.
This is because Tactical Escape 101 has a range of different escape rooms to try, with all kinds of themes and the difficulty of the puzzle.
You can curate the experience for your own needs, making it one of the most memorable Eau Claire attractions.
Hiking is one of the amazing things to do in Eau Claire, WI, because of the abundance of parks and trails in the surrounding area.
Within a short drive, you can visit Lowes Creek County Park, Putnam Park, Otter Creek Hiking Area, and much more.
This area leads hiking in Northern Wisconsin for multiple reasons.
Firstly, all trails are very well-marked and maintained, which gives you the confidence to hike without the fear of getting lost.
Hiking these trails is amongst the most stunning of the Eau Claire, WI attractions because of the lush nature of the forests you will be walking through and the high likelihood that you will see some wildlife.
You can expect to come across elk, white-tailed deer, and even bears – so be careful!
5. Do a Beer Tasting
Many travelers choose Eau Claire as the place to spend their Spring Break in Wisconsin because of the number of excellent breweries that are in the area.
This includes The Brewing Projekt, K Point Brewery, and Lazy Monk Brewing LLC, which are some of the most famous breweries in Wisconsin.
Lazy Monk Brewing is a European craft brewery that specializes in Bohemian and German lagers.
They also use local ingredients to create more modern IPAs, and you can get to know their range by attending their beer tasting.
Alternatively, there Bier Hall and Garden is a family and dog-friendly venue and a wonderful place to spend the evening trying out new beers.
6. Chippewa River Trail
The Chippewa River Trail is a 30-mile-long paved and asphalted trail that starts at Phoenix Park before it then runs South and out of the city.
This is amongst the best hiking trails in Wisconsin as ut takes you right past some incredible stuff to do in Eau Claire before leaving the city.
Outside of the city, you will be traveling through brilliantly preserved wetlands and habitats.
Because of the trail’s surface, it is appropriate for hiking or biking.
7. Blue Ox Music Festival
With its bustling arts scene, there will definitely be events in Eau Claire, WI, whenever you choose to go.
The most exciting of all Eau Claire activities was the annual Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival.
This event was curated by Bon Iver lead singer Justin Vernon, however, it was on hiatus due to the global health crisis.
Luckily, Blue Ox Music Festival has stepped into the breach and it is once again one of the biggest Eau Claire events!
It is a three-day music festival with a focus on Bluegrass, Roots, and Americana. Each year dozens of artists perform over a weekend, usually held in June.
In addition to enjoying top notice music, the site also has a 9-hole disk golf course, so you will never get bored!
8. Boutiques and Antique Shops
The greatest joy of being on holiday is finding things to bring home to your loved ones.
Throughout downtown Eau Claire, you will come across charming and quirky boutique and antique shops.
These shops sell handcrafted jewelry made by local artisans.
You can find necklaces and rings made from precious metals and gemstones, and yarn and beads if you still want to enjoy the delights of these shops at a lower price.
The antique shops are well worth a visit if you want to purchase a slice of Eau Claire history.
Whatever shop you decide to go to, you will find truly unique items that you will not find anywhere else in Wisconsin.
If you like jewelry and antiques, you could easily spend a whole day downtown, making this amongst the best Eau Claire, Wisconsin, things to do.
9. Phoenix Park
After exploring Eau Claire’s sites and attractions, you will want to relax in the afternoon.
Phoenix Park is the site of the Farmers Market, but when the farmers market isn’t on, it is still a wonderful place to spend time.
You can find the park in the heart of downtown Eau Claire.
Phoenix Park is located at the confluence between the Chippewa and Eau Claire rivers.
There are plenty of paths to walk on, and the gardens make this park easily the most relaxing of the things to do in Eau Claire, WI.
You are also welcome to enjoy the river in the park. Eau Claire residents love to use this river for swimming or fishing, and the temptation to dip your feet in will be irresistible.
This hub of tranquility at the heart of the city is a must-visit.
10. Find the Bridges
Visiting a new city is a great opportunity to enjoy new types of architecture.
In Eau Claire, sometimes called The City of Bridges, it is along the river that you will find the most interesting buildings.
Walking along the Chippewa or Eau Claire river is among the jaw-droppng Eau Claire, WI, things to do because it will open your eyes to new types of bridges.
There are too many amazing bridges to list all of them. However, you must visit the Haymarket Plaza Pedestrian Bridge.
It is a walking bridge that connects Phoenix Park to Haymarket plaza.
It is a relatively modern bridge, but it is special because it lights up at night and gives you a great view of the Pablo Center performing arts venue.
11. Pablo Center at the Confluence
A trip to Eau Claire without enjoying the arts scene is a wasted trip.
The venue to experience the pinnacle of this scene is Pablo Center at the Confluence, which sits on the confluence between the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers.
This venue has fun Eau Claire events on most nights.
These include musical ensembles, bands, and theater productions which can be watched in the 1200-seater RCU Theatre or the 400-seater JAMF Theatre.
If you like visual arts, this venue boasts three visual arts galleries which usually feature the best work by Wisconsin’s artists.
You can even have the honor of performing at the Pablo Center yourself if you attend their Open Mic Night.
12. Mountain Biking
There are lots of things to do in Eau Claire, WI, that are a serene and peaceful escape from everyday life.
However, if you are looking for an adrenaline hit, mountain biking is one of the most popular activities in Eau Claire and the surrounding area
There are plenty of places to try out mountain biking in Eau Claire, including some of the top mountain bike trails in Wisconsin.
The best locations include Northwest Park, Lowes Creek Country Park, and Pinehurst Park – all of which will be within a short drive from your hotel.
These trail hubs are all within beautiful Wisconsin forests and have trails with a range of features tailored to mountain bikers of all abilities.
Mountain biking is one of the things to do in Eau Claire, WI, that needs you to have access to equipment – as a minimum, you will need a bike and a helmet.
Luckily, there are a range of different places where you can rent a bike in Eau Claire.
Near the city center, you can choose from Eau Claire Adventure Rentals, Stache Bike & Adventure, and Riverside Bike and Skate Incorporated.
13. Visit the Murals
Eau Claire’s artistic nature is evident as soon as you enter the city because of the number of murals that are available for you to find.
Exploring the city and looking for them is great for Eau Claire things to do.
If you want to save time, you can also look them up online to find the exact locations.
Each mural you will come across will be unique and colorful.
You can find murals that reflect the natural environment surrounding the city, such as Santury by Sylvia Annelise Hecht.
This mural is visible from the Grand Avenue Bridge.
There are also murals in the city that relate to progressive political causes.
For example, there is a Black Lives Matter mural on the back of the Lismore Hotel.
If these murals aren’t enough to satisfy your artistic tastes, you can also go on the Sculpture Tour Eau Claire.
In the downtown area, there are over 70 sculptures by local and international artists for you to look at.
This is another of the unique Eau Claire attractions, as it is the largest sculpture tour in the USA.
14. Visit the Record Stores
Eau Claire is known for its bluegrass, Americana, and folk music.
Surrounded by the local people’s music, you might feel inspired to grow your collection of vinyl, CDs, and cassettes.
Visiting Revival Records is one of the best things to do in Eau Claire, WI, if you are a music lover.
This is a large store that has been open since 2009 and is run by an Eau Claire local who has great knowledge of local music.
They stock new releases and used records and you can also find many different genres in this record store, so there will be something to find for all tastes.
You can find the story at 128 S Barstow, close to the Pablo Center at Confluence and Phoenix Park.
15. US Open Chainsaw Sculpture Event
Every year in August, the sounds of chainsaws fill the Wisconsin Logging Museum in Carson Park because the US Open Chainsaw Sculpture Event is held there each year.
Seeing these leading chainsaw sculptures at work is one of the unmissable things to do in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Each day has something new to see at this event which is run over a weekend.
Every day, you will be able to watch some chainsaw carving, and there are also speed carving events.
If you decide to attend on Friday, you can go to the social event in the evening which event includes pizza, beer, and wine and a charity sculpture auction.
It is also a chance to meet the carvers and get to know the people behind the art.
Sunday is the best of the things to do Eau Claire, WI, if you are in town on the right weekend.
Sunday is when the sculptures will be judged, and the awards will be given out to the best carvers.
It is also a chance to buy the work that you have seen being made at the final sculpture auction.
This list has shown you what to do in Eau Claire, WI, including several things to do in Eau Claire this weekend and today – or whenever you visit.
There was a vast range of different options introduced to you, from the peace of a riverside walk on the Chippewa River Trail to the noise of the US Open Chainsaw Sculpture Event or the adrenaline hit of mountain bike trails in Wisconsin.
Make sure that you consult this list properly in advance of your trip.
There are so many amazing things to do around Eau Claire, WI, that you don’t want to miss anything.
Short FAQs About the Best Things to do in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
What is Eau Claire Wisconsin known for?
Eau Claire, WI, is well known for its arts and culture scene thanks to being the hometown of Justin Vernon, the frontman of the band Bon Iver. However, the city is also popular with outdoor enthusiasts due to its close proximity to many great hiking and biking trails.
What is there to do in Eau Claire WI for free?
Some of the best things to do in Eau Claire, Wisconsin for free are hiking and biking in the surrounding area. You can also visit Phoenix Park, try and find all the bridges or admire the local street art.
Is Eau Claire a nice city?
Yes! Eau Claire might not be as well known as other Wisconsin cities like Milwaukee or Madison, but it has it’s own unique charm. Eau Claire, WI is an especially great city to visit if you love hiking or the arts.
Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip
- You’ll snap tons of photos and I love to take my GoPro in order to shoot even in extreme situations.
- Make sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and hiking sandals when traveling to warm countries. Consider trying some of these eco-friendly vegan hiking boots.
- Sunscreen is key! I always take with me my eco-friendly sunscreen by Thinksport.
- I always carry a light rain jacket, just in case. Pack smart with these organic cotton clothing companies.
- Be environmentally friendly and get one of these awesome backpacks made from recycled materials.
- Get in the mindset with these amazing wilderness survival books.
- Travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel is protected against all odds with HeyMondo.
Hola! I am Paulina, a fervent travelette who crossed the Atlantic Ocean by Boat HitchHiking. On my blog, you’ll find all the tips to make the most of your holiday. Get ready to enjoy outdoor and sustainable travel like hiking, cycling or sailing. Let’s hit the road together!