Eau Claire (Wisconsin)
Eau Claire (pronounced: O'Clare, French for clear water) is a city of about 62,000 in Northwest Wisconsin.
- Greyhound, 6251 Truax Lane (off Hwy 12/312 near I-94 exit 59), ☎ +1 715 874-6966. Eau Claire is served by Greyhound services from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago. The bus "terminal" is located inside a McDonalds restaurant at the far northwestern outskirts of town, so you will need to hire a taxi from there to your accommodations unless you feel like walking 7 miles to downtown.
Eau Claire is on Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 53 and is 90 miles (145 km) east of the Twin Cities.
Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (IATA: EAU) is a public airport on the north side of town. Most U.S. destinations are available within 2-3 hours of transfer. As of March 2010 service is available to Chicago O'Hare with several flights each day.
Alternatively, you can fly into Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and take one of two shuttle services to Eau Claire:
- Airport Passenger Service. Terminal in Eau Claire is at the far western end of town.
- Chippewa Valley Airport Service. Terminal in Eau Claire is the Ramada Hotel (downtown).
Like most U.S. cities of its size, all Eau Claire offers by the way of mass transit is a relatively anemic municipal bus system. The buses have bike racks.
The downtown and Water Street areas, and most of the University academic buildings, are located within a river valley. Other parts of the town are located on higher ground. Walking and biking is an option in and between downtown, Water Street, and the University lower campus. However, for most folks (particularly in the winter) travel to other parts of the city will be by auto, taxi, or bus.
- Chippewa Valley Museum (located next to the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp in Carson Park), ☎ +1 715-834-7871, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Award-winning exhibits, beautifully preserved historic structures on the grounds, fun activities, a working turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor, and more.
- Idea Gardens, 5530 Fairview Dr. (at Eau Claire County Expo Center, across from Action City). Presented by Eau Claire Master Gardeners and UW-Extension.
- Paul Bunyan Logging Camp (located next to the Chippewa Valley Museum in Carson Park). A museum.
- Schlegelmilch-McDaniel House (downtown).
- Chippewa Moraine Interpretive Center, New Auburn, Wisconsin (7 miles (11 km) east of New Auburn and 1.9 miles (3 km) east of State Highway 40 on County Highway M). Glacial history - exhibits, videos, live and stuffed animals.
- Crystal Cave, Spring Valley, Wisconsin (about 45 miles (72 km) west of Eau Claire).
- National Eagle Center, Wabasha, Minnesota (about 50 miles (80 km) southwest of Eau Claire), ☎ +1 651-565-4989. 10-5 daily.
- Leinenkugel Brewery, 1 Jefferson Avenue, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729-1318 (about 15 miles north of Eau Claire), ☎ +1 715-726-0346. 9am–5pm daily. Free.
For a fairly complete listing of current events, pick up a copy of Volume One, a free magazine available at more than 200 locations throughout the area. Another listing can be found in the Thursday edition of the local Eau Claire Leader-Telegram newspaper.
- Action City. Indoor/outdoor amusement center, including a climbing wall, arcade, laser tag, go karts, mini bowling, bumper cars, and mini golf.
- L.E. Phillips Planetarium, Phillips Hall on UW-Eau Claire Campus.
- Ski Sprites. Water ski shows offered in the summer months.
- Wise Nature Center, Fall Creek, Wisconsin (Highway 12 east to Fall Creek (about 12 miles, 19 km), then north on County Road K (about 4 miles, 6 km)). Hands-on learning stations, interpretive displays of local fauna and flora, live animal exhibits, and a butterfly house.
- State Theater. Plays, musical performances, occasional headline acts.
- Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild, 102 W. Grand Ave.
- Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra, 316 Eau Claire St.. Performances at the State Theatre
- University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Theatre and Arts, Haas Fine Arts Building, 121 Water Street.
- Children's Museum (downtown).
- Chippewa Valley Railroad (located in Carson Park).
- Eau Claire Children's Theatre, 1814 Oxford Avenue (West Madison Avenue, north on First Ave).
- See also the Fairfax Pool listing in the "Recreation" section below, and the Crystal Cave and Wise Nature Center listings in the Northwest Wisconsin article.
Festivals and Events
These listings are presented in chronological order.
- Sawdust City Days, Carson Park. A family festival. Third weekend in June.
- U.S. National Kubb Championship. The largest kubb tournament in North America. Held in mid-July.
- Country Jam. A country music festival. Third weekend in July.
- Summerfest (downtown). Celebration of the 1950's and 60's featuring food, live music, chalk art, and classic cars. Fourth Saturday in July.
- Pioneer Days, ☎ +1 715-834-5983. Tractor pulls, antique cars, steam engines, etc. Second weekend in August.
- Western Wisconsin Pride, Riverview Park. A family (traditional and otherwise) festival. Third weekend in August.
- Festival in the Pines, Carson Park. A family festival. Fourth weekend in August.
- International Fall Festival (downtown). Third Saturday in September. Bazaar, performances, and parade.
- Chippewa Valley Renaissance Faire, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (North of Eau Claire off Hwy 129). 10am-6pm. Jousting, juggling, comedy, minstrels, magic, stage shows and more! You’ll find gourmet delights and entertainment fit for a king! Our artisan village is filled with merchants offering pottery, stained glass, jewelry, costumes & finery and other handmade wares. Plenty of fun for the wee ones too! Saturdays & Sundays 10AM-6PM Mid-May to Mid-June
- CountryFest, Cadott, Wisconsin (about 24 miles (36 km)) northwest of Eau Claire). A country music festival held in the fourth weekend in June.
- Rockfest, Cadott, Wisconsin (about 24 miles (36 km) northwest of Eau Claire). A rock music festival held in the third weekend in July.
- Village of Terror, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (North of Eau Claire off Hwy 129). 5pm-11pm. 2012 Village of Terror Attractions: Magic, Music, Mayhem & More! Unlimited Carnival Rides Every Night. One Price—All Attractions!!! Friday and Saturday nights for Five Frightful Weekends, Sept. 30-Oct. 29.
- City Parks. Eau Claire has many city parks. Carson Park is in the center on the city, surrounded by an oxbow lake. Home to Eau Claire baseball and football teams, Chippewa Valley Museum, Chippewa Valley Railroad, and Paul Bunyan Camp. Phoenix Park is the newest park at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers. It is home to the Eau Claire Downtown Farmer's Market and features free concerts on Thursday evenings in the summer Other city parks include Mount Simon, Rod & Gun, Boyd, Owen, and Riverview.
- Bowling. Two public bowling alleys, Wagner's (South Hastings Way, East side) and Bowlwinkles (North Clairemont Ave, West Side)
- Chippewa River State Trail (trail head is located at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers in downtown Eau Claire). Bicycling, walking, running, in-line skating, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Connects to the Red Cedar Trail to the south, and planned expansion will link it to Chippewa Falls to the north, and eventually to the Old Abe State Trail
- Disc golf. Three courses, one in town at Mount Simon City Park, another just a few miles east of Eau Claire at the Tower Ridge Recreation Area, and the final located an North Star Middle School.
- Fairfax Municipal Swimming Pool. The facility includes a main pool with zero depth entry and an olympic size, eight lane, 50 meter swimming area. A stationary waterslide, 22 feet high with a flume extending 150 feet, is one of the main attractions of the pool. The pool also features a "Raindrop" in the zero depth area of the pool. A separate diving well includes both a one meter and a three meter diving board. Also located on the grounds are a sand volleyball court, a concession stand, and a covered pavilion.
- Golf. Six public courses. Pine Meadows (Par 3 course), Mill Run, Wild Ridge, Lake Hallie Golf, Hickory Hills (a few miles south of town, on Hwy 93), Princeton Valley Golf. Two private clubs, Hillcrest Country Club and the Eau Claire Country Club (both in nearby Altoona)
- Riverside Bike & Skate, 937 Water Street (at the end of the Water Street district), ☎ +1 715-835-0088. Offers rental bicycles, canoes, kayaks, rollerblades, child trailers, and ice skates. It also offers one to four hour canoe and kayak trips on the Eau Claire or Chippewa Rivers.
- Chippewa Valley Predators. Great Plains Football League (April - August).
- Eau Claire Cavaliers. Wisconsin State Baseball League(May - August).
- Eau Claire Crush. Great Plains Football League (April - August).
- Eau Claire Express. Northwoods League Baseball (May - August).
- University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Athletics. Collegiate sports events.
- Oakwood Mall (south of town near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway 53). The Oakwood Mall commercial area includes Target, Walmart, and Best Buy stores.
- Water Street District. Small shops primarily catering to the nearby University population.
- Downtown Farmers Market (downtown). May: Sa 7:30AM-1PM; Jun-Oct: W & Sa 7:30AM-1PM, Th 1PM-5PM.
- Winter Farmers Market. Dec-Apr: second Saturday of the month, 9AM-1PM.
Eau Claire has its share of the usual chains. For more unique dining try:
- Ray's Place, 838 Water Street St. Hot beefs and hot ham sandwiches, and Ray's hot horseradish mustard.
- Acoustic Cafe, Barstow St. Coffee house and sandwich shop.
- Grand Avenue Cafe, W Grand Ave (Near the courthouse). Coffee house and cafe. Sidewalk seating available.
- Houligans, S Barstow St. Steak and seafood. Upscale casual. $10-30.
Oakwood Mall Area
- Northwoods Brewpub, 3560 Oakwood Mall Dr, ☎ +1 715 552-0510. Eau Claire's only brewpub. 10 beers and seasonal brews crafted on the premises. Norske Nook food and pies.
- Hmong Noodle Wrap, 3509 Gateway Dr, ☎ +1 715 552-0525.
Upper Campus Area
- Randy's Family Diner.
- Shanghai Bistro. Chinese and Japanese (sushi and sashimi.)
- Sweetwaters. Upscale casual.
- El Patio, Water Street. Mexican food.
- Mona Lisa's, Water Street. Upscale casual.
- The Nucleus. Th-Su 8AM-2PM. Casual. Serving breakfast (until closing on weekends) and lunch. Unique variety of sweet and savory breakfasts, including daily varieties of quiche.
- Draganetti's Ristorante, Clairemont Ave at Hwy 53, ☎ +1 715 834-9234. Opens at 4PM, M-Sa. Italian cuisine. Patio seating available.
- Fanny Hill Supper Club. Restaurant and dinner theater. Outdoor seating available.
- Mike's Smokehouse, 2235 North Clairemont Ave (Near Westridge Center), ☎ +1 715 834-8153. M-Th 11AM-9PM; F,Sa 11AM-9:30PM. Bar-b-que.
- Monkey in the Middle Pizza Co., 2402 Lorch Ave (inside Action City amusement center).
- Olympic Flame, London Road. Gyros and a few other Greek specialties. A long time Eau Claire favorite.
- Tokyo, London Road. Japanese. Dinner is grilled at the table. Lunch is table service from the kitchen.
For restaurants near Eau Claire click here.
- The Coffee Grounds, Hwy 93 (Across from the Saturn dealership), ☎ +1 715 834-1733. Coffee roasted on the premises. Sandwiches. Also sell bulk coffee, craft beers, wine, fine spirits, teas, chocolate, gourmet foods. Walk-in cigar humidor. Outdoor seating available.
- The Goat Coffee House, 408 Water St. Sidewalk seating available.
- The Living Room Coffee House & Drive Thru, 2006 Cameron St (off the Clairemont intersection), ☎ +1 715 831-0245. M-Th 5:30AM-6PM, F 5:30AM-9PM, Sa 7AM-5PM.
- Racy D'Lene's Very Coffee House, 404 Riverside Dr (Just off Water St). Behind the Nucleus Cafe (connected), faces the Chippewa River and bike trail. Outdoor bench seating available.
- Seattle Pride, Brackett Avenue (Upper East Side). Locally owned. Drive up window.
- Coffee Traders International, South Hastings Way (In the East Ridge Center). Coffee roasted on the premises. Live music on some Friday nights.
- Gloria Jeans, Oakwood Mall and at Menards West (2 locations).
- Seattle's Best Cafe (Inside Borders bookstore, near Oakwood Mall).
- Starbuck's, Located in Target, one on Hastings Way, one on Clairemont Ave (near Shopko) (3 locations). Drive up at Hastings Way and Clairemont Ave locations
- The Mousetrap, S Barstow St. Live Music
- Clancy's Irish Pub, 414 S Barstow St.
The primary bar scene in Eau Claire is on Water Street, near the University lower campus. There are roughly 10-15 bars within a few blocks. Highlights include:
- Stella's Red Room near down town
- Dooley's Irish Pub (Corner of 5th & Water, on the ground of the former Camaradarie). The only non-smoking bar for miles. Food available. Private room available.
- The Joynt.
- Mogie's Pub. Burgers and Chicken Wings, and other food available.
- Brother's Pub.
- The Pioneer.
- The Brat Kabin.
Upper West Side
- Tailgates Sports Bar, North Clairemont Ave (Across from Bowlwinkle's Bowling). Food menu. Outdoor sand volleyball court. Patio seating available. Live music on weekends.
South Side/Upper Campus Area
- O'Learys Pub, West Clairemont Ave. Live music on weekends.
- Green Tree Inn and Suites.
Upper Campus Area
- Days Inn.
- Exel Inn. Closest to campus. Budget.
- Hampton Inn.
- Antlers Lodge.
- Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel and Suites, 3340 Mondovi Road (South of the upper campus area.), ☎ +1 715 838-9989. Easy access to the Chippewa River State Trail.
- Econo Lodge.
- Highlander Inn, 1135 West MacArthur Ave, ☎ +1 715-835-2261. Rooms with free wireless internet and queen size beds. Free coffee upon arrival.
Bed & Breakfast
- Augusta, Wisconsin.
- Altoona, Wisconsin.
- Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, is about 12 miles (19 km) to the north.
- Menomonie, Wisconsin, is about 24 miles (38 km) to the west.
- The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul in Minnesota are about 90 miles (145 km) to the west.
|Routes through Eau Claire|
|Saint Paul ← Menomonie ←||W E||→ Osseo → Madison|
|Saint Paul ← Menomonie ←||W E||→ Altoona → Wisconsin Dells|
|Duluth ← Altoona ←||N S||→ Osseo → La Crosse|