What to do in Eau Claire, Wisconsin with KidsAug 18, 2014 10:00AM ● By Guest Contributor
Chippewa Valley Museum at Carson Park
This area was built on agriculture and the logging industry. It has been shaped not only by the industry but the immigrants who came here to work. For a small admission fee you can learn the history of Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley from the beginning. My oldest son was very intrigued and enjoyed all of the exhibits. Towards the end there’s a great interactive area where kids can learn about the immigrants who made this area home. From the early Scandinavian settlers to the present day Hmong diaspora they’ve done a great job including everyone. There’s also an old schoolhouse on the lot that is a replica of what would have been here a century ago. For school age children this is a great stop – don’t forget to get a scoop of the ice cream from the museum parlor. Our favorite exhibits? The early French trading post and the mock dairy farm set up!
Paul Bunyan Logging Camp
Just a few steps away from the Chippewa Valley Museum is the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp. Here you’ll watch a short video to learn about the logging industry in the area and then embark on a self guided tour of a loggers bunk house, blacksmith shop, and even see some of the equipment that was used in the forests. There are lots of artifacts though I’ll admit it was a bit hard keeping the kids from wanting to touch and interact with everything. Again, this is probably something best left for a school age crowd.
If you want to burn off steam of have little ones, Carson Park is located just down the hill. This large park is a favorite in Eau Claire with lots of play structures and some huge tube slides that are popular with all ages. Bring a picnic and enjoy lunch or head elsewhere to eat.
Visit Eau Claire suggested lunch here when I told them I was dying to eat some cheese curds. I was treated to the largest cheese curds I’ve seen in my entire life – and trust me, that’s lots of cheese curds. We loved all their burger combinations. While I took a more traditional style my stepdad chose a peanut butter and jalapeno burgers…why not? (He said it was delicious!)
Eau Claire’s agricultural roots have been revived in the last 5-8 years with the creation of Phoenix Park in the downtown area. Three times a week during summer vendors fill the pavilion and offer produce, meats, cheeses, organic milk products, as well as local artisan products. Even if you don’t buy anything try some of the cheese curds on sample. If they squeak in your mouth, you know they’re good.
Free Concerts in Summer
During the summer months you can find free music several days during the week. On Tuesday’s there is a free jazz concert in Owen Park, located near the UW-Eau Claire campus and on the Chippewa River. Thursday’s in Phoenix Park a variety of artists are scheduled to play as a part of the Sounds Like Summer concert series sponsored by local newspaper Volume One. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and enjoy.
I first tasted Sammy’s Pizza in Green Bay, Wisconsin as a little girl. This Minnesota/Wisconsin family owned franchise has some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. The super thin crust is topped with my favorite pizza sauce and they offer dozens of toppings. You can’t go wrong.
If you’ve got a little more room, squeeze in some frozen yogurt. On Water Street in downtown Eau Claire, Raspberry Reign serves up frozen yogurt by the ounce. Try one of their rotating daily flavors topped with your choice of condiments.
Eau Claire is a fun all seasons destination and is less than a three hour drive from Minneapolis, Madison, or Green Bay. With miles of hiking and biking trails, great public pools, multiple playgrounds, and great restaurants you won’t be left wondering what to do while visiting.
If you liked this story, make sure and read Summertime in the Chippewa Valley.
This post was submitted to Wisconsin Parent by Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki: Amanda is a curious world traveling mom of two busy boys, a foodie, and social media addict. She currently publishes the website MarocMama where you can find information about living and eating in a globally conscious, bi-cultural family. Amanda has lived in the Chippewa Valley for seven years and was back home this summer visiting friends and family.
Special thanks to Visit Eau Claire for organizing the activities and dining experiences during Amanda's visit.