Only an hour and a half from the Twin Cities lies the vibrant city of Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Nestled on the Chippewa River, Eau Claire is becoming quite the up and coming destination for tourists and travelers alike with its many restaurants, wide array of activities to enjoy and beautiful scenery.
Eau Claire has also become home to a variety of big events including Eaux Claires, Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, Blue Ox Festival, and the US Kubb National Championships! With so much to see, taste, and enjoy – this city truly serves as an excellent option for a getaway destination for Twin Cities locals.
Two of our TCMB contributors, Cari and Emily, got to experience the city of Eau Claire for a weekend getaway trip! Our partners at Visit Eau Claire provided each of them with their own separate itineraries full of local sites to visit, places to eat, and beautiful accommodations. Read on to hear about the highlights of their stay, and be sure to take notes for your next adventure to Eau Claire!
“I was thrilled to pull up to Staybridge Suites and see such a beautiful building. The receptionists were extremely welcoming and inviting and helpful for information on other locations in the city. Our room was beautiful and large – with countless amenities at our fingertips. I was pleased by the whole experience and will be back the next time I visit Eau Claire.”
“We were greeted kindly by the front staff, and the rooms in the suite were spacious and beautiful. I couldn’t get over the full size kitchen, and I was pretty excited about having an entire bed to myself for the night! It’s rare that this mom gets to sleep without a knee to her stomach, or an elbow in her face! Right outside the hotel is a quaint little plaza that lights up at night with water features.”
“When we entered into Eau Claire, we went straight to lunch at The Informalist in Eau Claire’s downtown area. The restaurant on the outside looked extremely modern and trendy – wood pallets with black medal windows and a few nicely located signs to let us know we found the place. The inside of the restaurant is just as modern as the outside – it had a great atmosphere and a friendly environment. The bar area was my favorite part – a full open bar layout encased in white cabinets. Our hostess and waiter went above and beyond to make sure we were doing well throughout the meal and never let our waters empty. The menu at The Informalist was simple – not too many options – which I appreciated since I have a hard time with decisions. Food and experience was excellent.”
Exploring the City
“I was shocked to see all that Eau Claire had to offer. We went on a walk along the Chippewa River trail, and stopped for all the sights along the way. The walking paths were beautiful over the bridges and through areas where there were plenty of benches and places to rest. It was amazing how convenient it was to get from downtown to this gorgeous park. The downtown area of Eau Claire had so much to explore. From trendy restaurants to old theaters, there was definitely something for everyone.”
“The drive was short from the cities, and so beautiful. I forgot how pretty Wisconsin is, especially this time of year. It was so green and lush. The town is so sweet and quaint. Our plans to explore the Chippewa River on kayaks were foiled by the weather. However, we decided to walk the path in the drizzle anyways. It was cold, but I am glad we did. The trails were gorgeous. We also walked the neighborhoods and downtown, peeking into the cute little shops and talking over coffee. It was a perfect afternoon!”
“We had reservations for dinner at Mona Lisa’s. It was so fun to put on some heels and earrings and go to a fancy restaurant. We met up with friends, and I couldn’t get over the unique and pretty atmosphere. The waiter was so sweet to point out items on the menu that were safe for me to eat since I’m pregnant, and offered substitutes. I went with his suggestion to have the salmon with risotto and it was SO good. We ended the meal with flourless cake and ice cream with espresso poured over it. I was in heaven and SO full!”
“The restaurant is known for its homemade pastas and beautiful dishes, and that is exactly what we experienced. The owner of the restaurant actually stood by our table for the majority of our food ordering decision time just to give her input and help when needed. The food did not disappoint – it came out looking and tasting fresh. Mona Lisa’s is a place I would return to for a great pasta dish and a welcoming atmosphere.”
Shift Cyclery and Coffee Bar & Locavore Food Truck
“We came to Shift on a Sunday morning, and it is one of the most unique coffee shops I have ever been to. At Shift, you can order your coffee on one side and watch the cyclery employees work on bikes on the other side. The coffee shop makes their own syrups, which made my latte the best latte I have ever had. It was creamy and sweet just the way I like it. In the back alley of the coffee shop, a food truck called Locavore stops to serve brunch. There are little tables even back in the alley which made for a charming spot to drink your coffee and order something for brunch. The whole Shift experience was one I would love to have again.”
“I have heard of the game Kubb before in the past, but never knew the history of the game. I was shocked to discover that Eau Claire is now the Kubb Capital of North America! For those who don’t know, Kubb is a lawn game where the object is to knock over wooden blocks by throwing wooden sticks at them. The game has been described as a combination of bowling, horseshoes, and chess. I was so pleased to discover that Eau Claire has opportunities like this to educate visitors and locals about different activities that can become a new family favorite. Kubb is a game you could easily bring to barbecues and parties to add a bit of competition and fun for everyone. Eric Anderson, Founder and Organizer of the U.S. National Kubb Championship, demonstrated so much passion for the sport which was really fun to watch.”
The Acoustic Cafe
“Our first stop was lunch at The Acoustic Cafe. I was a little apprehensive about eating at a cafe, having celiac, but was quick to discover that they offer many gluten free choices. It was rainy and chilly outside, so the atmosphere was cute and cozy. And the food was delicious. I devoured that ham sandwich!”
“We enjoyed a night cap at The Dive from the rooftop of the Lismore Hotel. It was so fun to sit outside, overlooking downtown and all the busy activity down below. Fun fact- in 1970 – The Dive was the hotel’s rooftop swimming pool! The atmosphere was casual and laid back, and the bartender was fun, mixing up drinks to our specific tastes!”
“We were lucky to get seats at the window overlooking Water Street at The Nucleus. It was fun to people watch on a Sunday morning while eating the best omelette I’ve ever had. It reminded me fondly of morning brunches as a kid in one of the little towns I grew up in. Just such a homey atmosphere. I could picture raising my sweet family in this city, and walking to breakfast from one of the cute neighborhood homes.”
“I was really looking forward to our last event: a class at Forage called “Friendly Fungi- A Wild Mushroom Class.” Banbury Place is home to many entrepreneurs like Forage, filled with small creative businesses and local artists. What once was a tire factory, was turned into a beautiful and unique space for the creator to call home. I felt completely at home, and my heart and mind were busy dreaming about what I could do in a space like that. The class was so fun, I learned so much about hunting wild mushrooms. What was safe to eat, and how to harvest, and prepare them. I also ate my very first morel mushroom. I had no idea that mushrooms could be SO tasty!”
For more information on the city of Eau Claire or for tips on planning your next visit, check out the resources at Visit Eau Claire’s website or follow them on social media @visiteauclaire!