If you haven’t visited Eau Claire for a weekend, add it to the top of your list! This expanding city is just a quick 90 minutes from the MN metro, making it a great choice for a quick weekend getaway or even a day trip! There is so much to do for both outside adventurers and city explorers. With great shopping, eats, art, and trails, there really is something for everyone! Read on below to explore some of the gems I discovered in Eau Claire!
Eat + Drink
Shift Cycle + Coffee Bar
Eau Claire has a great trail system for bikes and along with that comes a cool coffee and bike shop: Shift! It’s your one stop shop for a bike repair and retail shop, along with great coffee + pastries. It’s also a great option should you need a space to work. The ambiance is warm and friendly and it’s simply a great space to hang out in.
Located in the Lismore Hotel Downtown, the Informalist has a great menu that focuses on regional cuisine with daily offerings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late night! I highly suggest trying their weekend brunch or grabbing some of their wood-fired pizza! They have a nice selection of classics but opt for one of their house specialty pies. We did a classic supreme and the seasonal shrimp scampea with fresh cream, shrimp, peas + more.
Whether you’re looking for a great happy hour spot or late night drinks, the Dive is it! Also located on the second floor of the Lismore, this indoor/outdoor bar used to be the old swimming pool from the building in the 1970s, hence the name The Dive! Belly up to the bar or cozy up on the couches outside to catch a view of downtown Eau Claire. The craft cocktails here were amazing but they also have a great selection of beer and wine on tap too.
One of my favorite things to do on a trip is to find a great brewery and I will have to say the Brewing Projekt is not only a great brewery in Eau Claire, but it’s also one of the best breweries I’ve been to in and around the Midwest! They have a large indoor and outdoor space right along the river and their beer selection has a ton of variety. It is always rotating constantly so you never know what might be on tap when you visit! I had a flight of sours and they were all great – definitely take some to go and notice all the fun can art too.
If you’re staying or exploring downtown, definitely grab your morning coffee or late afternoon latte at EC-DC. Located on the first floor of the Lismore, EC-DC is open until 5pm(!) so it was the perfect stop to grab an afternoon pick-me-up after exploring the city for the day! Highly recommend grabbing a breakfast sandwich to fuel your morning too.
If you are needing a sweet treat, Ramone’s hits the spot! This nostalgic old-school ice cream shop has 24 flavors that rotate daily. They also offer vegan, gluten-free and dairy free, and even nut free options so it’s a great choice for everyone!
Located just minutes away in Chippewa Falls, you’d be amiss if you didn’t visit this iconic brewery in Wisconsin. Operating since 1867, make sure to allow some time to take a tour of the gorgeous grounds and historic brewery and then spend some time at the Leinie Lodge. My favorite thing is their brewology where you can mix and match their beers to create fun flavors. My personal favorite is the Honey Bear which is half honey weiss and half beery weiss! They rotate food trucks and fun events all the time so check their website to see the happenings!
Olson’s Ice Cream
I am a sweets gal at heart, and Olson’s ice cream is another must stop! A locally owned shop, Olson’s not only serves handmade ice cream, but they offer locally brewed coffee and artisan-crafted popcorn! It’s a perfect stop before or after a stroll along the riverwalk! I opted for a handmake shake this time with their unique flavors and it was a hit.
An urban casual coffee shop, Kahvi, which means coffee in Finnish, is a must-stop in Eau Claire’s South side. This cute shop has Scandinavian influences, and make sure to try their Kolaches (a sweet pastry filled with savory or sweet fillings) and their Fika mocha! They have a great outdoor space, with a dog-friendly patio and drive-thru too.
Play + Shop
Explore the Bridges
Eau Claire is known as the city of bridges and after visiting I can see why! There is so much history with each one you discover. Hop on a bike or talk a walk or jog while you explore them. It’s a great way to see the city. My personal favorite had to be the S bridge, the Haymarket Plaza Bridge, and the High bridge! The High bridge has an amazing view of the entire city, while the S bridge is a great mix of nature and city all in one. Check out this great list for Visit Eau Claire on more bridges in the city!
One way to explore the outdoors in Eau Claire is Phoenix Park. You can peruse the many walking trails and in late summer stop and smell the flowers – literally so many wildflowers! On the weekend, you can catch the Farmer’s market and community events too. It’s a great urban park with access to downtown and beyond. A great place for a picnic too!
US Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship
One event that happened when I was there was the US Open Chainsaw Sculpture Championship and it was so cool to check out! This happens every August in Carson Park – a great reason to explore the park and the Logging Museum in Eau Claire too! Guest carvers from all over the world put on a show as they compete to make sculptures out of wood. Pro tip: Go in the middle and then at the end of the multiple-day event to see the final results. The carvers were so talented and I was in awe of the final creation!
Art in the City
While you’re exploring the city, you’ll start to see a vast array of colorful murals that are created by both local and national artists. Many of them are downtown so head out for a walk, a drive, or bike ride to see how many you can discover! While you’re exploring, you will also see a ton of sculptures too. The Sculpture tour in Eau Claire is the second largest sculpture tour in the nation with over 50 sculptures designed by artists all over the world! Scan the QR code under a sculpture to learn more about it too!
One thing I was extremely impressed with while visiting Eau Claire was the amazing local shopping they had! Read on below to discover my favorite finds in the city.
- The Local Store – A hip, historic space, The Local Store is the spot to shop the Wisconsin Way of life and discover new and local companies. With over 5,000 items, you’re bound to find some winners! From plants to art to apparel and more, I could have spent hours here!
- Seven Suns Vintage – A vintage wonderland, 7 Suns Vintage is a must top if you love vintage! The hat and boot wall had to be my favorite but the owners do such a great job of taking you back in time with their phenomenal merchandising.
- Mabel’s – I would consider Mabel’s a curiosity vintage shop – but it really is such a gem! The cool and unique things you can find inside are real treasures. Definitely worth a stop-in if you’re walking by.
- Revival Records – One thing I love to shop for on trips is vinyl and Revival Records did not disappoint. Not only was it a cool shop (located right downtown near the Lismore) but the selection was incredible! The staff on site was super nice and helpful too. You can even find audio equipment to purchase too.
- Hello Adorn – The cutest little jewelry shop in Eau Claire, Hello Adorn makes fine handmade jewelry that is simplistic yet beautiful for everyday wear. I personally love how the shop is merchandised my gold and silver styles too. They offer forever bracelets too so make sure to stop and treat yourself to a new ring or earrings.
- Tangled up in Hue – This is not your typical art and gift shop! Tangled Up in Hue features over 150 artists and crafters that make fun and quirky hand-crafted creations. A really unique stop in my opinion!
The Lismore Hotel
If you’re looking for a place to stay in the heart of Eau Claire – The Lismore is your perfect choice. It’s conveniently located to so many things downtown and all within walking distance! With a boutique hotel feel, but the amenities and standards of a Hilton property we absolutely enjoyed our stay. I love that they had a restaurant, cocktail bar, and coffee shop all on site! The staff was great, the rooms were cozy and comfortable, and again the location was just a perfect launchpad to explore the city.
Another great option to stay is at the Oxbow Hotel. A smaller boutique hotel, the Oxbow is at the intersection of rivers, trails, nightlight, and music! Catch a show at the Lakely at their lounge and restaurant attached. Cozy up by the fire at the outdoor patio too!
I hope you enjoyed this read and let me know if I missed anything! While our weekend was quick we discovered so many gems and will definitely be back to this blossoming city!