Eau Claire, Wisconsin, could be described as a surprise charm in western Wisconsin. It’s only an hour and a half drive from the Twin Cities and is a cute city to check out on a weekend away. Whether you go to Eau Claire to visit the University, check out the food and bar scene, or attempt to walk in the footsteps of Bon Iver (a.k.a. Justin Vernon), you can certainly find activities to fill up a weekend.
The Lismore Hotel
Looking to use your Hilton Points? The Lismore Hotel will put you in the middle everything in Eau Claire. The hotel has large rooms and all the amenities that you could need. Despite visiting during the COVID pandemic, it felt fairly “normal” in the hotel, it was definitely quiet though. The room was comfortable and the building is centrally located with plenty of parking, you can walk most of the city from the front door.
The Mousetrap Bar
Looking for cheap drinks, a sports game, or just the vibe of a classic dive bar in Wisconsin? This bar was a great first stop on our visit to Eau Claire to get a few drinks before wandering around. They didn’t have outdoor seating, but it wasn’t too busy so it didn’t feel too “COVID-risky” to sit and have a drink. I was shocked at the bill, I think it was less than $20 for 4 drinks, a clear sign you’re in a small town.
Court N House
If you’re hungry upon arrival in Eau Claire, you can easily satisfy your appetite at “Girolamo’s” Court N House. This spot serves up Burgers, Fish Fry’s, cheese curds, all the good stuff that a greasy spoon should. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and attentive staff, and I was shocked at how cheap it was for drinks and food. If you’re looking for something simple and filling, yet delicious, stop here! If you’ve never had Wisconsin-style cheese curds, I’d 100% recommend them as an appetizer to share.
Breakfast at The Nucleus
In true failure-of-an-Instagrammer fashion, I completely forgot to take a photo of my food before digging in for this meal. The Nucleus was not open for dine-in due to COVID, so we ordered a ton of food for takeout. Even if I would’ve remembered to take photos, it would not have been the best showcase of the food in to-go containers.
What it lacked in plate presentation, it more than made up for in taste. We had the Yeti Skillet of hash browns with ham, eggs, and sautéed veggies, the “El Presidente,” which were Mexican-inspired loaded hashbrowns, and a side order of Lemon Ricotta pancakes. It all was to die for and was the perfect start to a weekend day. Check out the menu for the Nucleus here.
Hiking at Big Falls
If you visit Eau Claire, Wisconsin during the summertime, schedule some time to drive out to Big Falls County Park for a hike and a swim. There are a bunch of beautiful waterfalls and sandy beaches along the riverside to relax on. The water was cold but so refreshing after walking around in the hot sun. Be careful if you’re swimming close to the edge of the falls!
Another weekend, another spot not far from the cities crossed off the list. Eau Claire is a great place to visit for a weekend, and I’d love to return to go to a concert or music festival (when those happen again…) or other events, whether it be in the summer or winter. I was lucky to have a personal guide who is a lifelong local to give me a great introduction to the town.
If you’ve been to Eau Claire – let me know your favorite spots in the comments!