It’s said the best things in life are free, right?! There's a handful of things to do for free in Eau Claire that are no less fun than an activity with a price tag. Check out our list of free/low-cost activities that both you and your wallet will love.

A woman riding her bike through the fall colors on the Chippewa Valley State Trail in Eau Claire, WI

1. Bike on the Chippewa River State Trail

Converted railroad bridges, river views, and thirty miles of trail, oh my! Whether you love to bike, run or walk, the Chippewa River State Trail is a piece of paradise to take in the fun sights of Eau Claire and neighboring communities. Beginning in Phoenix Park, the trail meanders through town alongside the Chippewa River. For those looking to go the distance, you can cover the thirty miles all the way to Durand, WI, taking in more countryside and even more river views! The entire trail system is a great free activity for those on foot. Bikers and rollerbladers – beware that a trail pass is required for you on some portions of the trail outside of city limits. Explore more Eau Claire bike trails here.

Flowers for sale at the Farmers Market

2. Stroll through the Downtown Eau Claire Farmers Market

If fresh produce, bright flowers and supporting local growers spark your interest, the Downtown Eau Claire Farmers Market is a must-stop for you! Load up on fresh, local veggies and fruits, bread and stunning bouquets of flowers at the market located at the Phoenix Park pavilion from May to October. During the summer months, the market runs from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and from 12-5 p.m. on Thursdays.

Stacked hammocks at Domer Park overlooking the river

3. Hammock in Eau Claire's most scenic parks

If you have a portable hammock, Eau Claire has a scenic spot for you to hang it. Find a list of 6 perfect spots to hang your hammock in Eau Claire here. Grab a book, your headphones, or anything else that will help you relax and just hang out and enjoy the views! Speaking of views, we might as well plug our 7 must-see views in Eau Claire because those come at no cost too! Find them here.

A group of three tubing at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers

4. Float on the Chippewa River

Swimsuits + sunscreen + tubes = it’s time to hit the river! This is the perfect equation to enjoy a warm summer day with friends in Eau Claire! You won’t be able to wipe the joy off your face as you float around Eau Claire soaking in the sun. See the city from a new perspective that no road can offer you. An easy, popular launching location is in Phoenix Park. Float past the university and get out at the boat launch on the Chippewa River State Trail (located on 10th Avenue, just south of Hobbs Ice Arena). Before you sit in your tube or grab your paddle, make sure know how to be safe out on the water. Some guidelines are always wearing a life jacket, being aware of weather conditions, and knowing how to properly meet challenging paddling conditions. Tubing the Chippewa River is so much fun for everyone; let's keep it that way!

A dad and his son looking at a sculpture in downtown Eau Claire

5. Embark on the Eau Claire Sculpture Tour

Eau Claire takes its art VERY seriously. So much so that some like to call us "ART Claire"! Our city is home to the #1 largest sculpture tour in the nation! You may be wondering what that exactly means. The Eau Claire Sculpture Tour is an ongoing outdoor public art exhibit that features work created by both local and international artists. Each May, a new round of sculptures gets installed. However, if there's a piece that you really love and would hate to see leave Eau Claire,  you can vote for your favorite and see if it will end up getting purchased by the city as a "People's Choice" piece! Find a map of the tour and other facts about our tour here!

Haymarket Bridge

6. Explore Eau Claire's Iconic Foot Bridges

With two major rivers going through town, you can expect to see lots of bridges. Each bridge in Eau Claire offers its own set of characteristics and views. Even at night, our bridges are guaranteed to wow. Some light up and create some pretty neat scenes of Eau Claire. Discover some of Eau Claire's best pedestrian bridges here and come see them for yourself.

Stream at River Prairie in Altoona, WI

7. Spend a Day in River Prairie

Our neighbor, River Prairie in Altoona, is the perfect place for some free fun! Kids can splash around in the stream, or activate their imaginations as they run through the playground.  When it's time to relax, River Prairie has lawn space that is perfect for a picnic or just a space to soak up some sun for the cost of $0! Pack up a good book, some tasty snacks, and a bottle of sunscreen for a more-than-perfect day. If you're looking for food nearby, River Prairie is home to some great restaurants as well. 

The crowd at Volume One's Sounds Like Summer outdoor concert series at Phoenix Park

8. Listen to live music at Volume One's Sounds Like Summer Concert Series 

From June through August, Thursday nights from 6-8 PM at Phoenix Park are a legitimate party... all thanks to the folks at Volume One and our local bands and musicians. The Sounds Like Summer Concert Series is completely free to attend. Sometimes there are even food trucks nearby, so you can get dinner AND a show! Bring your lawn chairs, a blanket, some good friends and enjoy some of the best sights and sounds of the Chippewa Valley!

People playing Kubb at the US National Kubb Championship in Eau Claire

9. Play Kubb

In case you haven't heard, Eau Claire, WI is the Kubb Capital of North America. Like art, we also love our Kubb. Each July, Eau Claire hosts the U.S. National Kubb Championships which brings in over 100 teams from near and far. But, that's not the only acceptable time or place to play Kubb in Eau Claire. You can borrow a Kubb set from area hotels & attractions at no cost and go play anywhere where there is open lawn space. Some of our favorite places to play are Owen Park, River Prairie, and Carson Park! This is also a lawn game that you don't tuck away in storage for the winter. Playing Kubb on a layer of snow is completely acceptable and even encouraged!

An alleyway decorated with different murals as part of Eau Claire's ColorBlock program

10. Go on a mural hunt

Remember how we said that we take art pretty seriously around here? Well, we weren't kidding. On top of all the sculptures we mentioned earlier, Eau Claire also is covered in gorgeous and unique murals. A cute selfie in front of these is completely free, so see how many you can find and capture some colorful photos for your next Instagram post! Find a map of all the murals in Eau Claire here.

Young kids playing at the splash pad in Haymarket Plaza in downtown Eau Claire

11. Hit the Splash Pads

Beat the summer heat by making a SPLASH in the area's free splash pads! One popular splash pad is located in the heart of downtown Eau Claire, in Haymarket Plaza right across from the Pablo Center. Not only is it widely loved by kids, but dogs too! Another splash pad is available at River Prairie Park in Altoona. Keep up to date on whether it is on/available on the City of Altoona Facebook page.

The train at Carson Park in Eau Claire, WI

12. Explore Carson Park

All aboard the Carson Park express! One of Eau Claire's most profound parks is also an area filled with free things to do. Families with young kids love to ride on the Chippewa Valley Railroad train in the park, and many spend time on the epic playground. Carson Park is surrounded by Half Moon Lake where visitors can go swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, or fishing. The park has tennis courts, walking trails, and plenty of big trees to hang a hammock and sway in the summer! Check out all the ways to experience Carson Park here.

2 girls on paddle boards in Braun's Bay in Eau Claire

13. Spend Time on the Water at Half Moon Lake

Cool off on the hot summer days at Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire! Whether you're paddle boarding, kayaking, or swimming at the lake, the water is always refreshing in the warmer months. The beach is typically full of swimmers on hot days, and Braun's Bay is often taken over by fishers and kayakers. The water is peaceful and the scenes are stunning at Half Moon Lake!

Share the free/low-cost memories you create in Eau Claire with us by using #CaptureEC!

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