If you’re like me, then you’re probably peeing your pants right now in excitement over the fact that Eaux Claires Eve is quickly approaching.
Over a year has passed since the Inaugural Eaux Claires Music Festival and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been counting down the minutes to this moment since I left the festival grounds last summer.
For those of you who are arriving early on Thursday or know that you’ll have some free time in-between shows, you’re probably wondering what there is to do in Eau Claire. Well let me tell you, friends: our ol’ pal JV wouldn’t have started Eaux Claires if this town wasn’t special.
So, here are just a few things that you can do this weekend (when you’re not experiencing the enchanting beauty that is the second annual Eaux Claires Music Festival!!!)
1. Play Some Cribbage While Enjoying a Beer at The Brewing Projekt
One of the more recent additions to the Chippewa Valley’s ever-growing list of breweries, The Brewing Projekt is booming! The brewery is currently located at 2000 North Oxford Avenue, and it features a taproom as well as an outdoor patio area where guests can bond over the heavenly beers (I personally love ‘The Stolen Mile,’ one of the ales they offer) or play a game of cribbage.
2. Take a Short Trip to Big Falls
If you REALLY want to return to the river, then you should consider taking a quick dip at Big Falls! This stunning park is 135 acres of one of the most breathtaking locations in Eau Claire County. Go for a swim, take a hike, and even get some selfies in by this gorgeous body of water! This park features a great picnic area, fun nature trails, and a beautiful beach surrounded by gorgeous waterfalls. Alternatively, you can pick up a tube from Azara on Water Street and take a float down the Chippewa River. Whatever floats your boat (or tube)!
Address for the north entrance of Big Falls: 11500 Wild Rose Lane, Eau Claire
Address for the south entrance of Big Falls: 600 Big Falls Forest Road, Fall Creek
3. Refresh and Rejuvenate at High 5 Free Yoga
Whether you need to stretch out after all of that dancing or simply need to take a breather, consider going down to Phoenix Park for a free yoga class! High 5 Yoga is without a doubt one of the best things about Eau Claire right now—it’s free, everybody (and every body...) is accepted, and it’s the most relaxing way to get a workout in! High 5 Yoga classes take place every Thursday evening from 5pm-6pm and Saturday morning from 9am-10am (during the summers only, so take advantage of this awesome opportunity while you can).
4. Scope Out New Bands at Revival Records
Pick up some albums from local artists (such as Sloslylove, who is performing at Eaux Claires this year) or search for classics to add to your vinyl collection at downtown Eau Claire’s Revival Records! Each time you walk into this local record store, you’re likely to run into some of Eau Claire’s most avid music buffs. (Make sure you ask them about Eau Claire’s music scene; it’s rapidly growing day after day!) Plus, Billy—the owner of Revival—brings in new vinyls every week, which you can check out in the ‘Recent Revivals’ section. There’s even a display set up with records of some of the bands performing at Eaux Claires!
5. Explore the Downtown Farmer’s Market
Yummy hummus from the Mediterranean Deli, nitro coffee, and beautiful bouquets of daisies, baby’s breath, and lilies galore—these are just a few of the numerous items the Downtown Eau Claire Farmer's Market has to offer. The Farmer’s Market runs from 7:30AM to 1:00PM on Saturday, so you have plenty of time to check it out and still make it out to see your favorite band play. As an added bonus, the Artist’s Market will be open this Saturday, so you can peruse jewelry, shirts, and other crafts made by local artists!
6. Eat and Drink at Ray’s Place
Ray's Place is well known for having delicious hot beef sandwiches and the most mouthwatering (and eye watering) horseradish ever. With simple yet mind-blowing food and drinks—their Bloody Mary is the bomb.com—this tavern is a hot spot in town. (Yes, that was a joke about the horseradish. I’m not even sorry.) Located right on the far end of Water Street, Ray’s Place is the perfect place to take a break from the busyness of Eaux Claires.
7. Shop Local in Downtown Eau Claire
From the Antique Emporium to Red’s Mercantile, downtown Eau Claire has an incredible amount of stores for you to browse through! Completely immerse yourself into the community by checking out the sculpture tour and the new Lismore Hotel, and then play a game at The District Company before treating yourself to a small gift from Tangled Up in Hue. Quench your thirst at The Mousetrap or Clancy’s, and then nourish your soul with some bon-tons and other amazing apps from The Plus.
And that's just the Barstow district! If you're staying in the dorms and want to stick closer to campus, Water Street is just a short walk down the hill and across the bridge. The Joynt and the GI, two of the most laid-back bars on Water, are the perfect place to relax and shoot a game of pool while you wait for your favorite act to perform. There are also tons of stores for you to check--you can stock up on ironic t-shirts, jewelry, and incense at Trucker's Union, pick up some pretty little things like touching cards and home decor at Willow, and explore the hidden gem across from Holiday that is Ottawa House Books. No matter where in downtown EC you decide to go, you’re bound to experience the camaraderie that defines Eau Claire.
Voila! Seven things for you to do the weekend of Eaux Claires (when you’re not AT the festival). Now, go buy yourself a local brew (you’re in Wisconsin, after all); slip on a flower crown from the bohemian goddesses of Linyage (whom you will see in the Artist Village at the festival) or a shirt from the cool dudes at Good and Sturdy Vintage (who will also be at the festival); and make your way back down to the second annual Eaux Claires Music Festival!
Cover photo by @Voronaesthetics on Instagram.