When Blugolds are not in class, working or sleeping, they tend to like to stay busy. After all, in a fun place like Eau Claire, there’s so much to do!
Below is baker’s dozen of fun things to do alone or in groups in Eau Claire. There are so many places, events and things to do that will get you out exploring the campus and town, learning new things and seeing all the reasons Eau Claire is perennially listed among the cool, hip, small cities in which to live.
1) First things first, the Blugold Welcome:
While aimed to welcome new students to campus, nearly all events of the two-week Blugold Welcome are open to all students and they’re tailor-made for fun! From games and pizza in McIntrye Library to late-night activities in Davies Center and Hilltop to the UW Meets EC event introducing students to the hopping downtown scene, there’s something for everyone, so don’t miss the lineup. Pro-tip: There’s a lot of free food involved! See the full list of events for Blugold Welcome.
2) Apple picking:
Nothing says fall in the Midwest quite like the crunch of a local apple picked straight from the tree. With amenities like gift and specialty food shops, outdoor games, fresh apple cider donuts, glass blowing classes, wagon rides and much more, the many orchards within a short drive of campus have all the makings of a perfect fall day. Some even sell the makings of a perfect apple pie, or one that’s already been baked for you! Check out this list of area orchards in Eau Claire and Chippewa counties.
3) Attend the Fall Festival in downtown Eau Claire
Getting to know the city beyond the campus is a great way to make your student experience even more enjoyable, and attending the Eau Claire Fall Festival is a wonderful way to get started. Set for Saturday, Sept. 16, on S. Barstow Street downtown, the festival will offer a wide variety of music, food vendors, retailers, performances, kids’ activities and more! Visit the Fall Festival site for details.
4) Blugold fall athletic events
Blugold pride is contagious at UW-Eau Claire athletic events, and the fall sports calendar is chock-full of both indoor and outdoor events guaranteed to boost your school spirit! Gather up with friends, roommates and classmates to pull on your Blugold swag and cheer on your fellow students. From football and cross country to men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, tennis and golf — pick a few events or attend as many as you can. Cheering loudly is good for the soul and our athletes love the support! See the full calendar of all fall sports.
5) Fall hikes
There’s something about the snap of fall air that makes a sunny day hike a little more special. You can start with a gorgeous 1.3-mile trail right here on campus, the Putnam Trail that loops along the Chippewa River starting just past the Little Niagara Falls. Or you can walk the Putnam Drive trail for more of a level-footed stroll. Should you have transportation and a desire for a longer-distance trek, check out this Chippewa County Land Conservancy article, “10 hidden hiking gems in the Chippewa Valley.”
6) The Bloody Chocolate Factory Haunted House
One of Eau Claire’s longest-running youth organizations, the Eau Claire Ski Sprites, also happens to host one of the biggest and spookiest haunted houses in town, just a short walk from campus. This year's theme is "CarnEvil," a creepy carnival ride for sure. The haunted house will run on weekends from Oct. 12-28. Your $13 ticket goes straight to the operations of the water ski club, and you’ll be too scared to eat your chocolate alone — sounds perfect! See haunted house dates, times, location and ticket details here.
7) Leaf peeping — orange you glad it’s fall?
As if the beauty of fall colors on the UW-Eau Claire campus weren’t gorgeous enough, the Eau Claire and Chippewa Valley areas offer up some incredible views of nature’s autumnal bounty that you won’t want to miss. Other than perhaps the cost of a bus ride or a little gas money, these majestic views are totally free! It’s proven that a short walk out in nature is a positive mood booster, so grab your pumpkin-spiced latte and some friends and make your way across one of the bridges, trails or river walks to soak up the colors and brighten your day! Read “15 of the best places to see fall colors in Eau Claire, Wisconsin + the Chippewa Valley.”
8) The Eau Claire Farmers Market
Whether you are looking to buy some fresh local produce at unbeatable prices, grab a hot or iced coffee while listening to live music, or admire the artwork of area artists and creatives, the Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market is the place to do it every Saturday. Through the end of October, it’s open Wednesdays and Thursdays as well, so check it out at Phoenix Park, just a 10-minute walk from the footbridge along the bike trail. For more information, see Eau Claire Downtown Farmers Market.
9) Bike trails
Sticking with the theme of outdoor activity in Wisconsin’s fabulous fall season, it’s the perfect time to explore the area on bikes. The bike trails within the city limits are free of charge and take you to the many amazing bridges in town, including the historic and breathtaking Eau Claire High Bridge. With a day-pass purchase, you can venture up to 30 miles north or south of the city on scenic trails. Bikes can be rented by students at the Environmental Adventure Center (EAC) in Hilltop Center. The Chippewa River Trail guide shows the city and county trails.
10) Corn maze attractions
Maybe one orchard stop is enough to satiate the apple cravings, but if you like getting outside, and a bit out of town, you can also spend some time finding your way into and out of some amazing corn mazes. Some mazes are at area orchards, while others are found at pumpkin patches or even nearby livestock farms. And if you find a corn maze, chances are you’ll also find things like yard games, hay wagon rides and more. See Volume One’s list of six corn maze locations.
11) Ride along on one of Eau Claire’s new trolley tours
One of the exciting new attractions in Eau Claire this fall is the Chippewa River Trolley Co. With a variety of tour options, it’s a perfect way to learn more about the city and surrounding attractions while enjoying the views from our very own antique-style trolley car! It could be a great Family Weekend event or anytime you have friends coming to visit you at UW-Eau Claire. Learn about the Chippewa River Trolley Co.
12) Sign up for a UW-Eau Claire fall trip adventure through the EAC
If some serious outdoor adventure is right up your alley, then look no further than the EAC at UW-Eau Claire. With six different excursions to choose from, students can select trips that focus on rock climbing, canoeing, hiking, camping and more. The cost for students for all fall trips is $85, which includes equipment and food. That’s a great adventure bargain! Sign up for an incredible guided fall adventure with the EAC.
13) Attend or perform at Open Mic Night at Pablo Center at the Confluence
Of course, the premier regional arts center is a fantastic place to see a play, a concert, a dance performance or an art exhibit, but did you know that Pablo also hosts an Open Mic Night on the fourth Monday of every month? That’s three fall opportunities to show off your talent in vocal or instrumental music, comedy, spoken work or something else. Step up to the mic yourself or simply enjoy local creatives doing their thing. It’s totally free! See details on Pablo Open Mic Nights. All events are at 7 p.m., sign-ups to take the mic begin at 6:30 p.m. See all Pablo events.
But wait, there’s more …
The best thing about the list above is that it’s really just a starting point for ways to spend your time when you need a study break, a breath of fresh air, a peaceful stroll or so much more! Keep your eye on the digital displays across campus, our social media accounts and the various campus calendars for more fun coming your way all semester long. You’ve landed in the right spot to both hit the ground running toward your academic goals and have lots of great times and adventures along the way.