Visit Wausau: Things to Do and Places to Visit in This Central Wisconsin City (2023)
Sitting in central Wisconsin, Wausau is straddling on the banks of the Wisconsin River. It is known for its heavenly natural beauty and spectacular landscapes. There are towering mountains, mesmerizing rivers, beautiful lakes, dense greenery, enchanting waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. With the growing possibilities here, Wausau in future will definitely mark its name as a popular tourism destination of Wisconsin.
On a visit to Wausau, travellers can explore Museums, Botanical gardens, islands, Parks, and Forest. For someone who claims to be an outdoor enthusiast, explorable opportunities in Wausau actually never come to an end. Tourism here goes to peak during the Warmer season, especially the middle year months. Winters here, though are teeth-chattering and bitterly cold, the season still has its merits. To know all the tourism possibilities of Wausau in detail, have a look at our popular things and places itinerary. Depending upon your interest, you can pick the most suitable for your personal itinerary.
Visit Wausau: Things to Do and Places to Visit in This Central Wisconsin City
1. Nine Mile County Forest Recreation Area
The Nine Mile County Forest is a crown jewel of Wausau. This densely forested region is spread over 4,900 acres and is splendidly managed. Known for being Wausau’s top recreational area, there is so much to do in Nine Mile. It is popular for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping during summers. Whereas during winters, activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing becomes popular here. Considering age and experience level, Nine Mile boosts with multiple trails. Even for the ones with extra enthusiasm, there are long trails, including 4k, 6k, 8k, and 10k (in length). Travellers who choose to spend the night here can also find songbirds, squirrels, bears, porcupines, and other local animals. Or even if you choose to stay only during the day, the heavenly sights of scenic and vast wilderness will blow your mind away.
2. Rib Mountain State Park
Throughout Central Wisconsin, if there’s one place that deserves the highest praises, it is surely the Rib Mountain State Park. It is one of the oldest geological formations on earth (a Billion-year-old) and is Wisconsin’s third-highest point (1,942 feet). The State Park is home to dense foliage, natural trails, extraordinary panoramic views, interesting local history, multiple ski areas, picnic areas, observation towers and whatnot. Upon climbing up atop the observation tower, one can grab undisputed views of the Wisconsin River and Wausau. If outdoor recreation has been enough on your list, Rib Mountain Park also offers fun opportunities through a scenic amphitheatre and indoor gathering space. Even though the park operates year-round, the best time to be here is either during the Fall or the Winter season.
3. Granite Peak Ski Area
Whenever you are spending a winter in Wausau, all you need to do is, head towards the Granite Peak Ski Area. This 200-acre ski resort features a 700-foot vertical drop and about 74 ski runs. So even on the days, it gets crowded, you do not have to wait long for your turn. It is also the third tallest and popular skiing area in the entire Midwest region. It was also one of its kind and first in entire North America during its initial days. Wausau receives excellent snow throughout the winter season, and to keep it fresh for skiing, the skiing authorities at Granite Peak ensure using their best techniques. There are different terrains for skiers of all skills and comfort levels. For beginners, they also provide safety and technique lessons on the spot. Not only from Wisconsin, but it’s welcome skiers all the way from Chicago and Illinois as well. Though skiing charges here are justifiable, if you still want to grab some discount, go for pocket-friendly Friday night deals.
4. Marathon Park
For someone who doesn’t want to travel far but still wants to spend some time in laps of nature, the Marathon Park in downtown Wausau is the best spot. This 80 acres green Oasis offers plenty of recreational opportunities, mostly for free. One can play sports like tennis, basketball etc. or walk through the park trails appreciating the views around. There are over 30 campsites and picnic areas with barbeque grills, suitable for an overnight stay. Either plan tenting or park your RV; there are opportunities for every mode. Not just that, for kids, there are mini trains, playgrounds and plenty of other playful opportunities. Marathon Park also operates its ice-skating rink during winters, which is definitely a highlight. It also hosts the second largest fair in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Valley Fair.
5. Yawkey House Museum
The Yawkey House Museum is a stunning museum and a must-visit historical landmark in Wausau. It is a 1901 Classical Revival-style house featuring a carriage house and a few formal gardens. Both the interior and architecture of the house represent how wealthy lumberman’s homes used to be at the turn of the century. Visitors can observe art glass light fixtures, stained glass windows, and several other original decorative elements on walking inside. The style and warmth of Arts and Crafts bring out an extraordinary observation, especially amongst art lovers. Further, while walking outdoors, a beautiful sunken garden which though was a matter of the past, but even then it was made to meet the needs of modern times. The museum operates Tuesday to Sunday with timings 9 am to 3 pm (on weekdays) and 1 pm to 3 pm (on weekends). The guided tours last anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour for a minimal fee of $5 to $7.
6. Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is an award-winning attraction. It is amongst one of the two museums in the entire nation to win a 2017 National Medal. It is by far the highest honour in America for any art or another genre museum. Here, the collection is a compilation of an Art Park, a Sculpture Garden, photographs, paintings, and several artifacts. The museum hosts several rotating exhibits throughout the year, so every next time you come here, there’s something new to see and learn. One of the major highlights here is the annual “Birds in Art” exhibition known for its contemporary artistic representations of birds. It is difficult to find such kind of dedicated presentation anywhere in the world. Another must-see includes the American Folk Art quilt exhibit, an artwork that leaves no chances to impress. The museum operates Tuesday to Friday (9 am to 4 pm) and on Weekends (12 pm to 5 pm). On Mondays and all the major National holidays, the museum remains closed.
7. Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art
The Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art is a regional art gallery housed in a 1901 building. The museum showcases the work and ideas of both living and deceased artists in a beautiful manner. Most of the extraordinary paintings here at the display are from renowned international artists and are actually thought-provoking. Apart from its permanent art display, the museum also organizes seasonal events, programs, and performances. Visiting during an event, guest can meet with several notable artists and learn from their experience. The museum operates from Tuesday to Friday from 12 pm to 5 pm. Even if you are short on time, visit here as the gallery is unique and unexpected in a city like Wausau.
8. Monk Botanical Gardens
Wausau’s most popular tourist attraction, the Monk Botanical Gardens, is undoubtedly a gem to explore. It is spread over 29 acres on the West Side of Wausau, known after the late Robert W. Monk, who once donated this land. Today, the botanical gardens promote an understanding of plants’ economic, ecological, and aesthetic role on earth. Inside the garden, several exciting features include Wildflower Woods, Meditation Garden, Memory Plaza, a few Raised Garden Beds, Aerated ponds, an outdoor Kitchen Potager, and an accessible Tree House. Leading throughout the property, there are different trails, all of which are free to explore. Even though the Monk Gardens are available for all kinds of public events, they are best used for relaxation and meditation. If you are a nature lover and admirer, it indeed is a piece of heaven for you.
9. International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival
If you are a Wausau local, the International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival is something you must not miss every year. This social gathering welcomes national, international and overseas companies and commercial guests. The event has culinary, educational, historical, arts, entertainment, agricultural and multiple other features on display. Visitors coming here can shop, dance, eat and enjoy the splendid vibes around. There’s so much to learn about the history and culture of ginseng as well. The festival organizes at downtown Wausau, 400 Block city square park and the streets around. It usually takes place in September every year, but after the COVID-19 outbreak, the schedules are known to chance. However, the official website for International Wisconsin Ginseng Festival keeps updating with all the latest news and schedules.