Explore Wausau: Top 18 Picks for Fun Things to Do in Wausau WI

Discover the best things to do in Wausau WI with our comprehensive guide. From outdoor adventures at Rib Mountain State Park to cultural experiences at The Grand Theater, Wausau is brimming with activities for everyone!

Table of Contents

  1. Discover Rib Mountain State Park
  2. Experience State Park Speedway
  3. Unwind at Isle of Ferns Park
  4. Enjoy Events at 400 Block
  5. Embrace Winter Sports at Nine Mile Forest
  6. Admire Art at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
  7. Ski at Granite Peak Ski Resort
  8. Catch a Show at The Grand Theater
  9. Attend Community Events at Willow Springs Garden
  10. Savor Local Brews
  11. Cycle or Walk the Mountain-Bay State Trail
  12. Slide Down Sylvan Hill Park
  13. Step Back in Time at Yawkey House Museum
  14. Stroll Through Monk Botanical Gardens
  15. Paddle at Wausau Whitewater Park
  16. Explore Marathon Park
  17. Appreciate Art at Center for Visual Arts
  18. Play at Alexander Airport Park
  19. Summary
  20. Frequently Asked Questions

Discover Rib Mountain State Park

Rib Mountain State Park is a haven for avid hikers and trailblazers. Standing as the third highest point in Wisconsin, the park offers an elevation of 1,942 feet (592 meters) above sea level, making it a paradise for adventure seekers. The park features:

  • Picturesque hiking trails woven through the landscape
  • Unrivaled views and scenic beauty
  • A variety of wildlife and plant species to observe and appreciate

Nature enthusiasts will find Rib Mountain State Park to be an ideal destination for an outdoor adventure.

However, Rib Mountain State Park offers more than just hiking trails. The park also features an observation tower that provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. If you are lucky enough to visit during the summer, you can enjoy concerts and interactive historical experiences that link to Wausau’s past. From the breathtaking views to the pulsating events, Rib Mountain State Park is indeed a spectacle.

Next, get ready for an adrenaline rush at the State Park Speedway!

Experience State Park Speedway

For speed junkies and motorsport enthusiasts, Wausau houses a thrilling experience at the State Park Speedway. Known for its exciting late-model and stock car racing events, the Speedway promises heart-pounding action that will have you on the edge of your seat. The weekly races that occur every Thursday night from May through September are not just events, but a culture, a tradition that keeps the city alive and buzzing.

However, the Speedway offers more than just thrilling races. It’s about the legends who have raced here. Names like Dick Trickle and Bobby Allison have left their mark on the Speedway, adding to its rich history and allure. And if you’re wondering about the speed, the track record stands at a swift 13.336 seconds, set by Chris Wimmer.

Following the thrill of the Speedway, Isle of Ferns Park offers a peaceful retreat.

Unwind at Isle of Ferns Park

Isle of Ferns Park is a serene oasis nestled in the heart of the city. Known for its unique features, the park offers:

  • A bridge that provides access to the Fern Islands
  • Multiple walking and biking trails
  • A Little League diamond
  • Ball diamonds
  • The natural serenity of its extensive trees and plant life

The park caters to a variety of outdoor activities and is a haven for tranquility and relaxation.

Families will find the park ideal, with amenities such as:

  • A playground to entertain the kids
  • Grill pits
  • Picnic areas with seating
  • Tennis courts
  • A boat landing with a dock

The park also offers both non-reservable and reservable shelters, and an enclosed shelter with a fireplace and kitchen facilities for gatherings.

Once you’ve inhaled the tranquility of the park, prepare to plunge into the dynamic events at 400 Block.

Enjoy Events at 400 Block

The heartbeat of Wausau can be felt at the 400 Block, a vibrant gathering space in the city. The block hosts a variety of events, including:

  • Concerts on the Square
  • Market Thursdays
  • The Beer & Bacon Festival
  • Other city-organized festivities that bring the community together

The Concerts on the Square series at the 400 Block, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2023, is a staple of Wausau’s live music scene, drawing nearly 3,000 attendees each night.

The concerts cater to all music lovers by featuring a variety of genres, including some of the most popular things in music, providing free entry, and enhancing the experience with the availability of great food from food trucks on-site. In case of rain, the events can be moved to the indoor Whitewater Music Hall, showcasing the city’s commitment to ensuring an uninterrupted, enjoyable experience for all.

Transitioning from the musical pulse of 400 Block during the winter months, sports enthusiasts will find their rhythm at Nine Mile Forest.

Embrace Winter Sports at Nine Mile Forest

Winter in Wausau is a wonderland, and Nine Mile Forest is where the magic happens. Offering a variety of snow activities, the forest features 18.3 miles of cross-country ski trails with options for skiers of all levels and 5.3 miles of groomed snowshoe trails. A ski chalet provides amenities such as ski and snowshoe rentals, trail passes, restrooms, and a warming area to enhance the winter sports experience.

Nine Mile Forest also caters to junior outdoor enthusiasts. The Cookie Trail Loop, a unique 2.7km trail, is specially designed for children and features a punch card system with rewards. Young skiers can enjoy the trail, collect unique punches along the route, and earn a prize after completing it.

Once you’ve experienced the winter sports, it’s time to shift your focus to Wausau’s artistic offerings at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

Admire Art at Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum

Art lover, prepare to have your senses delighted at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. This American Alliance of Museums Accredited Museum and a Travel Green Member is a treasure trove of artistic wonders. The museum provides more than just art; it offers a comprehensive cultural experience. The museum offers free exhibits, interactive programs, and an annual bird art exhibition, “Birds in Art,” that attracts art enthusiasts from around the globe.

From marvelling at the art pieces to interacting with them, the museum offers a unique blend of visual delight and tangible experiences that leave a lasting impact. The museum’s commitment to promoting art and engaging the community is what makes it a must-visit attraction in Wausau.

While art and culture are key attractions, Wausau also offers thrilling adventures such as skiing at Granite Peak Ski Resort.

Ski at Granite Peak Ski Resort

If you’re a fan of the snow and love to feel the wind in your hair as you zip down the snowy slopes, then Granite Peak Ski Area is your winter wonderland. The resort offers a variety of skiing and snowboarding experiences suitable for all skill levels. The adrenaline rush of tackling the resort’s significant 700-foot vertical drop, 202 ski-able acres, and 75 diverse runs is an experience you cannot miss.

And if that’s not enough, Granite Peak provides four progressive terrain parks with over 35 jibs and 15 thrilling jumps for freestyle enthusiasts. From the thrill of skiing to the charm of cultural performances, let’s head over to The Grand Theater next.

Catch a Show at The Grand Theater

The Grand Theater is where Wausau’s cultural heart beats. Providing a wide range of shows, the theater ensures a diverse cultural experience for all visitors. From Broadway musicals like ‘The Cher Show’ and ‘Beauty & The Beast’ to unique shows like ‘Cirque Mechanics’, the theater has something for everyone.

The theater, managed by the Performing Arts Foundation, enriches Wausau’s cultural scene with over 300 events year-round, making it a cultural hub in the city. Following the cultural festivity, engage with the local community at Willow Springs Garden.

Attend Community Events at Willow Springs Garden

Willow Springs Garden, with its characteristic round barn and the Town of Maine’s old Town Hall, is where the community spirit of Wausau comes alive. The venue hosts various public events, offering experiences such as Dinner in the Vineyard and Seasonal Tea Parties, fostering community spirit with Pizza Nights on the Patio.

Seasonal events, from a colorful Autumn Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch to the excitement of an Annual Tractor Pull, culminate in celebrations like the Winter and Harvest Festivals, making Willow Springs Garden a hub of community engagement and fun.

Once you’ve participated in the community events, unwind and sample Wausau’s local brews.

Savor Local Brews

Wausau is not just about fun and games; it’s also about the finer things in life, like craft beer. The city of Wausau WI is home to notable breweries like Red Eye Brewing Company, Bull Falls Brewery, and Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, contributing to the city’s vibrant craft beer scene. The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, with its variety of craft beers such as the German Pilsner and Crop Circle Wheat, is a testament to the city’s brewing expertise and variety.

Tasting these local brews immerses you in the city’s rich brewing history and the brewers’ passion. Once you’ve sampled the beers, head outdoors to explore the Mountain-Bay State Trail.

Cycle or Walk the Mountain-Bay State Trail

For the active and outdoorsy, the Mountain-Bay State Trail is a must-visit. This 83-mile trail, suitable for walking and cycling, connects Rib Mountain to Green Bay and passes through the Wausau area. With multiple access points and parking available in communities like:

  • Weston
  • Hatley
  • Norrie
  • Eland
  • Bowler
  • Shawano
  • Bonduel

The trail is easily accessible.

The trail offers a unique experience, with portable restrooms at the access points on Lakeview Drive and in Anston for convenience. However, a Wisconsin state trail pass is required for bicyclists and horseback riders aged 16 or over.

Following the trail adventure, embrace winter fun by sliding down Sylvan Hill Park, which is so much fun.

Slide Down Sylvan Hill Park

Sylvan Hill Park is home to Wisconsin’s longest snow tubing hill, providing winter fun with multiple runs and a dedicated tow-line. Visitors to the park must meet the minimum height requirement of 42 inches to participate in tubing activities, with tubes provided courtesy of the park.

The park features a chalet where guests can purchase tubing tickets, available at different rates for youths and adults, with discounts for group bookings. In addition to tubing, Sylvan Hill Park offers three miles of cross-country skiing trails for winter sports enthusiasts.

Once you’ve experienced the thrill of Sylvan Hill Park, travel back in time with a visit to the Yawkey House Museum.

Step Back in Time at Yawkey House Museum

The Yawkey House Museum in Wausau is a rare glimpse into the past. Showcasing Classical Revival architecture with stately lines and original decorative elements, the museum is a treasure trove of history and beauty. Inside, visitors can experience Arts and Crafts influenced design with built-in cabinetry and extraordinary stained glass features.

The museum offers guided tours that leave from the Woodson History Center and are led by experienced guides. The museum also includes a beautiful outdoor sunken garden with a carriage house, reflecting the needs of the early twentieth century. Upon completing the historical journey, take a leisurely walk through the Monk Botanical Gardens.

Stroll Through Monk Botanical Gardens

The Monk Botanical Gardens offers:

  • 21 acres of diverse plant life
  • A peaceful retreat amid nature’s beauty
  • Educational opportunities for visitors of all ages, including preschool programs and workshops for adults.

The garden offers specially arranged staff-led tours and educational programs for larger groups, making it an ideal spot for field trips and group outings. Once you’ve enjoyed the tranquility of the garden, gear up for some paddling fun at the Wausau Whitewater Park.

Paddle at

For water lovers, Wausau Whitewater Park, located near the Wisconsin River, offers a splashing good time. Here’s what you can expect:

  • A popular kayaking destination in downtown Wausau
  • Accommodates all skill levels with a 1/3-mile course
  • The course has a gradient of 45 feet per 0.3 miles
  • Features rapids ranging from Class I to III+, allowing for a progressive challenge

Apart from kayaking, visitors can engage in instructional classes, recreational paddling, and witness or participate in freestyle and slalom competitions. The park is sustained through volunteer efforts and donations, offering amenities such as restrooms with electrical outlets and an outdoor shower.

Following the kayaking adventure, embark on an exploration of Marathon Park.

Explore Marathon Park

Marathon Park, a 78-acre park located near downtown Wausau, is a hub of activity and recreation. From the 6 lighted tennis courts for day and evening play to hiking and walking trails for nature lovers, the park offers a variety of recreational facilities.

The park also features a paved path designed for walking, jogging, and biking, ensuring there’s never a dull moment. During the Wisconsin Valley Fair, a mini train for kids adds to the park’s family-friendly appeal. Once you’ve discovered Marathon Park, it’s time to appreciate the works on display at the Center for Visual Arts.

Appreciate Art at Center for Visual Arts

The Center for the Visual Arts (CVA) in Wausau offers:

  • Free admission
  • Four professional gallery spaces that host eighteen exhibits annually
  • A variety of artworks for visitors to enjoy
  • Art classes for adults, catering to different skill levels
  • Options for private classes and open studio time for independent practice

The CVA was founded in 1982 by community members and artists with a mission to foster creativity and visual arts education within the local community. Once you’ve immersed yourself in the art at the CVA, conclude your journey with a fun family visit to Alexander Airport Park.

Play at Alexander Airport Park

Alexander Airport Park is where fun takes flight. The park offers an aviation-themed playground, which includes a playground structure with slides, stairs, a wiggly bridge, ladders, climbing section, monkey bars, and a zip line. For young aviation enthusiasts, the park has a unique tower with interactive knobs and controls, and a flight map.

The park also includes:

  • A skate park for skateboarding enthusiasts
  • Adult fitness equipment for those looking to stay active
  • A covered area with multiple picnic tables for gatherings and meals

Located next to the Wausau Downtown Airport, Alexander Airport Park is the perfect end to our exploration of Wausau.


From towering mountains to serene parks, vibrant cultural hubs to peaceful botanical gardens, adrenaline-pumping speedways to tranquil art museums, Wausau, WI has it all. This diverse city, with its blend of outdoor activities, cultural experiences, community events, and historical attractions, is a haven for explorers, adventurers, art lovers, and families. Discover the wonders of Wausau and create unforgettable memories.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Rib Mountain State Park have camping?

Yes, Rib Mountain State Park offers camping reservations through ReserveAmerica. You can easily plan a camping trip at the park by making reservations online.

Is Wausau WI a city or town?

Wausau is a city located in Marathon County, Wisconsin. It is the largest city in the county and the county seat.

What is a fun fact about Wausau Wisconsin?

A fun fact about Wausau, Wisconsin is that its neighbor to the south, now named Mosinee, was dubbed Little Bull Falls by the original French explorers. Its name, Wausau, means “a faraway place” or “a place which can be seen from far away” in the Ojibwe language.

Can I enjoy winter sports in Wausau?

Yes, you can enjoy winter sports in Wausau, such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow tubing at Nine Mile Forest and Sylvan Hill Park.

What kind of events can I attend in Wausau?

You can attend concerts, festivals, community events, and cultural performances in Wausau, offering a diverse range of entertainment options. Get ready to immerse yourself in the local culture and have a great time!