10 Awesome Things to Do With Your Dog in Eau Claire, WI
Eau Claire, Wisconsin is home to a thriving arts and indie music scene, and it’s a great place to spend a dog friendly weekend! Enjoy breweries, public art, and a lively riverfront in this growing city about 90 minutes from Minneapolis. We’re sharing what to do, where to stay, and where to grab a bite when you’re in town with your pup.
JUMP TO: What to Do | Grab a Drink | Grab a Bite | Where to Stay
What to Do
1. Sculpture Tour Eau Claire is the largest rotating outdoor sculpture tour in the country and has been building for more than a decade. What a great commitment to public art! The free tour comprises more than 80 pieces, including one created by an artist who was just 8 years old.
Sculptures are found all over Eau Claire and into nearby Altoona, but you can see several while strolling Barstow Street, the Water Street District, or Carson Park. Our favorite stops were mostly the animal themed ones:
Dragon on Madison Street (outside Mayo Clinic campus)
Several on Barstow Street, especially the Waving Bear
Shark, Viking Longboat, and Hank Aaron bust Carson Park - Hall of Famer Hank Aaron began his baseball career as an Eau Claire Bear in 1952! For more on his time in EC, click here.
2. Continuing the public art theme, be sure to visit some of Eau Claire’s many murals. These murals enhance downtown’s indie vibe and are fun stops for photos with your pup.
Bright and colorful “”Cascade” is kitty-corner from The Oxbow Hotel at Farwell St. and Galloway St. About a block away down Farwell at the intersection with Eau Claire St., visit the Bon Iver mural. We also stopped for a pic at “Love is the Key” on Lake St and Graham Ave - a sweet photo op for any (dog) lovers!
3. Phoenix Park sits at the heart of downtown Eau Claire. Take your dog for a stroll on the Planet Walk, a scaled-down representation of the solar system starting at the small sun model and extending for about a mile. You can see a few of the Eau Claire Sculpture Walk pieces in the park, too. In the summer, catch the Eau Claire Farmers Market at the pavilion or enjoy a free Thursday night outdoor concert.
4. For a more vigorous outing with your dog, head to Lowes Creek County Park a few miles south of Eau Claire. This park is home to 5+ miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. In the winter, trails are groomed for dog walking and snowshoeing. Be sure to look for trout in Lowes Creek running through the park. Parking pass required. For more trail information, click here.
If your pup needs to blow off some steam with a good romp, take them to one of Eau Claire’s three off-leash dog parks. Purchase a $5 daily pass online ahead of your visit, and make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations before playing with others.
Grab a Drink
5. The Joynt is an Eau Claire icon. This classic dive bar has been a favorite haunt of jazz and blues musicians for more than 50 years, and guess what? Dogs are allowed inside! Bring your pup along and experience a Wisconsin landmark together. There’s no sign out front, but once you step inside, you’ll know you’ve arrived. Be sure to take in the display of vintage beer cans above the bar, the postcard wall with missives from around the globe, and the fabulous “NO LIGHT BEER” neon sign. The folks here were so kind to us - Bert and Ernie made a bunch of new friends!
6. If you’re looking for unique beers, look no farther than The Brewing Projekt. This dog friendly brewery takes pride in its beer that is a little out of the ordinary - take the “Cow Cow”, a peppermint mocha chocolate milk stout, or “Ooey Gooey”, a PB&J inspired sour, for example. Pups welcome inside the taproom or outside on the patio, weather permitting. Check the website to see if there are any events taking place - when we visited, a winter farmers' market was in full swing along with a plant sale.
7. Head down the street to Lazy Monk Brewing, home to traditional style ales and a gorgeous riverside Bier Garden. We always love a Bohemian Dark Lager and the Maibock. Dogs are allowed both inside the Bier Hall and in the outdoor Bier Garden overlooking the Chippewa River.
For tips on taking your dog to a brewery, see this post.
Grab a Bite
8. Get coffee, lunch, or dessert at Acoustic Cafe. Dogs are welcome on the sidewalk patio. With a motto like “Let No One Hunger For Lack of a Better Sandwich,” you know Acoustic Cafe is serious about their hoagies! Don’t miss the guitar sculpture out front.
9. On a rainy or cold day, don’t hesitate to bring your pup inside Racy D’lene’s Coffee Lounge for a cup of coffee. Racy’s has been caffeinating folks in Eau Claire for more than 30 years. Try the chai latte!
10. When the weather’s warm, bring your dog along for lunch or dinner at Valley Burger Co. The patio with bright orange tables is dog friendly, and you can share your hand cut fries with Fido while you enjoy a burger. The special Valley Sauce is *chef’s kiss*.
Where to Stay
Oxbow Hotel is a super chic, dog friendly spot right in the heart of Eau Claire. Partly owned by local musician Justin Vernon of Bon Iver fame, the city’s indie spirit is ultra present in the cool vibe and modern furnishings at Oxbow. Dogs are permitted in The Flats (a mid-century styled motor lodge set up adjacent to the Main House, which has additional rooms and suites) and the lobby.
Every room is outfitted with a record player, and guests can check out vinyl (of course some Bon Iver, but also Lizzo, Prince, Taylor Swift, Green Day, and just about anything else you can imagine!) for the duration of their stay from the lobby lending library.
Guests can also borrow bikes (single or tandem) to explore the city and nearby trails.
Yes, there’s local art lining the walls, but even the wooden surfaces at the Oxbow have a local angle - tables, desks, barstools, and headboards have been crafted from downed trees right from Eau Claire. The Oxbow partners with Eau Claire Woodworks and Tree Purpose to make use of this hyper-local lumber and keep it in the community. Awesome!
Four legged guests can look forward to treats from the friendly front desk staff. Pups are allowed to snuggle on the beds, although we recommend traveling with a dog blanket and lint roller to keep any shedding under control. For more on how to be a good hotel traveler with your dog, see this post.
Eau Claire is definitely an up-and-coming destination in the Midwest travel scene. Wishing you a wonderful visit to this dog friendly, indie cool city!