Great debate: Downtown versus Water Street

Story by Taylor Kuether and Rob Hanson

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Downtown
By Taylor Kuether

Walking through downtown Eau Claire is like walking through a different city entirely. Quaint yet somehow chic, the sidewalks of the downtown area transport you to anywhere but the northern Midwest.

The downtown area is home to many a popular collegiate haunt; the Acoustic Café, Infinitea Teahouse and the Cameo Budget Theatre among them. A quality cup of coffee accompanied by live music every Thursday through Sunday can be had at the Acoustic, whose atmosphere screams “quintessential college coffee shop.”

If coffee isn’t your cup of tea, an actual cup of tea can be enjoyed just down the street at Infinitea Teahouse, home to over one hundred different varieties of tea. One can see recently released movies at a fraction of the box office price at the Budget while at the same time being transported to the 1930’s Golden Age of film just by stepping inside and laying eyes on the vintage decor. Also found in the downtown area is The State Theatre, where big-name performances take place, and a myriad of specialty shops where one can purchase anything from art supplies to grossly overpriced children’s clothes. For the over-21 demographic there is a lively assortment of bars, the number of which rivals even Water Street.

But the downtown area isn’t limited simply to Barstow Street. It includes the beautiful Phoenix Park area, where a farmers’ market takes place every Saturday and where natural beauty can be found any day of the year. In warm weather, it’s the perfect spot to go for a walk or simply find a quiet patch of grass and read.

While it lacks the cliché rowdiness of Water Street, the downtown area is the better choice for every day of the week that isn’t Friday or Saturday night.

Water Street
By Rob Hanson

Water Street is a place that offers something for everyone, from exciting night life to fine dining – and all within a few short blocks. While downtown offers a few dining spots, venues and shops, it is more spread out and less aesthetically pleasing.

For a nice day out, one can hit Water Street for a variety of foods from the best subs in town to delicious burgers at Mogie’s and more upscale dining at Mona Lisa’s. And nothing follows up a good lunch or dinner like a stop at Obsessions Chocolates.

After a bite to eat one can check out the local shops like Trucker’s Union or Anybody’s Bikeshop, or even take care of that long overdue haircut at one of the salons. Just a quick step off the street also puts one right on a section of the bike trail where you can enjoy a spring afternoon near the river.

However, Water Street is most known for its night life. Whereas the Downtown Area’s live music is now limited to occasional shows at The State Theatre and the smaller Bottle and Barrel and Mousetrap, Water Street’s House of Rock continues to boast the best inhouse sound in town with the widest variety of musical acts.

When it comes to bars, downtown has the chill atmosphere on lockdown with the Mousetrap and Clancy’s. However, Water Street has a bar to satisfy every pubdweller. While bars like Shenanigans and The Pickle might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the Joynt is there for those who like it more low key and the Brat is a less outrageous dance alternative.

All in all Water Street has what it takes to be without a doubt one of Eau Claire’s most desirable destinations.

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