More to Eau Claire than Water Street

After interning at an organization called Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. this summer, I have a disheartening suspicion: A number of UW-Eau Claire students are secluded from many of the areas of Eau Claire.

As an underclassman, I was one of them. I didn’t venture much farther than the Water Street area, unless it was to make a trip to Target.

As it turns out, this seems to be a trend. I am here to tell you, don’t be like me. There is life outside of campus.

Don’t be afraid to stray from the confines of Water Street and the surrounding area. Sure, the further away from campus you venture, the stranger the townies become. Yeah, if you don’t have a car, downtown might be a little challenging to access. Bum a ride, take the bus, it will be worth it.

It wasn’t until I moved off-campus that I realized how much of the outside world I had been missing. I imagine it is the same for most people. It is so easy to get caught up in campus life that we kind of forget campus is only one part of a much larger city. There is a plethora of restaurants, shops and things to do away from campus. And the best part? They are locally owned, tailored especially for the people of Eau Claire.

‘But Brittni, local businesses are too expensive. I’m just a college student,’ I usually hear at this point of my argument. And to that, I say ‘False!’ If they were too expensive for all but the rich and famous, would they still be in business? What’s more, privately owned local businesses have a lot more freedom to do specials and sales. And they do those things often. So, without further ado, here are some awesome places downtown that won’t break the bank.

Frogiyo: Although the only other froyo shop I’ve been to is Raspberry Reign, I feel confident in saying this is the best frozen yogurt shop in Eau Claire. I say that because they charge by the cup not by the ounce. You want to buy a cup and fill it to the brim with just chocolate sauce? You can do it! Want to load up that yogurt with every single topping in the place without worrying how much it weighs? You can do that too! For just $3, you can put whatever you desire into that cup. It really doesn’t get better than that.

Downtown Micon Cinema: You get the movie theatre experience for a fraction of the price. Normally $3 for a movie ticket, but $2 on Tuesday. Granted, the movies play in the other theatres first before being moved to this budget theatre. But for the price it costs to rent a new movie from Family Video, you get a real movie theatre experience. Also, the popcorn and concessions are much cheaper at this theatre, too.

Acoustic Café: Their hoagies would beat up Subway’s if they had arms. Live entertainment every Wednesday through Saturday. Acoustic won Volume One’s “Best of the Chippewa Valley” categories “Best Sandwich” and “Best for Open Mic” for 2012.

Mousetrap Tavern: They have live music all the time! Unlike House of Rock, there is never a cover charge. And, any place where Justin Vernon tends to pop in and hang out is obviously going to be an awesome place!

Phoenix Park: The park serves as the trailhead of the Chippewa River State Trail and has a walking labyrinth, the farmer’s market (turns out it’s cheaper than the store. Can’t beat a 50 cent cucumber!) and concerts during the warm months.

That should be enough to get started. And when you’re wandering around downtown, check out Tangled up in Hue (art and jewelry), explore all Banbury Place has to offer (numerous art studios and vintage shops) and stop by Pilar Fashions for some unique retail. Venture forth, friends.