Wausau, Wisconsin is a charming city located in the heart of the state, and it offers plenty of exciting activities and attractions for visitors of all ages. If you are planning a family vacation with your kids, you will find a variety of kid-friendly things to do in Wausau, including parks, playgrounds, annual events, restaurants, coffee shops, and affordable places to stay.
Top Things to Do in Wausau – Outdoors
Canoe or Kayak on the Wisconsin River
The Wisconsin River cuts through Wausau bringing fantastic water recreation to the downtown area. If you don’t have your own canoe or kayak, check out a rental from Riverside Canoe Trips.
Visit Rib Mountain State Park
For enthusiasts who love state parks, consider dedicating half a day to Rib Mountain State Park. At the summit, a scenic tower offers breathtaking views. Additionally, there is a nearby playground. However, if your children are anything like mine, they will likely be more captivated scaling the natural rock formations rather than the playground itself. Remember to pack a picnic and relish a leisurely day outdoors, beneath the shade of towering trees.
In the winter months, there are opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowboarding.
Granite Peak Ski Area (Part of Rib Mountain)
If you’re visiting in the Winter, go skiing or snowboarding at Granite Peak Ski Area. Granite Peak Ski Area is located just outside of Wausau and offers skiing and snowboarding for all skill levels. Families can take lessons together or explore the mountain on their own. Here’s the view from the top of Granite Peak’s hiking trail during the fall.
This is the ultimate playground in the area. It has a sprawling play structure, toddler area, and a free splash pad too! In the summer there are onsite bathrooms available as well.
The playground is highly accessible with good shade options and plenty of spots to sit.
Bring a picnic to enjoy under one of the shelters.
Sunnyvale County Park
At Sunnyvale, there is a small lake with a roped off swimming area and a small beach for sand play. This is a great place to cool off on a hot day or have a picnic.
Riverlife Park is a favored area park because of its accessibility from Wausau’s downtown area.
The playground is most suitable for ages 5+, but our little kids found plenty to do. There’s lots of public exercise equipment in the park too.
Top Things to Do in Wausau – Indoors
Shop at The Local to find unique gifts, wearables, and souvenirs.
Explore Janke Book Store’s wonderful collection of books and games for all ages.
Art Park Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is a great destination for families who enjoy art. The museum has a collection of over 9,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and other art forms.
In their Art Park exhibit, they also offer an interactive gallery and programs that are specifically designed for kids, like hands on art and nature based activities. Reading Hills has story time, costumes, and puppets.
This makes for a great rainy day option if you need one!
Marathon County Public Library
The Marathon County Public Library is a great destination for families with young children due to their large children’s section with comfortable seating and plenty of space for kids to explore and play.
Wausau on the Water Family Entertainment Center
Pub fare is on the menu at this arcade and laser tag amusements building right along the Wisconsin River.
Annual Events – More Things to do in Wausau
Wausau’s Spectacular Hot Air Balloon Festival
Wisconsin’s favorite balloon festival, Taste N Glow, takes places annually in July. The festival features hot air balloon mass ascensions, food vendors, live music, lumberjack shows, and more fun activities for families. Of all the things to do in Wausau, this is what keeps us coming back year after year.
Badger State Games
The Badger State Games is a multi-sport event that takes place every year in the Wausau area. The games offer opportunities for athletes of all ages and skill levels to compete in a variety of sports, including basketball, figure skating, and ice hockey.
Wausau Winter Fest
Wausau Winter Fest is a family-friendly event that takes place every year in late January or February. The festival features ice sculpting, sled dog demonstrations, a kid’s ice castle building area, and other winter activities.
Tucknee Coffee Company
Tucknee Coffee Company is a centrally located place to grab a cup of coffee and a fun pastry with your kids. Look at these adorable bug pastries!
Red Eye Brewing Company
Red Eye Brewing Company is a great destination for families who enjoy craft beer and delicious food. They offer a kids’ menu with options like grilled cheese and chicken fingers, as well as a play area for kids.
Polito’s Pizza is an ultra casual spot to grab pizza by the slice or pie. We picked ours up to picnic in the main square.
Satisfy a Sweet Tooth
For cakes, cookies and macarons visit Sweet Lola’s. If you want to find gourmet chocolate and candy, pop into Sweets on 3rd.
Final Thoughts on Things to do in Wausau
With so much to see and do, Wausau, Wisconsin is the perfect destination for families looking for a fun and memorable weekend getaway.
Drive Times to Wausau
From Milwaukee: 2 hours 50 minutes
From Minneapolis: 2 hours 50 minutes
From Green Bay: 1 hour 30 minutes
From Chicago: 4 hours 25 minutes
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Catherine – Savvy Family Travel
My favorite pastime is finding fun, interesting experiences to share with family and friends.
I’m a mom of two energetic and curious boys who have endless patience with my tendency to over plan activities on our family vacations. My tireless husband, Troy, provides comic relief, is our favorite photographer, and expert navigator.
I’m a firm believer that travel with kids doesn’t have to be intimidating or expensive. It can be affordable, epic, and, dare I say, even relaxing!
Are you a travel loving parent too? I’d love to meet you, please reach out via Messenger and say “hi!”