Here and There

your choices for the Chippewa Valley’s best in Here and There

V1 Staff, illustrated by Erik Christenson

BEST PLACE FOR A DAY TRIP

1st Place: Twin Cities
2nd Place: Madison
3rd Place: Stillwater (tied)
3rd Place: Duluth (tied)

Taking top honors for best day trip, a Twin Cities getaway can be easily repeated for those unfamiliar with its intense array of entertainment options. From nightlife to lakes, both cities combine to create an eclectic and pulsating metropolis. Madison comes in second and the thoroughfare of the hub is easily State Street, with eclectic shops and a myriad of bars and eateries. Older than Minnesota itself, third-place Stillwater goes beyond it’s clichéd collection of antiques and haunted Victorian houses. Tucked along Main St., visitors will find a diverse collection of coffeehouses, fine dining, and burger joints. Chill by the riverside, an artistic display itself, anchored by the historic lift bridge. Big enough to pretend it’s an ocean, epic Lake Superior is the perfect backdrop to a chill Duluth getaway. Visit a wine cellar, brewhouse, shops, and restaurants without stepping outdoors at the Fitgers Complex, or take advantage of stunning sights at Enger Tower, Duluth’s highest point. And don’t come home without stopping at Leif Erikson Park, a photographer’s paradise. – Caitlin Heidbrink
 

BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

1st Place: Farmers market
2nd Place: Leinenkugel’s Brewery
3rd Place: Phoenix Park

It’s been a very, very long time since Eau Claire looked to its rivers for any source of pride, but with all of the development in the North Barstow area, we have finally arrived. If family or friends happen to be around on a Saturday, Wednesday, or Thursday, the Farmers’ Market is a great place to stop. Not only is the pavilion attractive, the selection of produce, meats, baked goods, and the general carnival atmosphere creates a local attraction anyone would find fun and interesting. For second place you’ll need to head towards Chippewa Falls and greatest brewery tour around – check out the vats, learn about wort, and, best of all, sample all sorts of beer. In third place, which is super-convenient if you took your guests to the first place winner, is Phoenix Park. Between the walking paths, amphitheater, converted railroad bridge, and outstanding river views, this park is a gem in the sandy banks of the Chippewa River Valley.  – Eric Rasmussen

Fall Creek Pick: Beaver Creek Reserve, County Highway K
 

YOUR MOST SORELY MISSED LANDMARK

1st Place: Kerm’s
2nd Place: Cameraderie
3rd Place: Carson Park Rocket

Kerm’s on Water Street was in a tough position, like some poorly adapted little mammal after everyone else had evolved. It was crazy convenient for Randall Park neighborhood folks, but it was small, and the new sleek mega-grocery stores were so much cheaper. Unfortunately, neighborhood traffic wasn’t enough, and now the only way we can appreciate the delicate fur and gentle yipping of this extinct Kerm’s beast is through history books. Camaraderie was a different story – this Water Street bar and restaurant was in the middle of its cheese-curdish prime when a fire consumed it. The Carson Park Rocket was a mecca of playground equipment – it had three levels, slides, and was made completely out of cold, unforgiving metal. Apparently modern children are more delicate than they once were, because we lost the rocket for more plastic equipment. – Eric Rasmussen


BEST PUBLIC PARK

1st Place: Phoenix Park
2nd Place: Carson Park
3rd Place: Irvine Park

You know what bugs? Mother Nature. She whips out these gorgeous natural locales, but she doesn’t finish the job. It’s like, nice river confluence, Ms. Nature, but there’s nowhere to sit. Were you too busy with all the natural beauty to spit out a bench? Good thing the engineers of our local bergs came along to fill the gaps. The best polish job on Ma Nature’s handiwork is Phoenix Park, at the confluence of the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers. Featuring great views, a natural amphitheater, tons of paths, a converted railroad bridge, a restroom gazebo, and the farmer’s market pavilion, this park is the perfect centerpiece for the new downtown Eau Claire. Carson Park, in second place, has been around a little longer, and it is impressive. Surrounded by Halfmoon Lake, it has sports fields, playground equipment, and lots of forest-type nature for your park enjoyment. In third place is Chippewa Falls’ pride and joy, Irvine Park. In addition to lots of natural goodness, Irvine has a zoo, with real-life animals, in both enclosure-type settings and buffalo-in-a-field-type settings. – Eric Rasmussen


BEST PLACE TO TAKE A PET

1st Place: Eau Claire Dog Park
2nd Place: The Beastro
3rd Place: The Joynt

We pet owners are a special group of folks – well not special really, we just have an animal to take care of; fuzzy friends who need daily exercise, meals and adventures in the wild for number one and two (and after the unknown garbage rage, the always surprising three). But, when it comes to out of the house, out of the yard activities to do with our friends, options are limited. Topping the list is the Eau Claire Dog Park (4503 House Rd). Plenty of running room, sniffing, grass eating, and varying dog personalities available. But, for those times when you can’t skip wildly through the meadow, our second place will gladly hold onto your dog for your busy day at work or out of town. The Beastro (800 Wisconsin St) has available day-care and dog training courses at very reasonable prices. Completing the top three is The Joynt (322 Water St.). Your (hopefully people friendly) dog will enjoy the varying smells and patrons that visit this local watering hole while getting pats on the head. – Mark Koenig
 

STRUCTURE IN MOST NEED OF DEMOLITION

1st Place: Downtown post office
2nd Place: Strip malls on Highway 53
3rd Place: Country Jam A-frame

The simple idea of demolishing something gets me excited. I don’t know but it could be the anthill-crushing kid inside of me awaiting the opportunity to reek havoc once again. Maybe if I’m lucky one of your votes will be on the chopping block giving me the opportunity to sledge hammer some concrete. At the top spot is the downtown post office (126 N Barstow St) with its angled parking, smelly-head windows, and dumb bricks…actually it’s kind of outdated standing next to the righteous RCU building and could use a contemporary facelift. Number two is the strip malls on 53. These buildings (sigh) are screaming to be kicked over and replaced with updated and efficient retail space. Bringing in the rear is the Country Jam A-frame (1711 S Hastings Way) thing on 53. Unless this building is on top of a ski hill, A-frames should be D-famed and D-molished. Nothing against Country Jam, but maybe build something that resembles a cowboy boot or 10-gallon hat or something. – Mark Koenig

Really?: UW-Eau Claire campus hill


BEST CHANGE TO THE LOCAL LANDSCAPE IN THE PAST YEAR

1st Place: Phoenix Park pharmacy building
2nd Place: Mabel Tainter expansion
3rd Place: Water Street Commons (formerly Kerm’s)

Even though we’ve already had three years of Phoenix Park, we still just can’t stop being enamored with it. It’s like a beacon of awesome, and with it other developments have come to downtown Eau Claire. Your votes suggest that the newest of which is up to snuff. The Midelfort Pharmacy and Home Medical building in North Barstow’s Redevelopment District opened up its super-convenientness just a few months ago, immediately followed by Isabelle & Company clothing boutique next door. A true landmark to Menomonie’s arts scene, the Mabel Tainter Theater, placed a close second in your votes after opening its renovated doors this spring. Surprisingly, due to the hubbub about Kerm’s closing, the Water Street commons development placed third and seemingly won over your hesitant hearts. – Trevor Kupfer


BEST MAKE-OUT SPOT

1st Place: In bed, under the covers
2nd Place: Big Falls
3rd Place: Mt. Simon

Every teenager—well, everybody, actually—needs to know the vital information of where the best make-out spot in town is. If you’re lucky enough to have your own place, or really lenient parents, then it’s definitely in bed, under the comfort of your blankets and behind the privacy of a locked door. But if not, the next best thing is the drive-in, where you can lock the doors and steam up the windows, and hopefully the surrounding people’s eyes are more glued to the big screen than to your Titanic-reminiscent windows. Even better, Big Falls and Mt. Simon are free (or almost free, depending on when you sneak in) and both offer amazing secret spots and romantic settings. What’s better than sitting on the swings, staring into your lover’s eyes? Or feeling safe in your honey’s arms, staring up at the stars, unaware of the chiseled granite you’re laying on? That doesn’t matter when all that matters is making out—and these places will make for great future stories. – Robin Kinderman

Really?: Marquart Lube-N-Wash appeared in the top five again

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