Here and There

your Best of the Chippewa Valley 2010 winners for local places

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FAVORITE MUSEUM/HISTORIC SITE

1st Place: Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts
2nd Place: Chippewa Valley Museum
3rd Place: Carson Park

This year voters chose to represent three very different beacons of local history: a landmark building, the cream of the museum crop, and a park with connections to our past in baseball and lumber. In terms of buildings and architecture, there’s a reason locals almost always declare the Mabel Tainter their favorite. Menomonie’s Victorian-era arts venue is a stone centerpiece to Main Street, featuring a jaw-dropping interior with hand-carved archways, a pipe organ, marble floors, and stained glass windows. The Chippewa Valley Museum is a no-brainer, holding down the local history fort through interactive and kid-friendly exhibits, not to mention its exciting new projects of ChippePedia and The Good Life. Carson Park could have been chosen because of its association with CVM, or the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp, or the Baseball Hall of Fame, or maybe even the little train. Either way, you should probably make a day of it sometime soon. – TK

BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

1st Place: Leinenkugel Brewery
2nd Place: EC downtown farmers market
3rd Place: Phoenix Park

The Leinie Brewery tour plan is simple. Think about the free beer at the end of the tour. Cross the bridge, head to the buildings, and think about the free beer at the end of the tour. Listen to the well-versed tour guides (Hey, Rachel!) and think about the free beer at the end of the tour. Return to the well-stocked gift shop and drink the free beer at the end of the tour. The second and third place winners didn’t even exist a few years ago, and have quickly grown into “chest-thumping/gosh-we’re-proud” locations to impress those out-of-towners. The downtown farmer’s market is social city. You go there to buy locally grown yummies and you spend an hour visiting acquaintances that have the same good sense as you. And once those new potties are installed in Phoenix Park (I command you to build the new potties), it will add that much more sparkle to our city’s little gem. – RR

BEST PLACE TO TAKE YOUR KIDS

1st Place: Irvine Park Zoo
2nd Place: Eau Claire Children’s Museum
3rd Place: Sounds Like Summer Concerts

When you’re a parent, the most welcomed phrase when it comes to entertaining your children is quite simple. “It’s free.” So it’s no surprise that an educational venture to Chippewa Falls to see live animals (or the decorations around the holidays) came in at number one. Though not free (unless you’re a member), the Children’s Museum is extremely cheap for the interactive regular activities and exhibits provided. Volume One’s Thursday concerts in Phoenix Park is another no-brainer, as evidenced by the number of kids getting jiggy with it in the labyrinth every week. And in case you were wondering, fourth place went to another obvious free activity: the library. – TK

BEST PUBLIC PARK

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

For a five-year-old, Phoenix Park certainly has a strong presence on the landscape (and mindscape) of Eau Claire. With its bustling farmers market, proximity to the Chippewa River, lush plantings, and outdoor music labyrinth, the Phoenix really appeals to all sorts of Chippewa Vallians. Animal lovers bestowed Irvine Park with a second place standing this year – people who like to pet donkeys, gaze at peacocks, and get within a glass-plane’s width of a tiger. Riveting. Third place this year goes to Carson Park, an Eau Claire classic established in 1915. The baseball and football stadiums might have something to do with its popularity … or its horseshoe pits, tennis courts, baseball fields, fishing spots on Half Moon Lake, playground with giant slides, hidden trails, fireworks, festivals, etc. – KJ

BEST PLACE TO TAKE A PET

1st Place: Eau Claire Dog Park
2nd Place: The Joynt
3rd Place: Sounds Like Summer Concerts

If you thought that the best place to take your pet would be a place specifically designed as a space to take your pet, you’d be right on the money. The Eau Claire Dog Park achieved a landslide victory in this category. On the edge of town, the dog park is a big, fenced-in open space perfect for letting your pooch run rampant without having to scour the neighbors’ yards later. It’s also the closest thing we have to a doggie social club, and your little guy or gal is sure to meet a lot of friends while playing out in the grass. If having your dog watch you drink sounds appealing, The Joynt on Water Street is a pet-friendly establishment that will even supply your dog with a bowl of water. Rounding out the category was the summer concert series in Phoenix Park, for all those music-loving canines out there. – AW

BEST FREE ACTIVITY

1st Place: Concerts in Owen/Phoenix parks
2nd Place: Irvine Park Zoo
3rd Place: Getting stuff at the library (tied)
3rd Place: Tubing (tied)

Who doesn’t love free things? When the Chippewa Valley wants to enjoy the summer without spending a dime, their top choices were concerts at Owen and Phoenix parks. Maintaining schedules throughout summer, Owen features the area’s premier blues bands, and Phoenix is home to the wildly popular Sounds Like Summer Concert Series. What to do when concerts aren’t in session? Head to Irvine Park Zoo. Home to buffalo, tigers, bears, and monkeys, Irvine Park has 318 acres and has been the source of recreational pride for Chippewa residents for years. Finally, tied for third: getting stuff at the library (whether it be books, magazines, movies, or music) and tubing down the river – basking in the last of the summer rays. – BB

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