I can’t say I would have pegged Wausau, Wis., as an ideal girls weekend getaway destination before having one there. But it has all the essentials — shopping, spa, food and drinks — and has them in spades.
I picked the city simply because it was the closest to equidistant I could get for my two college roommates and I without hanging out in a cow pasture. I found plenty to do while planning and we didn’t do half of it. Halfway through Saturday we were already talking about “when we come back.”
We spent several hours in the River District, checking out the four blocks of shops north of the mall along Third Street. The mall itself is entirely skippable except that it has Cherry Pickers, which our little group has loved since it had a (now closed) location in La Crosse.
Clothing consignment shops: In addition to Cherry Pickers, we browsed Studio 7 Consignment, which had a bit more of a vintage flair, and Standing Ovations, which looked like an expensive boutique until we checked the price tags. There are a few others in town but not that you can walk to from downtown.
Antique/collectible shops: There are a half dozen antique stores downtown and we only made it to one, Again and Again. It’s more on the resale/collectibles end of the scale than the antiques end. That doesn’t mean it’s junk. I found three glasses from a set my mom collects. They normally go for $8-$15 and I got them for $4.
Gift shops: We found some nice gifts for the little people (and the big ones) we left back home at Janke Book Store, which bills itself as Wisconsin’s oldest book store. My favorite stop, Evolutions in Design, is not like any store I’ve ever seen. It’s an experience not to be missed. It’s part floral shop, part gift shop, very eclectic and full of unique items.
I highly recommend Dayspring Health Spa. It is a very well-appointed, calming, luxurious space with a menu of service to match any group size and budget. The three of us had a “ Pampered Party” and chose three mini-treatments each. I was interested in the English Tea that is normally a part of this party but it requires six participants. We had to chose our treatments when we made reservations a couple of weeks prior. That means you can’t pick whatever treatment you feel you need at the time of service, but if you’ve forgotten what you ordered, like we did, it can be a nice little surprise!
Food and drinks
We ate at only two restaurants because of the short duration of our trip and an evening spent at the Wisconsin Valley Fair (which has free grandstand shows!) and it was tough to narrow our River District lunch options down to one. Milwaukee Burger Company is a new regional chain. It has pretty standard burger bar fare but it was good and near our hotel, 1.5 miles west of downtown. Townies Grill on Third Street has superb upscale bar (or gastropub) food like lobster mac and cheese. I had a great fried egg burger, sweet potato fries and a Dark & Stormy. One friend had the special – a ribeye burger – and the other had a salad to go with her meal-sized Bloody Mary. We didn’t get to any but Wausau also has three microbreweries and there’s an experimental winery not far away.
If the standard eating, shopping and pampering isn’t enough for you, these are some options that intrigued us: