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The Wausau Destination occupies a portion of the Midwest region of the United States in the heart of Wisconsin. Wausau, its namesake, is a city found in the southern part of the destination along the Wisconsin River. Originally known as Big Bulls Falls, Wausau had long been inhabited by various Indigenous tribes until a lumberjack by the name of George Stevens began harvesting the area’s pine forests. Eventually, lumber became a lesser industry in the community, and the city is now chiefly aided by the manufacturing industry.[1] Beyond the city of Wausau, however, the destination is composed of an abundance of natural sites, such as Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and George W. Mead State Wildlife Area. While the largest of the two is Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, both can offer visitors recreational activities, such as camping, hiking, hunting, and trapping.[5][6] Those who take an interest in outdoor pastimes during their travels to the Wausau Destination may find that the months between the end of June to the end of August have the potential to provide the climatic conditions for such activities, as a higher probability for moderate temperatures is more likely during this period.[8]

What Wausau is known for

Encompassing the central portion of Wisconsin in the Midwest region, the Wausau Destination is located west of Lake Michigan, comprising a mixture of natural and urban areas. The destination’s namesake, Wausau, is a city that serves as the county seat of Marathon County, Wisconsin. Wausau is divided into eastern and western fractions, on either side of the Wisconsin River, which meanders directly through the city.[1] As of 2024, an estimated total of 40,015 residents was accounted for in Wausau, and the city is presently affected by a 0.23% annual growth rate.[2] In terms of economic contribution, roughly one-third of Marathon County is supported by manufacturing, with some of the specific industries being insurance, paper manufacturing, home manufacturing, and tourism.[1]

On the outskirts of Wausau is a particularly notable attraction that caters to outdoor enthusiasts, Rib Mountain State Park. “This billion-year-old hill” is reportedly “one of the oldest geological formations on earth,” currently offering visitors opportunities to hike along its trails, go picnicking, or reserve the site’s facilities, including an indoor gathering space, amphitheater, and picnic shelters. Views of the city and the Wausau River can be seen from the higher elevations in Rib Mountain State Park. Activities are available year-round at the park, as the Granite Peak Ski Area on the northern side of the mountain can offer downhill skiing and snowboarding.[3]

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is a significant contributor to the city of Wausau’s culture, as the museum features “its internationally acclaimed Birds in Art exhibition each fall.” The exhibitions are said to change throughout the year; however, the establishment showcases several consistent displays and activities, namely a sculpture garden, an Art Park, and dynamic programs “for all ages and life stages.” The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum notably received recognition as one of two art museums to earn a 2017 National Medal for its contributions to the community. Paintings, sculptures, and other exhibited pieces in the museum encompass “art of the natural world,” with some of the artwork derived from various parts of the world.[4]

In addition to these previously mentioned attractions in Wausau, the city is also known for the Marathon County Public Library—recognized as the “the largest library in the Wausau area”—which is found downtown near the Wausau Center Mall. In 1974, this library was formed upon the merging of the county and city libraries, and it presently operates as the headquarters of the Marathon County Public Library system, which includes all of the libraries in Marathon County. Moreover, the city is also known for having 37 city parks that cover a total area of 337 acres of Wausau. Two parks that neighbor each other on the Wisconsin River are Oak Island Community Park and Fern Island Community Park. While Oak Island offers a range of amenities for visitors, such as two playgrounds, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, two open shelters, one enclosed shelter with a kitchen, and a walking bridge to Fern Island, Fern Island Park serves as the setting for an annual event known as Big Bull Falls Blues Festival, which is held in August. Fern Island Park also hosts the annual Beer and Bacon Fest.[1]


Several natural areas comprise the Wausau Destination, with one of the more extensive ones being the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in its northern region. This national forest covers over 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, and it is under the management of the USDA Forest Service for multiple uses, namely wildlife habitat, forestry, recreation, fisheries, and harvesting of forest products. Approximately 858,400 acres account for the Chequamegon side of the forest, in contrast to the Nicolet fraction, which is constituted by 661,400 acres. A few specific activities that can be undertaken in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest are hiking, camping, and water recreation such as paddling.[5]

Closer to the destination’s namesake to the south is the George W. Mead State Wildlife Area, which encompasses a 33,000-acre expanse of hardwood, open marshes, aspen forests, and grassland. Its acreage deems it one of the "largest wildlife areas" in the state of Wisconsin, as it is composed of “the most extensive contiguous state ownership of wildlife lands.” The George W. Mead State Wildlife Area is home to a diverse wildlife population, considering the variety of habitats found within. Bear, deer, turkey, otter, beaver, grouse, herons, muskrats, fox, prairie chickens, coyote, eagles, bobcats, and wolves are a few specific species that inhabit the park. The site is also acknowledged for being a resting, feeding, and nesting area for shorebirds, migrating waterfowl, and songbirds, as over 267 species of birds have been documented on the site. With the exception of designated refuge areas, visitors are welcome to participate in hunting and trapping at George W. Mead State Wildlife Area during the respective seasons.[6]

The aforementioned Wisconsin River, which courses through the communities of Wausau, Stevens Point, and Wisconsin Rapids, is characterized by a number of locks and dams in its central portion. Boating and paddle sports are a couple of activities that tourists can carry out on the river.[7] Downtown Wausau, where Whitewater Park is found, has one-third of a mile of Class I-II+ rapids for whitewater kayaking. Recreational kayaking and canoeing can also be observed in this area at a few bleachers that are arranged facing the whitewater rapids. Additionally, within the Wausau city limits is a county park by the name of Sylvan Hills, where during the winter, tubing can be done on hills with drop-offs of up to 133 feet.[1] 

With regard to the climate of the Wausau Destination, its namesake experiences humid continental conditions. Its location near a hemiboreal forest incorporates characteristics of such an environment, and it shares features with the temperate zone forests that are found to the south of the city.[1] Considering this geographical position, Wausau’s summer season generally lasts from May to September and has been described as “long, warm, and wet.” During this period, daily high temperatures average above 69°F, with the hottest month of the year typically being July. Temperatures range roughly from 60°F to 80°F in July, and this month also supposedly has “the most muggy days,” with around 6.4 days being considered as such. As for the winter season, which tends to last from November through March, average daily temperatures often drop below 35°F. Daily temperatures between the range of 9°F and 24°F are typical throughout what many consider the coldest month of the year in Wausau to be January. Considering these winter temperatures, this season has been characterized as “freezing, snowy, and windy.” Based on the climatic statistics that have been taken note of in Wausau, visitors who plan on engaging in warm-weather activities may find that late June to late August have a comparatively higher probability of producing moderate temperatures that can provide the means for such recreation.[8]


Concerning the earlier history of the Wausau area, the settlement changed hands multiple times between several different Native American tribes. Following the defeat of the Sac, Fox, and Ho-Chunk tribes, the Ojibwe Indians obtained control over the Wisconsin River Valley. They began hunting for game and growing corn, potatoes, rye, oats, and barley before the U.S. government removed them from the area. From 1790 to 1866, George Stevens settled in Wausau, though at the time, the area was referred to as Big Bulls Falls. After its settlement, the area became a hub for lumbering on account of it being surrounded by pine forests. In 1839, the settlement’s first lumber mill was constructed. The mills were powered by the Wisconsin River, and the lumber was transported using the river as well. While the lumber mills aided the success of the settlement, it wasn’t until 1874, upon the completion of the Wisconsin Valley Railroad, that Wausau began to experience relatively rapid development. Thus, the lumber industry began to decline, and the export of quartz, iron, and paper became more prominent.[9]

In terms of more recent history, the Wausau Center shopping mall opened in 1983 to further expand the community, and by the mid to late 1990s, the city began to purchase and develop parts of West Industrial Park for the same reason. Many aging buildings that were formerly part of Wausau’s central downtown area were destroyed in the late 1990s, prompting the creation of what is now known as the 400 Block, which is a public open grass area with paved sidewalks. The 400 Block often hosts summer festivals; as such, the city has recently added a permanent stage, among other renovations.[1]

4.95 (509 Reviews)

The Stewart Inn

Wausau, Wisconsin

The Stewart Inn

The Stewart Inn is located in Wausau, Wisconsin. It was originally designed and built by George Maher in 1906 and features five units available for guest reservation. Every room provides guests with a private bathroom, steam shower, Amazon Echo Show and cable TV. According to Randy, the owner of the property, the Fuller Room is one of the most popular units because it features a private balcony, with the Sheldon Room also being popular among guests for its larger size. Breakfast is offered to patrons every morning at 8:30 AM (unless requested earlier) and is served in three courses. Should accommodations for dietary restrictions be necessary Randy asks that he be told ahead of time to prepare. For those who are interested in exploring the town of Wausau, there are a number of attractions within walking distance of the inn, such as museums, theaters, and restaurants.

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Owl Ridge Cabin is a one-unit lodging establishment in Wausau, Wisconsin. The cabin itself is roughly a 10-minute drive from downtown, with the hope of providing visitors with a secluded location while still allowing them to visit local attractions. Randy and Sara Bangs, who own the cabin, also manage the Stewart Inn nearby. Featuring contactless check-in and check-out, Owl Ridge Cabin sits on 10 acres of wooded land and is equipped with modern amenities such as air conditioning, heated floors, a steam shower, and an "oversized soaking tub for two," as explained by the property's website. Only two people are allowed to stay at the cabin at a time, and pets, children, and smoking are prohibited. Open year-round, the establishment offers one-night stays or multi-day reservations.

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