When my daughter was visiting my husband and I for two weeks in August, we wanted to be sure to get Alethea out of the house at least once a day. A couple of days, that didn't happen, as we were too pooped from running around, but most days we found something fun to do...and FREE! We tried to keep everything within an hours drive from our home as Alethea is not great in the car. My own children would fall asleep the second I would put them in the car seat...not Alethea! Strap her in a car seat, and she's not happy. She's a child on the go; she loves to move and explore and a car seat is just too confining for her. I look forward to the day when she understands that cars take her to fun, new places to explore. Then perhaps, she won't mind the car ride so much.
We took Alethea many places during her two week stay with us: zoos, parks, beaches, small towns, etc. I hope to cover all our adventures in many travel and lifestyle posts to come. Today I want to share a new park near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It's actually located in a smaller city right next to Eau Claire, called "Altoona". This new park is called "River Prairie Park" and is actually part of a new development in Altoona.
The development is called "River Prairie" and is located just a few miles from downtown Eau Claire. My first experience with River Prairie was last year, when my husband and I went to a restaurant called "Cowboy Jacks". I was blown away by this restaurant because it was so posh and different from anything else Eau Claire had to offer. It reminded me of something I'd see in a big city not in our small town. It had a great atmosphere with fun outdoor seating and river views. We noticed at the time that there was a lot of construction going on nearby and wondered what else was moving in. Flash forward one year, and wow, what a difference a year makes! More restaurants moved in, housing, shops, and an amazing new park called "River Prairie Park".
River Prairie Park has picnic areas, a splash pad, a small stage (live music every Wednesday during the summer) a large lawn, gardens, play area, but most impressive: this beautiful man made river for the children to play in.
The play ground equipment was so different than anything I've ever seen before. Beams for the kids to walk on and learn to balance, and little "houses" to play hide and seek. I loved all the natural wood and how it blended so beautifully with the landscape and gardens.
The river is huge! It wraps around at one point almost like a maze. It runs all through the park, appears to go under a road, then comes back out again by Cowboy Jacks. We wondered how the water was clean enough for children to play in, but after examining the flow of the river we think old water goes right into the Eau Claire River so it is never stagnant. We assumed the original source was city water.
It was so much fun to kick off our shoes and wade in the cool water. There are little waterfalls scattered through out the river that kids love to play in. The river is my favorite feature in the park because it is so pretty, fun to play in, and looks so natural.
The small splash pad is very popular. Alethea ran through it briefly, but I think she preferred the river.
She was very interested in picking up rocks and small pebbles in the river bed.
Alongside the river pretty perennials, grasses, and wildflowers are planted. There are even little, narrow garden paths to walk on to explore. There are different types of bridges (one is even just a beam) to cross from one side of the river to the other. There is one large bridge in the background of the picture below. I loved the natural-looking arches spanning across the bridge.
Oh the fun children can have in this place. My daughter was so envious that we had such an amazing place in Eau Claire for children to play in that was "free"! She said there is a similar park in her city in Illinois, but they charge $15.00 to visit.
Here is the end of the river that I thought looked like a maze. I saw many small children walking the length of the river while I was there. They had fun in this maze portion.
Another bridge where the water is a little deeper.
Did I mention how much I enjoyed taking off my sandals and put my feet in the cool water?
Alethea loved to run across the great expanse of lawn. I was glad we had her daddy there to chase after her. He's in much better shape than I am to keep up with her! haha!
After a picnic lunch, we headed down to the "real" river. That is Cowboy Jacks in the distance. It has outdoor seating on two levels.
This portion of the river is right next to Cowboy Jacks. We think this is the water from the park that goes under the road, back into this area above ground, and then right into the Eau Claire River.
And here is the Eau Claire River. There is a river walk/trail that goes for miles, and miles. It is very pretty, but very long, so most people use this trail to bike on. You can also see this gorgeous, scenic river view from the balcony of Cowboy Jacks.
This is such a beautiful new development. Ever since we moved to the area 25 years ago, I was always homesick for the things big cities had to offer. It may be a little late, but I feel like my town is finally stepping up it's game and making a lot of great improvements. Downtown Eau Claire also has been steep in renovations the past few years. When I took my daughter there to see all the new developments, she was shocked at how different it all looked...but that's for another post!
Have a Great Day! Amy
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How unusual is this place! Looks like the children get engaged with the water and it's nice to see water play areas aren't just limited to the seaside. Hugs, x.ReplyDelete
Yes, I've never seen anything like this before. I love it!Delete
Your granddaughter is precious, Amy, and how wonderful that you were able to spend such quality time with her! That park is beautiful and it's great that it's free and provides water spaces for wading and running through on a hot day. Enjoyed your post!ReplyDelete
Thanks Debbie! I absolutely adore her!Delete
Absolutely beautiful!! And Alethea's face in that first picture, well, that's a sweet one to Frame!ReplyDelete
Thanks Andrea! I love that picture too! As for framing it, well, you should see my house; it's filled with framed pictures of Alethea.Delete
That is a great development, and it gives me hope that one day our small town will get some improvements too! I love how Alethea is still holding on tightly to her pail. She's such a cutie!ReplyDelete
I hope you do too. I think our world is changing in how we shop and spend our free time. On Monday I mentioned that our local mall isn't doing well. But it seems like little developments where people can play, shop, eat, and live are popping up everywhere. Malls might just be going out of style. Hopefully a development like this will begin in your area too. As for Alethea's pail, yes, she has to hold tight to it every time we take her anywhere there is water. It's so funny.Delete
What a wonderfull place to spend time with your granddaughter!ReplyDelete
Yes, it is. Thanks for visiting!Delete
It looks like a great place for families Amy - and btw I love Alethea's little playsuit/swimsuit - just very cute! #MLSTL :)ReplyDelete
Thank you! That was one of my birthday gifts to her!Delete
Alethea is beautiful! Looks like you had tons of fun together.ReplyDelete
Hopefully she will learn to enjoy her car-rides soon! :)
Thank you! Yes, we did. And I hope you adjusts to car rides more as she gets older.Delete
Now that's a different playground. It's more natural and fun than most of the ones around here. I love that the maze is water and what a fabulous time with Alethea!!ReplyDelete
Thanks Jodie! I know, I've never seen anything like it before!Delete
This looks like such a fun place for the kids to play. We have splash pads here that we love, but none with a fun river!ReplyDelete
Pumps and Push-Ups
It makes you want to be a kid again doesn't it? I would have loved having something like this to play in when I was a kid.Delete
What a gorgeous and kid friendly place. It kind of reminds me of the City Garden here in STL. She is getting SO big! And, maybe this sounds weird... but, you have really nice looking feet and I love that nail color!ReplyDelete
I have never been to the City Garden in STL, but I have been to your botanical gardens which is probably the best botanical gardens I've ever seen. And thanks for the compliment on my feet! I actually have a lot of issues with my feet right now that are not showing in the picture. The feet are always the first to show signs of aging!Delete