In addition to the natural beauty of the landscape, the climate and terrain permit a diversity of crops to be grown in the Wausau Area. In contrast to the level plains that permit large acreages of wheat and corn, central Wisconsin soil provides excellent growing conditions for many fruits, vegetables, and evergreens. You can taste fresh-picked goodness by doing the work yourself or by visiting the Farmers Market located at 400 River Drive, Wausau on Wednesday and Saturdays at 7:00 a.m. from mid-May through mid-November.
Farms and orchards surrounding the Wausau Area produce potatoes, corn, strawberries, apples, ginseng, and Christmas trees. During the summer, you can pick fresh vegetables and fruit for eating or preserving at several area farms. In fall, there are orchards with tree ripened apples and beginning the day after Thanksgiving, your family can take to the fields with a saw to select the perfect Christmas tree from one of the many tree farms nestled among the wooded hillsides of the surrounding area.
Marathon County is also well know for ginseng, a root used for 5,000 years for health benefits in beverages and food. Central Wisconsin exports 95% of the ginseng root from the United States. Ginseng farmers tend a crop for 4 years, and in the summer tarps cover the fields from direct sunlight. One of the larger ginseng wholesalers is Hsu’s Ginseng Enterprises Inc. located north of Wausau on County Highway W.
Andrew Warren Historic District
The Warren District is named after sawmill owner Andrew Warren, who purchased the land in 1853. The sixty-two buildings, mostly homes built between 1868 and 1934, comprise this architecturally significant area in the heart of Wausau’s east side. Buildings from the Prairie School of Architecture exist here as well as examples of Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Neo-Classical Revival styles. The two homes that comprise the Marathon Country Historical Museum, Society and Library are located in this district.
East of the Warren District is the even larger East Hill District, named for the hill rising abruptly on the east side of the Wisconsin River Valley. More than 100 houses covering a 30-block radius went up between 1874 and 1930. Buildings styles include Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, Georgian Revival, Tudors Revival, and more. The Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum is located at 700 North Twelve Street in this district.
A free brochure (PDF 4.5MB) containing a self-guided tour of historic neighborhoods is available at area museums.
"Wausau Beautiful - A Guide to Our Historic Architecture", a pictorial and informational publication, is available for sale at Janke's Book Store and the Marathon County Historical Society's Woodson History Center.
Center of the Northwest Hemisphere
Highway 29 West, follow the signs
Visit Poniatowski in the Town of Reitbrock, Marathon County where the exact geographic center of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere is located. It is there that the 90th Meridian of the Longitude bisects the 45th Parallel of Longitude. Meaning it is exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, and is a quarter of the way around the the earth from Greenwich, England. This is one of only four places like this in the entire world with two being under water and the other in China. The site has been marked with a geological marker in a small park.
The Wausau/Central Wisconsin Visitors Center now has the visitor book once found at Gesicki's tavern. People who have visited the marker can come into the Visitor Center (located in downtown Wausau at 219 Jefferson Street) sign the book and receive a commemorative coin. The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 9am to 5pm (hours subject to change).
Historic Downtown Wausau/River District
Historic Downtown Wausau is the county seat of Marathon County, the regional shopping center, and art, museum, and business center of Central Wisconsin. The downtown emerged after the sawmills were built along the Wisconsin River in the 1800's, and the city prospered into the 1900's. Wausau became the county seat in 1850, and although the original Marathon County Courthouse building is no longer standing, the newer building at 500 Forest Street houses many county government departments and the county jail. City government is also located downtown in an Art Deco style City Hall building, 407 Grant Street, which has recently undergone extensive renovations.
Retail businesses, professional and government offices, the county library, museums, attractions, churches, and parks make up the landscape of the downtown along the Wisconsin River. Many of the churches boast a range in architectural designs from Tudor Revival to High Victorian Gothic styles. The Grand Theater built in 1927 is located in the heart of downtown, and recently the city acquired the block in front of the Grand Theater for a city park. Special celebrations, concerts, festivals, and events are held in this park throughout the year.
Downtown features over sixty stores located within the Wausau Center Mall and along the Pedestrian Mall down Third Street to adjacent side streets. The Pedestrian Mall is a brick paved walkway extending from the front doors of the mall where you will find the beginning of specialty stores, attractions, pubs, businesses, and restaurants housed in historic buildings unique to the downtown. A great example of this is the historic Washington Square building at 300 Washington Street.
Salem Lutheran Church Pipe Organ
2822 Sixth Street, Wausau
Hours are by appointment only
Modeled after a 17th century design often used by Bach, the completely mechanical organ combines metal pipes manufactured in Germany with wood pipes and solid oak cabinetry crafted in the U.S. Organists are encouraged to listen to and play the instrument. Demonstrations are also available by making advance arrangements.
The Wausau Depot
When you think of Wausau you probably envision the railroad depot created by Wausau Insurance Companies for a corporate logo. You can't find the depot pictured in the ads because it was drawn by an artist combining one depot building with the view of the city skyline from another depot.
The depot featured in the logo still stands at 720 Grant Street. After Wausau Insurance Companies bought the building in 1977, a faithful reproduction was constructed at its corporate headquarters for advertising purposes and the Grant Street depot was donated to the Boy Scouts. The Washington Street depot with the city backdrop depicted in the logo has recently been restored and used as office space.