Chippewa Falls, WI

Irvine Park in Chippewa Falls is one of Wisconsin’s Hidden Gems

Walter Rhein

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Residents of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin are fortunate to have access to one of the best public parks in the entire state. Irvine Park was founded in 1906 and covers an astonishing 318 acres. It even includes a zoo stocked with a variety of interesting and exotic areas.

The park’s main entrance is at 125 Bridgewater Avenue, but there are multiple accesses to the park. The main entrance is just across the street from the Bernard F. Willi Outdoor Pool.

Upon entering the gates, visitors will immediately see one of the park’s many playgrounds on the left. Behind the playground is a water fountain where young children can cool off on a hot summer day.

There are several bathrooms located throughout the park and paved roads wind through the entire area. The park is popular among runners, walkers, and cyclists. The small pavilion that can be seen from the intersection of Irvine Park Drive and Irvine Park Road is a popular photo location for weddings, graduations, proms, senior pictures and other events.

The Irvine Park main pavilion is a popular area for families to have a picnic. There are two main playgrounds surrounding the pavilion, either of which could keep a young child occupied all day long.

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A scenic waterway passes through the park connecting the Glen Lock Lake to Star Lake. There is even a small swimming area located behind the pavilion.

The whole area is popular throughout the summer for a variety of private and community organized events. Throughout the week, and especially on weekends, there is plenty going on at Irvine Park.

Going beyond the main pavilion, visitors will come to the zoo area. The zoo contains both small and large animals in a variety of enclosures. Admission to the zoo is free, but there is the option to leave a donation.

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The zoo includes everything from lemurs to tigers and bears. The tigers and bears can be seen through large glass windows, and visitors enjoy the illusion of being able to stand very close to these fearsome predators. The design of the zoo allows for a unique perspective as to just how large these animals are.

Beyond the enclosures are various pastures. The types of animals can vary from year to year, but there are usually buffalo and elk.

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Surrounding the pasture areas, there are a variety of nature paths that allow visitors to walk through beautiful scenery. It’s a great way to experience the natural beauty of northern Wisconsin as well as enjoy some exercise.

If you happen to arrive in Chippewa Falls in the winter, you’ll be delighted to discover that Irvine Park is transformed into a winter village. It’s one of the very best Christmas spectacles in the entire state. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, there will often be a line of cars waiting their turn to take a leisurely drive through the festively lit park.

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From the zoo to the playgrounds to the simple chance to interact with nature, Irvine Park is a community treasure. The park is free, and it is one of the premier places for families to enjoy a safe moment of togetherness and healthy recreation. If you happen to visit Chippewa Falls, make sure to put Irvine Park on your list of must-see destinations.

Irvine Park is located at 125 Bridgewater Ave - Chippewa Falls, WI 54729.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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