The First Big Attraction in the Downtown Wausau Development Zone Opens December 6
Through years of sheer determination, co-founders Maggie Gordon and Tammy Szekeress have successfully brought Children's Imaginarium to downtown Wausau. This remarkable achievement fulfills their vision of being a cornerstone in an area ripe for collaboration and growth. The children's museum stands as a shining example of the power of a community coming together to create something extraordinary.
"If not for WOZ (Wausau Opportunity Zone) and the city coming together, this location would not exist," Gordon said.
She believes the museum will bring new energy to downtown, serving as a hub for families to gather, bond and learn. With its arrival, Wausau is bound to become a family destination.
According to the Association of Children's Museums, more than 30% of children's museums are part of downtown revitalization projects, and the members' total economic activity exceeds $440 million. The average museum visitor tends to spend money at nearby restaurants and shops beyond the cost of admission.
Photo credit Dave Junion
Children’s Imaginarium boasts an impressive 10,000 square feet of fun. Julie Bollmann, the executive director, said that its STEM-focused exhibits and rooms create a hands-on and immersive experience. The main features include:
- Wind-powered Play sponsored by Greenheck Group
- STEM Tree
- Construct It
- Drip Drop Discovery
- Farm to Fork Market sponsored by Marathon Cheese Corp.
- STEM Lab
- Multi-Purpose Rooms
- Changing Gallery/Large Group Space
- Comfort Nook sponsored by First Impressions
Bollmann pointed out that the museum is a gift to the community that was built on partnerships, shared experiences and collaborative initiatives. "Collaboration is the heartbeat of our vision," she said.
Memberships Make Great Gifts
This holiday season, give the gift that gives all year. With a $150 membership, a family of four can get free annual admission. Other benefits include exclusive museum hours for members, discounted program pricing and special rates for birthdays and room rentals. The ticket price is $10 a day without a membership and infants up to 12 months are free. Visit the membership page for more information.
How to Purchase
Retail sales events, including membership purchases and gift cards, occur on Black Friday, November 24, and Small Business Saturday, November 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. During this time, visitors can get a sneak peek at the gallery spaces, but the floor will not be open.
Grand Opening and Hours of Operation
The highly anticipated grand opening is Wednesday, December 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. After that, regular museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members-only hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Plan Your First Visit
Plan your first visit to Children's Imaginarium and make a day of it by exploring downtown Wausau. After enjoying the museum, have a delicious meal or visit the new shops recently opened downtown, including Object Homewares, Venado Cerveceria, Forward Beverage and The Pinery Coffee Co.
How to Make a Difference
To get involved and contribute to the community, Bollmann encourages volunteering, offering time and talents, serving on a committee, following Children's Imaginarium on social media, subscribing to the newsletter or becoming a part-time employee.
Another New Façade
In addition to the Children's Imaginarium, HOM Furniture has also revamped its facade and main entrance facing Washington Street, further enhancing the vibrancy of the downtown area.
More Family-Friendly Activities
Holiday Parade & Tree Lighting
Friday, Dec. 1, starting at 6:30 p.m.
Get into the holiday spirit viewing the magical twinkle lights of the parade floats. Candy will be handed out from floats. The parade leaves Marathon Park at 6:30 and finishes at the 400 Block, where there will be a lighting of the Holiday Tree afterward. For more information, check out Wausau Events. Sponsored by American Family Insurance, Great Lakes Cheese, TDS, CoVantage, Northwestern Mutual, TV9, and Midwest Communication.
Holiday Warming Party & Santa Claus
Friday, Dec. 1, from 5 – 8 p.m.
Enjoy a cookie and visit Santa and Mrs. Claus inside the lower level of Washington Square before and after the parade. This is a free event. Visit Wausau Events.
Other Holiday Happenings Downtown Wausau
Small Business Saturday
Shop locally for holiday gifts and to enjoy a cup of coffee, lunch or dinner. Small Business Saturday is packed with in-store events and opportunities to take pictures with Santa. Go to Wausau River District for in-store specials. Sponsored by NorthStar Restoration.
Holiday Window Display Contest
Nov. 25 – Dec. 10
The Wausau River District encourages the community to text to vote for your favorite window display and for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate. The winning businesses will receive an award on Dec. 11 to place in their window. Visit Holiday Window Display Contest.
Santa Saturdays & Gift Wrapping for Good Station
Saturdays, Nov. 25 – Dec. 23 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Come get your gifts wrapped at our wrapping station during visits with Santa. Looking for volunteers during the holidays and raising funds for a charity. Find out more information here. Media sponsor WSAW.
Holiday Ale Trail
Saturday, Dec. 9 from 1 – 4 p.m.
Enjoy beer samples while you do your holiday shopping! Each participating location provides two beer samples. Take advantage of the shuttle to safely visit 14 locations on both sides of the river. More information and tickets, go to Wausau River District Holiday Ale Trail. Sponsored by Fabiano Brothers, WSAW, Compass Properties, Forward Beverage and Cornerstone Caregiving.
Mark Your Calendar for a Fun-Filled Winter Weekend in January!
Winter Brew Fest
Jan. 26 from 6 – 9 p.m.
Enjoy beer samples, appetizers, a brat bar, and live music! Held at Jefferson Street Inn Banquet Center. Must be 21+. Tickets $35 in advance, $40 at the door.
Jan. 27 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Enjoy ice skating, sled dog demonstrations, ice castle building on the 400 Block and family-friendly craft activities in the City Square Office Center. And so much more!
Check out Wausau Events for more information on both events. Sponsored by City Square Office Center, Compass Properties, American Family Insurance, UMR, Upper Iowa University, Renewal by Anderson, Pepsi, TV9 and Midwest Communication.
Plenty of Parking in Downtown
With the convenience of the Passport Parking app, finding a parking spot downtown has never been easier and the first two hours are free. Parking is also free in the evenings after 6 p.m. and on weekends. Click here to learn more about downtown parking locations, costs, and pay stations.
Wausau Opportunity Zone, Inc. is leading the charge to inform Greater Wausau of progress made during the development phases of Downtown Wausau. WOZ collaborates with the Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership, local governments, businesses and organizations to involve and engage the community. To learn more, visit downtownrefresh.com.