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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Eau Claire excursions

Horse-drawn wagons take guests to cabins in the woods at Cabin Ridge Rides, courtesy Visit Eau Claire

Most meeting-goers drive to Eau Claire; having those cars at hand makes it easy to venture out into the Chippewa Valley. Here are some road trips worth taking within an hour of Eau Claire.

If detachment from cellphones and tablets is the goal, Cabin Ridge Rides, 40 minutes north of Eau Claire near Cadott, is an ideal destination.

Retreats and offsite dinners are among the offerings at this diverse family-run operation on 400 wooded acres.

Groups load up in horse-drawn wagons or sleighs in the winter for peaceful passage to two cabins in the woods. One seats 120 people; the other 35. Cellphone service is poor, so distractions are fewer.

Cabin Ridge can arrange for catered meals and for local bands to play. Most groups like to spend at least part of their time around a campfire, roasting marshmallows.

Fanny Hill Inn and Dinner Theatre, about five miles south of downtown Eau Claire, can add some drama to an evening. Its plays lean to happy, light-hearted musicals or comedic classics.

Meals are hearty – think almond-crusted walleye and horseradish mashed potatoes  –  and  “portions are not small,” said Trevor Ostendorf. New chef Dave Fischer is experimenting and new dishes such as a maple-glazed, bacon-wrapped pork loin are becoming fast favorites.

In the summer, the hilltop theater’s gardens are lush; year round, the view of the Chippewa River and its valley is broad, especially from the 2,100-square-foot Riverview Ballroom.