Waupaca’s bustling social calendar and boundless outdoor amenities make it an ideal home for young professionals and families who want it all. With dozens of lakes and thousands of acres of wilderness at its doorstep, Waupaca is a nature lover’s paradise. Even though it’s easy feel away from it all when you’re immersed in the woods or water, Waupaca pairs effortless access to the outdoors with a vibrant arts and culture scene that can rival cities many times its size. From marquee events like Arts on the Square to the weekly rhythm of the Farmers Market, Waupaca is abuzz with things to do and see. While life in Waupaca makes you feel like royalty, the city’s affordable housing market, great schools, and family-supporting career opportunities make a good life possible for anyone.
Nestled between rivers and lakes and surrounded by sprawling parks, Waupaca is the perfect home for those who long to clock out of the office and be on the water or in the woods minutes later. With over 50 miles of off-road bike trails, more than 30 class I trout streams, flat-and-white water paddling routes, dozens of swimming holes, five golf courses, and 34 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails all within 20 minutes of town, you’re sure to have the better half of work-life balance here. With so many adventures to be found out your front door, there’s no knowing where you’ll be swept off to.
The clean, clear waters of the Chain O’ Lakes have mesmerized visitors for thousands of years. Each of the twenty-two, interconnected lakes that form the Chain has its own personality. Whether you’d prefer to zip around Round Lake in a jet ski or paddle quietly through non-motorized Knight Lake, the Chain offers something for everyone—no matter what floats your boat.
Located on the beautiful Chain O’ Lakes, Hartman Creek State Park offers camping, boating, swimming, horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, and cross-county skiing opportunities all just minutes from downtown Waupaca. With Hartman Creek in your backyard, you’ll have more time to focus on the things you love to do.
Waupaca’s sixteen city parks are its pride and joy. Amenities offered through its city park system include a brand-new splash pad, four lighted baseball diamonds, a skateboard park, a supervised sandy beach area, soccer fields, volleyball courts, reservable shelters, and multiple canoe and kayak launch areas. With a sledding hill and ice rink maintained throughout the winter, you’ll find plenty to do at Waupaca’s city parks all-year round.
Featuring two full sized gyms, an exercise room, stage area, a concession area, and multiple meeting rooms in a 42,000 square foot facility, Waupaca’s city-owned and operated Community Recreation Center offers facilities for year-round fitness and fun. Whether you’re looking to play a pick-up game of pickleball or place to learn ballroom dance, the Rec Center offers programs and activities for all ages and abilities.
No matter how you move, there’s a trail for you in Waupaca. Waupaca offers bikers 50+ miles of off-road biking trails, from adrenaline-pumping singletrack to smooth, crushed gravel. Hikers can enjoy over 13 miles of rustic trail at Hartman Creek State Park, while Waupaca’s six state natural areas offer a wilderness experience for those looking to blaze their own path. When the snow falls, Waupaca’s 30+ miles of groomed, cross-county ski trails are the perfect antidote to cabin fever. For those who feel more at home on four wheels, Waupaca’s robust ATV/UTV and snowmobile network will keep you cruising all year-round.
With tree-lined fairways and rolling greens, Waupaca’s golf courses are not only dazzlingly scenic but also rank among the best in the country. With two golf courses located right in town and four more within a 15-minute drive, tee-time is anytime in Waupaca.
With over 2,500 acres of public hunting lands and more than 30 class I trout streams within 15 miles of Waupaca, hunters and anglers from across the Midwest have tagged trophies here. We aren’t telling fish stories when we say that Waupaca is home to some of the best fishing and hunting in the country.
Small but mighty, Waupaca offers an arts and cultural scene that can stand up to cities many times its size. No matter your jam, you can find it here—from summer night concerts and bustling art festivals to captivating community lectures and dance classes, you’ll find plenty to do any night of the week. With a nationally-registered historic downtown that features massive murals and dozens of boutique shops and galleries, it’s easy to see that the arts are a part of our DNA.
Every Saturday from May through October, you’ll find dozens of local farmers and artisans gathered in downtown Waupaca selling farm-fresh produce, meat, and eggs alongside fresh cut flowers, home décor, soaps, candles, and more. With family friendly events held on Saturdays all summer long, the Waupaca Farmers Market is so much more than just a shopping trip.
With more than 43 contributing properties dating from as early as 1868, Waupaca’s nationally-registered Main Street Historic District invites you to slow down and enjoy its timeless charms. With over 60 places to shop, eat, drink, and explore in the downtown area, you’ll be glad to linger.
From art classes and music lessons to courses in cooking and improv comedy, the Arts Hub offers a wide range of offerings for children, teens, and adults to grow in creativity. Since plenty of campfires await you in Waupaca, perhaps it’s finally time to pick up the guitar.
Waupaca may be a small, but it knows how to party. From Strawberry Fest and Arts on the Square to Halloween on Main and the Yuletide Trail, each season offers an opportunity for us to come together and celebrate the town we love.
At the School District of Waupaca, you get the best of both worlds: a nurturing, small school atmosphere with all the academic and extra-curricular opportunities of a big district. With a low student-teacher ratio of 12:1, our highly-qualified staff (over 66% have obtained a master’s degree or higher) provide personalized attention to nurture the intellectual, emotional, and social growth of each child. With four state-of-the-art facilities, technology-enabled classrooms, a robust curriculum that includes 16 AP courses, and dozens of extra-curricular activities to choose from, the School District of Waupaca is committed to excellence in education.
Waupaca High School offers 19 sports teams and 36 extra-curricular activities for students to participate in. Athletes benefit from state-of-the-art facilities, including a brand-new fitness center and Comet Field, a $2.3 million multi-sport complex built in 2017. From bowling and basketball to forensics and football, Waupaca High School provides every young adult with the opportunity to explore their curiosity, develop their skills, and find a sense of belonging.
Nothing is more valuable than the safety of our children and staff. That is why the School District of Waupaca proactively invested $3.875 million into district-security upgrades in 2022. With these facility and technology upgrades complete, parents, and staff can focus on what matters—nourishing the intellectual, social, and physical well-being of our community’s kids.
Whether you are seeking a technical certificate or an advanced degree, Waupaca is a great place to achieve your educational goals. Home to the Waupaca Regional Center of Fox Valley Technical College, a variety of courses are available right in town that can be applied to your associate degree, technical diploma, or certificate program. For those pursuing a Bachelor’s degree or returning to school for a graduate program, Waupaca is just a 30-minute drive from the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point and forty minutes from the University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh.
From upscale restaurants to townie-favorites, Waupaca’s eateries embrace a farm-to-table ethos that sets us apart from the rest. With award-winning breweries and an up-and-coming distillery, the options to wash down your meal are as good as the meal itself. With so much to eat and drink, you’ll have a hard time saving room for dessert. But with ice cream parlors, specialty candy stores, and bakeries throughout town, you’ll have to try.
From Waupaca’s own H.H. Hinder Brewing Company to Central Waters Brewing Co. just 15 minutes out of town, residents here are spoiled by an abundance of award-winning craft beer. With a brand-new distillery scheduled to open up on Main Street in 2024, the good times are only just beginning.
Whether you’re grabbing your morning coffee at the drive-through window or savoring it slowly in the nook of a local café, Waupaca’s coffee scene offers a delightful blend of convenience and craft. From well-known chains like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts to the independent coffee shops that dot our downtown, you’ll find plenty of options to fuel your day.
Where small town Wisconsin is hardly known for the diversity of its cuisine, Waupaca surprises. While you can certainly find fish fries a plenty, Waupaca’s restaurants also serve up excellent Indonesian, Mexican, and Chinese fare. Whether you’re on the hunt for a hamburger or seeking semur ayam, you can find it in Waupaca.
As tempting as it may be, you won’t be eating out for all of your meals. From conventional supermarkets to specialty health food stores and local butchers, Waupaca has plenty of options to keep the home cook happy. Whether you’re looking to pack the freezer with gluten-free, vegan pizzas or a quarter cow, Waupaca’s food markets are variety for every diet.
In Waupaca, our lifestyle changes with the seasons. Winter, spring, summer and fall each offer unique things to do and places to see.
Home to some of the best cross-country skiing in the Midwest, an active curling club, an indoor hockey rink (the jury is out on the number of pond hockey rinks), over 17 miles of groomed fat biking trails, and sublime wild ice-skating experiences on the glassy Chain o’ Lakes, Waupaca will teach you to not just tolerate the winter—but to fall in love with it. Not sure where to start? Check out the Hartman Creek State Park or Adventure Outfitters for snowshoe or cross-country ski lessons and rentals. Looking for greater thrills on steeper slopes? Granite Peak, the largest downhill ski resort in the Midwest, is just an hour north.
While Waupaca is proud of its history and traditions, we are a community that is always moving forward. In 2021, the City of Waupaca’s Main Street reconstruction was named “Best Revitalization Initiative” in Wisconsin. Now, our eyes are set on expanding the inventory of homes affordable to hard-working families, doubling down on the vitality of our downtown through placemaking improvements, and leading the way on access to high-quality, affordable childcare.