Set along the Mississippi River in between beautiful towering bluffs is the town of La Crosse, Wisconsin. We road tripped along the Great River Road from Minneapolis before arriving for our weekend stay. At just under 3 hours away from the Twin Cities, it’s the perfect weekend destination. Check out these great things to do on a Midwest weekend getaway to La Crosse, Wisconsin!
Where to Stay: The Charmant Hotel
The sweetest boutique hotel in town is The Charmant. The historical building started as the Funke candy factory in 1898, and there are nods to its beginnings all over the hotel. You’ll be greeted with chocolates when you check-in and can see a variety of historical items in the lobby.
We stayed in a spacious king room with the most luxurious bathroom. In the morning, we used included drink coins for a coffee and tea from Parlour in the lobby. We loved that the hotel has complimentary bikes to get around town too. End your day on the rooftop for great views and a fun atmosphere!
What To Do
1. Walk or Bike Along Riverside Park
One of the best places to enjoy the views in La Crosse is Riverside Park, either by walking or biking. We brought bikes from The Charmant Hotel, but you could also use the city’s bike rental program (Drift Cycle) that only costs $1 per 30 minutes if you’d like to cycle.
2. Enjoy Dinner at The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern
One of the most scenic places to dine in La Crosse is at The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern. Opt for a table on the patio, and you can either order off the full dinner menu or the lighter tavern menu. We enjoyed a delicious meal of Mahi tacos and a sandwich as the sun set.
3. Hike Grandad Bluff
Grandad Bluff offers the best sweeping views of the region and is a relatively easy place to hike. We hiked along a few short trails to get to 3 different viewpoints. There’s also an accessible lookout too so everyone can enjoy the views.
4. Sample Beers at Turtle Stack Brewery
If you enjoy craft beer, you must add Turtle Stack Brewery to your list. They have a variety of local craft beers to sample, plus they are focused on quality, sustainability, and involving the local community as much as possible. We enjoyed small pours on their outdoor patio while listening to a local musician.
5. Walk Around the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
About 15 minutes south of the main part of La Crosse is the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The grounds are immaculate and very peaceful to walk around. There’s an uphill path amongst towering trees to a variety of shrines and gardens, but golf cart drivers are also around to help transport those not able or wanting to walk up the incline. An onsite cafe recently opened during lunch hours, so you could plan to spend a couple of hours here.
6. Enjoy a Treat from The Pearl Ice Cream Parlour
A trip to La Crosse isn’t complete without a stop at The Pearl Ice Cream Parlour for a sweet treat! The ice cream shop is in a beautiful historic building from 1874 and feels like stepping back in time. You can’t go wrong with any flavor but make sure to get the homemade waffle cone if you enjoy cones!
7. Cruise on The Mississippi River with a La Crosse Queen Cruise
We loved our experience cruising the river on La Crosse Queen, a local paddlewheel boat. We did the 1.5-hour midday tour, which was the perfect balance of relaxing time to enjoy the scenery and commentary about the area. They also offer brunch, lunch, and dinner cruise options!
8. Sample drinks at La Crosse Distillery
Recently opened in 2017, La Crosse Distillery is a stunning space that produces the highest quality spirits. Sourcing organic and local products all within 16 miles to produce the drinks, you can taste the high quality. You can start with a sampler before ordering cocktails made with the various spirits. The employees all do a great job explaining more about the beverages too. My favorite was the Fieldnotes vodka with hints of lavender.
9. Dine at The Backdock
La Crosse has an interesting railroad history, and The Backdock patio at The Freighthouse restaurant honors that tradition. You can order appetizers and drinks while sitting at firepits or tables alongside old train cars. We loved the unique ambiance.
Are you ready to plan your Midwest weekend getaway to La Crosse? It’s a great destination!
More Weekend Getaway Inspiration
FOR THE FOOD & DRINK CONNOISSEURS
It’s the best part of any trip… THE FOOD! THE DRINKS! Want to know where to go? We’ve got it covered with our top 5 picks for the La Crosse area! Top 10 must-try restaurants for cuisine and beverages!
FOR THE ROMANCE AND LEISURE LOVER
As you walk along the Mississippi River, watching the boats drift into the sunset, feel the romance in the air take flight, and get ready for an extraordinary trip with loved ones, creating quality memories together!
FOR THE ARTS & HISTORY BUFF
La Crosse Region is BEAMING with culture and rich history in unexpected places. Indulge yourself with amazing cuisine, breathtaking artworks, live performances, and opportunities to express your own inner artist!