Fall into La Crosse, WI | Hit the Streets!

by Anastasia Penchi

Fall into La Crosse, WIEver feel like you need a down day where you could just leisurely shop, see some cool stuff and eat some good food? Maybe you could play tourist in your own town? Or in a neighboring town?
The opportunities for sightseeing and shopping in the Coulee Region are endless. Check out the historic, painted buildings of Downtown La Crosse. Or head north — you won’t believe the progress being made on the waterfront in Onalaska near Main Street. There are reasons to get outside in the fall even if it’s just to sit by the Mississippi River on a bench somewhere and enjoy the scenery.
Relax and experience autumn as if seeing it for the first time. There is so much beauty in the colorful leaves, waning bugs and waves of migrating birds. I once witnessed thousands of black birds fly in unison in a pattern over the river while I was heading north on the Great River Road, just south of La Crosse. I will never forget it.
Yes, you might need a jacket, but that’s no reason to stop heading outside. Here are five reasons to get out and hit the streets:

Happy Birthday, Bodega! Cheers to another 19 years, plus many more to come!
A photo posted by La Crosse Area CVB (@explorelacrosse) on

2) Visit Grandad Bluff and the like.

When is the last time you took a breather and took in the panoramic sights atop Grandad Bluff in La Crosse? Hopefully the road is open. I know there are on-going issues with repair. Do some soul searching as you gaze out over the tri-state area atop Grandad. Then, head south and have another spiritual moment at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The latter comes complete with a Catholic church in case you have any sins you would like to repent. Or just stop and relax at one of the many city or county parks — even a scenic overlook. Relax, breathe deeply and contemplate. This is the reason people live in Wisconsin – the beauty outside. Enjoy it while you can. SEE MORE

4) See the streets through a tourist’s eye. 

There are always new and exciting ways to take a look at your own city. Did you know you can glide La Crosse’s streets on Segways via La Crosse Segway Tours? Even if you missed the Dark La Crosse Tours, where La Crosse Public Library Archivists took attendants through “the red light district, Prohibition, small town politics and vigilante justice,” earlier this summer, you can still enjoy the Historic Trolley tours, which are offered through mid-October.

Happy Monday Blues! Wishing all a great start to their week! #explorelacrosse

A photo posted by Explore La Crosse (@explorelacrosse) on

1) Spend the day shopping and eating.

Historic Downtown La Crosse has many great places to eat and shop. Start with a Bloody Mary somewhere like Del’s Bar or John’s Bar on Third Street, and spend the afternoon boutique shopping at places like Touch of Class and some of the other neat stores that seem to keep popping up. Take a trip down memory lane and walk through the Antique Center. Finish with food. Somewhere you haven’t been yet. Maybe The Breakfast Club & Pub? There are plenty of choices. Spa visit is another idea. Just park the vehicle up by Wettstein’s and start walking south. Don’t forget to look up every once in a while to see how nice some of these old buildings are looking. They keep on getting better all the time. SEE MORE

3) Valley View Mall, chain stores, and boutique places 

Whether you prefer big box and brand name or locally owned mom-and-pop shops, you’ll find all the shopping you need in the La Crosse area. All the largest commercial retailers can be found within a few miles of La Crosse, and downtown has some of the finest specialty shops in the region. Plus, antique and bargain hunters will love the antique shops and thrift stores waiting for them here. SEE MORE

5) Whatever you do, just relax.

Enjoy the routine that the new school year brings every fall. Take time on weekends to rake leaves. Get outside and read a book on a park bench. Bike around La Crosse and daydream about living in the castles on Cass Street. Walk to your local library and say “hello” to the neighbors on the way by. Vow to visit an apple orchard, a pumpkin patch and a corn maze before the snow flies. Schedule that spa day at Metropolitan Salon. Get your fall on and revel in it.
Anastasia Penchi is graduate of UW-La Crosse and a long-time Coulee Region writer who has written for area newspapers and magazines (