The town of La Crosse is situated in a beautiful location along the Mississippi River. With many bike-friendly trails, museums, beautiful nature, animals, and options for craft beer, the fun will never stop.
Whether you enjoy boating on the river for a sightseeing cruise, or prefer to observe from land, there are a variety of options for both families and single individuals.
La Crosse is a must-see for anyone who is visiting the mid-west. Read our list of things to do in La Crosse so you can get a better idea of how to plan your trip, and of all the fun activities that occur year-round.
Breweries, Wineries, and Coffee Roasters
Pearl Street Brewery
Since 1999, the Pearl Street Brewery has produced Ales and Lagers, with many of them winning awards. Stop by on a Friday or Saturday for a brewery tour to learn about how the brews are made and even sample a few along the way.
If you miss the weekend, you can sit in the tasting room to try a pint, or take a case of beer to go. Enjoy live music on Thursday and Friday with no cover charge.
Address: 1401 Saint Andrew Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin
For something different than your average vineyard, try a fruit wine from DNA Vintners. All fruit is from local sources and available to try at their tasting room.
Voted #1 Winery and People’s Choice at the Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine, and Cheese Festival in La Crosse in 2013, 2014, and 2016.
Address: 1223 Caledonia Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Garvin Heights Vineyards
For more of a standard winery tour visit the winery at Garvin Heights Vineyards. Although it is located just across the state line in Minnesota, it is located on the scenic bluffs above the Mississippi River.
They offer a wide selection of grape wines made from all local grapes. You can purchase a bottle or a glass of wine, along with some locally made cheese, local sausage, and crackers to enjoy a view of the vineyard’s 3.5 acres of grapes.
Address: 2255 Garvin Heights Road, Winona, MN
Grounded Specialty Coffee
Right in the Historic Downtown of La Crosse, Grounded Specialty Coffee is a classic coffee bar offering six different types of locally roasted coffee. With different rotating flavors and cold brew options, they also serve a variety of teas and coffee.
Enjoy breakfast sandwiches, paninis, and salads, along with the occasional wine and beer offering.
Address: 3215, 308 Main St, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Enjoy The Outdoors
Set on the banks of the Mississippi River, Riverside Park is a public park right in downtown La Crosse. This park is known for many different holiday displays, including Fourth of July fireworks, Moon Tunes, Riverfest, Oktoberfest, and the Rotary Lights.
Take a walk to the docking station where the famous steamboats the La Crosse Queen, the Julia Belle Swain, and the American Queen make stops to pick up passengers on their way down the river.
When various trails and open green spaces, you can relax and enjoy a lovely day at this clean park.
Address: 100 Block, State Street, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Great River State Trail
Whether you are looking for a morning jog or for cycling options, The Great River State Trail is a 24-mile rail-trail that runs between Marshland and Onalaska. This trail is one of four connecting bike trails in west-central Wisconsin known as the Bike 4 Trails.
Address: Between Marshland and Onalaska, Wisconsin
Lake Onalaska is a 4-mile-wide reservoir located in La Crosse County. The lake covers a huge 7,688 acres and is 43 feet deep at its deepest. This allows it to be a popular place to enjoy outdoor activities such as:
- Ice fishing
- Ice sailing
For avid fishers, there are opportunities to catch bluegill, crappie, northern pike, small and largemouth bass, as well as walleye.
Additionally, during the fall months, the bluffs surrounding Lake Onalaska and the Mississippi River are incredible colors of red and gold. This is a tourist attraction on its own.
Address: La Crosse County, Wisconsin
Perched high above the Eastside of the city, Grandad Bluff offers is a must-see view of the Mississippi River and surrounding area.
The bluff sits approximately 600 feet above the surrounding land and nearly 1200 feet above sea level.
3020 Grandad Bluff Rd. La Crosse, WI 54601
La Crosse offers many waterways, wooded bluffs, expansive meadows. This makes it perfect for hunting deer, waterfowl, as well as small games. Fishing is an incredible activity as well. Bring your hunting license to enjoy on any trip to La Crosse.
Specifically, the Kickapoo Valley Reserve is a great place to hunt. Offering 8,500 acres of forest maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Find not only deer, but also turkeys, grouse, and quail.
Let’s Get Physical
La Crosse River State Biking Trail
The La Crosse River State Trail is a 22-mile biking trail but can be used for many other purposes as well. With options for walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, and horseback riding, there are a variety of options for anyone.
Address: Between Sparta and Onalaska, Wisconsin
Hixon Forest: Ten miles of hiking trails that crisscross the wooded bluffs on the eastern part of La Crosse. Easy access with four designated parking areas.
La Crosse River Marsh Hiking Trails: Incredible plants and animals dot the River Marsh Hiking Trails. Because of its proximity to downtown La Crosse, the La Crosse River Marsh is great for a hike followed by a nice beer or meal downtown.
Green Coulee: With 67 acres of hiking trails that run from the wetlands to oak savanna and the rock quarry, it ends at the summit of the bluff that overlooks a portion of Onalaska.
Van Loon State Wildlife Area & McGilvray Bridges: With 4,000 acres, you can see a huge variation of wildlife here. See the region’s native woodpecker species, as well as Bald Eagle, Red-Shouldered Hawks, and Indigo Bunting.
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge: Covering over 260 miles of river and 200,000 acres of land, the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife & Fish Refuge is one of the largest wildlife refuges in the United States.
With the chance to see migrating Tundra Swans, over 250 species of raptor, songbird, waterfowl, Bald Eagles, Great Egrets, bluebirds, warblers, and sparrows, the area offers options for any avid birdwatcher.
A Little Something Different
La Crosse Segway Tours
If you are looking for something different than your average city tour, explore La Crosse on a Segway tour! This allows you to relax and follow experienced guides through the city.
Explore well-known areas, as well as some of the lesser-known parts. Glide past the Mississippi River and see more of the city than you could on foot. All safety equipment will be provided, such as helmets, and you will also be taught how to ride a Segway.
Address: 319 Main St, La Crosse, Wisconsin
World’s Largest Six Pack
The World’s Largest Six-Pack is a huge landmark with six colossal beer tanks built in the 1960s to look like a six-pack of beer. Known as a hometown icon and popular tourist attraction, it is a fun place to learn about a bit of history and take a photo with the largest six-pack in the world!
Address: 3rd St S, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Catholic shrine. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Constructed in 2004, the 100-acre grounds hold an outdoor prayer area including a rosary walk, Stations of the Cross, and a votive candle chapel.
Address: 5250 Justin Rd, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Pearl Ice Cream Parlor
For family fun head to the Pearl Ice Cream Parlor. Made in the style of a 1930s cafe, you can purchase anything from ice cream to a malt shake or milkshake. With an authentic soda fountain and creamy malts, you will be sure to have a sugar rush afterward.
Address: 207 Pearl St, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Children’s Museum of La Crosse
If you are looking for a fun and interactive activity for the kids, then the Children’s Museum of La Crosse is perfect. This immersive museum is for children of all ages, and adults may enjoy it too!
With a variety of fun and educational exhibits, displays, and programs, your children will be learning while they play.
Look through three floors of exhibits for children under 12, as well as a theatre that hosts performances, dance and music events, readings, and more.
Head to the climbing wall for adventurous fun. Look through the different exhibits based on different themes such as rivers and bridges, banks, fire trucks, stores, and libraries.
Address: 207 5th Ave S, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Another option to experience classic 1930s is Rudy’s Drive-In burger joint. Here you can find roller-skating carhops and traditional American food. Find classic diner-style dishes like burgers, fries, hot dogs, and rootbeer floats. This drive-in also offers special events such as Bike Nights and Cruise Nights throughout the year.
Address: 1004 La Crosse St, La Crosse, Wisconsin
The Dahl Museum
The Dahl Museum is an auto museum. It is a private collection owned by the Dahl family and offers the opportunity to see some of the oldest classic cars available. Find one of these classics from the renowned Ford Motor Company.
This is fun for the whole family whether you enjoy history, cars, or simply want to learn something new.
Address: 711 3rd St S, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Festivals & Concerts
Every year in June the La Crosse Rotary-East hosts the Lobsterfest. This fun event features fresh lobster, barbecue, along with beer and wine. Fresh lobsters are flown live into the event, and you can purchase tickets for the event inclusive of lobster.
You do not have to purchase a lobster dinner ticket.
Address: Colgan Air Hangar 2709 Fanta Reed Rd, La Crosse, Wisconsin
The Tattoos & Tailgates Concert Series
The Tattoos & Tailgates Concert Series offers a showcase of the printing heritage in Wisconsin. Every year in the summer, the Oktoberfest grounds allow concert-goers a night of country, rock, and pop music. Enjoy good food and lots of fun for this concert series.
Address: 1 Oktoberfest Strasse, La Crosse, Wisconsin
The Midwest Banjo Fest
The Midwest Banjo Fest has been running for 56 years! Because La Crosse has a history of steamboats carrying passengers, merchandise, and musicians who performed on the boats, the Midwest Banjo fest celebrates this.
Banjo players and other musicians come from all over the country, as well as Canada, and Japan to attend this festival.
Every year the Pump House Regional Arts Center hosts Artspire. It is a free arts celebration held in the Arts District in Downtown La Crosse. This festival offers different types of art including:
Typically this festival occurs outdoors and attempts to engage people of different cultures and ages. Because it is a free event, it also aims to be inclusive of all.
Address: 119 King Street, La Crosse, WI
When You Get Hungry
The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern
It is inevitable that you are going to get hungry while in La Crosse, and one of the best places to cure that hunger is The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern.
With options like cheese curds, provoleta, crab cakes, fresh oysters, and incredible wines, you will feel satiated and ready to explore the town.
Address: 328 Front Street South, La Crosse, Wisconsin
Dublin Square Irish Pub & Eatery
Looking for something a bit more casual? Head to the Dublin Square Irish Pub & Eatery for an Irish pub experience. Find great dishes like shepherd’s pie, corned beef, and cabbage, as well as batter-fried fish and chips.
Be sure to catch their happy hour every day from 3 pm to 6 pm, Monday to Friday.
Address: 103 3rd Street North, La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601, USA
Experience La Crosse
Whether you are heading to Wisconsin for a wedding, driving through, a family event, or a vacation, there is plenty to see and experience. Bike through the acres of trails available, or run a marathon alongside various animals in the wilderness.
Bring your family, meet your friends, and enjoy the variety that is offered in La Crosse, Wisconsin.