15 Best Things to Do in La Crosse, WI

15 Best Things to Do in La Crosse, WI

La Crosse- a quaint gorgeous city on the banks of the Mississippi River is one of the most spectacular yet overlooked cities in Wisconsin. For tourists, La Crosse has it all from unique shops, entertainment venues, museums and galleries, and even festivals situated downtown.

Additionally, the best part of La Crosse is its beautiful nature, offering visitors the chance to visit the much-loved Riverside Park.

These are the top 15 things you can do in La Crosse-

Check out The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Pgnielsen79 at English Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

We welcome you to your first day of La Crosse trip. We would like to kick it off with one of the tourist favorites. There are a lot of landmarks in the city of La Crosse, and it offers some of the best natural spots.

Although we will explore those, later on, we’d like to initiate your sightseeing with one of the very best- The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The other name of this is Basilica of our lady of Guadalupe. Many come to appreciate the Basilica's exquisite exterior and interior.

But, are you aware of the fact that this is an immensely beautiful piece of work?

You do not need to be a Catholic if you want to visit and appreciate the beauty of its interior. The Basilica of our lady of Guadalupe receives an immense number of visitors all around the year.

Walk around the Riverside Park

Christmas light decoration at  Riverside Park
Aaron of L.A. Photography / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to the first of many scenic spots of La Crosse. If you are someone who finds peace among nature- La Crosse is for you. For those who wish to get away from the bustling chaos of the big city, Riverside Park is for you.

Having opened its gates to the public back in 1911, Riverside park was not always known by this name. Earlier people used to call it the Levee Park.

The best part about this park is its venue. Also, this park is open for all the ceremonies. The beautiful Fourth of July fireworks is dispersed from here.

The infamous Oktoberfest also happens here. There are also a lot of trails here where you can go walking or jogging in the morning.

Go hiking at La Crosse River State Trail

Natural Area at La Crosse River State Trail
Joshua Mayer from Madison, WI, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you already in love with nature here at La Crosse? Welcome! We have another one of the gems for you. If you think Riverside Park is the end of it all you might be mistaken. Running from Sparta right to Onalaska, the La Crosse River State Trail is one of the most popular trails in Wisconsin.

Also, there is something known as the Wisconsin bike trail. The La Crosse River State Trail is a part of that.

The La Crosse River State Trail is filled with recreational activities such as running, jogging, hiking, or even trekking- this is the one place to do it all. So, go on this unique trail, and enjoy it to your fullest.

Go running along Great River State Trail

Another notable trail is La Crosse River State, one of the most well-known and accessible trails in La Crosse. This trail is exceptionally longer than its predecessor, exceeding 24 miles. Additionally, the trail is suitable for a variety of recreational activities, many come to run and jog through the marshlands.

Originally built on a train line the trail has become suitable for walking and cycling. If you wish to visit in winter, the trail is also suitable for snowmobiling, skiing, and snowshoeing.

This trail is also very accessible and links with La Crosse river trail stated above. Furthermore, there is direct access to Perrot State Park which offers a variety of camping options and other recreational activities such as fishing and canoeing.

Get amazed at the Riverside International Friendship Gardens

Riverside International Friendship Gardens
Helene Woodbine / Shutterstock.com

There is no end to the beautiful sceneries of La Crosse. Just when you think, you have seen it all with the two trails- we are going to introduce you to another of the most influential places.

This beauty attracts everyone and tourists are in love with the Riverside International Friendship Gardens.

This is one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Wisconsin. Also, it is beautifully maintained which draws more attention to it. Sitting on the convergence of the Mississippi River, the Black, and the La Cross- Riverside International Friendship Gardens is a splendid piece of work.

Within this, there are a lot of themed gardens like a French garden, Irish, Chinese, German, and many others.

Appreciate the cars at Dahl Auto Museum

Are you a car lover? Then, this next sight is for you.

Here, at Dahl Auto Museum, you can see a whole lot of classic car collections. The Dahls have been here in this business for the past five generations, and now the museum shows all their classic treasure to visitors.

The collection is spectacular with a range of cars on show. Preserving the rich culture and tradition of the US is one of the museum's goals by showcasing its versions of models and automobiles.

One of the museums most prominent features is the Starlite Drive-in homage to La Crosses own drive- in which ran until 1978. The screen shows a variety of classic films and traditional shows which are worth checking out.

Additionally, the museum offers educational experiences and special events with historical society partners. These events include historical dress-up activities and much more.

Enjoy at Children’s Museum of La Crosse

Are you looking for some fun and cool things to do with your kids? Often children are bored by the different museums and scenic beauties, we adults take pleasure in.

But, here in La Crosse, there is something exclusively for your child to enjoy too.  Our next destination is the Children’s Museum of La Crosse

This is an interactive space where children of every age will find something to take part in and enjoy to their fullest. Also, there are three floors in the museum.

Each floor is filled with exhibits and sculptures for children. Additionally, there is also a theater inside where musicals and a wide range of performances are hosted.

Grab some lunch at Rudy’s Drive-In

Are you hungry after all the sightseeing? After a long day of hiking and walking, a comfortable and friendly place to dine is just what is needed. Look no further than Rudy's Drive-In .

Opening back in 1933, Rudy's Drive in has since become a strong favorite amongst locals, offering some of the best staple foods in La Crosse. One of the most popular joints in the area, Rudy's drive-in offers visitors with a unique dining experience that will transport you back in time.

In terms of the food, Rudy's offers it all, from the classic burgers, fries, and milkshakes, to the other options on the menu, there is something for both kids and adults alike.

This is the perfect place to come for a laidback evening meal.

Check out the Grandad Bluff Park

View from Grandad Bluff Park
Alan Froegel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Let us go explore a state park now! As we mentioned earlier- La Crosse is a beautiful scenic country filled with spots that are rich in raw natural beauty.

The Grandad Bluff Park is one of the best ways to enjoy the best of what La Crosse has got to offer. The best part about the state park is the presence of the immensely beautiful Grandad Bluff cliff in the middle of the state park. So, come on, let us explore.

Did you know that this bluff has a certain significance in different cultures? The Coulee Region sees this as a symbol of them. We look at it from its beauty.

Offering the best splendid scenes of the Mississippi River Valley, the park is indeed popular amongst tourists.

Go snap a few pictures at World’s Largest Six-Pack

Want to go look at one of the best landmarks in La Crosse? We have something unique for you! Yes, here at La Crosse, we have something quite special that you might not have seen elsewhere!

Welcome to the landmark of the World’s Largest Six-Pack. These are beer tanks. And, there are six of them!

These were originally a building in which iconic bars were constructed. But, later those bars/breweries could not keep up with their expense and they were closed. But, the government decided to turn the building into this landmark.

And, now there are six huge beer towers that provide the perfect picture opportunity for your Instagram feed.

Get your spirits lifted at Turtle Stack Brewery

After a hectic day sightseeing, there is no better way to unwind than to enjoy some authentic beer. The Turtle Stack Brewery is one of the best places to relax and drink some beer in La Crosse.

With a bustling atmosphere, this is the perfect place to visit with some friends in the evening downtown. The Turtle Stack Brewery offers a range of craft beers, many of which are locally crafted. Of course, the brewery also offers some much-loved classics such as Smash Golden Ale, Belgian Blonde, and Session IPA.

Visit the Lake Onalaska

Lake Onalaska
northallertonman / Shutterstock.com

The most famous lake around here is the incredible Lake Onalaska. If you love scenic destinations, we recommend this spot to you.

The width of this lake is around 4 miles, and it mainly acts as a reservoir for the rivers of Black and Mississippi. This lake is most famous for its fishing activities.

Even if you have not brought your fishing gear- there are plenty of other ways you can enjoy  Lake Onalaska. You can even go boating or swimming as they are both allowed here. Also, the lake is huge, and you can easily spend your morning here.

Give your sweet tooth a treat at Pearl Ice Cream Parlor

A vacation needs some ice cream! And, here at La Crosse- we have a pretty good ice cream parlor to check out. Built in 1874 the parlor has since evolved into a popular family-friendly spot. Offering a wide variety of homemade flavors, from classic vanilla to indulgent fudge, Pearl's parlor is a paradise for those with a sweet tooth. Aside from ice cream, Pearls also offers an extensive range of toppings, sodas, and confectionery.

This is the perfect place to take the family for a coffee and ice cream break. We recommend you take a walk down to Pearls to unwind after a busy day.

Pray at the St. Rose of Viterbo Convent

Chapel in St. Rose of Viterbo Convent
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here we have another one of the gorgeous structures in front of us. If you are into massive beautiful centers- St. Rose of Viterbo Convent is the place for you. Let us tell you more about it.

The other name by which the convent goes is Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Being located on Market Street- its beautiful exterior catches the eyes of all.

There are three intricately detailed chapels inside the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration. Also having its name on the National Register of Historic Places- the place is a must-visit in La Crosse.

Have dinner at Le Chateau

If you want to indulge in a fancy dinner on the last day of your trip- Le Chateau is the place to go. Whether you are looking to have a casual dinner, or are dining out to celebrate a special occasion Le Chateau appeals to all.  Offering a range of exquisite French dishes, Le Chateau provides guests with the ultimate Parisian dining experience.

That concludes our list of the top 15 places to visit during your trip to La Crosse. From the breathtaking  Mississippi River and Riverview Park to the bustling restaurants and bars downtown, La Crosse truly has something for everyone. As always happy traveling!