9 Things To Do In La Crosse, WI (2023)
La Crosse is a beautiful waterside city on the banks of the Mississippi River. Of all that America has, La Crosse is one of its best-kept secrets. This quaint city is located on the western border of the midsection of Wisconsin and is no less than a paradise. Especially for a family-friendly or relaxing vacation, you won’t find a better place in the entire Badger State. When you plan a vacation in La Crosse, expect to explore cultural and historical institutions, give a try to water adventures, try culinary dishes & craft beers, or photograph the grandness of nature. You may be both an indoor or an outdoor enthusiast, and La Crosse will still soak you into options for tourism and vacation.
La Crosse is a beautiful city for a perfect weekend getaway. The best time to be here is from May through October, when though the temperature stays high but still comfortable. Though for nature lovers, the colours of Fall add another level of gorgeousness to the city. Winters in la Crosse are typical Wisconsin winters, and if you don’t mind the harshness, you are always welcome to the city. So, wait, what?
9 Things To Do In La Crosse, WI
Take recommendations from our itinerary below and plan a pleasurable vacation in La Crosse. Have a look:
1. Soak In Some Peace At The Shrine Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe
The popularity of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe isn’t limited to the city or state but is spread over entire America. This deeply spiritual and holy Shrine was built from 2005 to 2008, and since then, it has been attracting visitors from the nation and beyond. Spread over 100 acres, the Shrine features several devotional areas, a pilgrimage trail featuring stations of cross, beautifully laid-out gardens, the lovely church and a rosary walk. Even though it isn’t any historical space, thousands of spiritual visitors come just to offer prayers at the Shrine. When here, you can either sit inside the church, explore the garden, admire the exceptional European-like architecture, shop from the gift shop or indulge in their in-house full-service café. The Shrine operates from 9 am to evening throughout the week, though the hours may differ during Christmas festivities.
2. Observe La Crosse from the Grandad Bluff
Grandad Bluff is a state park in La Crosse known for its famous cliff that overlooks the entire city. The Bluff is about 1,183 feet above sea level and 590 feet above the land around. To access the top, visitors can either drive or walk through the Bliss road. On the top of the Bluff, there’s a sheltered park area from where one can check the views underneath or enjoy a peaceful picnic. Views from atop include Mississippi River Valley and regions of Lowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin States. There’s even a coin-operated Binocular that adds to the intensity of what you see around. For the best of experience, consider reaching atop the Bluff only on a clear day.
3. Visit the Dahl Auto Museum
If you are an Automobile enthusiast, visiting the Dahl Auto Museum is a must thing to do in La Crosse for you. The Museum is known for its classic cars, rich automobile history, and extensive collection. Their display is home to tons of classic cars from the turn of the century to the present. The Museum is operated by a family who has been involved in the Automobile business for nearly 5 generations and some centuries now. While a lot of their collection is exhibited indoors, a few splendid cars are also on their outdoor display. The Museum operates from Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.
4. Stroll through the Riverside Park
In the heart of downtown La Crosse, Riverside Park is a local’s favourite. The park has been a part of the city since 1911, and since then, it has got various names. While it is popular for jogging, walking and running amongst locals for visitors’ opportunities aren’t just limited to these. One can attend various events throughout the year, including Moon tunes, Riverfest, Oktoberfest, 4th of July Fireworks display, or the Rotary lights. If not, that visitors can go for water rides on the La Crosse Queen paddleboat and the Julia Belle Swain steamboat. Riverside Park has a lot of shaded areas and picnic areas in case you want to spend a day relaxing with your family here. With greens on one side and the water on another adds to both views and vibes of Riverside Park.
5. Visit the Riverside International Friendship Gardens During the Fall or Spring Season
One of the most popular things to do in La Crosse is visiting the Riverside International Friendship Gardens. These beautifully landscaped and maintained gardens are spread over 1.2 acres celebrating La Crosse’s relationships with various international communities. When you enter the garden, you will find a map dictating the entire space, including which country is inspiring which part. Chinese, Russian, Norwegian, Irish, German, and French gardens here are all known for their extraordinary beauty. Visitors can either explore the site on their own or choose guided tours where docents and horticulturists add to an informative and enjoyable experience. The best part is, every single garden here is wheelchair accessible, so you can even bring your elderly along. The garden operates throughout the year from 6 am to 11 pm.
6. Go Fishing at Lake Onalaska
Lake Onalaska is a huge 8391 acres lake located in La Crosse. For locals as well as visitors, the lake is known for its recreational activities and viewing opportunities. While fishing is immensely popular here, one can catch crappie, northern pike, walleye, small and largemouth bass, and bluegill. Apart from that, visitors can also enjoy swimming, boating, windsurfing, and water-skiing here. Whereas during winters, the lake settles for ice fishing and ice sailing. During the migrating months, Lake Onalaska turns into heaven for bird watchers. It is when a myriad of waterfowl and migrating bird species make their way to the lake. If you happen to spend your Falls here, do not miss to check the rich tones of reds and golds over Lake Onalaska, the magic of the season.
7. Explore The City Through La Crosse Segway Tours
If you are done with riding cars and bikes across the city, then book yourself the La Crosse Segway Tours. Taking a Segway tour is one of the popular things to do in La Crosse. These tours take guests through famous and well-known landmarks as well as the hidden pathways. You will glide through panoramic vistas of the 3 rivers from the Riverside and Pettibone Park, Cameron Street and Cass bridges and other places. Participants can cover far more grounds, especially the ones which are inaccessible by car or difficult to navigate on foot. The tour operators provide all the safety equipment and even guide on how to ride a Segway safely. For added safety and convenience, an experienced guide leads the tour, ensuring ease for each participant. The price for the same starts from $59 per person and goes on depending upon the type of tour you choose. Booking is available on their official website.
8. Take Kids to the Children’s Museum of La Crosse
The Children’s Museum of La Crosse is a popular tourist attraction amongst the little hearts. It has been operating in the city for over 2 decades now, engaging kids of all ages. The Museum covers three floors at 207 5th Ave S right at the historic downtown La Crosse. There are multiple interactive exhibits, a multipurpose theatre, climbing walls, activity space, and more such sections throughout the space. Though whatever you see here is based upon educational themes that focus on young minds. You will see things like banks, fire trucks, stores, rivers & bridges, libraries and more such sections meant for engaging kids in learning yet playful manner. The Museum operates from Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.
9. On A Cold Winter Day, Visit The Grounded Specialty Coffee
Owned by coffee passionate Todd and Deb Odell is a must-visit place in La Crosse, especially for coffee lovers. This coffee café is located in downtown La Crosse and is known for its Coffee and Chai (Tea) brews. They have six different types of freshly brewed and locally roasted coffee on their menu. Following, they also have a cold brew coffee and a rotating flavoured coffee. The Grounded Specialty Coffee café boasts a warm and welcoming atmosphere with nice décor that adds to the experience. Their extensive menu has several snacks, mocktail and cocktail options as well. When here, do try the Café’ Au Lait, Chai Latte, Thai peanut wrap, and the 308 Egg sandwich.