An Awesome Midwest Weekend Getaway to La Crosse
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!
This Article is Sponsored by Explore La Crosse. The itinerary was planned by me and all opinions are my own.
Where to Stay: The Charmant Hotel
The sweetest boutique hotel in town is The Charmant. The historical building started out 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!
Note: The Charmant hosted our stay. All opinions are my own.
What To Do
1. Walk or Bike Along Riverside Park
One of the best places to enjoy the views in La Crosse is at 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 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 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. Grab Breakfast at Grounded Patio Cafe
An excellent choice for a delicious and inexpensive breakfast in La Crosse is Grounded Patio Cafe. There’s a great patio on site to enjoy your meal too. We loved the breakfast sandwiches!
8. 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!
9. 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.
10. Relax over happy hour at 4 Sisters Wine Bar & Tapas
4 Sisters Wine Bar & Tapas Restaurant is a fun spot to enjoy lighter bites and drinks in a spot near the river. The patio is very relaxing too. Go with multiple people so you can order a few tapas and share!
11. Visit the World’s Largest 6-Pack
City Brewing is the site of the world’s largest 6-pack which is a quick and fun stop on your Midwest weekend getaway to La Crosse. The brewery tanks from the 60’s were painted to create this attraction. The history of City Brewing is fascinating too as it dates back to 1858.
12. 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.
13. Paddleboard or Kayak Lake Onalaska
If you’d like to get active on the water, rent a kayak from Schafer’s River Rentals at Lake Onalaska and paddle out towards the river to see the beautiful bluffs. We brought our paddleboards and put them in at Schafer’s dock and found it to be a really relaxing area.
Are you ready to plan your Midwest weekend getaway to La Crosse? It’s a great destination!
For more Midwest ideas, check out my guides here.