How to Spend 1 Day in La Crosse, Wisconsin

La Crosse, Wisconsin: 1 Day in La Crosse Itinerary

Welcome to La Crosse, Wisconsin! Nestled along the Mississippi River, this charming city offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, historic charm, and vibrant local culture. Whether you’re a local looking to rediscover your city or a visitor exploring for the first time, this one-day itinerary will help you make the most of your day in La Crosse.

train below grandad bluff
A train passes below Grandad Bluff

First Stop: Grandad Bluff

Kick off your day with a visit to Grandad Bluff. This iconic landmark provides breathtaking views of the Mississippi River Valley, the city of La Crosse, and the surrounding countryside. The bluff stands 600 feet above the river, offering a panoramic vista that’s especially stunning in the morning light. There are several hiking trails if you’re feeling adventurous, or you can simply enjoy the view from the observation area.

Lunch: The Crow or Taste of India

After soaking in the views, head back into town for lunch. You have two excellent options:

  • The Crow (100 3rd St South): Known for its gourmet burgers, extensive beer selection, and cozy atmosphere, The Crow is a great spot to refuel.
  • New Taste of India (1812 Jackson St): If you’re in the mood for something different, Taste of India offers a delightful array of authentic Indian dishes, perfect for a flavorful and satisfying meal.
artist alley lacrosse
Artist’s Alley

Afternoon Exploration: Art, Shopping, and More

After lunch, spend your afternoon exploring some of La Crosse’s unique local spots:

  1. Artist’s Alley (118 5th Avenue South): Discover a vibrant collection of murals and public art installations in this creative alleyway. It’s a great place for photos and to appreciate the local art scene.
  2. Dale’s Clothing (121 4th St S): This local boutique offers a range of fashionable clothing and accessories. It’s a perfect place to find a unique souvenir or update your wardrobe.
  3. Pearl Street Books (323 Pearl St): A charming independent bookstore where you can browse for new reads, find rare editions, or simply enjoy the cozy ambiance.
  4. Drift Mercantile (211 Pearl St): This shop features an array of locally made goods, from home decor to artisanal foods. It’s an excellent place to find gifts and support local artisans.
  5. The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor (207 Pearl St): Treat yourself to a classic ice cream sundae or a scoop of homemade ice cream at this nostalgic parlor.
  6. Turtle Stack Brewery: Stop by this local brewery to sample some of La Crosse’s finest craft beers. Their taproom offers a relaxed environment to unwind and enjoy a cold brew.
  7. La Crosse Distilling Company (129 Vine St): If you prefer spirits, head to this distillery for a tour and tasting of their organic, handcrafted vodkas, gins, and whiskeys.

la crosse queen boat tour info

Riverside Park, Friendship Gardens, and a Scenic Boat Tour

As the afternoon winds down, take a leisurely stroll through Riverside Park. Located along the Mississippi River, this beautiful park features walking paths, gardens, and scenic views of the river. The Friendship Gardens, located within the park, showcase beautiful themed gardens representing various countries, symbolizing La Crosse’s sister cities.

While you’re at Riverside Park, don’t miss the chance to enjoy a scenic boat tour on the La Crosse Queen. This authentic paddlewheel boat offers a variety of cruises that provide a unique perspective of the Mississippi River and its surrounding landscapes. The tour is both relaxing and informative, giving you insights into the river’s history and ecology.

La Crosse Distilling
La Crosse Distilling

Dinner: Choose Your Dining Experience

For dinner, La Crosse offers a range of options to suit your mood and taste:

  • The Waterfront Restaurant: For a more upscale dining experience, head to The Waterfront Restaurant. With its elegant setting and menu featuring locally sourced ingredients, it’s the perfect place for a special evening.
  • Dublin Square Irish Pub: If you’re looking for a more casual atmosphere, Dublin Square offers hearty Irish fare, a friendly vibe, and a great selection of beers and spirits.

Optional: Nightcap at Starlite Lounge

If you’re up for a nightcap, consider stopping by the Starlite Lounge. This retro-themed lounge opens at 4 pm and offers a unique, laid-back atmosphere with classic cocktails and a touch of nostalgia.

La Crosse, WI, is a city that effortlessly combines natural beauty with a rich cultural scene. With this itinerary, you can experience the best of what La Crosse has to offer in just one day. From breathtaking views at Grandad Bluff to a scenic boat tour on the La Crosse Queen, delicious dining options, and charming local shops, your day in La Crosse is sure to be memorable. Enjoy your visit!