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18 Best Things to do in La Crosse, Wisconsin

18 Best Things to do in La Crosse, Wisconsin

If you’re wondering what to do in La Crosse, look no further!

La Crosse, Wisconsin, is a beautiful place known for its parks, architecture, and historical sites. From outdoor adventures to cultural arts offerings, La Crosse has much to offer for anyone looking for a great place to live—or a fantastic weekend getaway.

La Crosse County was settled by fur traders in the late 18th century and further populated and incorporated by lumber barons in the mid-19th century. Today, La Crosse County is home to world-class medical facilities. The two best examples are Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System. 

La Crosse Regional Airport offers daily flights across the United States, so if you are planning to fly in or out of La Crosse, look into Kayak to compare offers from dozens of travel sites and find the right price for you. 

The following are our most popular activities in La Crosse:

TLDR – Things To Do in La Crosse, WI

Looking for La Crosse things to do without getting into the nitty-gritty? Hey, presto!

List of Best Things To do in La Crosse, WI

The stunning area of La Crosse is home to a rich cultural scene for lovers of art and music. You can find up-and-coming artists at First Friday Artwalks in Onalaska and La Crosse. 

Get a bird’s eye view of La Crosse from Grandad Bluff Park or enjoy fine art at galleries like River City Gallery. If you’re interested in history, visit local museums like the La Crosse Area Heritage Center. 

Below is our La Crosse visitors’ guide to help you explore many of the recreational activities and attractions in this lovely city:

1. La Crosse Segway Tours

La Crosse Segway Tours alongside to the river
Image by La Crosse Segway Tours

If you’re visiting La Crosse for the first time and wondering what to do, La Crosse Segway Tours would be a great start. 

The Segway is easy to learn and suitable for people of all ages. It’s also incredibly fun! You’ll get to explore the beautiful Mississippi River valley and all of La Crosse’s most famous landmarks along the way.

La Crosse Segway Tours has three daily tours that begin at 9:30 am, 2:30 pm, and 5:00 pm. Each tour can accommodate up to 12 people. But, visitors need to book for groups of more than 8. They also offer special sunset tours that start two hours before the sunset.

The tour guides are friendly and knowledgeable about the city. Best of all, they love sharing their knowledge of La Crosse with visitors!

2. Explore The Scenic View And Waterfront Of Riverside Park

Entrance of Riverside Park
Image by TripAdvisor

If you’re up for a little walk, stroll down to Riverside Park along the riverfront and enjoy some incredible scenery, or even see if any festivals are occurring there!

Riverside Park is a public park along the banks of the Mississippi River. It has beautiful gardens, riverside benches, paved paths, and woodlands. There are fountains, concerts, boat cruises, and recreational activities such as sailing and fishing.

Riverside Park hosts many events each year, including Riverfest and Oktoberfest. It is also a great place if you are looking for date ideas in La Crosse.

If you’re in this neck of the woods and fancy staying the night, check into the Hampton Inn & Suites La Crosse Downtown. It’s in a great location and has incredible decor, a pool, and tip-top staff.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to do in Racine, Wisconsin

3. Explore Riverside International Friendship Gardens

Be sure not to miss a walk through the stunning Riverside International Friendship Gardens while at Riverside Park.

Riverside International Friendship Gardens is a beautiful place featuring many different gardens. The gardens were built as a tribute to the culture and traditions of La Crosse’s sister city. 

Visitors can stroll through spacious lawns and clusters of trees, enjoying one of many distinct gardens. There are traditional Chinese, French, German, Russian, Irish, Cameroonian, and Norwegian gardens. 

Some are simple and serene; others are lush and wildly colorful. Each one has a specific theme. Best of all, the gardens are free to visit at any time!

4. Take A Ride On The La Crosse Queen Cruises

La Crosse Queen cruises are a blast for those who are looking for romantic things to do in La Crosse. These cruises are a great way to spend an afternoon with a date, friends, or your family. 

It’s a slow ride through the river, so you can take in the sights and sounds of the city, which is especially lovely on a sunny day. The crew is friendly and gives good historical facts about the building sites along the way.

There are many cruises to choose from. You can enjoy a sunset cruise, an evening cruise, a brunch cruise, or even a private cruise for your group. Each cruise is unique in its own way, and there is something for everyone.

The 1.5-hour cruises depart twice daily in the summer, once in the morning and once in the early afternoon. There’s no charge for children under 11 months old (with a paid adult), but anyone over that age has to buy an adult ticket to ride. 

The cruises run from May through October. Check their schedule for times and other details, like if they have fireworks or not.

See Related: Best Things to do in Minocqua, Wisconsin

5. Get A Bird’s Eye View Of La Crosse From Grandad Bluff Park

Grandad Bluff Park
Image by TripAdvisor

There are many free things to do in La Crosse, but Grandad Bluff is the best. It’s a steep hike up the bluff (hence the name), but don’t let it scare you off! 

When you get to the top, there’s a fantastic view of downtown La Crosse, and you can even see across to Minnesota on a clear day. Grandad Park is a perfect place for taking snapshots of the city skyline. 

It’s easy to get there: just head out on Main Street east and turn onto Bliss Road. From there, you’ll see a parking lot and trailhead that’s easily accessible to all visitors.

In total, it’s about a mile long, but that doesn’t mean it’s all steep climbs—in fact, it’s a moderate hike at most. The hiking trail itself is paved and well-maintained. The surrounding trees make this one of the most attractive parks in La Crosse, Wisconsin. 

What’s more, every year on New Year’s Eve, fireworks are shot from the top of Grandad Bluff to ring in the new year.

If you happen to be there around New Year’s Eve, Gundersen Hotel & Suites is a great place to stay. It has a great location in downtown La Crosse and is just a 15-minute drive from Grandad Bluff Park. 

The hotel offers free parking, breakfast, an indoor pool, Wi-Fi and a fitness center, and many other facilities. I highly recommend it!

6. Visit The Children’s Museum Of La Crosse

Those looking for kid activities in La Crosse must head to the Children’s Museum of La Crosse. 

It’s a great place in downtown La Crosse for kids to have fun, learn new things, and spend time with family and friends. It offers hands-on exhibits and programs that encourage curiosity and imagination.

Kids can climb, crawl, and slide through tunnels; jump off a Cleary-Kumm Luckey Climber; slide down a burning house; pretend to be a firefighter in the Fire Truck exhibition; get lost in a giant Dino Maze; explore the big tree house, or just solve various puzzles throughout the museum. 

There are enough options that some kids won’t ever run out of things to do! The museum also has a gift shop. Here you can purchase different toys for your kids and books about other subjects that are fun for children to read.

See Related: Best Things to do in Baraboo, Wisconsin

7. Hike And Enjoy Nature At Hixon Forest

Point view of Hixon Forest
Image by TripAdvisor

A romantic picnic at Hixon Forest is the ideal choice when it comes to finding the top romantic things to do in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Hixon Forest is a natural area known for its hiking, mountain-biking trails, and scenic lookouts over La Crosse. But that’s not all! 

The park also contains a system of rivers, picnic spots, and many hiking trails that crisscross the land, each offering its own exploration opportunities. 

It’s a popular place for picnics and hikes in the summer when the forest is alive with greenery and open paths and viewpoints. But there’s still plenty of beauty to be found in fall. 

The leaves change color, creating gorgeous reds, yellows, and oranges for hikers to enjoy. The smell of fall is one of our favorite things. Enjoy a romantic stroll under the trees with your loved one!

If you’re a family looking for rental property near the Hixon Forest, the Morris House Apartment may be right for you. The House includes many great amenities such as air conditioning, a TV, free WIFI access, and a heater. It also has a parking space onsite!

8. Paddle At Goose Island Campground & Park

Goose Island Campground river view

Paddling at Goose Island Campground & Park is one of the best things to do in La Crosse. Just a 20-minute drive from the city’s heart, this beautiful campground offers a variety of activities for campers, including kayak and canoe rentals.

Because it’s so close to the Mississippi River and has plenty of opportunities for water sports, Goose Island County Park is a great place to see wildlife. 

Take a dip in the lake or cool off with a swim in the pool. The park also has plenty of wonderful amenities for visitors. For instance, picnic tables, electricity, grill trash containers, volleyball court, and bike path). 

There are also 100+ campsites and many playgrounds for kids. So if you’re looking for fun things to do in La Crosse, come out to Goose Island Campground & Park.

See Related: Best Breweries in Wisconsin: Craft Beer & Taprooms

9. Jump Start Adventure Park

Jump Start is a place of pure fun and excitement, with something for everyone. The park focuses on providing a wide variety of attractions with the safety of guests in mind. 

The park caters to all ages and experience levels with many play areas and attractions. There is no shortage of fun activities for the entire family—even the littlest travelers get their own special section. 

For the little ones, you can enjoy their Toddler Area features. For those who are a little more adventurous, you can test your skills on an extreme nets course. 

If you are looking for some more intense activity, there is always Jump Start’s Ninja Warrior Course or Trampoline Park to try your hand at! 

And let’s not forget about the competition-minded people out there! The park has a parkour area with plenty of obstacles to get your adrenaline going. All ages are welcome to come out and play and experience these amazing facilities!

Jumpstart Adventure Park has become a staple of La Crosse’s family entertainment scene, and it’s easy to see why.

10. Watch The Sunset At Pettibone Park Beach

Pettibone Park Beach
Image by TripAdvisor

Looking for free romantic things to do in La Crosse this summer? Look no further than Pettibone Park Beach! You can’t beat the view of the sunset over the Mississippi River.

It’s a gorgeous scene. Nothing feels as peaceful and serene as sitting on the beach with a good friend or sweetheart, watching the waves roll in and listening to them lap against the shore. You can feel yourself go from stress to relaxation in just a few minutes while taking in that incredible sight.

The beach has lots of space for everyone to spread out and enjoy whatever they feel like doing. You can read a book, build sandcastles, swim, or play frisbee. It also has a volleyball court if you want to play those sports.

If you fancy spending a weekend at the beach, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott La Crosse Downtown is an excellent option. 

The hotel offers free parking, breakfast, an indoor pool, Wi-Fi and a fitness center, and many other facilities.  The hotel is also within walking distance of Pettibone Park Beach. 

See Related: Best Things to Do in Marinette, Wisconsin

11. Ride Your Bike On The La Crosse River State Trail

La Crosse River State Trail

La Crosse is a great place to go bike riding. The La Crosse River State Trail is one of the best places in the city. It’s just about 22 miles long and goes through some incredible scenery. 

It passes through several types of terrain, including wooded areas and wetlands. The surrounding area is green and lush during the summer months, making the whole experience feel more like a getaway from the city than a typical bike ride along city streets.

The trail is mostly crushed limestone. So it’s not too hard on the knees (unless you have really bad knees). But it does have some inclines and declines that you’ll want to be aware of before you ride it if you’re not used to biking on hills.

12. Soak In Some Art At The Pump House Regional Arts Center

Soaking in some art at the Pump House Regional Arts Center is one of the best things to do in La Crosse.  It’s a performing and visual arts center with many galleries and stages. 

The exhibits here change frequently and include many different artists and mediums. 

The Pump House features artists from the area and around the country. It gives you plenty of space to take in their work. 

I’d recommend checking out The Pump House if you’re looking for an opportunity to get creative with your friends or family. It’s open from Monday to Saturday and has fun events such as Artspire throughout the year. Don’t forget to check out the art!

See Related: Best Small Towns in Wisconsin to Visit

13. Visit The Shrine Of Our Lady Of Guadalupe

With its fascinating history and beautiful architecture, it is a place that will make your visit to La Crosse complete. If you are looking for a way to experience more of the culture and beauty of La Crosse, this is a great place to start.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a religious pilgrimage site that attracts visitors from all over. The shrine has a long history and draws a crowd due to its rich aesthetic, beautiful landscape, and the excitement of being on an adventure.

As we enter the shrine, we are greeted by a large room with statues, crosses, altars, and devotional areas full of prayerful information on the life of Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Only when we turn around can we see the true magnificence of this sacred place: there stands an enormous statue of Our Lady holding three unborn children in her arms.

There are several types of accommodation available near the shrine, ranging from basic rooms to suites and villas. Wilson Schoolhouse Inn is also a great option for families visiting the shrine over a weekend!

The schoolhouse offers many amenities such as free parking, air conditioning, a TV, free Wi-Fi access, a washer & dryer, and a heater.

14. Enjoy A Winter Sleigh Ride At Sunset Riding Stables

For those looking for kids’ activities in La Crosse during winter, Sunset Riding Stables is an ideal place.  They offer both hayrides and sleigh rides year-round! 

With over 229 acres of wooded bluffs, bonfires, and horse-drawn sleigh rides, you’ll never run out of things to do. 

Sunset also has an indoor lounge that can be rented for parties or meetings. It has a large fireplace and picnic tables where you can relax. Sunset offers hayrides, sleigh rides, trail rides, boarding, and lessons.

Their staff are friendly and helpful, so you’ll never feel like you don’t belong here. I highly recommend this place if you want to get out of the city for a couple of hours.

You can spend quality time with your significant other after work or on weekends, or bring the kids along for an unforgettable experience.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Dodgeville, Wisconsin

15. Explore Copeland Park

Copeland Park is an old, historic baseball field that serves as the home of the La Crosse Loggers. 

This beautiful place has been around for almost 100 years. The park was originally built in 1909 and has since been renovated to fit modern standards. The current capacity is nearly 4,000 people.

It’s the perfect size for a neighborhood park that provides the right amenities and activities for visitors looking to get outdoors.

It has everything you could want. Baseball and softball fields, batting cages, tennis courts, lighted basketball courts, a shelter with restrooms and electricity, an open-air shelter, an ice rink, a splash pad, picnic tables, barbecues, and just a bunch of green space. 

Sure, the amenities leave something to be desired at times, but overall, this place has everything you could ever want for fun in La Crosse. 

Fans of all ages can come out to enjoy this historic ballpark and cheer on our beloved Loggers!

16. Climb Mount La Crosse

Snowing at Mount La Crosse
Image by TripAdvisor

The La Crosse, WI area offers plenty of things to do for those looking for fun things. But if you’re looking for a bit more of an adventure, then consider climbing Mount La Crosse. 

It’s only a short drive from La Crosse. It’s easy to get there and offers fantastic views of the city and river valley when you reach the top.

Mt. La Crosse has 18 slopes serviced by three double chair lifts and a single rope tow. 

The mountain offers a full-service rental shop with convenient hours for renting equipment, waxing skis, and tuning boards. 

Whether you’re an experienced skier, snowboarder, or just learning the ropes, Mt. La Crosse has slopes and trails catering to all skiing and snowboarding experience levels.

For groups visiting Mt. La Crosse Ski Area, this 3BR 3BA rental property is perfect. It offers three bedrooms, and three bathrooms and sleeps up to eleven people comfortably. The house offers a TV, swimming pool, fireplace, WIFI, heater, parking, etc.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US

17. Visit The Dahl Auto Museum

Old cars in The Dahl Auto Museum
Image by TripAdvisor

Visiting the Dahl Auto Museum is a must for anyone who loves cars. The museum celebrates the Dahl family’s involvement in auto dealerships for five generations.

Although it isn’t a big museum, the Dahl Auto Museum is a nice place that displays the evolution of cars over the years. 

It’s pretty cool seeing how cars have changed over the years, especially when you start thinking about what features were developed and then dropped as time went on. 

The museum has some classic cars over 100 years old and others more recent but still classic models. Most of the vehicles are in excellent condition. 

The museum gives you the feeling of stepping back to a simpler time when cars were just starting. The highlight of the museum is the collection of Fords and Dahl.

The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. There is an admission fee for those aged 9 and older, and free admission for children under eight accompanied by a paying adult.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

18. Ride Along The Great River State Trail

The Great River State Trail in Winsconsin
Image by TripAdvisor

The Great River Trail is a 24-mile-long trail that runs along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin. The trail is open for walking and biking during the warmer months. It’s also perfect for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing during the colder months. 

The trail travels through some of the most scenic parts of Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. It runs through the prairies and backwaters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. The trail is mostly flat and suitable for walking and biking. 

The trail links to the La Crosse River State Trail via a short road route in La Crosse. So you can make a loop from La Crosse to Trempealeau to Chippewa Falls to Onalaska, then back to La Crosse. 

The Great River State Trail welcomes nearly 70,000 visitors each year who enjoy the scenic trail along the river marshes, hardwood forests, and wildlife preserves. 

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