Why You Might Want to Take a Relaxing Trip to La Crosse This Winter

While away a day or two in this Wisco town.

The great American novelist Mark Twain positively gushed about La Crosse in his memoir Life on the Mississippi. “By what it has accomplished while still teething,” he wrote, “one may forecast what marvels it will do in the strength of its maturity.”

You could argue whether the city has achieved many “marvels” since Twain penned those words, but the interconnected bridges and distant bluffs that dominate its skyline are certainly marvelous to look at. Plus, it’s become one of the largest cultural hubs in western Wisconsin. And the river that captivated Twain all those years ago is still as mighty as ever.

Related: Why You Might Want to Visit Delafield This Winter

Where to Stay

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YOU CAN SEE evidence of the Charmant Hotel’s (101 State St.) history as a candy factory in its gold and chocolate-colored furnishings and – more literally – in its on-site, 24-hour chocolate counter. And you’ll find savory as well as sweet flavors at its rustic French restaurant and rooftop terrace and bar.


What to Do

Photo of Lovechild by Joan Ferris

THE AREA IS  beautiful year-round, even during the winter. There’s an 18-slope ski resort, Mt. La Crosse, near the city. And be sure to visit Grandad Bluff. From its peak a few miles east of La Crosse, you can see the Mississippi River and the rolling hills of eastern Minnesota rising up behind it.

Then check out Turtle Stack, a local brewery with a focus on sustainability, which is as cute as its name. After knocking back a few of its brews, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to appreciate the World’s Largest Six Pack, a roadside attraction located nearby at the site of the now-shuttered G. Heileman Brewing Co. The “six pack” is, in fact, six gigantic storage tanks painted to look like beer cans. They aren’t exactly fine art, but they’re free and more than worthy of a pre-dinner pit stop.

Continue your evening at Lovechild, a James Beard Award-nominated restaurant that was named Wisconsin’s most romantic restaurant by Food and Wine. Floor lamps planted by each of its banquettes cast warm light across its cozy, golden-hued interior.

Finally, find out what’s on tap at the Pump House – a cultural center that hosts art exhibits, concerts and other events – or see a play at the Weber Center for the Performing Arts.


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s January issue

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.