BY KRISTEN RINDFLEISCH
Photos: Explore La Crosse, Bob Good, Jason Ray
Nestled along the Mississippi River and framed by
majestic bluffs teeming with wildlife, La Crosse is the
perfect weekend escape, especially as the trees turn
vivid and cooler temps make outdoor activities a joy.
The thriving college town is home to Wisconsin’s most
legendary Oktoberfest celebration, which runs from Sept.
27-30 this year. But La Crosse boasts a sophisticated
side too, with upscale accommodations, dining and
nightlife options. So head west, MKE travelers. A
memorable visit awaits.
Where To Stay
buffs will want to take a drive down King and Cass Streets to admire
the elegant and historic homes. Want to spend the night in one?
Sleep like royalty in Cass Street’s Castle La Crosse Bed and
Breakfast, which offers beautiful, unique rooms in a three-story
Romanesque mansion. Formerly known as the Castle on Cass, this home
was built for a local lumber baron in 1891 and has been restored to
its original grandeur to serve as a luxurious bed and breakfast.
Castle La Crosse Bed and Breakfast
Charmant Hotel is a boutique-hotel delight. Located in a renovated
candy factory, the Charmant’s blend of historic charm, upscale
amenities and prime location makes it a sweet place to stay.
What to Do
No trip to La
Crosse is complete without a drive up Grandad Bluff. At the top, the
views of the city, the Mississippi River and neighboring Minnesota
are a photographer’s dream. No wonder, the 800-plus acres of Hixon
Forest near Grandad Bluff are popular year-round for hiking,
mountain biking, skiing and snowshoeing on more than 20 miles of
trails. Cruise the mighty Mississippi aboard the La Crosse Queen, an
authentic paddlewheeler that also offers pizza, brunch and dinner
cruises. And since this is October, the Ghosts of Historic La Crosse
walking tour, led by professional storyteller Michael Scott, will
delight history, architecture and paranormal buffs alike.
What To Sip And Savor
morning coffee and a sweet or savory crepe at The Root Note, where
sustainably-sourced food and drinks will fuel you for a day of
adventure or a leisurely stroll down to Riverside Park to wile away
the day. Grab lunch at Bodega Brew Pub, which offers tasty noshes
ranging from baked artichoke dip to flatbread pizzas that you can
wash down with one of Bodega’s 400 varieties of bottled beer and 20
tap selections. A scoop of homemade ice cream at The Pearl Ice Cream
Parlor, a 1930s-style soda fountain, makes a perfect anytime snack.
La Crosse features dining options to suit every taste and taste bud,
whether you’re in the mood for casual dining, old-school charm or a
modern culinary masterpiece.
Got a barbecue
lover in your group? Piggy’s Restaurant features authentic
smokehouse barbeque, fresh seafood options and fabulous desserts.
Fish-fry fans should head for the Red Pines Bar & Grill, which
boasts a rustic, northwoods feel, the best lake perch around and
stunning views of Lake Onalaska.
feeling a bit fancy, Charmant Hotel’s on-site restaurant features
French-inspired cuisine. Start with the herbed goat cheese and Amish
honey, share an entrée (or two) from a carefully curated menu, then
end with crème brûlée.. At Lovechild Restaurant - perfect for date
night, as its name suggests - try the bruschetta, sweet potato
agnolotti and cinnamon-sugar doughnuts with lemon curd for dessert,
all served in an elegant, relaxed atmosphere.
Not ready to end
the evening? Grab a nightcap at the Starlite Lounge, a swanky,
retro-themed bar complete with live jazz and an extensive martini
weather approaches, La Crosse is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream with
miles of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshowing, and great
downhill action at Mt. La Crosse. Indoor activities more your speed?
Indulge your inner buckaroo when professional championship bull
riding returns to the La Crosse Center Friday, Nov. 2 and Saturday,
Nov. 3. Or ignite your holiday spirit at the La Crosse Center’s 55th
annual Holiday Fair, which runs Nov. 15-18.