Fall is here, so it’s time to roll down the windows, feel the breeze, and soak in views of the vibrant trees as you take a family cruise through some of Wisconsin’s oldest towns. Buckle up because you’re in for an adventure along the Great River Road, one Wisconsin’s national scenic byways.
The entire road traverses 3,000 miles through 10 states, and our 250 mile stretch takes you through 33 historic Wisconsin towns. We wanted to share a few of our favorites along the way. Each town has a story and something unique ranging from scenic overlooks, restaurants and more activities for the entire family.
From views of the Mississippi River, scenic hikes, and delicious eats, there is plenty to do in this waterside city. This city also has a lively college atmosphere, being home to UW-La Crosse, Western Technical College, and Viterbo.
Stay awhile and enjoy a view of the city at one of La Crosse’s highlights, the Grandad Bluffs. There are plenty of hiking trails and viewing areas for the ultimate adventure — and it looks like a new place every season.
From beautiful views to tasty eats, La Crosse has it all. For a classy meal, try some tapas at the 4 Sisters Wine Bar & Tapas Restaurant. From grilled cheese dippers to mac and cheese bites, there’s plenty to share with your friends. If there’s one stop that you can’t miss when you visit La Crosse, it’s The Pearl. This old-fashioned ice cream parlor serves handmade ice cream, sundaes and homemade soda (or as they used to say, “soda pop”).
Have you ever been to one of Wisconsin’s oldest state parks? Wyalusing State Park has breathtaking views and hikes that are great for the whole family — it’s an oldie but a goodie. There are plenty of picnic areas, so you can relax and enjoy the cool air as you have lunch with a view. We love to camp here, enjoying a cozy bonfire with the family.
Who wants to do a little antique shopping in one of the oldest towns in Wisconsin? Stockholm is known for some of the best antique stores, so feel free to peruse through Antique Future for art from local artists.
Shopping isn’t the only thing that Stockholm is known for — this place calls for an adventure with Maiden Rock Bluff State Natural Area. This overlooks Pepin Lake, and it’s the spot to see golden eagles, bald eagles and turkey vultures. Not to mention, Stockholm has some tasty eats including Stockholm Pie and General Store known for savory pies with countless options.
It’s time for a photoshoot — Trempeauleau is the perfect place to do so with its’ historic main street and riverside view. If you are in for a nature walk, head to Perrot State Park for some views of the Mississippi River.
This town also has the Elmaro Vineyard, where you can sip wine and gather with friends and family. Another must-stop in Trempealeau is Ecker’s Apple Farm, where you can pick fresh apples, sip on some cider and buy jams and other goodies.
Have you ever had the ultimate movie marathon? If you’re a movie lover, then you're in for a treat with these 70 independent and international films being shown over a course of three days at the Flyway Film Festival. So, grab a cozy blanket, your favorite candy, buttery popcorn and your movie-watching buddies.
You can see some beautiful views at Buena Vista Park Overlook. After a film and a view, what better way to relax than in a vineyard? Head to a winery at Villa Bellezza Winery where you can try some world-class wines ranging from sweet white wines to darker, drier reds.
Looking for more ways to experience the Mississippi River life in Wisconsin? Check out these 5 Mississippi River Towns to Explore in Southwest Wisconsin.