Mississippi River Valley & Beyond
Experience the Great River Road in Wisconsin
Explore some of the oldest communities in Wisconsin along the scenic Great River Road. Enjoy the beauty of the river and bluffs, visiting river towns along the way. Whether your group is interested in nature, history, scrumptious dining or craft beer, this part of western Wisconsin has everything for an unforgettable itinerary.
Day 1 – Platteville, Prairie du Chien
As you travel north on the Great River Road in Wisconsin, stop at The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums in Platteville, where an underground experience awaits your group. Besides exhibits on the nature, culture and mining history of the region, you’ll enjoy a one-hour guided tour of the mine.
Next stop is the beautiful town of Prairie du Chien, the oldest European settlement on the Upper Mississippi. The Fort Crawford Museum features exhibits and stories from the early settlers of Wisconsin’s second oldest city to the War of 1812 to the Civil War. Visit St. Feriole Island to explore the banks of the Mississippi River; keep your eyes open for bald eagles, stroll through the Mississippi River Sculpture Park featuring life-sized sculptures of area historical figures and explore the Memorial Gardens. No visit to Prairie du Chien is complete without a visit to the Victorian estate Villa Louis.
Tonight, perhaps enjoy a dinner at a local supper club or one of the many dining establishments along Main Street.
Day 2 – Prairie du Chien, Lynxville, Genoa, La Crosse
This morning visit Prairie du Chien’s Valley Fish Market, where the group will meet with a local commercial fisherman and hear tales of life on the Mighty Mississippi. The Valley family has been in commercial fishing since the 1800s. Their shop is known for the “finest smoked fish in the world.” Before heading out, stop at the Cannery, a 1912 building hosting eight shops filled with home decor and gifts; it includes a garden shop and a fudge & ice cream parlor.
As your group travels north along the Great River Road, stop at the largest federally managed pool on the river at Lynxville Lock & Dam No. 9. The observation deck is excellent for viewing eagles. Stop at Genoa National Fish Hatchery to tour the visitor center and learn more about the Upper Mississippi River Basin. View the many species of river fish in an aquarium, and tour the sturgeon and coldwater buildings to see thousands of sturgeon and trout being reared for restoration projects across the country. You can also stroll over to Pond 2 and feed the rainbow trout.
The La Crosse region offers stunning landscapes with abundant things to do. On a tour led by a local guide, hear stories of the people and their cultures, explore the historic neighborhoods, and enjoy the natural beauty and architecture. Your tour is not complete without a stop at Grandad Bluff, the 600-foot-high bluff overlooking La Crosse. As you marvel at views of the city and the Mississippi, you can see three states—Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. Dining options for your group are abundant with a variety of classic pubs and family diners, craft breweries/distilleries and supper clubs.
Day 3 – La Crosse
This morning get out on the river and take a sightseeing cruise on the La Crosse Queen, a modern-day replica of a grand paddlewheeler riverboat. Visit the Historic Hixon House, the home of lumber baron Gideon Hixon. The Hixon House reveals a true family home including the unique “Turkish Nook,” a fashion of the late 19th century.
Continue north on the River Road with a stop at the Prairie Moon Sculpture Garden and Museum in Cochrane. You’ll enjoy the beautiful scenery surrounding the site along with the nearly 40 sculptures created by self-taught artist Herman Rusch. Including sculptures of dinosaurs, a Hindu Temple and a 13 ½-foot watch tower. Visit the small river village of Stockholm and enjoy a slice of their world-famous pie at Stockholm Pie & General Store or plan a group luncheon in the historic Opera Hall above the shop.
Want More Itinerary Ideas?
Our annual planner will help you craft an unforgettable Upper Midwest group adventure with helpful attraction spotlights, itineraries and listings.