10 towns to discover along Wisconsin’s Great River Road

The Great River Road is one of the best scenic drives in the entire state with some of the most beautiful locales along this side of the Mississippi River. Whether you are seeking a wild time with your best buds, a romantic getaway with that special someone, or you’re a history buff interested in the regions expansive legacy, there is something for everyone here. Let’s plan your next road trip as we stop at each prime location along The Great River Road.

1. Stockholm

Considered one of the most beautiful towns in the Midwest, Stockholm features an assortment of culinary and shopping establishments. Start off your day at the Bogus Creek Café for some Swedish Pancakes before doing some craft shopping at Antique Future and Ingebretson’s, among other shops. This small, cozy town has a lot to offer.

2. Pepin

Traveling further south we find the birthplace of the acclaimed author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Capture the beauty of late Wisconsin summer during Labor Day weekend by reserving a spot at Pepin Campgrounds, just blocks away from beautiful Lake Pepin. Once you arrive at Lake Pepin you can view the Pepin Marina, the only marina on the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi.

3. Alma

Alma is the ideal location for anyone who appreciates wildlife and bird watching. Explore along the coast of the Mississippi, housing an assortment of fish, plants, and natural sites. Once you have finished your kayaking along the river, head over to Buena Vista Park & Overlook for the best view in the area, overlooking the Mississippi 500 feet above Alma.

4. Trempealeau

Need somewhere majestic and quaint for your next getaway? Let us recommend to you this vacation town. Talk a hike around Perrot State Park just north of the town and appreciate the bluffs’ green landscape. Later, reserve a stay at one of the many local cabins as you watch the beautiful sunsets.

5. La Crosse

There is just so much variety of fun to be had in La Crosse, you cannot pass up this bastion of the Mississippi. There are plenty of bar crawls and music festivals happening year-round, such as Oktoberfest or Mid West Music Fest. Enjoy some of the many local eateries, such as Two Beagles Brewpub or Pickerman’s Soup Café.

6. Genoa

If you prefer to avoid the bustle of the city, the perfect alternative is Genoa. New Orleans is not the only part of the Mississippi that has held steam boats; Genoa has a long history of being a port town with stories of steam boats like “Bella Danger”, which is said to have sank nearby on the Mississippi. This unique locale and its historic legacy is sure to interest any history buff.

7. Prairie du Chien

Considered one of the most beautiful towns in Wisconsin for its terrific views of the Mississippi and majestic wildlife, the once great frontier of colonial times now thrives as a vintage town housing an assortment of shops and lodging. Learn Wisconsin’s history as you drink a brewski on a river cruise. There is sure to be something of value for everyone visiting this gorgeous location.

8. Cassville

There are just so many camping locations in Wisconsin that it can be difficult deciding where to wrap up your last summer stay! Set up your tent on one of the local sandy beaches along the scenic bluffs of Cassville before taking a refreshing swim. Maybe take a ferry ride down the Mississippi in the summer sun where there is a good chance you’ll spot a bald eagle.

9. Potosi

Potosi Brewery offers a wide selection of beverages that have popularized the township. After checking out the famed brewery, head just a little south to the Potosi recreational area while appreciating the Mississippi river and soaking in some rays.

10. Nelson

We all know Wisconsin is known for its cheese, and Nelson does its part in this tradition as the home to the Nelson Cheese Factory. Taste the delicacies of a large cheese and wine selection. The nicest part is that there are plenty of small communities and parks to explore in between your food tastings.

We hope you have painted a much bigger picture of these fantastic destinations. Who knows what other underappreciated gems you might discover along the Mississippi. If you know of any favorite spots or towns we had not mentioned, then let us know in the comments. Until next time, travel safe and have fun!

Ken Virden is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. He spends his recreational time with family and friends going camping, attending rock festivals, and running his own podcast ‘Virden Interviews’. Watch Discover Wisconsin TV Saturday mornings at 10 on Fox Sports Wisconsin. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)