Two-Day Getaway Along the Great River Road | Midwest Living

Two-Day Getaway Along the Great River Road

Views reward travelers who love the journey along the Wisconsin stretch of the Mississippi River as much as the stops between La Crosse and Stockholm.
Alma, Wisconsin
+ enlarge
Mississippi River Pearl Jewelry Company
+ enlarge
Nelson Creamery
+ enlarge
Great River Road
+ enlarge

Day 1

The La Crosse Queen paddle-wheeler departs from La Crosse for cruises of the Mississippi River.

Take in the natural springs and dramatic river valley setting 39 miles northwest in Fountain City.

Repeat customers are common at The Monarch Public House, Wisconsin’s oldest tavern, because of the delicious Reuben sandwich, Irish potato soup and rich cheesecake.

In downtown Alma, the Mississippi River Pearl Jewelry Company sells jewelry made with rare freshwater Mississippi mussel pearls.

Castlerock Museum houses a vast collection of weaponry used by the Romans, Greeks, Vikings, Crusaders and Renaissance men-at-arms.

Keep up with Wisconsin’s dairy heritage at Nelson Creamery, where guests choose from an array of hot and cold sandwiches, nibble on platters of cheese, sip wine or indulge in fresh ice cream in the 19th-century dairy building.

A sense of history settles around guests as solidly as Blue Door Inn’s original 1853 rock walls—carved into a Mississippi River bluff (from $75). 

Day 2

Breakfast on the Great Alma Fishing Float is not just a meal, it’s a story coming to life. Flip a sign to signal the fishing crew to take you to the floating structure; there, go fishing and dine on The Float Cafe’s sandwiches.

In Stockholm, furniture crafted by local artisans fills Abode Gallery, and the pretty yet practical stoneware creations at Stockholm Pottery and Mercantile brighten tables.

At Gelly’s Pub and Eatery, dig into hand-rubbed ribs slow-cooked over an apple- or cherrywood fire and served with a homemade honey barbecue sauce; full-flavored shrimp in a light and crispy breading; and the popular BLT on wheatberry bread.

The Stockholm Pie Company tempts visitors with an array of options, including peanut butter fudge, double lemon and a Swedish-inspired blackberry apple with cardamom.

Ingebretsen’s celebrates Swedish tradition in its hand-woven textiles, gorgeous hand-blown glasswork and collectibles.

More information: (800) 658-9424;

Add a day

The birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, known to fans as the Little House in the Big Woods, stands down the road in Pepin.

Pick up a Wine Trail Passport and visit a few of the 10 wineries along the Great River Road Wine Trail, where fine wine pairs with stunning scenery in the Upper Mississippi River Valley.

Catch adult group tours and exhibits at Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center in Prescott.

More information: (715) 544-7829;

Wow Moment

Wisconsin’s Great River Road winds 250 miles past 33 river towns. Bring your camera to snap photos from the scenic overlook of the Maiden Rock Bluffs near Stockholm. Legend has it a Native American maiden leapt to her death here to avoid a forced marriage.

More information: (800) 658-9424;

Add Your Comment