Wisconsin’s 250-mile stretch of the Great River Road leads to small Mississippi River towns with hiking, fishing, birding, shopping and dining with a view. Check out our guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay along Wisconsin's Great River Road.


Art and Soul Paintings of rural scenes and imports from Africa and Asia fill this Alma shop. A percentage of every sale goes to nonprofits. art-soul.org

Big River Theatre Closed as of July 2021 due to the pandemic; check website for updates and virtual events. Storytelling, films, live music and comedy routines entertain in Alma. bigrivertheatre.com

Birding The Wings Over Alma Nature Center and Prescott's Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center share info on the best viewing spots for bald eagles and other wildlife.

Buena Vista Park Follow signs from State-35 along County-E, or walk from Second Street to reach a park 500 feet above Alma for a great view of the Mississippi River. almawisconsin.com

Great River Road getaway
Credit: John Noltner

Great Alma Fishing Float Flip a sign to signal the fishing crew to pick you up and take you to this floating island of docks; there, go fishing and snack at The Float Cafe. almafishingfloat.com

Great River Road Wine Trail Pick up a Wine Trail Passport and visit one or more of a dozen wineries. greatriverroadwinetrail.org

La Crosse Queen The paddle-wheeler departs on daily narrated sight-seeing cruises from La Crosse. lacrossequeen.com

La Crosse Queen
LaCrosse Queen

Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum Learn about the Little House in the Big Woods author and see a re-creation of the wooden cabin where she was born in Pepin. lauraingallspepin.com

Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery The complex and surprising ciders include the sweet Honeycrisp Hard and robust Scrumpy. maidenrockwinerycidery.com


The Monarch Public House Wisconsin's oldest bar (open since 1894), the Monarch in Fountain City serves old Irish family recipes, such as potato soup. Monarch Public House on Facebook

Muddy Waters Bar and Grill Live blues and three decks overlooking the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers appeal to Prescott diners as much as the steaks, seafood, pasta or smoked ribs. Muddy Waters Bar and Grill on Facebook

Muddy Waters Restaurant and Bar
Muddy Waters Bar and Grill

Nelson Cheese Factory The 19th-century dairy building holds a modern shop with wine, cheeses and ice cream. nelsoncheese.com

Pier 4 Cafe and Smokehouse One step above a river shack, it serves the tangy sauces and smoky flavors of Memphis-style barbecue but overlooks Alma's Lock and Dam No. 4. Pier 4 Cafe on Facebook

Pier 4 Cafe and Smokehouse
Pier 4 Cafe and Smokehouse

The Stockholm Pie Company and General Store The slices of peanut butter fudge, double lemon or apple pie are large enough to be lunch, but also try the hearty potpies and quiches at this Stockholm eatery. stockholmpieandgeneralstore.com

The Stone Barn The restored barn of a farm 10 miles northeast of Nelson is home to a seasonal pizzeria, serving thin-crust slices in a bucolic setting with indoor and outdoor seating. thenelsonstonebarn.com


Blue Door Inn A sense of history settles around guests as solidly as original 1853 rock walls- carved into a Mississippi River bluff in Alma.  bluedoorinnalma.com

The Charmant Hotel Savor free truffles at check-in inside a retired 1898 candy factory in La Crosse. The Charmant embellishes its legacy with framed candy tins decorating guest rooms and an elevator shimmering like a golden Willy Wonka ticket. thecharmanthotel.com

The Charmant Hotel
The Charmant Hotel

For more information wigrr.com