La Crosse, Wisconsin, is large enough to have a sophisticated mix and small enough for groups to feel its warm welcome. The city's two greatest assets are its picturesque location on the banks of the Upper Mississippi, amid bluffs and narrow valleys ("coulees"); and its historic downtown, which is one of the largest historic districts in Wisconsin. With more than 100 preserved buildings dating back as far as the 1860s, residents are justifiably proud of this recently revitalized downtown core and its array of fashionable boutiques, diverse restaurants and convenient services. La Crosse event venues reflect this pride-of-place.
La Crosse is the seat of La Crosse County and the urban heart of a region that includes the southeastern corner of Minnesota (just across the Mississippi). The region is compact and easy to navigate: the ride from La Crosse Municipal Airport (LSE) north of the city, on French Island, takes 10 minutes. American and Delta both fly out of LSE.
The first stop for any visitor downtown has to be Riverside Park, home to the International Friendship Garden, two boarding sites for river cruises and a landscaped river walk affording up-close views of the Mississippi. Directly south of the park and also on the river, the modern La Crosse Center offers 100,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space and a 7,500-seat arena. On the main level of the convention center, two grand halls combine to create 36,000 square feet of exhibit space, and the second floor boasts a premier 6,000 square-foot ballroom that overlooks the river.
There are nearly 500 hotel rooms downtown and more than 2,000 citywide. Hotels in La Crosse include the 179-room Radisson La Crosse, which is attached to the La Crosse Center and boasts 10,000 square feet of its own meeting space; and the Best Western Riverfront Plus, which has 5,000 square feet of meeting space.
Despite its modern amenities and services, La Crosse retains a friendly, traditional feel that at times recalls its development as a fur-trading outpost, then a sawmill town and a brewing center. There are 25 pubs within walking distance of the La Crosse Center, and many of the city's well-known street festivals echo the culture: Oktoberfest, RiverFest, Irishfest, and the Hmong New Year Parade, celebrating La Crosse's substantial Southeast Asian community.