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Onalaska, WI Event Planning

Key Highlights

Hotels 6
Total Sleeping Rooms 538
Committable Sleeping Rooms* 157
Committable Meeting Rooms* 9
Convention Center Space 50,000 Sq. Ft.
Largest Exhibit Space 28,000 Sq. Ft.
Largest Ballroom 6,882 Sq. Ft.
Average Hotel Room Rate USD $83
Average Daily Meal Cost USD $46
Average Weekly Car Rental USD $373
*Maximum for a single hotel

Onalaska, WI Meeting Planning Overview

Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Planning Guide to Onalaska, a city guide for meeting professionals. Conveniently located off of I-90 between Chicago and the Twin Cities, Onalaska is a scenic, recreation-rich destination that offers a variety of meeting venues and plenty of after-meeting adventure. Considered one of the most affordable and convenient locations in the Midwest, this Wisconsin city sits at the confluence of the Mississippi River, Black River, and 7,700-acre Lake Onalaska, and is surrounded by protected wetlands and nature areas, all providing places to enjoy the outdoors and serving as the perfect backdrop for meetings, conventions, events, and other group gatherings. When it's time for a break, business travelers can explore the 101 miles of interconnected state biking trails, shop at the largest retail district in a nine-county region, and bird-watch on the Mississippi River Flyway, among many other options.

Meeting participants can fly into the La Crosse Regional Airport, which is located about 15 minutes outside of Onalaska in nearby La Crosse. The three-gate airport offers daily nonstop flights to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, and Chicago, and features direct access to the regional Municipal Transit Utility bus line, which runs in La Crosse, French Island, Onalaska, and La Crescent, Minnesota.

Once in Onalaska, meeting participants can gather at the Onalaska Omni Center, located in the middle of Van Riper Park and spanning 50,000 square feet of total event space, including a 28,000-square-foot and a 22,000-square-foot arena (which can be combined via connecting corridor). The center also features four conference rooms totaling more than 5,100 square feet, as well as a 4,000-square-foot semi-enclosed outdoor shelter.

In addition to its Onalaska Omni Center, the Onalaska area is home to a variety of unique venues, ranging from riverboat cruises to a local brewery, which can both accommodate group events and showcase the city's best attractions and adventures. Groups can tour the Pearl Street Brewery in nearby La Crosse, as well as hold events and sample award-winning brews at the brewery's tasting room. La Crosse is also home to Copeland Park, the home field for the Northwoods League's La Crosse Loggers, part of the summer baseball league composed of top college players. Groups can watch the games from deck and cabin areas, including a two-tiered, open-air deck along right field and a private seating area atop the outfield wall at right center field. La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway in nearby West Salem serves as the only NASCAR-sanctioned track in Wisconsin, as well as a location for group events, thanks to its rentable party deck, hospitality chalet, picnic terrace, and exhibition building.

Groups can also charter private cruises along the wild and scenic Mississippi River backwaters courtesy of Mississippi Explorer Cruises. The fleet of 39- to 98-passenger riverboats pass through the protected Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, stopping at bald eagle nests, beaver lodges, and lotus fields, and focusing on regional history and ecology. Groups can also charter cruises aboard a modern-day, 149-passenger replica of the 19th-century grand riverboats aboard La Crosse Queen Paddlewheel Cruises; the cruise company offers sightseeing, brunch, dinner, cocktail, and moonlight cruises. Both riverboat companies depart from Riverside Park in nearby La Crosse.

About Onalaska, WI / Additional Info

A nature and adventure lover's paradise located along the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, Onalaska is known for its fantastic bird-watching, water sports, fishing, biking, and wildlife viewing, as well as for being an ideal place to spot bald eagles. Lying within the Mississippi Flyway, a major migration pathway for birds, the sprawling Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge covers 240,000 acres and extends 261 river miles throughout four states. The refuge and Onalaska's setting along the Black River, Mississippi River and Lake Onalaska put visitors within easy reach of canoeing trails and launching points along scenic wetlands, backwaters, and bluffs, as well as world-class fishing that has helped Onalaska earn its reputation as the "Sunfish Capital of the World."

The Mighty Mississippi has played a major role in Onalaska's history and development. First home to Native Americans, Onalaska became a booming lumber town during the 1800s as logs from northern Wisconsin and Minnesota traveled down the Mississippi River to be processed in Onalaska's mills. Today, Onalaska's heritage is documented at the Onalaska Historical Museum, which features regional exhibits focusing on the Ice Age through modern times.

In addition to its first-class canoeing and fishing, the Onalaska region offers exceptional bird-watching, thanks to its Mississippi River Flyway access. Visitors can take in great views of tundra swans, diving ducks, white pelicans, songbirds, and bald eagles, among many others. Onalaska's location at the juncture of the Great River State Bike Trail and La Crosse River State Bike Trail makes it a fantastic launch point for adventures along 101 miles of biking trails. The 24-mile Great River State Bike Trail runs along 18 different waterways, crosses the Black River on a 284-foot former railroad trestle, and follows Lake Onalaska and the BNSF railway, while the 21.5-mile La Crosse River State Bike Trail follows the winding La Crosse River from Onalaska to Sparta. Onalaska is also located along the 250-mile-long Wisconsin Great River Road, the state's only designated National Scenic Byway, and a great way to explore nearby museums, visitors centers, farms, wineries, and scenic overlooks.

Visitors to Onalaska have their pick of hundreds of unique shops and galleries, as well as more than 40 restaurants, many of which offer private dining space for groups. Overlooking Lake Onalaska and the Mississippi River, Seasons by the Lake serves unique steaks and seafood in a warm setting, while the Cedar Creek Bar & Grill offers casual dining and seasonal outdoor seating at the Cedar Creek Golf Club. Blue Moon Saloon & Roadhouse serves up casual American fare and Lake Onalaska views, while Ciatti's Italian Restaurant is known for its authentic and innovative Italian selections. Last but not least, visitors can get a taste of tropical Mexico at Manny's Cocina, which serves delicious cuisine crafted from recipes passed down through generations in a vibrant Mediterranean and Old World atmosphere.

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