Eighteenth-century European travelers and trappers founded La Crosse as a crossing point over the Mississippi River. Today’s balanced economic base includes mixed agriculture, orchards, and dairy farms alongside businesses in manufacturing, furniture, mail-order, and food distribution.
The G. Heilemann Brewery, fronted by a giant six-pack of beer, gives a hint at the good-natured character of the town. The river setting is attractive, with scenic, wooded bluffs on both sides of the river. There are some localized arts and museum amenities, and the town has a number of historic buildings and several pubs. Downtown is generally attractive and livable, as is typical for the region.
Costs of living and housing are reasonable. A large Lutheran hospital and a Mayo Clinic affiliate bring a strong health care presence, in the shadow of health care giant Rochester, Minnesota which also adds some services and amenities not available locally. The area is one of the coldest in Wisconsin and the country.
The city of La Crosse sits on the east bank of the Mississippi River at the confluence of the Mississippi, Black, and La Crosse rivers. Bluffs rise 500 feet above the valley floor. Heavily wooded, steep-sided hills with narrow valleys are characteristic of the region. The invigorating continental climate and storm-track location result in wide and frequent variations in temperature.
Summers are warm with moderate humidity and periods of weeklong heat. Summer precipitation arrives as scattered thunderstorms, some severe. Winters are cold and variably humid. Snow is frequent, occasionally heavy, and is the prominent form of winter precipitation. The location west of the Great Lakes results in more sunny days than most Wisconsin cities. First freeze is mid-October, last is late April.