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10 things to do in Prairie du Chien
Wisconsin’s Driftless Area is undoubtedly beautiful with its rolling hills, gorgeous farmland, river views and towering bluffs, and the communities in the area have so much to offer when it comes to entertainment — Prairie du Chien being no exception. From historic to tasty to just plain unique, here are a few of our favorite things to do in Prairie du Chien:
1. Old Crawford County Jail
Also known as “The Dungeon,” the Old Crawford County Jail lives beneath the courthouse and is the oldest surviving jail in the state. With heavy iron doors, leg irons and arm chains, and little light, those who pass through today as visitors are left wondering what sort of laws had to be broken to deserve “The Dungeon.”
2. Fort Crawford Museum
Fort Crawford stood guard over Prairie du Chien from 1816 to 1856, and today the museum’s three buildings house different exhibits featuring the military hospital, the history of Prairie du Chien, and a visitor center. Stop by for self-guided tours and embrace the city’s fascinating history!
3. The Local Oven
There are few combinations tastier together than maple and bacon, and The Local Oven is home to the Bacon Maple donut. Sign us up. The Local Oven is also known for its ice cream, gourmet popcorn, bakery, soup, sandwiches, coffee and gifts. It is a local gem.
4. Annual Ice Fisheree
If you’re a fisherman and you’re up for a little competition, the Annual Ice Fisheree is just what you’re looking for. Brave the February elements and enjoy friendly competition, evening entertainment, and plenty of prizes.
5. Droppin’ of the Carp
For one of the most unique New Year’s Eve celebrations around, Prairie du Chien is your place. You know how the ball drops in Times Square as the crowd counts down to midnight? This is the exact same thing, except it’s in Prairie du Chien and instead of a ball it’s, well, a carp.
6. Winneshiek Bar & Grill
A Prairie du Chien landmark, “The Winnie” is the perfect stop for lunch, dinner, or a cold drink, whether arriving by car or boat. This local favorite offers an incredible view of the Mississippi River and St. Feriole Island Park.
7. St. Feriole Island Park
Speaking of St. Feriole Island Park, you should go there! The island was once home to the city itself, until repeated floods and fires forced it to relocate to the mainland. Now, the island is home to a baseball diamond, many festivals, events, parades, and so much more.
8. Pete’s Hamburger Stand
What started as a street-corner booth in 1908 has evolved into one of Prairie du Chien’s iconic stops. What, exactly, makes Pete’s hamburgers so good? Adding a little water to the pan. Simmering was the founder’s secret to selling a large number of hot and ready burgers at all times without them drying out. Stop by during the warmer months for a taste of one of the state’s best burgers.
9. Shihata’s Orchard
Shihata’s is a must-stop in the fall, with everything from pick-your-own apples to cider, cheese, sausage jams, jellies, pumpkins, gourds and wines. Enjoy the bakery and retail store, or take part in the country fun with horseshoes, tetherball, checkers or bags.
10. Maiden Voyage Tour
Hop aboard a Mississippi River tour to learn about wildlife on the Mississippi and take in the stunning sights. Choose from Group tours (perfect for school groups, family reunions and weddings), a music cruise (featuring local musicians) , or bird eco tours (where guests can view eagles and other birds in their natural habitat).
What’s on your Prairie du Chien bucket list? Share with us on social media using #discoverwisconsin!
Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Having grown up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. Watch Discover Wisconsin TV Saturday mornings at 10 on Fox Sports Wisconsin. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)