Prairie Du Chien is a small town in Wisconsin that is the second oldest city in the state. The town was first established in the late 1600s by French settlers Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, near the Mississippi River and the Fox-Wisconsin Waterway.
The name Prairie Du Chien means “Dog’s Prairie” and comes from Fox Indian Chief Alim which translated to Chien in French (dog in English). The city has a deep historic significance to Wisconsin with 5 National Historic Landmarks, and nine sites on the National Register of Historic Places.
1. Villa Louis
© Villa Louis
The Villa Louis estate is a National Historic Landmark found on St. Feriole Island. The Villa is a history museum managed by the Wisconsin Historical Society and has been meticulously restored to mirror how the estate would have looked in the 19th century when one of the most prominent families in Wisconsin owned the impressive estate. Hercules L. Dousman was a land sculptor, fur trader, and entrepreneur involved in several businesses who began building the estate in the 1840s. E. Townsend Mix designed the manor at the center of the Villa in 1871. The design is Victrorian Italiante style and has been a boarding school in the past before being restored and named a historic site in 1952 and now includes Brisbois House, Roulette House, and Astor Fur Warehouse, among other historic sites.
521 North Villa Louis Road, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821, Phone: 608-326-2721
2. Fort Crawford Museum, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin
© Fort Crawford Museum
Fort Crawford began as a United States Army outpost in the 19th century. The Fort Crawford Museum is located within the second fort associated with Fort Crawford inside of the Second Fort Crawford Military Hospital. The hospital is not active and instead is a 1930’s replica hospital designed by The Daughters of the American Revolution and is designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark as it contains the only original building fragments used in Fort Crawford. The Fort Crawford Museum has been operated by the Prairie Du Chien Historical Society since 1996 and serves a center for local history. The museum is only open seasonally from May to October.
717 South Beaumont Road, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821, Phone: 608-326-6960
3. Prairie Fun Land, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin
Prairie Fun Land is one of the best family activities you can do in southwestern Wisconsin. The unique attraction is open seasonally beginning in May and closing after Labor Day Weekend. Visitors can enjoy a Go-Kart track, mini golf course, arcade, bumper cars, a bounce house, water wars, and driving range, along with other games. Prairie Fun Land is perfect for group outings and parties and has a fun, exciting atmosphere.
515 East Paquette Street, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821, Phone: 608-326-0888
4. Mississippi River Sculpture Park, Prairie Du Chien, WI
© Sergey Peterman/stock.adobe.com
The Mississippi River Sculpture Park is one of the oldest permanently settled communities in the state and is open all year round free of charge. The sculpture park is located on St. Feriole Island on the Western shore of the Mississippi's eastern channel. There is no playground or jungle gyms in this city-owned park. The island park is decorated by life-sized bronze statues of Chief Black Hawk, Emma Big Bear, a Victorian woman, an adventurer, and Dr. William Beaumont with his son Israel. Each statue depicts a person with a history tied to Prairie Du Chien. Twenty-two additional sculptures are planned for the park.
522 Villa Louis Road, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821, Phone: 608-326-7207
More ideas: Weekend Getaways in Wisconsin
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5. Fort Mulligan’s Grill Pub, Prairie Du Chien
Fort Mulligan's Grill Pub was first built in 1855 by Julius Famecon and Augustus Gaillard. Built from the remnants of materials used to construct the second Fort Crawford, the building became known as The French Store. In the 1930s Circle Bar was located in the building and in 2000, the current owners, Mike and Trisha Hager, opened up Fort Mulligan's Grill Pub. The restaurant and bar showcase many historic features, including the beautiful exposed limestone and tin ceiling. The grill serves classic American foods such as battered shrimp, Cajun foods, pasta, soups and salad, and many different kinds of sandwiches, wraps, and burgers.
214 West Blackhawk Ave, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821, Phone: 608-326-0639
6. Pete’s Hamburger Stand, Prairie Du Chien
© Pete’s Hamburger Stand
Pete's Hamburger Stand has a history that began more than 100 years ago with a man and pan-fried hamburgers sold at street fairs, carnivals, and auctions at the turn of the 20th century. The man's popular technique of simmering the burgers and onions in water enabled him to cook many at a time and keep them hot and ready to be sold without hurting the quality of the beef. Pete's Hamburger Stand moved into a trailer in the 1940s and eventually found a brick and mortar location on Blackhawk Avenue. The family of the original owner still operates Pete's, and the recipe for simmered hamburgers is still the same! Pete's is opened seasonally beginning in April.
118 West Blackhawk Avenue, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821
7. Winneshiek Bar and Grill, Prairie Du Chien
© Winneshiek Bar and Grill
The Winnieshiek was constructed in 1936 as a bar on the Second Street but moved to Main Village Lot 23 where the bar thrived in the 1940s, and 50 were when half of the establishment was a bar and the other half a restaurant. Named after a Winnebago Chief from the Prairie Du Chien area or maybe a network of islands between Lansing, Iowa, and Wisconsin, The Winnieshiek has operated as a full Bar and Grill since the 1960s. The current location in near Winnieshiek Marina on Greymore Lake. The grill serves typical bar food such as cheese curds, nachos, onion rings, wings, burgers, and sandwiches.
32785 County Road K, Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin, 53821, Phone: 608-326-1068
8. Things to Do in Prairie Du Chien: St. Feriole Islands Memorial Gardens
© St. Feriole Islands Memorial Gardens
No visit to St. Feriole is complete without a trip to the St. Feriole Islands Memorial Gardens. An up-and-coming visitor destination, the memorial gardens are often described as a living legacy of Prairie du Chien. The gardens operate under the motto of, “May the sun shine on our garden of dreams”, and true to its motto, the memorial gardens have quickly become the gardens of one’s dream. Guests will see hundreds of perennial and annual flowers adorning the many walking paths, pocket parks, and gardens within its 10-acres. The gardens are also home to over 50 different kinds of historical trees in addition to curated gardens such as the Children’s Activity Garden, the Shade Garden, and the Patio Garden. One of the park’s newest features is the Trail of Eagles, which guests can enjoy alongside all of the gardens’ other free and self-guided tours.
200 N 4th Street, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin 53821, Phone: 608-326-6406
9. Villa Louis Carriage Classic
© Villa Louis Carriage Classic
There’s no denying that Prairie du Chien is filled with fun and unique activities for the whole family to enjoy. One of the most interesting in town is undoubtedly the Villa Louis Carriage Classic. The Classic is an annual event that is held the weekend after Labor Day and is ultimately a celebration of Wisconsin’s stock farm tradition and history. One-of-a-kind and entirely entertaining, the Villa Louis Carriage Classic is full of heritage and features competitive carriage driving alongside gorgeously built carriages and unique costumes. Participants race around expertly whether they’re racing in the arena or obstacle classes. The best part? The equally gorgeous carriage horses and the gorgeous Villa Louis Historic Site.
521 N Villa Louis Road, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin 53821, Phone: 608-326-4436
10. The Cannery
© The Cannery
Shop to your heart’s content for every kind of home décor, unique gift, stunning antique, or collectible that you could possibly want at The Cannery. Perfect for bargain hunters and shoppers looking for unusually hard-to-find items, The Cannery is a specialty store in Wisconsin’s second oldest city, Prairie du Chien. The store is housed in a lovely 30,000-square-foot brick building that was originally built in 1912 and is always stocked with incredible finds. Much like a treasure chest of bargain buys, The Cannery is also home to delectable gourmet foods that are difficult to find in regular stores.
300 N. Marquette Road, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin 53821, Phone: 608-326-6518
11. Things to Do Near Me: Shihata's Orchard
Take a trip to the scenic Shihata’s Orchard, a family-owned orchard located in the heart of the Mississippi River Valley’s alluring bluffs. The orchard carries a 50-year history of helping multiple families create family traditions that will carry on for many years to come. Shihata’s Orchard is perfect for families that want to come for apple picking with the season starting early in August and lasting throughout the fall. Apart from apple picking, the orchard is also home to spectacular specialty products like cider, cheeses, jams, honey, and pickled items. While the star of Shihata’s Orchard is undoubtedly the HoneyCrisp Apple, the orchard also has a pumpkin patch that comes alive in the fall.
61543 Limery Road, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin 53821, Phone: 608-326-2785
12. Things to Do in Prairie Du Chien: Valley Fish and Cheese
© Valley Fish and Cheese
While some places may boast of farm-to-table cuisine, at Valley Fish and Cheese it’s all about bringing the best fish in the region from the river to your table. Valley Fish and Cheese is run by a fourth-generation commercial fishing family and originally opened its doors to the public in 1983. At Valley Fish and Cheese, guests can find a ton of fish and turtle meat products. The best sellers undoubtedly include the hickory-smoked fish and, surprisingly, Valley Fish’s unique line of pickled fish. In terms of cheeses, Valley Fish and Cheese offers a tasty array of local and regional Wisconsin cheeses as well as uniquely flavored options like the Beer Cheddar and the Horseradish Cheddar.
304 S. Prairie Street, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin 53821, Phone: 608-326-4719
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