Wisconsin Downtowns: Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse & Oshkosh

Kortnee Hass

February 22, 2023

Photo Credit: Downtown Lacrosse // @jeffwiswell via Instagram

Wisconsin is home to some of the most vibrant cities in the Midwest. Tucked away in some of the most beautiful parts of the state, Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, and Oshkosh, have grown to become the homes to many who enjoy nature and downtown life. With each city offering its patrons and visitors a place to unwind and enjoy the finer things, it’s easy to see why many people continue moving to these locations to raise their families. If you’re looking to get out and explore the downtowns of Wisconsin, this is a great place to get started!

Eau Claire

Photo Credit: @sarahfromwisco via Instagram

For the past ten years Eau Claire has been blossoming with potential and prospering as a growing community focusing on its revitalization by bringing in new businesses and attracting people from all over the globe. . Though,  Eau Claire stands out from the other cities of Wisconsin with its deeply rooted appreciation of art and music. From sculpture tours throughout downtown to the Pablo Center that hosts all kinds of performances, Eau Claire genuinely believes in enriching the lives of the people in the city through more than just its amazing food and scenic views!

Eau Claire, located at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers, has been focused on its revitalization for well over a decade.  Bringing new local independent businesses and attracting people from all over the globe, Eau Claire has blossomed into what some refer to as the “Indie Capital of the Midwest”.  The boutique-style hotels downtown provide a cozy stay as visitors experience an eclectic vibe that combines independent-minded artists with the energy that comes with a four-year University. From the second largest outdoor sculpture tour in the nation, the famous music scene, and the stunning natural beauty, to some of the tastiest cuisine you will find in Wisconsin, Eau Claire’s Downtown is a must-visit.

Insiders Tip: Local cuisine favorites include Ray’s Hot Beef, Stella Blues, The Informalist, and the Court’n House Bar & Grill!

Green Bay

Photo Credit: Downtown Green Bay // @downtowngreenbay via Instagram

Did you know that Green Bay is the oldest city to be established in Wisconsin? Similar to the other cities on this list, Green Bay takes advantage of its natural beauty and offers a wide array of recreational activities for visitors and locals alike while also nodding to its rich and historic roots. Most notably, Green Bay is known for its love for small businesses which cluster around its downtown area, splitting into both sides of the river, and offer delicious foods you can’t find anywhere else! This Wisconsin town takes pride in supporting itself as a community that loves every unique thing they offer (and not just its winning NFL football team!) Cheesehead or not, Green Bay has something to offer just about anyone that decides to give this city a try! 

La Crosse

Photo Credit: Downtown Lacrosse // @tommys.aerial.imaging via Instagram

Right along the Mississippi River with the bluffs of the Driftless Area in reach, La Crosse is a thriving city with a colorful history and downtown bursting with delicious pastries and recreational activities. With the mayor’s initiative to incorporate the nature of Wisconsin into La Crosse, the city is truly green and lively, with dozens of parks and trees peppered throughout downtown. Because of the city’s beautiful and unique location, La Crosse is teeming with recreational activities that promote a healthy lifestyle,thanks to all of their running and biking paths right along the river!

If you love grassroots music, you definitely need to stop by La Crosse to see its Moon Tunes event at Riverside Park, a community effort that brings the musicians and the patrons of the city together for a night of music and fun. Or if you like to indulge in the sweeter things in life, either The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor or the chocolate shop inside of The Charmant Hotel (which in itself was built in an old candy factory) will satisfy any sweet tooth visiting this downtown area!


Photo Credit: Discover Mediaworks

Sandwiched between Lake Butte des Morts and Lake Winnebago, it’s no secret why Oshkosh has been nicknamed ‘The City on the Water’ as well as ‘The Event City’! With spacious lakes to sail on and winding trails to bike on, this city is a place for people to relax while enjoying all the comforts of a downtown. Thanks to the abundance of musical events, to vibrant farmer’s markets, downtown Oshkosh stays active throughout the warmer months of the year. Not to mention,  the nightlife of this city is definitely worth checking out, thanks to its high-end restaurants and bars that will make your weekend unforgettable. Oshkosh is considered a hidden gem in Wisconsin and will be a treat for anyone who visits or looking to call it home!

In just one state, Wisconsin offers four amazing city downtowns that are unique in their own way. Whether you love food, music, nightlife, or the outdoors, each of these cities will surely make it on your list of personal favorites to visit or live in! Make sure you check out our episodes on Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, and Oshkosh, to see more and get ready to explore.

John Mitchel: Digital Media Associate for Discover Mediaworks. A boy raised in Illinois but growing in Wisconsin, with a love of the outdoors and anything with two wheels! 

*Narration provided by WondervoxAI.

From the team at Discover Wisconsin: We believe in making our content accessible to all, which is why we offer an audio version of our blog posts. By clicking the play button above, you can listen to our blogs!

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