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Things to Do When You Stay in Sparta, WI

Wisconsin’s biking-friendly attitude is just one of the many wonderful reasons guests love to spend their vacations and weekend getaways at Franklin Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Located in the heart of the scenic Hidden Valleys region of Southwest Wisconsin, Sparta offers visitors a myriad of activities and attractions, including kayaking and canoeing on the Kickapoo River, Amish country tours, hiking, golfing, horseback riding, wineries, breweries and of course, biking! There are so many things to do and see in western Wisconsin alone!

Many are highlighted below, but feel free to contact us for more information on a particular activity of interest to you. The Innkeepers will be happy to help you find out more, and they will even help plan a local itinerary for you. Be sure to check out our current specials to combine your favorite activities with a great value in lodging at Franklin Victorian Bed & Breakfast!


Golfing & Disc Golfing

Sparta’s River Run Golf Course is just a few blocks from the B&B. This Par 72, 18-hole facility is open to the public. River Run is a picturesque golf course that has earned a three-star rating by Golf Digest; making it the most popular in the area.

  • Be sure to stop at the course bar & grill for lunch or dinner. A full-service bar is also available for your 19th Hole activities! Located at 1210 E. Montgomery Street. 608- 269-3022

Other surrounding area golf courses:

  • Coulee Golf Bowl: 608-781-1111
  • Drugan’s Castle Mound: 608-526-3225
  • Fox Hollow Golf Course: 608-786-4653
  • Walsh Golf Center: 608-781-0838
  • Forest Hills Golf Course: 608-779-4653
  • Irish Hill Golf: 608-788-6904
  • Viroqua Hills Golf Course: 608-637-7615
  • Pine Creek Golf Course: 507-895-2410
  • Trempealeau Mountain Golf Club: 608-534-7417

Pettibone Park – La Crosse Disc Golf Course An eighteen-hole disc golf course has been built for your use and enjoyment with the help of Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center. Special disc can be rented in groups of four with a small deposit, or bring your own equipment. Check it out! Call the La Crosse Park & Rec for details at 608-789-7533.

View Golf Courses, Public Golf Courses, Top Golf Courses near Sparta, WI in a larger map


Wisconsin-Birding & Nature Trail

The Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail is a mapped auto trail that reaches into every area of the state. Use the full-color viewing guides with maps and descriptions of each site to find warblers, eagles, shorebirds, loons, and more avian species. A wide variety of mammals can also be found in many of Wisconsin’s premier wildlife locations. The Sparta area itself is largely overlooked for birding, although it has a lot to offer. Focus on May (migration – warblers, songbirds), June (nesting birds in great habitats around Necedah), September (migration, whooping crane tours, etc.), and Late October/November (the Upper Mississippi migration).

  • Sparta is close to several great birding and animal-watching sites, including: Fort McCoy, Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, Sandhill Wildlife Area (cranberry country), Upper Mississippi River, etc. A single weekend of birding can lead you to many different habitats in just the local area.
  • The Sparta area is home to some incredible megafauna for highlighting birds and wildlife, including Tundra Swans in late October/November, Trumpeter Swans nesting in the cranberry bogs, loons in the same areas, Whooping Cranes at Necedah, Canvasback migration on the Miss (75% of the world’s population), and Sandhill Crane staging area at Sandhill Wildlife Area (5-10,000 birds flying over your head at night!). Spend, wonderful days for migration along the riverways in the spring and fall. Non-avian sights include rare butterflies/dragonflies around Necedah (for the insect lovers), wolf packs, deer, future elk restoration area, and much more!


Concerts, Heritage, Shop, Leisure, Arts & More!

Concert In The Park – 2015 – TBA
Enjoy an outdoor concert Wednesdays during the summer months from our band shell located in tree -hearty Evans Bosshard Park, Hwy 16 East right here in Sparta. Be sure to bring your lawn chair or blanket. Hearty Concessions will be offered at each Concert -enjoy dinner and music in the beautiful park.
Start time: 7 PM – Concerts are free and open to the public. Donations are appreciated.


Wildwoman’s Vintage Downtown Sparta: Fancy, funky and fabulous, featuring vintage/retro/new apparel, accessories and so much more! Surround yourself with glamor, color & whimsy. wildwomans@centurytel.net. Located at 210 S Water Street, Sparta, WI. Phone for hours or appointment at 608-269-6217.

Quilt Corner: Located in Sparta
A friendly place for all your quilting needs, specializing in quality cotton fabrics, notions, patterns and books.
Featured products include: Grace Quilter Machines, a large selection of Thimbleberries & Kansas Troubles fabrics, 100% Hand Dyed Wool & Felted Wool, Classes, Clubs, and much, much more!. Stop in and meet Connie and Crystal. Located two blocks from the B&B at 219 N. Water. 608-269-1083.

Yarn Stash: Located in Sparta The shop has beautiful yarns made from llama, alpaca, wool, silk, cotton, and more for your knitting or crocheting needs. 112 N Water St, Sparta, WI 54656. (608) 269-5648, see website for hours.

Marie W. Heider Center for the Arts: 405 E. Hamlin Street, West Salem, WI 54669. The Heider Center features three different series, Mainstage, Spotlight and Educational shows.

Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center: Norskedalen (which means the Norwegian Valley), is a nature and heritage center dedicated to preserving, interpreting and sharing the natural environment and cultural heritage of the area surrounding Coon Valley in southwest Wisconsin. Events- Sept & Oct: Norskedalen Corn Maze Sept 22: Threshing Bee Oct 8 & 9: Civil War Immersion Weekend Oct 25 & 26: Haunted Trail Hikes Oct 27: Pumpkin Walks Dec 1 & 2: Old-Fashioned Christmas.

Fort McCoy: Sparta, WI
Have you ever dreamed of touring an army base but were afraid of recruiters? Have you ever wanted to relive those Army days without the KP? How about having your picture taken next to a tank? Take a guided tour of Fort McCoy to experience all this and more! A driving tour and History Brochure is available by contacting the Public Affairs office at 608-388-2407.


Antiques Dealers

  • Janusheske Antiques, 14911 Hwy 27, Sparta, WI 54656, Phone: 608-269-6253
  • Jenine’s Antiques, 102 N Water St, Sparta WI 54656, Phone: 608-269-4646
  • Sparta’s New & Used Shop, 904 Avon Rd (Interstate 90, exit 25), Sparta, WI 54656, Phone: 608-269-5555
  • Other Antiques Dealers in downtown La Crosse

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe

  • The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe is nestled alongside a Wisconsin bluff in La Crosse, Wisconsin. It is a place of prayer, meditation and pilgrimage. A full-service Pilgrim Center provides a restaurant and religious gift shop. An orientation film is available. Promise yourself; visit the Shrine. Open Daily from 9-4 p.m. 608-782-5440.

Horseback Riding Facilities

  • Horse Back Riding at Redrock Trail Rides: Redrock is on a 100 year-old, 365-acre working dairy farm located just five miles from Norwalk on the Elroy-Sparta bile trail. There are 12 miles of ridge and valley trails to ride well-broke horses, and enjoy breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife. Trail rides are offered from mid-May through October at various times throughout the day.
    ~Appointments are required and should be scheduled by noon on ride-day, at the latest. Trails average 1.5 hour and are pro-rated to the quarter hour. 608-823-7865
  • Red Ridge Ranch Horseback and Sleigh Rides: Red Ridge Ranch offers horseback trail rides and sleigh rides through 250 acres of rolling farmland and wooded hills and during the winter. Sleigh rides a reservation is required. Bring your camera to capture all Wisconsin beauty! 608-847-2273

Canoeing and Kayaking

Kickapoo River: Canoeing A paradise for canoeists and outdoor enthusiasts because of its easy access, laid-back pace, and beautiful scenery. Canoe rental for the scenic trip down the Kickapoo River has become a very popular weekend destination. The shallow, gently flowing river is perfect for beginner trips, with sections that are challenging enough for experienced canoeists as well.

  • Titanic Canoe Rental – 5 Stars- Our guests are very happy with their service. Please note that they do not take credit cards – cash and checks are accepted. 608-337-4551
  • Ellistone Canoe/Kayak Rental & Shuttle Service Canoe the beautiful LaCrosse river from Sparta to Rockland Wisconsin on a 2-5 hour trip between either Fisherman’s Park or Amundson Park to Rockland boat landing. This canoe or kayak trip will take you through one of the most scenic stretches of the LaCrosse river as it winds its way through historic Monroe and LaCrosse Counties. 608-343-5696 or 608-487-5114
  • Mr. Duck Canoe Rental: 608-337-4711
  • Drifty’s Canoe Rental: 608-337-4288
  • Black River Express Canoe & Kayak Rentals: 608-488-7017. Offers canoeing or kayaking on the Black River. The many sandbars along the way will add fun and relaxation to your trip! Shuttles to and from landing included with rental fees. Located in Melrose, WI. Ontario, WI
  • Kickapoo Yacht Club: 608-625-4395 and 608-625-2071. Located halfway between Rockton and LaFarge on Highway 131. Canoe rentals available 7 days a week, and shuttle service is provided for those with their own canoes. Email reservations can be made from the website.

Wildcat Mountain State Park: Located above the Kickapoo River valley, Wildcat Mountain State Park offers horseback riding and hiking, complete with some amazing views. The park’s 3,603 acres, mostly wooded, contain 25.8 miles of hiking trails including, 15.0 miles of horse trails, 17.5 miles of trails for snowshoeing, 7.0 miles of cross-country ski trails, 1.3 miles of interpretive nature trail, 0.4 miles of trail accessible for people with disabilities.The Park features a nature center and interpretive program, picnic facilities, fishing, and opportunities for bird and wildlife watching. 608-337-4775

  • Kickapoo Valley Reserve: 608-625-2960. Located in the heart of the Driftless Area in La Farge, WI, the ridges and valleys carved by the Kickapoo River offer spectacular scenery.  The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is open year-round for recreation, education and special events.  It is a truly amazing place to discover!

Amish Area & Tours

Down A Country Road – Cashton, Wisconsin A quiet and beautiful place in the country, nestled in a southwestern Wisconsin valley. Located two miles east of Cashton along State hwy 33. The Kuderer farm is home to the Village Shops at Down A Country Road, including The Amish Shop, The Little Red Shed, Emma’s Kitchen, and Country Corner Ice Cream Shoppe. 608-654-5318.  We also have a self guided Amish Touring Map at the Franklin Victorian B&B.

The Olde Newry Store Gifts- 608-343-2971. Home Decor & More is located between Cashton & Westby, WI on State Hwy 27 at the jct of Co.  Owners Chuck & Kathy Kuderer.
The Olde Newry Store was built in the 1800’s and was used as a general store/grocery store for many years. It was also used for other purposes over the years, and most recently as an antique store.

The Famers’ Wife – S213 City Road D, Cashton, WI . 608-792-4054. Heidi Olson and LeAnne Mlsna operate The Farmer’s Wife, a store located in a former Amish farmhouse near Cashton. The store sells home decor, antique’s, furniture, handcrafted items and clothing.


Movie Theater

Sparta Cinemas 6: 608-269-SHOW (7469), 1010 Maple Avenue, Sparta. Shows and showtimes listed on the website. ~ Frugal Fridays! Every Friday watch one of our 1:00 shows and get your ticket, a junior popcorn and drink all for only $6.00!


Museums & Cranberry Discovery / Marsh Tours

  • Deke Slayton Memorial Space & Bicycle Museum: Deke Slayton was an American pilot in WWII, and later became one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts. The museum was founded in March 1999 by a core group of residents who wanted to honor Deke Slayton’s memory in his hometown of Sparta, WI and to commemorate the county’s rich bicycling heritage. Few people realize that bicycles were the starting point for airplane technology, which of course progressed into modern flying methods. Explore the progression from the earliest patented bicycles, to the Wright Brothers’ incorporation of bicycle technology from their bicycle shop into early flying creations, to the Wright Flyer… and all the way into outer space!
  • Monroe County Local History Room & Museum: Telling the story of men and women who lived and worked in Monroe County through interactive exhibits and engaging displays, photographs, documents, memorabilia and historic artifacts record all periods of Monroe County life. The Research Room welcomes all those interested in genealogy and the history of Monroe County. All right in downtown Sparta! Free Admission. (608) 269-8680
  • The Little Falls Doll & Railroad Museum: The Doll Museum contains hundreds of dolls from the 1800s to the present. The Railroad Museum displays many railroad items, a 1,000+ book library, and a Milwaukee Steel Bay Window Caboose. There is a large picnic shelter with tables and grills, swings for the children, and an outdoor train running on a varied schedule. Open from 1 April to 31 October. Noon-5 p.m. Closed Wednesdays.
  • Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center: Catch the aroma of cranberries…at the Wisconsin Cranberry Discovery Center as you see, touch and taste Wisconsin’s No. 1 fruit crop. A Wisconsin crop staple for over 150 years, the cranberry has shaped the state’s agricultural methods. Discover the history of the cranberry in the U.S., from Native Americans to today at this nearby Warrens, WI museum. 608-378-4878
  • Cranberry Marsh Tours & Harvest Day Arpin Cranberry Company owners Bob and Jacki Lundt have recently begun offering tours of their Warrens, WI marsh to leisure travelers. Click here to download a brochure. We also have a driving map available at the B&B. 608-387-0466
  • Wetherby Cranberry Company Wetherby Cranberry Company in Warrens, WI also offer tours to motor coach groups. In addition, the Wetherby marsh holds a public harvest day annually on the first Saturday of October.
  • The Wegner Grotto: A Grassroots Art Environment Drive through the WI countryside north of Sparta, and you may stumble across an amazing sight of concrete and glass! The Paul and Matilda Wegner Grotto is a grassroots art environment near Cataract. Admission to this beautiful exhibit is free, but donations are appreciated and are used to restore and preserve the beautiful works of art. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day with closing ceremonies at 6:00 p.m. on the Monday of Labor Day.

Festivals

Sparta Butterfest – Sparta June 11-14, 2015
Located at Sparta Memorial Park just three blocks from our bed and breakfast. Arts & crafts, free entertainment stage, carnival, car show, huge parade, food and music on the grounds all weekend long.

Warrens Cranberry Festival This annual Wisconsin festival is the largest cranberry festival in the world! Over 100,000 attendees descend on nearby Warrens, WI to celebrate Wisconsin’s #1 fruit crop. See the opening parade and over 1250 booths featuring arts, crafts, and tasty treats! This is such a popular event that we recommend making your Sparta inn lodging reservations early!

  • 2015 Dates: September 25,26,27

La Crosse Octoberfest- Huge parade and festival!

  • October 1-4, 2015; Sept 29-Oct 2, 2016

Salons & Spas

  • A Healthy Touch Massage Therapy & Bodywork, LLC 110 E. Main St, Sparta, WI 54656 / 608-269-1321 e-mail: ahealthytouch@centurytel.net Offering: Multiple forms of Massage Therapy, Aesthetics, Nail Technician
  • Cura Salon A 5-Star ~ Full Service Salon, Massage Therapy, Nail Technician. 2470 Riley Rd, Sparta, WI 54656 / 608-487-9510 T-Th-8-8pm, F 8-5 pm, Sat. 8-3 pm
  • Metropolitan Salon & Day Spa 600 North Third Street, Suite 103, Sampson Galleria La Crosse – 608-784-6441


Explore La Crosse

  • Grandad Bluff The Bluff is located on the east side of La Crosse, and is the area’s tallest bluff at 540 ft. It is the site of a public park where one can view a panoramic vista of La Crosse, the Mississippi Rive and three states and it’s open year-round during park hours. The land was donated by the Joseph and Irene Hixon family in 1912. It has been voted one of the most scenic views in Wisconsin.
  • La Crosse Walking Tours The La Crosse Public Library has created a series of self-guided downtown walking tours for visitors. Discover the history and architecture of this Mississippi River town in both commercial and residential areas. Over 100 historically significant sites are covered on the tours, with topics including town development, riverboat days, architecture, and more. Self-guided Historic Walking Tour maps are available at the La Crosse Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, hotels, and various businesses.
  • Hixon House Restored to its turn of the century elegance in 2005, this National Historic Landmark contains 90 of its original furnishings, and represents an architectural and historic treasure. Tour season is May through October. 608-782-1980
  • Historic Riverside Park, River Levee, and Riverwalk Created by the world famous architect John Nolan, beautiful Riverside Park is located where the Mississippi, La Crosse, and Black Rivers meet. View the paddlewheelers on the historic levee & enjoy a walk on the Riverwalk. At the park entrance see the site of Nathan Myrick’s cabin stood – the first built in La Crosse in 1842.
  • Pearl Street Brewery, 1401 St Andrew St, La Crosse, WI, 54603, (608) 784-4832 Brewed and Bottled in La Crosse, WI since 1999. Located in the historic La Crosse Footwear building with they expanded 30 barrel brewery. They have live music, events, “Tasting Room” retail shop and more!
  • Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 5250 Justin Rd, La Crosse, WI 608-782-5440 Organized Pilgrimage Groups Welcome. Open 7 days a week. The Shrine features devotional areas and facilities. An amazing and beauitful Shrine.
  • Myrick Hixon Eco-Park & La Crosse River Marsh Nature Center A world of environmental education, the EcoPark welcomes you to enjoy hiking, birding, live indigenous animal exhibits, and many wonderful community events. Myrick Hixon EcoPark (MHEP) is a non-profit organization whose vision is to achieve community understanding of, and respect for nature, and to protect the environment for future generations. Located at 789 Myrick Park Dr, LaCrosse WI 54601. Open Monday-Friday 9:00-4:00 p.m. 608-784-0303
  • Valleyview Mall in La Crosse/Onalaska Mall shopping is just 20 minutes away!

More Things To Do

  • Grand National Tractor & Truck Pull: This annual June Budweiser Dairyland Super National event in Tomah, WI brings fans from all over the country for four days of monster fun, hosted by the Monroe County Agricultural Society. Proceeds benefit the Fairgrounds venue and support efforts to update the grounds and facilities so that farming education and fairgrounds entertainment can be continually brought to the community.
  • Great River Road: The Great River Road in Wisconsin goes from Prescott south to Prairie Du Chien, Cassville, Tenneyson, and the Illinois state border. Much of it runs along the base of bluffs and adjacent to the Mississippi River, and is one of Reader’s Digest’s seven suggested American Drives to Take.
  • NASCAR Stock Car Auto Racing: Great fun every Saturday night in West Salem. 608-786-1525
  • Burnstad’s European Village & Cafe: A visit to Burnstad’s European Village is like a trip to central Europe itself. Discover a variety of specialty clothing and shops amid the ambiance of authentic European architecture and brick walkways.


Local Florists and Gifts

The Greenery: 608-269-2544 – walk to from the bed and breakfast.
Sparta Floral and Greenhouse: 608-269-4141


Winter Activities

Whitetail Ridge…the place for winter fun! Bring your skis and snowboards and head to Whitetail Ridge Ski Area where you can carve through the freshly groomed powder or zip down Fort McCoy’s tubing hill. Wildlife often makes an appearance along the beautiful trails. Equipment Rental is available. Open to the public. 608-388-4498, 608-388-3517, or 800-531-4703.

Mount La Crosse Ski Area: Downhill skiing and snowboarding, chair lifts, tows, races, rentals, instructions and runs for all ability levels. 608-788-0044

Red Ridge Ranch Horseback and Sleigh Rides: Red Ridge Ranch offers horseback trail rides and sleigh rides through 250 acres of rolling farmland and wooded hills and during the winter. Sleigh rides a reservation is required. Bring your camera to capture all Wisconsin beauty! 608-847-2273

Open skating at Sparta Ice Arena: Open skate session are held from 6 to 7:30 pm during winter season. Cost is $2.00 per person and skates are available for rent at $3.00 a pair.

Cross Country Ski Trail Information:

  • Black River State Forest: At Millston, 27 miles. Groomed; has 24 miles of classic trail and 4 miles of skate trail. State park sticker required.
  • Perrot State Park: At Trempuleau, 42 miles. Groomed; has 9 miles classic and 1.2 miles skate trail.
  • Wildcat Mountain State Park: At Ontatio, 28 miles. Groomed; has 7 miles classic and 5 miles skate trails.
  • Coulee Experimental State Forest: South of Bangor off WI 162 and Cty II, 20 miles. Both classic and skate trails, groomed by local club.
  • Whitetail Ridge: At Ft. McCoy, 9 miles. Classic trails, groomed only with drag.
  • River Run Golf Course: Sparta. No grooming. Open to skiing; break your own or follow previously broken trails. Just a few blocks from the Franklin Victorian Bed and Breakfast.