On the eastern bank of the Mississippi River lies the small city of La Crosse, a picturesque slice of Midwest Americana with a healthy job market, thriving arts scene and some of the best freshwater fishing in the country.

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Aerial view of La Crosse bridge
Explore La Crosse

Outdoor recreation is a huge draw here — hiking, climbing, boating and the like fill up many local weekend agendas — but there’s also plenty to do in town, too. La Crosse has three universities, so there’s no shortage of nightlife. (Local favorites like Pearl Street Brewery, 608 Brewing and Turtle Stack are all worthy stops along the region’s Craft Beverage Trail). A slew of galleries and small theaters — plus the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra — offer plenty for the artistically inclined.

Group of people hiking outdoors in La Crosse
Travel Wisconsin

La Crosse has a lot to offer in terms of jobs, with decent wages to boot. The city is headquarters to the convenience store chain Kwik Trip, which recently invested $151 million into expanding its workforce in Wisconsin. Old Style, the iconic Midwestern beer brand previously owned by Pabst, just moved production back to La Crosse last year, after more than two decades in Milwaukee.

Best of all, the cost of living in this charming hidden gem puts most of the country to shame: Homes in La Crosse have a median listing price of just $265,000.