Little La Crescent is all about apples. The first orchard in the state was planted here in 1857 and today, with growers working over 500 acres, La Crescent has justifiably declared itself the “Apple Capital of Minnesota.”
Nine orchards, most selling direct to the public, ring the town, with some located along the Apple Blossom Scenic Drive. The 17-mile marked route climbs the bluffs above La Crescent and then returns along the river, many people just follow the most scenic first half of the route, which turns back at Dakota.
The trees are in their glorious white bloom in early May, and apples are available from late July until mid-November, though the valley views are superb all year long. La Crescent is also the east end of the 88-mile Historic Bluff Country Scenic Byway.
Three miles upriver from town is Lock and Dam #7, where an elevated platform and visitors center lets you watch boats get an eight-foot lift. In the winter you’ll likely see bald eagles fishing here. Next door is a Minnesota Travel Information Center full of brochures.
The city’s Applefest (www.applefestusa.com), held over four days around the third weekend in September, has orchard and packing-plant tours, big-wheel races, an arts and crafts fair, and the King Apple Grand Parade. It’s a mighty big event for such a small town.
All of your lodging and most of your dining choices are across the river in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition