In the charming city of La Crosse, Wisconsin, there is a unique good time on wheels called the Trolley Pub. It is a place where laughter & camaraderie create an unforgettable experience.
So what’s a Trolley pub? Typically large, open-air vehicles where people pedal together to move the trolley while enjoying drinks. This one accommodated up to 16 people and was perfect for any large group.
One recent very hot and humid Friday afternoon, I was invited to ride the Trolley Pub for a two-hour ride with family and friends. I had never been on a Trolley Pub before, but I had seen it around town the previous summer, and it looked so fun! I was dreading the heat and sun, but the movement offered a pleasant breeze and cold drinks were aplenty.
I can’t think of a better activity that is a good fit for people of varying age groups. For reference, our group ranged from the early 20s to the early ’60s; everyone could take part!
We met at a convenient downtown location right behind the old Tribune building. Here we were first introduced to Stopla, our conductor. Right away, I could tell he was fun, with a great sense of humor & kept our whole rambunctious group entertained! Our trolley experience allowed us to stream our own tunes, my advice: appoint a DJ; and make a shared playlist that your trolley buddies can contribute too! The music set the tone for our group’s outing, so this is an important part of the experience!
You can bring your own drinks, and they even provide a cooler with ice! Cans, no glass and remember a coozie! I forgot a coozie, but not to worry, Stopla had for sale some awesome options of silicone pint glasses for $20 and it floats! It is the perfect way to enjoy your favorite beverage; I bring & use it everywhere now. After we were all buckled in, music going, drinks in hand, we started off.
Let’s talk about the peddling quickly. It’s not that hard! Our group again ranged in age from early 20s to in the 60s, we all took part, and there was even some help from the conductor. For those unable to do peddling at all, there is a small bench on the back for a stationary rider. There are also plenty of stops, and it’s a leisurely pace.
Rave reviews left by several in our group included; “It was great going through town”, “Friendly reception from people”, “It wasn’t as hard to peddle as I thought it was going to be”, “Great activity to do with family”, and, “I Would do it again.”
With each pedal of the group, the Trolley Pub embarked on a meandering journey, navigating the city’s streets. La Crosse’s rich history unfolded before our eyes, seeing the city’s past and hidden gems.
As we peddled down state street, a minivan was hot on our tail and not thrilled with our pace through the beautiful park’s oval drive. Our group stopped first at Riverside Park. It is an iconic stop and while most of us are from La Crosse, it never gets old and if you have people not from out of town is a perfect view. Here we got outstanding photos taken by Stopla himself. He should moonlight as a photographer.
Next, the Trolley Pub ventured into the thriving downtown area with lots of people curiously watching and waving. We peddled to Johns Bar, a longtime favorite in La Crosse. At John’s Bar, they make great drinks and if you’re searching for a hidden restaurant with a small menu but excellent homemade food. Just ask at the bar and thank me later. Here is where we also picked up the interest of a couple gentleman on their electric scooters. They couldn’t get enough of the trolley!
Our next stop was Earl’s Grocery. To get here we had to peddle down 3rd Street, and while this isn’t a tavern I usually frequent, it was a breath of fresh air for a local like myself. They keep the inside well-maintained, have a well-designed bar, and serve the famous campfire shot. It’s lit on fire, and our group was excited. We made toasts and laughed, creating memories that will last.
Our last stop was the famous Del’s Bar. Known for their Bloody Marys, this could not have been a better place to wrap up our ride. While most of our group went inside, a few of us hung back and just hung out, talking to our conductor, Stopla and enjoying the beverages we had brought with us. A small thunder shower came and went while the group was inside, but the awning over the trolley did its job, and we found out these trolleys were rain or shine!
After wrangling our group back together with a last call, we ended where we started.
It’s hard to please everyone, but Trolley Pub succeeded. It’s a great way to explore a city or town, as you can often customize your route and stop at various bars or sights. The entire vibe was lively, with music playing and all of us enjoying the company of family and friends.
A last shout-out of the trip, “Stopping at bars and hopping on the Trolley cars, started raining, but we kept head banging. Let’s do it again!”
It was a memorable and enjoyable way to have a good time that appealed to a little of everyone’s sense of adventure. We had explored La Crosse like never before.
By: Pinggan Yoke.