We planned on finding the Children's Museum upon our arrival in La Crosse. I wouldn't have even known about the museum, had I not read an article earlier this year in Faith & Family magazine where they listed 'Must See' Shrines along with family friendly nearby attractions.(Sorry, I can't get the direct link to that exact article for you) We were able to locate the museum with ease, but our time there was limited due to our later-than-planned arrival. It was fine though since we still had well over an hour to explore. It ended up being the ideal place for the kids to run around after the long van ride and since we were that late in the afternoon, there were less than 10 other children there at the time. At only $5 a person for admission, it was well worth the fun. We enjoyed the Shadow Room in particular. And yes, by 'we' I mean mostly us adults! It was a hoot!
While in La Crosse, our accommodations were at Best Western Midway. It was on the opposite side of town from the Shrine, but still convenient with lots of places to obtain food when needed. We chose this hotel due to their rates (we could get discounted rates with my parents' AARP card) and that they had a kiddie pool. Nothing was extraordinary about our stay, but everything was sufficient and the rooms all have refrigerators and it provided us a nice place to sleep and that was about all we were looking for.
Friday, we spent the day at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We were blessed with ideal weather; overcast, but still warm enough and just a light rain shower in the afternoon. I'm glad I had my walking shoes on, as we did a lot of walking and it is a journey from the Pilgrim Center to the Shrine Church. The trek makes you feel like you really are on pilgrimage as you meander through the leafy woods with periodic grotto's along the way and your stop at the Votive Candle Chapel. To say that the entire scene is beautiful and breath-taking is barely enough. Such sweet peace and serenity we felt at that holy place. We planned our arrival so that we would be sure to make it to the eleven o'clock daily Mass there at the church. It was precious to be able to participate at Mass with such inspiring surroundings. Everywhere you looked there were sacred paintings and statues, faux marble and gold, simplicity and yet grandeur at every turn. So much for the eye to behold.
After Mass we meandered throughout the area upon the hill by the church and walked the Rosary Walk and Stations of the Cross, before returning to the Pilgrim Center once again. After a little shopping at Flores Mariae Gift Shop, we went for a late lunch break to the on-site restaurant, Culina Mariana. Lily & Jonah shared a kids portion of spaghetti and meat sauce and it tasted like authentic Italian family food. I devoured my Chicken Pesto sandwich and was so disappointed when it was all gone!Oh.so.delicious.
Lastly, just before leaving the Shrine for the day, we had this encounter with St. Gianna.
That evening, we opted to try Rudy's Drive-In for supper. It was so much fun! The girls there still deliver your food on roller skates and we sat in our van and enjoyed some REALLY good food that was most economical for all six of us! Highly recommended it!
Was this trip well worth it? OH YES! There wasn't any part of it that I would have done differently, everything went so smoothly. With all of the little things we did and saw, combined with the main reason for this trip, the Shrine, it was so worth it. A treasured family vacation memory. Will we do it again? OH YES!
(How was that for a post full of Linky's? Sorry. I just wanted you to be able to click on over with ease. Hope this helps in the event that any of you are close enough to the area and planning a little pilgrimage.)