The city of Waconia got its name from a nearby lake Dakota groups referred to as Meday Wa Ko Ni Ya, which translates to "Lake of the Fountain."
In the early 1850s, Euro-American settlers began to inhabit the area after the Treaty of Mendota forced Dakota groups to transfer to the west.
Shortly after, Waconia's business district started to flourish, following the establishment of the Waconia Sorghum Mill, Waconia Steam Saw and Flowering Mill, and the Waconia Brewery.
The village-turned-city also became a popular tourist destination with Coney Island during the 1880s.
Coney Island's popularity also became the turning point for Waconia's economic growth.
Today, you'll still see Waconia as a bustling business district and home to dozens of lively and enchanting tourist destinations that everyone will surely love.
Check out this list of the best things to do in Waconia, Minnesota:
Visit the Carver County Historical Society
Learn about Waconia and Carver County's rich history and humble beginnings when you visit the Carver County Historical Society on West 1st Street.
Situated across from Bayview Elementary School, the museum gives tourists a glimpse of the county's heritage and early years.
Take a walk around the halls, and check out the Carver County Historical Society's five local history galleries and a special gallery dedicated to veterans.
Comprising thematic objects and archives, the galleries cover topics like Akta Dakota, Choosing Carver County, Veterans Gallery, Westermann Shop, Snapshots of Carver County History, and Minnesota Made.
From finding more about the lives of Minnesota's earliest inhabitants to the events that led Carver County to become the "Golden Buckle of the Dairy Industry," you'll learn about everything there is to know about the state and Waconia at the historical society.
Go Wine Tasting at Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery
Make your trip to Waconia more memorable by visiting Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery along Airport Road.
Established in 2013, it is the first singly operated winery and brewery in Minnesota.
Book your slots for a great wine tasting experience inside the Barrel Room, and have a professional tasting associate walk you through the winemaking process.
Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery also allows for walk-up tastings, with guests treated to up to five one-ounce pours from the tasting bar.
Those who want to get a grand tour of the vineyard can go on a vine-to-wine tour, which includes an informational session where guests can sample wines and learn about Schram Vineyard's wine portfolio.
Stop by The Winery at Sovereign Estate
Wine connoisseurs will have a great time exploring The Winery at Sovereign Estate.
Located along North Shore Rd, the winery offers guests a unique wine tasting and dining experience.
Enjoy the bursting flavors of their finest wines by booking a guided tour, and learn more about the winemaking process and viticulture practices.
You can even make your visit more special with the Patio Bistro, which offers open seating options, covered veranda seating, and picnic tables.
The Winery at Sovereign Estate also has a Wine & Dine Series, giving customers the perfect combination of fine wine and a five-course Italian dinner.
Have a Glass of Wine at Parley Lake Winery
Waconia is arguably one of the best places to taste fine wine, and Parley Lake Winery along Parley Lake Road is a testament to that.
What sets this winery apart from the others is that it offers the perfect combination of art and wine, giving guests a real treat for their eyes and taste buds.
Parley Lake Winery boasts a vineyard that spans 125 acres and a deck overlooking the Lake View Stage and Itasca Vineyard.
As you walk around the vineyard, you'll be treated to a variety of fine art, including the Goddess of the Grapes, which serves as the official face of Parley Lake Winery.
You can also check out the winery's very own art gallery, featuring works by Minnesota artists.
Spend a Nature-Filled Weekend at Carver Park Reserve
Those who love the great outdoors will enjoy their visit to Carver Park Reserve on Grimm Road.
Spend a nature-filled weekend exploring facilities like the Lowry Nature Center, Grimm Farm Historic Site, and King Waterbird Sanctuary.
While you're in the area, keep an eye out for white-tailed deers, trumpeter swans, barred owls, and songbirds, among others.
Carver Park also has its own archery range if you're looking to learn a new skill or have fun shooting your arrows.
Then, you can make your way towards Lake Auburn Campground to set up camp, which is also situated near an unguarded beach.
Meet a Llama at Carlson's Llovable Llamas
If you're an animal lover like everyone else, make sure to stop by Carlson's Llovable Llamas to get a hold of one of the most adorable furry companions out there.
Situated along County Road, Carlson's Llovable Llamas offers a wide range of activities guests can do with llamas.
From birthday parties and yoga classes to simply getting a hug, you're sure to enjoy the company of these furry and fuzzy animals.
Book a farm visit and enjoy walking around the farm with llamas by your side, or you can join the adopt-a-llama program, too.
Carlson's Llovable Llamas also caters to llama therapy visits, bringing the ultimate llama experience closer to wherever you are.
Take a Swig of Craft Brews from Iron Tap
Spend your Friday night enjoying the company of your friends while taking a swig of craft brews from Iron Tap on West Main Street.
Hang out by the lounge and enjoy the calm atmosphere when you take your pick from 38 craft beers and cocktails.
You can also hang out by the rooftop and patio on some occasions, giving you unrivaled views of Waconia.
Iron Tap also has a selection of great food that makes the perfect complement to your drink.
Choose from various appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups, and much more.
Spend a Relaxing Day at Lake Waconia
There's no better way to spend a relaxing day than to hang out and cool off at Lake Waconia.
Recognized as the second largest lake in the seven-county metropolitan area, it is one of the best places to engage in nature-centric and watersports activities.
The freshwater lake covers a total of 3,200 acres, serving as a home to species like bullheads, bluegills, pikes, bass, and walleyes, among others.
But if you're not a fan of fishing for these species, you can go birdwatching instead and keep an eye out for bald eagles, egrets, and blue herons.
Lake Waconia is also a great place to swim, water ski, and ride a sailboard.
Dine at Lola's Lakehouse
Great food with great views?
Enjoy a lakeside view to go with delectable meals when you dine at Lola's Lakehouse along East Lake Street.
Whether you're in for lunch or dinner, Lola's Lakehouse is sure to serve you great food using only the freshest ingredients available.
Start with a plate of fresh oysters or lakehouse wings before moving on to a slice of meat lover's pizza or Mediterranean vegetable.
You might also want to try Lola's Lakehouse's specialty recipes like fish and chips and pesto salmon.
Don't forget to order round drinks to go with your meal, such as a glass of Twin Vines Verde or Lola Pinot Noir.
Go on a Shopping Spree at The Stash of Waconia
Shopping for women's clothing will never be as fun when you do it anywhere other than The Stash of Waconia on West Main Street.
Everything you could possibly need to spruce up your wardrobe, from dresses and purses to jewelry and sweaters, is right behind the doors of this local Waconia store.
Have a blast mixing and matching your tops and bottoms according to the latest fashion trends.
The store also regularly adds new products, so watch out for those releases when you drop by.
If you ever find yourself getting the wrong size, don't worry because The Stash of Waconia has accommodating shipping and return policies for its customers.
Remodel Your Home with Yetzer Home Store
Spruce up your home with great finds from the Yetzer Home Store along West 1st St.
Recognized as the Twin Cities' one-stop shop for quality flooring and home furnishings since 1941, this store is sure to provide you with top-notch products to take your home to the next level.
Find the perfect area rug, furniture, or carpet for your living room or bedroom, and shop for the finest home decor to make your space look livelier.
Yetzer Home Store also offers a great selection of sleep products, including mattresses, adjustable frames, pillows, and beddings, among others.
You can also find various window treatments in the form of blinds, shutters, and shades.
Drop by J. Carver Distillery
When it comes to fine spirits and cocktail recipes, nothing beats those from J. Carver Distillery on Mill Lane.
Named after Jonathan Carver, the county's namesake, this Waconia distillery boasts a wide selection of local farm-to-glass spirits.
Utilizing sustainable practices, J. Carver Distillery takes pride in showcasing Minnesota barreled spirits that you won't find anywhere else.
During the weekends, swing by the distillery to get a taste of award-winning wheat whiskeys, gins, and brandies.
You can also check out their cocktail recipes for bourbon, rye whiskey, brandy, gin, vodka, and aquavit.
Book Tee Time with Island View Golf Club
Founded by The Rock Pickers in 1959, Island View Golf Club offers guests a spectacular golfing experience paired with unrivaled views of Waconia's finest scenery.
This golf club along Laketown Parkway started with a nine-hole layout before it became an 18-hole course in 1973.
Go driving or practice your swings while catching a glimpse of fine Bermuda greens and fairways.
Island View Golf Club also has a pro shop with everything you need for a hassle-free golfing experience.
Thanks to the club's unrivaled views, it also makes an excellent venue for hosting parties and other significant events.
Catch a Movie at Emagine Waconia
Nowadays, there are dozens of extreme things to do to enjoy your weekend—cliff diving, bungee jumping, and hanging out at a trampoline park are some of them.
But still, nothing beats watching a good old movie in the theater.
So why not swing by Emagine Theaters on West 1st Street and take your pick from the newest releases to date?
Take your movie-watching experience to the next level by booking luxury seats, which are power-reclining seats that offer maximum comfort and relaxation.
Some theaters for viewers 21 years old and up come with their very own bar, so you can order the cocktail of your choice.
Other theater amenities include enhanced concessions, a self-serve coke freestyle machine, and gourmet popcorn.
Check Out the Coney Island of the West
Originally a settlement area for the Dakota people, Lake Waconia has transformed into a popular tourist attraction in Waconia.
Coney Island covers a total of 31 acres and served as a summer resort from the 1880s to the 1920s.
Because of its distant placement, Coney Island was sought as an area of refuge during the Dakota War of 1862.
Coney Island was also one of Minnesota's earliest established resorts and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Before its development, Waconia's Coney Island was filled with ruins of hotels, parks, and cottages.
Go Fishing with Schroeder’s Guiding Service
Lake Minnetonka and Waconia Lake both offer great fishing and if you plan on catching some walleye or muskie, you can have a guided fishing trip with Schroeder's Guiding Service on Courtland West.
Gregg, who has more than 30 years of guiding experience will lead you to the best part of the lakes to catch bass, walleye, muskie, northern pike, and panfish.
You'll be on board a boat alongside the guide and your three other companions for a fun and memorable fishing experience.
It also offers ice fishing in colder months, which allows you to still catch big pikes or bass.
In addition to family trips, Schroeder’s Guiding Service also caters to corporate fishing trips.
Cool Down at Safari Island Community Center
For adults and kids, one of the best places to cool down and spend a day hanging out at the pool is Safari Island Community Center.
It features a zero-depth entry pool with water slides for the small kids, a hot tub for those who want to relax, and an 8-lane pool with diving boards for lap and free swims.
The little ones can also explore and play at the Lion's Den, which is a four-level indoor play structure.
Safari Island Community Center also offers classes and hosts parties and events.
Adults can also take part in its fitness programs and personal training.
Bring a Picnic Lunch to City Square Park
Enjoy a nice picnic with your family and friends at City Square Park, which offers plenty of picnic tables and benches to use.
Its shady areas offer a relaxing time while enjoying a delicious lunch or snacks with your loved ones.
The little kids can also have a good time playing with other children at the park's play structure, where they can explore and run around.
The gazebo and pavilion can also be rented for special gatherings between May and September.
Most of all, City Square Park is overlooking the lake, which makes your picnic more relaxing and enjoyable.
You can find the park on South Spruce Street.
Get Your Coffee Fix at Mocha Monkey
Start your day in Waconia with a fresh cup of coffee from Mocha Monkey.
The coffee shop is consistently fueling the community with every cup it serves.
Its chai latte, mocha, cappuccino, espresso, and Italian macchiato are among the best coffee you can get.
In addition to coffee, Mocha Monkey also serves fruit smoothies, coffee smoothies, herbal teas, soda, and a nice selection of beer and wine.
Also, its breakfast sandwiches and pastries are a must-try!
Visit Mocha Monkey at South Olive Street.
Enjoy a Good Read at Waconia Library
You don't have to skip your usual reading session while in Waconia; thanks to Waconia Library, which keeps a nice selection of books to read.
Browse many of its printed materials for reading, research, or study, and take refuge in the comfortable corners to enjoy your new book.
You'll also have access to its wide selection of digital resources.
Also, look out for its book sale, which mostly happens during Waconia's annual Nickle Dickle Days.
Waconia Library is part of the Carver County Library System and is located in Crossings At Town Center on South Vine Street.
Indeed, there are hundreds of things to do in the city of Waconia.
But if you're looking for the best ones, be sure to take this list with you, as it offers the perfect combination of cultural tours and entertainment venues you can check out while you're in the city.
Start planning your trip and use this list of the best things to do in Waconia, Minnesota to guide you.