15 Best Things to Do in Winona, MN

Winona, MN
nikitsin.smugmug.com / shutterstock.com

The charming town of Winona, located in southeastern Minnesota near the Wisconsin border, is packed with plenty of things to do and sights to see for the whole family.

The city took its name after Chief Wabasha III's legendary first-born daughter, Winona.

Winona is a Dakota Sioux figure in the romantic tale "Lover's Leap," set near Maiden Rock in Wisconsin, on the other side of Lake Pepin.

Locals believe it is where Winona allegedly jumped to her death rather than marry a man she didn't love.

Even though the population of Winona was just 1,056 as of the 2010 census, there are more things to do than one might expect in such a little town.

This secluded location has a surprising number of unusual things to see and do, as well as interesting sites to discover.

The city is a natural oasis with a fascinating past, and it's known for its beautiful panoramas, an abundance of parks, historical monuments, and gorgeous architecture.

Eleven massive blocks in the city's center are devoted to the city's architectural distinctiveness, ranging from stone and stained-glass marvels to magnificent church buildings.

Are you thinking about going to Winona?

You will have a great time doing any of these fun Winona activities on our list.

Take Photos Outside the Huff-Lamberton House

Outside the Huff-Lamberton House
McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Winona, Minnesota's Huff–Lamberton House is one of Minnesota's oldest and best-preserved Italian Villa-style homes.

The house was constructed in 1857 and given a Moorish Revival porch in 1873.

In 1976, due to its state-level significance in the area's architecture, the National Register of Historic Places included this landmark in its list.

According to reports, the new owner intends to keep and improve on the property's original look and design elements.

Railings around the widow's walk on the tower's apex, as well as railings that surrounded some of the corroded second-floor windows, will be reconstructed to historical specifications.

Bluff City Properties will consult the Winona County Historical Society for opinions and ideas.

Bring Home Goodies From the Watkins Heritage Museum and Store

Watkins Heritage Museum and Store feature displays of vintage items, advertisements, photos, and other artifacts from the company's over 150-year history.

Watkins Vanilla and Watkins Liniment are just a few of the 350 various Watkins goods available at the storefront connected to the museum.

Since 1868, Watkins has been a natural living pioneer in Winona, Minnesota.

It boasts of its gourmet extracts and spices made using only the finest natural ingredients.

Get to Know Different Aquatic Species at Minnesota Marine Art Museum

Outside View of Minnesota Marine Art Museum
McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the Minnesota Marine Art Museum (MMAM), you may learn about water's role in human history by participating in educational displays and events in the visual arts.

This museum and non-profit teaching center began with a sizable collection of traditional paintings about marine life by Leo and Marilyn Smith, and

A Wind Direction Finder at Minnesota Marine Art Museum
Tony Webster from Portland, Oregon, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A wide range of works by European and American masters like Turner, Renoir, and Monet have been added to the collection over time, as have pieces by Van Gogh and Picasso.

Ten historical and modern exhibits are now on view in the museum.

It also teaches you the parameters of what marine art is and what it can be.

Drive Along U.S. Highway 61

United States Highway 61, often known as the blues route, is a vast, charming highway that runs through the center of the United States.

It stretches 1,300 miles covering New Orleans in the south to the thriving Twin Cities in the north and then continues along the renowned Great Lakes to the Canadian border.

The highway connects the cities starting at La Crescent to Winona until Wyoming.

It was historically more than a road; it functioned as Black Americans' escape route for leaving the rural south in search of new life in places such as Memphis, St. Louis, and Chicago.

It has had an equal impact on blues history; numerous well-known blues singers resided in its neighboring villages and penned songs about their travels.

Among them are Willie Dixon, Artie White, and Bob Dylan.

Learn Local History at Pickwick Mill

View of Pickwick Mill
McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pickwick Mill is a great place to visit if you enjoy learning about an area's history.

Wilson Davis and Thomas Grant built this old gristmill on Big Trout Creek's banks in the mid-1850s.

In addition to being a museum, the flour mill dates back to the 1800s.

When Winona County Road 7 was underway, Opal Fitch stepped in to preserve the mill before it almost got demolished.

This site houses the rebuilt mechanical facilities of this nationally recognized historic landmark.

Inside Pickwick Mill
McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trek the Holzinger Lodge Trail

Holzinger Lodge Trail is a 9-mile loop single track.

It mainly serves as a skiing trail, but you may also hike through it in the hotter months.

To get to the trailhead, take the Huff Street-Highway 61 crossing and proceed towards the cliff.

A quarter-mile later, you'll see a parking lot for Holzinger Lodge on the left after turning right towards Lake Boulevard.

The path has brief, steep ascents and descents, as well as meandering bends, as it goes through a thick forested area and blufftop for roughly 12 miles.

This route is magnificent at any time of year, but it is most stunning in spring and fall when wildflowers fill the path.

The majority of the path is rocky clay.

The topography makes it difficult to observe other trail users, so proceed with caution if you're a hiker, mountain biker, or dog walker.

Wander Around Lake Park

A Tower in Lake Park
Royalbroil, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lake Park in Winona, Minnesota, is a picturesque municipal park located around the tranquil Lake Winona.

Of particular note is a five-mile blacktop route that surrounds the lake twice, running along the city's south side.

The path offers some spectacular views of the Park and its surroundings, including the homes and hills.

You may go for a walk, ride a bike, or use an in-line skate on its pathway.

The Veteran's Memorial Park in Lake Park has a peaceful beach, a boat dock, playgrounds, a winter ice rink, a Frisbee golf course, sports fields, picnic spots, a bandshell, and a rose garden with a gazebo next to it.

Lake Winona offers kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and fishing for visitors.

Spend the Night at Prairie Island Campground

One of Winona's most popular camping destinations, Prairie Island is a great place to spend the night beneath the stars.

During the camping season, which runs from April 15 to October 31, this campsite is open.

Pack your sleeping bags, tent, and cooler full of picnic cuisine before setting out on your journey.

You may also rent a tiny home cabin, which has recently become available.

The campsite boasts a plethora of entertaining activities, ranging from Sunday morning yoga classes and children's games to outdoor excursions, all of which take place along the banks of the great Mississippi River.

You may kayak along the beautiful backwater channel, play disc golf on the sandy beach, or relax on the dunes.

Prairie Island Road leads you to this family-friendly campsite.

Climb Up Garvin Heights City Park's Bluff

View of Winona From Garvin Heights Park
KJK_MN / Shutterstock.com

A popular Winona activity is bluff climbing, and Garvin Heights City Park is an excellent location to do it.

Follow the marked trail to the summit, and you'll get there in no time.

The route snakes its way to the top, which is about a mile and a half away.

Follow the dirt path along the cliff's edge after climbing the set of steps.

On top of Mount Trempealeau, the panoramic overlook offers stunning views.

On a clear day, the Mississippi River Valley stretches over 30 miles in front of tourists.

Beautiful, green grassland with stately oak trees surrounds the bluff, giving it an ideal spot to enjoy nature without having to travel far.

After your hike, have a picnic on the lawn and replenish your energy stores.

Try Island City Brewing Company's Array of Drinks

An old railroad transfer station on East Front Street in downtown Island City became the new home of the Island City Brewing Co.

A welcoming taproom and a 15-barrel brewhouse lie at the building's 5,000 square feet of space close to Levee Park.

The brewery retains the original red brick from the train station, giving it an Old World feel.

The rustic design has a homey feel and diverse seating options, including lounge chairs, sofas, and standard bar stools.

Island City has a wide selection of beers for everyone, from beer connoisseurs to first-timers.

The taprooms offer a wide range of beers on tap, including Mrs. Sippi.

It's a crisp and refreshing blonde lager with a raspberry bite that'll satisfy your sweet craving.

If you're unsure what to get, go with the $10 flight, including four 6-ounce pours.

On the patio, play some yard games, have a drink, listen to the jams, catch up with friends, and discuss beer!

Get to Know Victorian-Era Winona With Winona County Historical Society

Outside View of Winona County Historical Society
Myotus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Winona County Historical Society, established in 1935, aims to preserve Winona's rich heritage.

The group features their collected artifacts at three different museums.

The Laird Lucas Library and Archives lies in the Winona County History Center, which houses the museum's headquarters and several interactive displays.

The Historic Bunnell House offers a glimpse into life during the Victorian era and the early days of the American West.

It's a stunning example of Rural Gothic Architecture.

You may take part in Victorian and Pioneer-era activities by costumed guides as you tour the house.

Its newest addition, the Rural Heritage Museum, features many exhibits focusing on rural life in Winona.

Wine Tasting at Garvin Heights Vineyard

Visit Winona's Garvin Heights Vineyard along Garvin Heights Road if you're a wine lover rather than a beer expert.

The grapes in this local vineyard cover five acres.

There's much to see and do on the site, with a vineyard and event center, each measuring 1,400 square feet and more.

Garvin Heights Vineyard uses only Minnesota-adapted grape varieties to make its wines.

You choose from its red, white, pink, fruit, and dessert wine selections

For a small fee, you may book a tasting with a friend or loved one.

Each week's highlighted flavors, like Frontenac Gris, are available in four 1.5-ounce flights.

It's a peach, apricot, and tropical fruit-flavored dry amber, white wine.

Experience Winona's Polish Heritage at Polish Cultural Institute and Museum

Outside View of Polish Cultural Institute and Museum
Kaszubian, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Polish Cultural Institute and Museum, housed in a historic three-story structure built in 1890, is a cultural complex dedicated to preserving Winona's Kashubian Polish history.

The museum is housed on the first level and has a variety of exhibits highlighting the lives of Polish settlements in Winona and its surrounding communities.

Additionally, the museum features a gift store where visitors may purchase apparel, books, music, and other Polish items.

The cultural institution consists of two adjacent structures: the Schultz House, a historic structure, and the Annex, an event space with a 165-foot-tall mural representing the history of Polish immigrants, including their contributions to the city.

Drop by Winona Visitor Center

Winona, Minnesota, is a small riverside town on the banks of the Mississippi. Beautiful parks, numerous historical monuments, cultural hotspots, and magnificent architecture make it a popular tourist destination.

The Winona Visitor Center is the trendiest spot in this picturesque town.

First and foremost, it's the lovely brick structure at the intersection of U.S. Highway 14/61 and Huff Street in Winona, where every Winona journey begins.

To provide the best service, the team is available to guests 24 hours a day to answer inquiries.

There are maps and brochures in the center to assist you in discovering what you're looking for, from a great restaurant to exciting tourist spots.

The gift store is a great place to pick up local memorabilia and clothes.

The Winona Convention & Visitors Bureau website features a travel planner, intriguing films, and insider information on local celebrities like Josh Braten.

Visit the Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka

Outside View of Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka
McGhiever, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With its prominent location on the city skyline and rich history, the Basilica of Saint Stanislaus Kostka belongs to Minneapolis' Roman Catholic Diocese.

The locals call it Saint Stan's.

Like many of Winona's attractions, the Church of St. Stanislaus–Catholic, is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

On November 10, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared it a Minor Basilica of the Roman Catholic Church.

Outside View of Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka
Sam Wagner / Shutterstock.com

Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish operated as a religious and civic focus from the get-go.

The Reverend Joseph Juskiewicz was the first regular pastor, and the Reverend Alexander Michnowski followed him in January 1875.

It wasn't until 1890 that the Reverend Jan Romuald Byzewski, a Kashubian-born Franciscan who had fled German Poland during the Kulturkampf, became pastor.

Put Basilica of St. Stanislaus Kostka on your customized Winona itinerary.

Final Thoughts

Known for its fascinating bluffs, Winona has it all: natural beauty, urban coolness, and old-world charm in one enchanting location.

Have any of our choices piqued your interest?

Try the ones on our list, and you're in for a treat!