Winona is one of the most beautiful places in the country, nestled between the covered limestone river bluffs that rise 500 feet and the mighty Mississippi River.
It was founded in 1851 by a steamboat captain, Orrin Smith. Positioned on a large island in the Mississippi, the lumber industry helped it grow quickly and by 1900, Winona had more millionaires per capital than any place in the United States. Winona’s history lives on in architecturally significant historic buildings and vintage homes that thrill history buffs.
Two National Register Historic Districts in downtown Winona make it one of the largest collections of Victorian commercial architecture in the region. James E. Hauser started one stained glass studio in 1946 to restore and repair stained glass church windows. More studios opened, and one author has called Winona the “Stained Glass Capital” of the nation.
Winona is partially surrounded by the Upper Mississippi River National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and is located in the heart of the Mississippi Valley Flyway, making it a natural destination for birds and wildlife watchers. Tundra Swans make the area its home and draw many people in the Fall, which is a great time to view the splendid autumnal colors of the bluffs.
There are miles of trails for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, bicycling, hiking, and horse-riding. Fishing, whether on the river, lakes, creeks or trout streams, is a popular year-round activity. Bicyclists, canoeists, golfers, and campers find Winona to be a perfect destination.
Along with popular attractions such as Garvin Heights Lookout, the Lake Park area with the Veterans Memorial Park, Rose Gardens, and band shell, Watkins Museum and Store, the Polish Museum, the Winona County Historical Museum, and Levee Park, some new attractions and events have made Winona the destination to visit all year round.
The Frozen River Film Festival in January sponsors films, workshops, and speakers. Arts enthusiasts look forward to the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour every April. In June, the Dakota Homecoming and Gathering brings back our Dakota friends for a weekend of dancing, drumming, crafts and cultural demonstrations.
The Great River Shakespeare Festival delights visitors with plays, concerts, and speakers. The Minnesota Beethoven Festival wows us with world-class concerts in a variety of settings. Journey into Winona’s colorful past at the Cemetery Discovery Walk in October. Get into the holiday mood at the annual Holiday Lighted Parade. .
The Minnesota Marine Art Museum, overlooking Winona’s working harbor showcases world-class art and provides educational programming for adults and children. Garvin Heights Vineyards, overlooking the river valley, opens seasonally for wine tastings on weekends.
Today, Winona is driven by a strong entrepreneurial spirit that has given birth to a city that has built its future by embracing its past. We invite you to explore and enjoy historic island city, Winona. For updated information about festivals, lodging, dining, shopping and things to do, go to www.visitwinona.com or call 800-657-4972.