St. Peter, Minn. (WCCO) — Winter doesn’t stop WCCO’s road trip around Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

We’re Goin’ to the Lake even when there’s no snow and the lake is actually a river!

Mark Rosen and Amelia Santaniello start our winter tour in St. Peter in the Minnesota River valley of southern Minnesota.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

There’s no snow, but the wind was certainly making it feel like winter when they arrived Thursday.

This community along Highway 169 is just an hour southwest of the Twin Cities, so it’s perfect for a quick getaway.

The signs welcome you to town as you drive in. You can even visit the Pearly Gates of St. Peter overlooking the Minnesota River.

About a dozen buildings in downtown St. Peter are on the National Register of Historic Places. That means many of the buildings still have their historic charm.

The town is small and comfortable — and it’s not your typical tourist trap.

Amelia & Mark Arrive In St. Peter

St. Peter is a small town with old-time charm, but it could have played a much larger role in our state’s history.

One of the things you notice when you walk or drive around St. Peter is that the streets are wide — and that was by design.

In the 1850s, this town built itself around the idea that it would be the state capitol of Minnesota, complete with wide streets and beautiful mansions for the political elite.

And a large piece of land was set aside for the state capitol building — now called Minnesota Square Park.

But as Pat Kessler explains, one man derailed that plan — Joe Rolette.

The Man Who Ruined St. Peter’s Capitol Ambitions

One of the most important events in the history of St. Peter was a tornado that took two lives and damaged two-thirds of the buildings in town.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

We’re a couple months from the 18th anniversary of the St. Peter tornado. It knocked this town down, but actually helped it become better.

Remembering The St. Peter Tornado

St. Peter has a strong arts community. Our crew saw that firsthand when we visited Stained Glass Studio right off 169.

Owner Bob Vogel was busy working on a piece for Bethany College in Mankato, which will go over the entrance to the school’s Old Main building.

The five panes have taken about three months to get to this point. Bob works with his wife and son to create these pieces.

He’s in the process of soldering the stained glass to get ready for installation. Bob works as a house painter when it’s warm, which is something that helps him with the slow pace of creating stained glass. He even painted Prince’s house in Chanhassen!

Bob and his wife offer classes for making stained glass, and they also make custom pieces for homes or businesses.

You can stop in and check out their space right off 169 as you drive into town.

Stained Glass Studio In St. Peter

St. Peter’s downtown old-school charm is supplemented by a young community right up the hill at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Amelia and Mark had the chance to visit with students Thursday when they stopped by the cafeteria for lunch.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

But this was not a meal like they had in their college days. Gustavus is nationally known for its dining service.

Amelia And Mark Eat At Gustavus

There are a lot of great food options in St. Peter, and one of them is Lone Star Barbecue.

They put Amelia and Mark to work behind the bar Thursday night to earn their dinner!

Amelia & Mark Work At Lone Star Barbecue


Here are links for all the places Amelia and Mark visited — and will visit — in St. Peter:

Stained Glass Studio
Gustavus Adolphus College
City of St. Peter
Nate’s Barber Shop
Lonestar BBQ and Grill
Patrick’s Bar

Here are highlights from other Goin’ To The Lake trips:
Watch the past ‘Goin’ To The (Frozen) Lake’ segments.
Watch the past ‘Goin’ To The Lake’ segments.