All month long, WCCO is on the road highlighting some of our favorite spots across the state. This week, Frank and Chris went straight down Highway 61 to Winona, where the city is celebrating its Winter Carnival this weekend.

Winona is a city right on the Mississippi River and is home to more than 27,000 people. Winona was founded back in 1851 by a steamboat captain who would go up and down the Mississippi River, but the mighty Mississippi isn’t they only water way in town. You’ll find Lake Winona, right off Highway 61. In the winter you’ll see people skating or ice fishing on the lake. There are plenty of fish to go for including bluegill, largemouth bass, northern pike and walleye.

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Winona County Historical Society

If you’re into History, Winona is the perfect place to visit. Frank and Chris stopped by the Winona County Historical Society where you can learn all about Winona over the years. And who knows you might even run into the city mayor Mark Peterson, who also happens to be the Executive Director of the society and loves to share stories about Winona’s rich history.

“Here at the Winona County History Center, we’re here telling that story of Winona’s past through our exhibits and our programs,” he said. “It’s a great place to start and then go out and explore it and see for yourself.”

This Sunday, the museum will be hosting an open house with tons of fun and free activities.

Willet-Hauser Glass

When you look at a stained glass window, the town of Winona may not come to mind, but it should. Some call Winona the “Stained glass capitol of the U.S.” A local company — Willet-Hauser Architectural Glass — is a big reason why.

J.W. Phillips is the Vice President of Operations for Willet-Hauser. His family bought the business over two years ago.

“We do work in all 50 states. We have a 25 man production team that does resoration on site,” he said. “Since 2014, we’ve gone from a 10-person company to close to 65 people now.”

Garvin Heights

There is a view that everyone said we had to check out here in Winona, atop Garvin Heights Scenic Overlook. It did not dissappoint.

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It’s a short mile and half drive up the bluff to get to this site, but the view to the valley below is well worth it. On the way to that view you’ll also get a good look at Sugar Loaf, which a tall rock on top of the bluffs here in Winona.

Winona is also a college town. Winona State Univeristy was founded back in 1858. Today, they enroll about 8,000 students a year and offer 80 different programs. Winona is also home to Saint Mary’s Univeristy of Minnesota, which is tucked into the bluffs and valleys on the edge of town. St. Mary’s has around 12-hundred students and prides itself in the connection made between students and professors.

Minnesota Marine Art Museum

There’s plenty of outdoor recreation options here in Winona, but the city is also known for its ever growing arts scene. A big part of that scene is the Minnesota Marine Art Museum which houses works from some well known artists.

The Minnesota Marine Art Museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. They also do free student Tuesdays.

Fat Tire Biking

In just the short time we’ve been here in Winona we’ve really been impressed with how they embrace winter and offer so many different outdoor recreation opportunities. Frank and Chris hopped on some fat tire bikes Thursday afternoon and took a little tour on the winter trails at bluffside park.

The Winona Area Mountain Bikers is putting on “The Snow Bomb” this weekend at Bluffside Park, where we were. There’s a two-hour endurance race or a one-hour sprint.


Here are some of the places they checked out on Day 1 of their trip.

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Adventure Cycle and Ski
Bud King Ice Arena
Jefferson Pub
Minnesota Marine Art Museum
Snow Bomb Fat Tire Bike Race
Visit Winona
Willet Hauser Architectural Glass
Winona Parks and Rec