MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO)Goin’ To The Lake, WCCO-TV’s summer road trip, is kicking off Thursday — and we’re visiting some of our favorite lake cities across the state. This week, Amelia Santaniello and Mike Max made the drive to Winona.

Many people think of Winona as a river town, and it is, but don’t forget Lake Winona, which is located just a few blocks from downtown.

The drive down from the cities takes about as long as it takes to get to Duluth if you head the other direction, and just about the whole trip down Highway 61 is stunning.

Once you’re here, you’ll be welcomed to a city of about 27,000 people. They live a culture that embraces the water around them — both the river and the lakes. One thing you don’t find many other places are the towering bluffs carved by the Mississippi.

Winona is small enough to have the feel of a small town, but big enough to have all the amenities of a larger city. And the outdoor recreation is tough to beat anywhere in Minnesota.

One of the best ways to enjoy Winona is on the water on Lake Winona. It’s very similar to the lakes in Minneapolis, with walking and biking trails around the lake – and even a band shell for city concerts. You can rent canoes, paddleboards, skateboards, hammocks, and just about anything to enjoy the water on a perfect day like Thursday.

Paddle, Bat & Canoe Making In Winona

We often talk about the places to explore during our Goin’ to the Lake trips, but we don’t often think about the tools we use to get out there. Some cousins here in Winona are doing just that with their businesses — Pillbox Bat Company and the Sanborn Canoe Company.

Winona’s Garvin Heights Lookout

Lakeview Drive Inn

Amelia and Mike spent pretty much the whole day exploring all the great outdoor activities and scenery in Winona. But the town is also well known for its vibrant arts scene.

The Great River Shakespeare Festival is in its 16th summer in Winona. Mike and Amelia caught what’s called a “fight call” Thursday night before a performance of “Cymbeline.” The actors in the play practice their fight scenes to make sure everything is safe. One of the goals of the festival is to make Shakespeare accessible to everyone, and ultimately, bring people together.

Winona’s Shakespeare Fest

“In our world today, we get so good at kind of pointing fingers at each other, at getting in camps. When you see a play in a theater, like when you tell a story, that’s when you begin to realize that there’s more than brings us together as human beings than separates us, that authentic community experience,” said artistic director Doug Scholz-Carlson.

These shows last all of July and into early August. You can still get tickets and come on down to enjoy “Cymbeline,” “Macbeth” or “The Servant of Two Masters.” The actors are professionals who come here from New York, Los Angeles and all over the country May to August to perform these plays, so it’s a great way to see Shakespeare in a beautiful town.

Canoeing Lake Winona

Winona It’s different than “up North” because of the spectacular bluffs. Those bluffs were carved by the Mississippi River, but there’s also a nice lake here in town. Amelia and Mike took a canoe out to explore Lake Winona. You can get a year-long pass at Lake Lodge Recreation Center for $20, and that includes unlimited rentals.

More Links From Goin’ To The Lake – Winona:
Garvin Heights Lookout
Blue Heron Coffee House
Lakeview Drive Inn

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