Winona, Minnesota

Guide to Winona: how to get there and where to stay, what to see and where to go in the evening. Best things to do in Winona: Latest reviews and photos, places to see, branded entertainment and shopping.

Winona, otherwise known as “River City” and “Stained Glass Capital,” is a historic college town in southwestern Minnesota. Its own population does not even reach 30 thousand people. Winona’s character is determined by two factors. Firstly, two universities and one college are open in the city, so there are a lot of young people here. Secondly, beautiful river landscapes with hills and valleys stretch around, which attracts lovers of outdoor recreation to the city.

How to get to Winona

The closest airports to the city are La Crosse (25 miles), Rochester (45 miles) and Twin Cities Airport (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) 110 miles away. You can also get to Winona by the Amtrak train on the Chicago-Seattle/Portland line.

A bit of history

According to toppharmacyschools, the city was founded in 1851, and already in 1855 the first Kashubian family from Poland arrived here. This marked the beginning of the emergence of a large Polish diaspora in the city (at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, about a quarter of the city’s population were Poles). The city grew thanks to the development of the railroad and steamboats, Winona became a major river port. In 1858, the first teacher’s college west of the Mississippi appeared here, which then grew to a state university. This eventually turned the city into a significant educational center, and Winona has retained this status to this day.

Winona got its name in honor of the Indian princess Ui-No-Na, a semi-legendary character. According to legend, the daughter of the leader of the Dakota tribe, Wapashi III, threw herself off the Maiden Rock, on Lake Pepin, just to avoid marrying the unloved.

Attractions and attractions in Winona

There are many churches in Winona – beautiful, different and quite interesting from an architectural point of view. The design of their windows was one of the reasons why Winona was called the “stained glass capital”. Among these churches, for example, is the rather modest but interesting Sacred Heart Cathedral with a characteristic triangular fa├žade. The Polish Catholic Church of St. Stanislaus Kostka in the East End looks very colorful thanks to its dark red construction combined with white trim and domes. The basilica was built in 1894 in the traditional Polish cathedral style (unfortunately, its original interior has not been preserved). Also of interest is the Unitarian Methodist Church on the corner of Broadway and Main Street – its high, sharp terracotta spire is visible from afar. This is the fourth church on this site: the previous one was destroyed by a fire in 1961. Only the tower has survived from it.

The first congregational church, the first in the city, built in 1863, is also noteworthy. The Gothic rose window with stained-glass windows inserted in 1920 is especially beautiful. Also notable is the central Lutheran church, whose stained-glass windows were created by Eugene Marggraff in 1955. The glass for them was imported from England, France and Germany, and then hand-blown, leaving a lot of bubbles in it that affect color and light. The windows of the First Baptist Church, built from local limestone and finished in red sandstone in 1893, also feature stained-glass windows made in Chicago.

The city’s tourist center has developed the Majestic Glass Tour, during which you can see the best stained glass windows of Winona with a guide.

Another architectural highlight of the city is the historic Richardson-Romanesque County Courthouse, built in 1888. At that time, the construction of this beautiful building with several towers cost the city a considerable amount of 125,000 USD, and subsequently the court became the first in the state to be listed on the National Register historical places. Between the 1970s and 2000s about 2.5 million USD was invested in the restoration of the building, but nevertheless, in 2000, the ceiling on the fourth floor collapsed down, damaging the fire system, as a result of which the building was flooded. Today, the court has been restored again and pleases the eye from the inside and out.

The National Merchant Bank was built in Winona in 1912. It is a stocky and highly visible example of the prairie style with unusual ornaments and stained glass windows. The architects were faced with the task of building something that would look reliable and inspire confidence, and as a result, the building was decorated on the outside with terracotta sculptures and reliefs, and its interior was decorated with murals with scenes from farm life. The architect Purcell memorized the interesting effect that sun and star rays created in the interior, penetrating the interior of the building through large stained-glass windows, and a year later he used it when building the famous Edna Purcell house in Minneapolis.

4 things to do in Winona:

  1. Take a picture of the city from an observation deck with a majestic lake below and an eccentric “Sugar Loaf” on the side.
  2. Admire the stained glass windows.
  3. In summer, go kayaking or canoeing on the lake, and in winter, move your skis into the hills.
  4. Put one more tick in the Route 66 route, compiled according to the text of the famous song. Winona is mentioned there between Flagstaff and Kingman.

The Minnesota Museum of Marine Art stands on the river, near the port. Here visitors can appreciate a large collection of nautical paintings, river-related folk art, and an interesting selection of photographs taken by river engineer Henry Bosse and sculptures by Leo Smith. The museum owns one of the finest collections of Canadian maritime art outside of Canada. In addition, the expositions also feature works by recognized geniuses: Monet, Pizarro, Picasso, Renoir and Van Gogh.

A visit to the museum of the Polish Cultural Institute on Liberty Street can also be interesting. Here you can learn about the Kashubians, an ethnic group that emigrated en masse in the 19th century from Poland. Winona became the center of Kashubian emigration to America, and the museum has many photographs, national costumes, household items and handicrafts.

Actress Winona Ryder was not born in the city itself, but nearby, in Olmsted County. But such a name for a girl, perhaps, would not be so appropriate.

The most famous lookout near Winona is Garvin Heights. To get there, you need to climb the road of the same name, and then keep heading east, according to the signs. The site is located at an altitude of about 170 m above the Hiawatha Valley, and on a clear day you can even see the Alma power plant from it.

Another natural “postcard” landmark of Winona is Sugar Loaf Rock. It rises 150 m above the level of Lake Winona and was formed as a result of limestone mining in the 1880s. At the foot of the cliff, various offices and enterprises opened at different times, using the name of the attraction as a trademark. In particular, the former brewery still stands on the northeast slope: the building is listed on the register of historic places, and today it houses an art craft shop.

Winona Events

The Great River Shakespeare Festival is hosted by Winona State University and the festival itself takes place on the main campus. But this is not some kind of amateur performance, but a professional Shakespeare theater that gives performances annually 6 days a week during the summer season. Another regular new event is the Mid-West Music Festival, which takes place in the spring and summer. And for the Beethoven Festival, which also takes place in the city in the summer and lasts for a month, world-class musicians, including from Europe, come to Winona. Every year in January, the city hosts the Frozen River Film Festival, with a focus on short films.

But Winona’s biggest event is the Steamboat Days, during which the city hosts a carnival with fireworks and a parade, as well as many other events. The holiday usually lasts 6 days.

Winona, Minnesota