Monday, August 3, 2015

Road Trip Winona, MN

Destination-Winona, MN for The 12th Annual Great River Shakespeare Festival.
with a few stops along the way.
The Mississippi divides Minnesota and Wisconsin for many miles. The Great River Road is scenic and winding on the Wisconsin side heading towards Winona which is on the Minnesota side.

The Great River Road is Wisconsin’s only national scenic byway established in 1938. The entire trail extends 3,000 miles along the Mississippi River through 10 states. A road trip on the Great River Road takes you through 33 historic and unique Wisconsin towns. Of course we would have liked to see all 33 towns but could only fit in a few. 
The drive to Stockholm is a little more than an hour from the Twin Cities and passes through some gorgeous country — the road dips and rises over the country hills, and it twists and turns over ridges with water views, causeways, and steep rustic hillsides. Often we were passed by a steady stream of bikers out for a leisurely weekend ride.
 Stockholm is small, compact, charming, quaint and even a little bit quirky
with its benches, unique trash cans
 and some small spring- like hobby horses along side of the building. 
Beautiful outdoor gardens and floral displays seem to thrive in this town.
At the 2010 census only 82 full time residents were registered. But don't let that number fool you into thinking there's not much there. 
Not only is Stockholm one of Midwest Livings “Best of” it is also ranked as one of the top 5 “Shopping Hotspots” in the State of Wisconsin.
Stockholm is home to many unique events each year – Swedish Midsummer Festival, the annual Stockholm Art Fair (35+years!), numerous art tours, and A Stockholm Country Christmas.
Stockholm Pie and General Store is where you can get a slice of their world famous pies,pot pies, savory pies, cheeses, wines and craft beers. 
Stockholm was founded in 1851 by Swedish immigrant farmers. Many historic buildings in the village exist from days when Stockholm was a commercial hub for farmers, fishing and clamming. Ice, cut from the lake, was shipped all over the country. During the 1970’s many artists were drawn to the area by the region’s stunning beauty and began to revive the old storefronts and homes. Today, Stockholm residents are proud of their heritage and its vibrant arts community. Visitors are also drawn to the natural beauty of the nearby Lake Pepin area, which, according to William Cullen Bryant, “ought to be visited in the summer by every poet and painter in America.”
Winona is a city on the Minnesota side located in picturesque bluff country on the Mississippi River, its most noticeable physical landmark is Sugar Loaf rock formation pictured below.  
It is the home of Winona State University, Watkins Incorporated and Minnesota Maritime Art Museum. There are lots of outdoor activities with numerous parks and trails.   

Watkins Incorporated is a manufacturer of health remedies, baking products including vanilla extract and other household items. Their entire catalog includes 400 products and largely relies on an independent sales force of 25,000 people to distribute its products. 
One unexpected surprise was the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. The building is located along the Mississippi River. It houses an impressive private collection of land, river and seascapes masterpieces by Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Turner, Homer and O'Keeffe. In addition there are many annual temporary exhibitions and nationally-touring artworks throughout the year. 
 The outside grounds were a stunning display of prairie grasses and flowers. 

The Great River Shakespeare Festival is a nationally recognized festival which offers professional theatre productions, free concerts, educational opportunities for all ages and community outreach programs each summer from late June to early August.  We saw the their final performance of Much Ado About Nothing. It was an artistic, creative production with a very talented cast of performers. I would highly recommend attending next year if you happen to be in the area. 
The ride back to the Twin Cities on the Minnesota side was almost as scenic as the Wisconsin side. 
One of our last stops was Lake City. I was intrigued with the signage on this building which sent me sleuthing. Today this building houses Lake City's best antique,coffee shop and consignment store. But it is rich in past history. Check out Audrey Kletscher Helbing's post to learn more about this historic gem. 
As you can see in 48 hours we covered a lot of ground. Ending with this quote I saw in Stockholm 
and adding my own... explore the countryside.   


  1. A little past Lake City is Frontenac. Hope you visited it, it is on Lake Pepin and a very old
    quaint city. Also, on that road is Villa Marie Retreat . It was Villa Marie Academy, run by the
    Ursuline Nuns and that is where I went to high school.

  2. What a great road trip. I love these river towns. So much to see. Thanks for the shout out.