Here’s the thing about Winona: If you can’t find something to do, you’re probably sitting in a closet. Especially right now.
This month – this moment – is my absolute favorite time of year here because there is a staggering amount of stuff happening, or about to happen, and now begins the insane race to gobble up everything good this town has to offer for the next 90 days. I dare you to get it all in – if you do you deserve a merit badge, or a big fat Winona bear hug, or at the very least a nap.
If I had all day, or a 10,000 word blog, I’d list 90 ways you could entertain yourself for the next 90 days. And I could. But how about I just hit a few highlights so you can get out there and get crackalackin.
- Head down to Lake Park Lodge and get in one of those free kayaks or canoes for a paddle around beautiful Lake Winona. Uh, hello — Free. And cool. Doesn’t get much better. Summer weekdays from 4 to 8, weekends from 1 to 6.
- Get your bike tuned up and get out there on the bluffs trails, bike paths, and roadways that make us one of the southernmost stops on the Mississippi River Bike Trail. People. Listen folks, the biking world across the state is seriously talking about how cool bicycling is around Winona – they made maps and everything. You need to get out there.
- Devour everything there is to be had from the Great River Shakespeare Festival. It’s no secret I’m kinda a fan of GRSF, and it’s not just because of the adorable actors who infuse our coffee shops and parks and bars with their coolness all summer. It’s because these plays are smart, and accessible, and affordable — and being part of that theater culture is fun even if you never thought of yourself as a Shakespeare fan.
- Get a little cooler yourself after an afternoon in the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Better yet, go on Tuesday and soak up a little sun and river at the Mississippi Sippin’ happy hour. I love this place unnaturally – probably partly because I still believe it is one of the Midwest’s best kept secrets; the other part is because I’m honest-to-God standing there staring at some of the best art in the world.
- Pack your picnic basket and head to the Lake Park Bandshell on July 5 for a free concert by the Minnesota Orchestra, sponsored by the Minnesota Beethoven Festival. Nuff said.
- Rub elbows with your neighbors and people you’ve never met before at Steamboat Days – a four-day festival chalk full of eating, dancing, and frivolity. Whether you want to shake your booty or sit on the curb for a parade, ride on a Ferris wheel or run in a race, Steamboat Days is a pretty entertaining way to keep busy. My personal recommendation is the Beverage Garden (OK, beer tent) — because the bands are fun and so is the people-watching. And the parade might be the best I’ve ever been too, well except for Mardi Gras, but that’s a different story.
- Chow down on some ice cream at the Lakeview Drive Inn or Penguin Zestos — Winona eateries serving up home-town goodness that you will not find anywhere else.
I haven’t even made it much out of June yet with this list, folks, but what a good problem to have. As the kids would say, Winona’s bangin’ this summer, and all our awesomeness is going to pull people here like a magnet. Even if you live here, take a peek at www.visitwinona.com to see how incredibly long the list of things to do is, then get going. But first, take a minute to add to my list of cool stuff to do with a comment of your own. What floats your boat during the summer in Winona?