Whatever it is that brings you to Owatonna the first time, you’ll find many reasons to return and experience Owatonna again from another perspective. The friendly small-town atmosphere gives you a relaxed and at-home feel, with no lack of amenities or experiences. Depending on the time of year you find yourself in Owatonna, you may experience the hustle and bustle of the Steele County Free Fair, or the relaxed and colorful scenery of a bike ride through the numerous parks connected to the 17 mile trail system.
The history & architecture in Owatonna is a must-see no matter what time of year you visit, and the self-guided walking tour is a great way to experience it all. Over 60 businesses and homes are highlighted in the Historic Walking Tour, with several of those being on the National Register of Historic Places. Three Historic Districts are recognized, including Minnesota State Public School, which now houses the State School Orphanage Museum as well as the City Hall. Pillsbury Academy Campus now operates as Pillsbury College Prep and hosts summer camps. The third district,Downtown Owatonna was added in 2015. The Cedar Avenue street scape project was recently completed in 2022 to increase accessibility for Owatonna’s Main Street.
Rotating exhibits at the Steele County History Center focus on special highlights of the area’s unique history. The Village of Yesteryear is a great way to get a glimpse into the past. The original village layout was similar to the center of Owatonna and its Central Park, and has grown over the years with additional moves of historic structures.
Arts & entertainment options are year-round pastimes at local gathering places. Musical entertainment is a weekly occurrence at Owatonna’s two breweries, Foremost Brewing Cooperative and Mineral Springs Brewery. The Owatonna Arts Center offers classes, music, and art exhibits all year. May through September you’ll find downtown and Central Park lively with music other community events. Seasonal performances, at The Little Theatre of Owatonna, have offered quality theatrical experiences for 57 years.
If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, you’ll love Owatonna’s parks and trails system. Over 17 miles of trails connect to parks throughout the community. If golf is your game, Brooktree Golf Course and Owatonna Country Club offers beautiful and challenging 18-hole courses. Local campgrounds offer family fun May through October. For those looking to enjoy winter fun – there are plenty of opportunities to cross country ski and snowshoe through the trails, or ice skate at Morehouse Park. Cabela’s and Straight River sports are two great places to update your outdoor equipment!
Shopping and dining are always favorite American pastimes, and Owatonna continues to add new options for you to discover! In addition to the brand name stores located at the Medford Ultra Outlets, Owatonna’s downtown has added 8 new stores and restaurants since 2019. Roma’s Italian Eatery, the newest restaurant is scheduled to open in June.
The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.