S+W Travels | 12 Hours in Winona, Minnesota

Last weekend, Mr. A, Willy, and I took advantage of the heat wave (40 degrees and sunny, holllaa) and took a day trip to Winona, Minnesota. Just 45 minutes from Rochester, Winona is a pretty little river town with lots of old school charm, nestled in between towering bluffs and the Mississippi River. It’s the perfect location for a mini winter get-a-way.

It holds a special place in our hearts as Winona State University is not only Mr. A and I’s alma mater, it’s also where we met and started dating 10 years ago. As we pulled into town, our first instinct was to drive past all of our favorite spots, take pictures, and text our college frans. It’s always fun to take a quick trip down memory lane and remissness of simpler times when making it to a 9:00 am class was our most difficult commitment.

As I visit as an old lady who’s well past her beer pong days, I realize Winona has a lot more personality to offer than my old stomping grounds which consisted of: campus, Mugby Junction, 3rd street, and the lakes. Even a short, day trip proved this with a trip to the MMAM to see the infamous Washington Crossing the Delaware painting and a free visit to the Watkins headquarters to stock up on vanilla extract. It has many hidden gems and I’ve always loved it for quirkiness and aversion of popular chains. Many spots are family owned and special to Winona. Copy our winter Saturday trip below:

10:00 am: Quick stop at Bloedow’s Bakery. Literally the freshest doughnuts you will ever eat. Get my favorite, the chocolate long john with sprinkles, and be prepared to marvel at what you’re eating. The dough is light and airy with just the right amount of crisp and the frosting is creamy and rich that differs from most doughnut glaze. Their doughnut holes are also a fan favorite and totally bite sized.

Winona Winter City Guide_Bloedows2

Winona Winter City Guide_Bloedows1

10:30 am: Browse for a Book at Paperbacks and Pieces and be prepared to come out with an arms full. It’s not all too impressive from the outside, but the inside is the important part. It’s a locally owned and operated used and new bookstore that loves it’s business and loves books. It takes care and curates while offering a huge selection to browse to your heart’s content. They cater to and absolutely love their customers. Browsing spine titles and imagining my next literary adventure is one of my favorite ways to spend an hour or two.

11:30 am: Stock up on Vanilla (and other things) at JR Watkins Headquarters Take a free tour of their mini Watkins museum and stock up on all things Watkins. My favorites are their vanilla extracts and variety of hand soaps!

Watkins1Winona City Guide_Watkins1

12:00 pm: Be impressed at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. So you know that super famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War? Turns out the original was actually destroyed during WWII, but the painter created two more: one lives in Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and the other? AT THE MMAM! It was purchased from it’s former location, THE WHITE HOUSE. Aside from that fun fact, the MMAM is such an impressive addition to Winona right along and with great views of the Mississippi River. Their permanent collections are fabulous and never get old and rotating exhibits are always inspiring.

Winona Winter City Guide_MMAM1Winona Winter City Guide_MMAM2MAMM3

2:00 pm: Late lunch at Bub’s Brewing Co. Eatery and Saloon. Of all of our favorite treats and eateries in Winona, Bub’s is the one where we would regret not visiting. Enjoy a basket of popcorn and a game of foosball while you wait for your grub. Our favorites are the Cellar Mushrooms (these herb cream cheese-stuffed mushrooms and then deep fried are a MUST) and the CB Burger. Their Bub’s Red Ale is also a must try.


3:30 PM: Work off some doughnut calories with Ice Skating at Lake LodgeIce skates are available for rent at Lake Lodge, otherwise, feel free to just get out on that ice. The ice is well cleared and maintained as much as can be, but remember you’re skating on a small lake. There’s something so classically winter fun about seeing a bunch of bundled up individuals wobbling around on skates and playing pond hockey (separate area). Plus, no need to go in a circle as true with rink ice skating.


5:00 pm: Head for home! You’ll still have plenty of time for your Saturday evening activities with a full day of adventure under your belt. For a city so small and unassuming, Winona packs a lot of punch for a destination not too far away.


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