Owatonna is a captivating city in the heart of southern Minnesota. The city is known for its rich history, diverse attractions, and welcoming community. With its unique blend of cultural heritage and natural beauty, Owatonna has become a popular destination for tourists from across the country.
The city was established in 1854 and Owatonna’s history is a tapestry of early settlers, agricultural roots, and architectural masterpieces. It is perhaps best known for the iconic National Farmer’s Bank designed by famed architect Louis Sullivan, a testament to its architectural significance.
This charming city welcomes over 150,000 visitors each year, drawn by its historical sites, vibrant arts scene, and myriad recreational opportunities.
Owatonna boasts a diverse range of attractions, including the Village of Yesteryear, Kaplan’s Woods Park, the Owatonna Arts Center, and a world-renowned Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Zoo.
While Owatonna’s climate experiences all four seasons, the best time to visit is during the warm and sunny months of summer, from June to August, when you can fully enjoy outdoor activities and explore the city’s beautiful parks. Fall, with its vibrant foliage, is also a popular time to visit.
Owatonna experiences a typical Midwestern climate, with warm summers and cold winters. Average summer temperatures range from 70°F to 80°F, while winters can be cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing.
From historical sites to recreational opportunities, this city has something for everyone. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the 19 most enjoyable things to do in Owatonna, ensuring that you’ll have an unforgettable experience in this vibrant Minnesota town.
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1. Historic Village of Yesteryear
The Historic Village of Yesteryear is a fascinating place that was established in 1962. This village showcases old buildings that tell a unique story. It’s a living history museum, which means you can see and feel how life was in the past.
The village has 19 historic buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings were moved from their original locations to the village.
You can explore a schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, a general store, and even a log cabin. Each building represents a different aspect of life in the past.
When you visit, you might see people dressed in old-timey clothes. They help bring history to life by acting out how people lived and worked back then.
Throughout the year, the village hosts events and programs that let you experience the past, like butter churning or candle making. The events make this destination a place to explore new things to do in Owatonna.
So, if you’re curious about history or just want to see what life was like a long time ago, the Historic Village of Yesteryear is a must-visit place in Owatonna!
1448 Austin Rd, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
2. Owatonna Arts Center
The Owatonna Arts Center is a vibrant hub of creativity in Owatonna, Minnesota. This cultural treasure was established in 1972 and has a rich history and many interesting aspects.
The Arts Center is housed in the William H. Sanford Mansion, a beautiful 19th-century building that adds to the artistic charm.
The center hosts a variety of rotating art exhibitions and showcases the work of local, regional, and national artists. You can see paintings, sculptures, and other forms of visual art.
They offer workshops and classes for people of all ages which makes it a great place to learn about art and get creative. The Arts Center hosts concerts, lectures, and other events and creates a lively cultural scene in Owatonna.
One of the best things is that it’s often free to visit, making it accessible to everyone in the community. Visit the center to learn about unique things to do in Owatonna.
For art enthusiasts and those curious about creativity, the Owatonna Arts Center is a must-see destination. It’s a place where art comes to life, and it’s been a part of Owatonna’s cultural scene since 1972.
435 Garden View Lane Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
3. Kaplan’s Woods Park
Kaplan’s Woods Park is a cherished natural retreat in Owatonna, Minnesota. The park was established in 1967 and is known for its picturesque beauty and recreational opportunities.
This park covers over 225 acres and offers a mix of woodlands, wetlands, and open spaces. It’s an ideal location to immerse yourself in nature.
The park has diverse ecosystems and is a birdwatcher’s dream. You can spot various bird species and makes it a perfect spot for bird enthusiasts.
The park features well-maintained walking trails where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike. The trails are excellent for both beginners and experienced hikers.
In the winter, the park becomes a hotspot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and makes it a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Kaplan’s Woods Park is home to serene ponds and provides a scenic backdrop for picnics or moments of tranquility. The park offers a place to enjoy close to nature things to do in Owatonna.
This park offers a peaceful escape into the heart of nature and is a true gem in Owatonna’s landscape. Whether you’re into birdwatching, hiking, or just seeking some peace and quiet, Kaplan’s Woods Park has something for everyone.
1205 SW 18th Street Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
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4. Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
The Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum was established in 1886 and has a rich history and many fascinating aspects to explore.
The museum is housed in the original buildings of the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, a place that provided a home for thousands of orphaned, abandoned, or neglected children over the years.
The museum showcases artifacts, photos, and exhibits that tell the story of the children who lived there and the staff who cared for them.
The museum is in the process of restoring some of the original buildings and allows visitors to step back in time and experience life as it was for the children who once called this place home.
The museum offers educational programs for schools and the general public and sheds light on the history of orphaned and neglected children in Minnesota.
This museum preserves a piece of Minnesota’s history and allows visitors to understand the lives of the children who lived there and the important role it played in the state’s past. It’s a place to learn, reflect, and pay tribute to the past.
540 W Hills Cir, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
5. Brooktree Golf Course
The Brooktree Golf Course is a classic and cherished golf destination in Owatonna, Minnesota. The course was founded in 1929 and has an interesting history and many noteworthy features.
Brooktree has a long and storied history and makes it one of the oldest golf courses in Minnesota. The course spans over 160 acres of rolling terrain, adorned with lush fairways, mature trees, and serene ponds and creates a picturesque setting for golf enthusiasts.
Golfers of all skill levels can enjoy the course’s challenging layout, with strategically placed bunkers and water hazards adding an extra dimension to the game.
Over the years, Brooktree has hosted numerous professional and amateur golf tournaments and has drawn attention from golf enthusiasts across the region.
The course is equipped with modern amenities, including a clubhouse, pro shop, and a restaurant, providing golfers with a comfortable and enjoyable experience to enjoy charming things to do in Owatonna.
Brooktree Golf Course stands as a testament to Owatonna’s golfing heritage. It offers both a rich history and an exceptional golfing experience for all who visit.
1369 Cherry Street Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
6. Mineral Springs Park
Mineral Springs Park is a serene and historic natural haven in Owatonna, Minnesota. The park was established in 1887 and has a compelling history and captivating features.
This park is named after the mineral springs once believed to have healing properties and attracts visitors seeking the benefits of the mineral-rich waters.
One of the park’s highlights is a charming waterfall, where visitors can relax and enjoy the soothing sounds of cascading water.
The park offers well-maintained walking trails, allowing nature enthusiasts to explore the woodlands, ponds, and open spaces while observing local wildlife.
Mineral Springs Park is perfect for picnicking with its picnic tables, shelters, and green lawns and provides an ideal setting for outdoor meals and gatherings.
It’s a beloved gathering place for community events, from concerts to festivals. It brings the local community together and offers them a space to enjoy new things to do in Owatonna.
Mineral Springs Park is a historic and picturesque destination in Owatonna. With its natural beauty, recreational facilities, and cultural significance, it continues to be a cherished place for residents and visitors alike.
1025 Mineral Springs Pkwy NE, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
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Cabela’s is a renowned American outdoor retailer known for its rich history and remarkable features. Cabela’s was founded by Dick and Mary Cabela. It started as a mail-order business specializing in fishing flies.
Over the years, Cabela’s expanded from a small mail-order company into a major outdoor retail chain, offering a wide range of hunting, fishing, and camping gear.
Cabela’s is famous for its unique retail stores that often feature museum-quality wildlife displays, indoor aquariums, and outdoor-themed decor, providing an immersive shopping experience.
In 2017, Cabela’s was acquired by Bass Pro Shops, forming one of the largest outdoor retail companies in the United States.
Cabela’s is not just a store; it’s a destination. Many locations offer workshops, events, and activities to enhance the outdoor experience for customers.
Cabela’s was established in 1961 and has become a symbol of the outdoor enthusiast’s passion for adventure and the great outdoors. Its history and unique shopping environment make it a must-visit destination for those who love the outdoors.
3900 Cabela Dr NW, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
8. Steele County Historical Society
The Steele County Historical Society is a significant institution in Owatonna, Minnesota, with a rich history and numerous fascinating attributes.
The society was established in 1949 and was founded to preserve and share the history of Steele County, making it a treasure trove of information about the region’s past.
The society operates the Steele County History Center, a building that houses extensive archives, exhibits, and research materials that shed light on the county’s history.
The center holds a vast collection of artifacts, documents, photographs, and manuscripts, ensuring that Steele County’s heritage is well-preserved.
The society hosts various educational programs and events throughout the year and makes history come alive for residents and visitors alike. This society adds variety to the list of things to do in Owatonna.
The Steele County Historical Society is committed to community engagement and historical awareness and plays a vital role in Owatonna’s cultural landscape.
The Steele County Historical Society serves as a guardian of local history and offers valuable resources and insight into the past. It’s a place where history is cherished and celebrated, providing a fascinating glimpse into Steele County’s heritage.
1700 Austin Rd, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
9. National Farmer’s Bank
The National Farmer’s Bank is an architectural gem and historical landmark located in Owatonna, Minnesota. It was established in 1908 and has a captivating history and noteworthy features.
The bank’s unique design was created by the renowned architect Louis Sullivan, known for his significant contributions to American architecture.
The bank is often referred to as one of the most beautiful small-town banks in the United States and is celebrated for its intricate and ornate design.
Inside, visitors can marvel at the decorative features and includes stained glass windows, ornate metalwork, and intricate plaster ornamentation.
The National Farmer’s Bank has been carefully preserved to retain its historical significance, and it remains a symbol of the architectural richness of Owatonna.
The bank is open for public tours and allows visitors to admire the remarkable design and learn about its history and architectural significance.
The National Farmer’s Bank stands as a testament to Louis Sullivan’s architectural genius. It’s not only a historical landmark but also a place of inspiration and admiration for its stunning design. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture and history.
101 N Cedar Ave, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
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10. Little Theater of Owatonna
The Little Theatre of Owatonna is a cultural gem in Owatonna, Minnesota. It was established in 1969 and is known for its rich history and engaging productions.
Over the years, the Little Theatre of Owatonna has produced a wide range of shows, from classic plays to contemporary works, offering diverse entertainment for the local audience.
The theater is well-regarded for its high-quality performances and attracts both amateur and professional actors to its stage. It actively promotes youth involvement in the arts and offers programs for young actors and technicians to nurture their talents.
The theater hosts an annual awards program to recognize outstanding contributions by actors, directors, and crew members. The theater offers a place to appreciate art while enjoying other things to do in Owatonna.
The Little Theatre of Owatonna continues to be a vital part of the local arts scene, entertaining and enriching the community through the magic of live theater. It’s a place where creativity and community converge, and where both audiences and performers find inspiration and delight.
560 Dunnell Dr # A, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
11. River Springs Water Park
River Springs Water Park is a beloved aquatic haven in Owatonna, Minnesota. The park was established in 2002 and has a history of fun and refreshing features.
River Springs was designed to provide a cool escape during the scorching summer months and offer a perfect respite from the heat and enjoy new things to do in Owatonna.
The park boasts a range of attractions, from thrilling water slides to a relaxing lazy river. There’s something for visitors of all ages to enjoy. One of the park’s main highlights is the wave pool, which creates the sensation of ocean waves, making it a hit with visitors.
For the little ones, there’s a fun splash pad where they can frolic and splash to their heart’s content. River Springs operates during the summer season and offers a place for families to bond, enjoy water adventures, and create lasting memories.
River Springs Water Park remains a sought-after destination for those seeking aquatic enjoyment and a fantastic way to beat the summer heat in Owatonna. It’s where the community gathers to cool off, have fun, and embrace the joy of summertime.
3065 St Paul Rd, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
12. Morehouse Park
River Springs Water Park is a beloved aquatic haven in Owatonna, Minnesota and has a history of fun and refreshing features.
River Springs was established in 2002 and was designed to provide a cool escape during the scorching summer months and offers a perfect respite from the heat.
The park boasts a range of attractions, from thrilling water slides to a relaxing lazy river. There’s something for visitors of all ages to enjoy.
One of the park’s main highlights is the wave pool, which creates the sensation of ocean waves, making it a hit with visitors. For the little ones, there’s a fun splash pad where they can frolic and splash to their heart’s content.
River Springs operates during the summer season and offers a place for families to bond, enjoy water adventures, and create lasting memories while experiencing new things to do in Owatonna.
River Springs Water Park remains a sought-after destination for those seeking aquatic enjoyment and a fantastic way to beat the summer heat in Owatonna. It’s where the community gathers to cool off, have fun, and embrace the joy of summertime.
350 W School St, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
13. West Hills Tennis & Pickleball Center
West Hills Tennis & Pickleball Center is a popular sports facility in Owatonna, Minnesota. The center was established in 1973 and has an intriguing history and exciting features.
The center has been a hub for tennis and pickleball enthusiasts for many years. The facility offers a variety of tennis courts, catering to players of all skill levels, from beginners to advanced.
In recent years, pickleball has gained immense popularity, and the center provides dedicated courts for this fast-paced and engaging sport.
The center hosts tennis and pickleball lessons, leagues, and tournaments and makes it a great place for players to improve their skills and compete.
Beyond sports, the center serves as a community hub, offering a place for social gatherings and fitness activities. West Hills Tennis & Pickleball Center continues to be a vibrant spot for sports and recreation in Owatonna.
Whether you’re a seasoned player or just looking to have fun, this center offers a welcoming space to enjoy tennis and pickleball.
502 Dunnell Drive, Owatonna MN 55060, United States
14. Lake Kohlmier
Lake Kohlmier is a picturesque gem with an interesting history and various appealing features. Lake Kohlmier was created in 1865 and has a rich history and was originally a mill pond to provide power for a nearby mill.
The lake is known for its tranquility and offers a beautiful environment for fishing, kayaking, and other water-based activities.
It spans over 35 acres and is surrounded by lush greenery and makes it a perfect location for picnics, bird-watching, and enjoying the great outdoors.
The lake is stocked with a variety of fish, including bass, panfish, and trout, making it a favorite spot for anglers. Lake Kohlmier is not just a summer destination; in the winter, it becomes an ice-fishing hub and offers year-round outdoor enjoyment.
Lake Kohlmier continues to be a cherished natural attraction in Owatonna. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, fishing, or a place to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, this lovely lake provides it all. It’s a spot where history, nature, and recreation come together.
1770 Mosher Avenue Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
15. Rice Lake State Park
Rice Lake State Park is a serene natural haven in Owatonna, Minnesota. The park was established in 1963 and has an interesting history and many engaging features.
Rice Lake State Park offers a glimpse into the region’s history and natural beauty. The park centers around the stunning Rice Lake, a 150-acre lake surrounded by woods and makes it a perfect spot for water-based activities like fishing, boating, and swimming.
It boasts several picnic areas with tables and grills, creating a wonderful setting for family outings and gatherings. The park features well-maintained trails for hikers and offers a chance to explore the diverse ecosystems and local wildlife.
From winter ice fishing to summer birdwatching, Rice Lake State Park provides year-round outdoor enjoyment. Rice Lake State Park remains a cherished location for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts and offers them an opportunity to explore new things to do in Owatonna.
Whether you’re looking to relax by the lake, hike through the woods, or engage in a variety of outdoor activities, this park offers a wonderful natural escape. It’s a place where history, beauty, and recreation come together.
8485 Rose St, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
16. Steele County Free Fair
The Steele County Free Fair is an enduring tradition in Owatonna, Minnesota. It was established in 1859 and has a remarkable history and many captivating features.
The Steele County Free Fair is one of the oldest county fairs in Minnesota, steeped in history. Held annually in August, the fair is a week-long summer extravaganza and offers a wide array of activities and entertainment for all ages.
The fair features thrilling rides, games, and carnival attractions, providing fun and excitement for visitors of all ages. With live music, grandstand shows, rodeos, and a demolition derby, the fair ensures a packed schedule of entertainment.
It celebrates Steele County’s agricultural heritage with livestock shows, 4-H exhibits, and a bustling marketplace. The Steele County Free Fair remains a beloved tradition in Owatonna.
It’s not just a fair; it’s a celebration of community spirit, culture, and summer fun. Each year, thousands gather to partake in the festivities, making it a cherished event that brings the community together.
1525 S Cedar Ave, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
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17. Applebees Grill & Bar
Applebee’s Grill & Bar is a well-known American restaurant chain with a fascinating history and numerous interesting facts.
Applebee’s was founded in 1980 by Bill and T.J. Palmer, beginning as a modest restaurant in Decatur, Georgia. Since its inception, the chain has grown significantly and boasts thousands of locations across the United States and around the world.
Applebee’s is renowned for its diverse menu and features a wide range of American dishes, from burgers and steaks to salads and pasta.
It’s a popular spot for casual dining that offers a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere where people can gather for meals and socializing.
Applebee’s often engages in community activities and charity work, exemplifying its commitment to giving back to the neighborhoods it serves.
Applebee’s Grill & Bar has become a staple in the American dining scene, offering a mix of flavors and a friendly atmosphere for friends and families. It continues to provide a place for delicious food and good times, which makes it a favorite spot for many.
690 W Bridge St, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
18. Orphanage Museum
The Orphanage Museum is a unique institution in Owatonna, Minnesota. The museum was established in 1889 and has a rich history and many fascinating aspects.
The museum is housed in the original buildings of the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children. The museum showcases artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that narrate the story of the children who once lived here and the dedicated staff who cared for them.
Some of the original buildings have been meticulously restored and offer visitors a chance to step back in time and experience life as it was for the children who called this place home.
The museum hosts educational programs for schools and the public and enlightens visitors about the history of orphaned and neglected children in Minnesota.
The Orphanage Museum stands as a tribute to Minnesota’s history, preserving the stories and experiences of the children who lived there. It’s a place to learn, reflect, and honor the past, providing valuable insights into the state’s history and the care of its most vulnerable children.
120 South Oak Ave. Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
19. Four Seasons Center
The Four Seasons Center is a vital community hub in Owatonna, Minnesota. The center was established in 2001 and has a noteworthy history and many captivating aspects. The Four Seasons Center provides a space for various community activities.
This modern facility hosts a range of events, from concerts and performances to meetings, conferences, and trade shows and makes it a versatile space for various functions.
It features an auditorium with seating for up to 500 people, equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems to enhance any performance or presentation.
The centre frequently hosts art exhibitions, showcasing the work of local and regional artists and creates a vibrant cultural environment to explore new things to do in Owatonna.
As a gathering place for events and cultural experiences, the Four Seasons Centre plays a pivotal role in fostering community connections and enriching the cultural landscape of Owatonna.
The Four Seasons Centre continues to serve as a vital space for community events, cultural enrichment, and artistic expression in Owatonna. It’s where the community gathers, learns, and enjoys a diverse array of experiences.
1525 S Elm Ave, Owatonna, MN 55060, United States
Owatonna, Minnesota, offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and outdoor activities that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, an outdoor adventurer, or a foodie, you’re sure to find something enjoyable in this charming town.
Make the most of your visit to Owatonna by exploring these 19 fun-filled attractions and things to do in Owatonna, NC.