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18 of the Most Awesome Things to Do in Owatonna, Minnesota

Rich in history that’s been preserved and repurposed along with a modern twist, you will find a ton of awesome things to do in Owatonna, Minnesota. From an abundance of water activities to museums, a zoo, and an art center there is a variety of great things to do in Owatonna in all seasons, within the town and its surrounding area. Come along and discover 18 of the most awesome things to do in Owatonna.

Stand up paddle boarding
Relax paddle boarding the day away

1. National Farmers’ Bank

The National Farmers’ Bank is housed in a building designed by Louis Sullivan, who was given the unofficial title of ‘father of the skyscraper’. The building is the best known of a series of buildings termed Sullivan’s ‘jewel box’ banks. It has gold leaf arches and terracotta. It also features beautiful stained-glass windows. Today, Wells Fargo operates from the building and is also open for tours.

2. Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum

The Minnesota State Public School Orphanage was established in 1885 for children who had been orphaned, neglected, or abused. The orphanage housed more than 10,000 orphans over the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the 1990s, the museum was opened as a tribute to these children. Visit the museum and enter the lives of the children in the orphanage.

3. Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Zoo

Take a walk on the wild side at one of the most awesome things to do in Owatonna, Minnesota
Take a walk on the wild side at one of the most awesome things to do in Owatonna, Minnesota

The RAD zoo is the best place to find out more about the world of reptiles and amphibians. Among the most varieties of reptiles and amphibians at any zoo in the world, you will meet snakes, lizards, crocodiles, salamanders, and frogs up close in a fun and educational environment. Learn about how they behave and where they live. At one of the daily shows, you will be able to pet a python, tortoise, and alligator. Weekends include feeding times for the animals.

4. River Springs Water Park

The River Springs Water Park was opened in 2009 and has been attracting visitors ever since, particularly on sunny, warm summer days. You can take a leisurely ride along the Lazy River, which offers 262 feet of relaxation, or get your adrenaline flowing on the tube slide or the body slide. There is an Activity Pool for variety and a zero-depth pool area for the kids. Take a chance on the climbing wall to build up some heat before heading back to the water rides at the water park.

5. Mineral Springs Park

Mineral Springs Park is home to the legend of Princess Owatonna, a Native American princess who drank the special water of Maple Creek and was cured of her illness. This historic significance of the river still leads visitors to drink the water.

6. Kaplan’s Woods Park

The seven miles of trails are a major attraction of Kaplan’s Woods Park. They range from easy to intermediate and cover different terrains and natural features. Take a hike with the family through the park, where you can enjoy the beauty of Lake Kohlmeier, or take a break and have a swim, or try your hand at fishing. If you are a biker, then the trails will suit you too. Bring your mountain or fat tire bike and have some fun. Runners can get some important training on the trails, or just take it easy and jog along. The paved trail at Kaplan’s Woods Parkway is accessible to wheelchairs.

7. Village of Yesteryear

The Village of Yesteryear is a recreation of life in Owatonna during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a site that preserves the history of the area and gives you the unique opportunity to experience life in a small town. The village is curated by the Steele County Historical Society. There are nineteen buildings that have been relocated from elsewhere in the county to create this wonderful interactive museum. Take time to visit the railroad station and homes, which vary in size from a traditional cabin from the 1800s to the Dunnell mansion. Seek inspiration in the Saco Church, which was built in 1891.

8. Owatonna Arts Center

At Owatonna Arts Center, take the opportunity to enrich your spirit by celebrating the creative and performing arts. The center is a non-profit organization and encourages the involvement of the community. Special events are held during the year, including a Fine Art and Craft Sale, featuring work by local craftsmen. You can also admire work by local artists, including pottery and beadwork.

9. Lake Kohlmeier

Not all lakes are natural. Lake Kohlmeier is an artificial lake that was created when an abandoned gravel mine was filled with water. You can rent kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and paddleboats for some fun on the water. 

Have you ever wanted to ride a bike on water? Rent a hydro bike for this unique experience.

If you simply want to enjoy the sun and cool off in the water, then head for Kohlmeier Beach, with designated swimming areas. The lake also features a fishing area for those silent moments. You can also explore the park on your trail bike. 

Race down a trail at one of the most awesome things to do in Owatonna
Race down a trail at one of the most awesome things to do in Owatonna

Indulge the kid inside and give your remote control boat a spin on the water.

10. West Hills Pumpkin Patch Geocaching

Treasure hunting attracts us all, doesn’t it? The idea of following clues to find something special.  West Hills offers a one-of-a-kind treasure hunt with geocaching: follow the GPS to locate different activities in the park. You can take place in an eye spy game, ring toss, and even pumpkin bowling. 

For even greater fun, do an evening session of geocaching.

11. West Hills Social Commons

Owatonna takes all citizens of every age into account. Seniors will find the West Hills Social Commons, which presents recreational, leisure, and social opportunities for seniors. There are also educational and sporting opportunities.

12. Rice Lake State Park

If you are looking for somewhere to camp that is truly away from it all, then head for Rice Lake State Park. The camping grounds are cart-in and walk-in, which means you can only access them on foot. Carts are available for your use at the cart-in site.

Rice Lake is home to many species of waterfowl, with the shallow water and marshlands along the edge. Spend some time in the waterfowl observation area and enjoy seeing the birds in their natural habitat.

In summer, take advantage of the picnic tables in the designated picnic area. There are warming shelters for you when you go snowmobiling or skiing in winter. To get you onto the lake, you can make use of the public boating ramp.

If you enjoy camping check out our great camping information pages here on our website.

13. Owatonna Union Depot

Built in 1887, the Owatonna Union Depot functioned as a freight and passenger station. The building was saved from demolition and moved to the grounds of the Owatonna Tool Company, in 1977. The locomotive was also moved to the same site. The baggage shed from the station was also moved and restored, to a separate site. The building was restored and filled with railroad relics.

14. Russell Stover Chocolates

If you’ve never tried a Russell Stover chocolate or candy, then Owatonna will change that. Choose from all the goodies in the store, especially the Carmel apples. There is also an ice cream bar. The best thing to do may be to check the ‘bloopers’ bin, where the goodies are marked down but are just as tasty as everything in the shop.

15. Spare Time Entertainment

Spare Time is an indoor entertainment facility, with bowling, laser tag, and a game zone with multiple games to play. There are spaces for parties and other events, such as team building and office gatherings. The full bar and restaurant offer refreshments inside and on the outdoor patio. Tickle your taste buds with the Mushroom and Swill burger, Bleu cheeseburger, or the Whole barn burger. There are also bunless burger options.

16.Reggie’s Brewhouse

Do you remember the time when bars welcomed you and offered friendly service? Reggie’s is just that bar. The horseshoe bar keeps service personal and the atmosphere relaxed. There are multiple pool tables available and everyone is kept comfortable. You can also party to the live music on Saturday night.

17. Waters Edge Mini Golf

The perfect night for the family is mini golf and Waters Edge is the place to play in Owatonna. You may lose your ball in the water, but that’s just part of the fun. Kids will handle the special plastic putters well and you can all chill out at the clubhouse after you’ve finished a round or two.

18. Owatonna Skate Park

Skateboarder skateboarding on a sunny day
Skateboarder skateboarding on a sunny day

The Owatonna Skate Park caters to all sports with wheels – and welcomes interpretations of just that. This is a Tier One park. Helmets and other safety equipment are required.

Things to Do in Owatonna for All Seasons.

There is really no end of things to do in Owatonna, Minnesota. You won’t have to look very far to keep yourself and the family occupied on many occasions. If you play a sport with wheels other than skateboarding or cycling, then the skate park will be your home. Then there is Kholmeier Lake and Beach for great summer fun. In winter, race down skiing trails in Rice Lake State Park. If you are looking for activities indoors, outdoors, and throughout the year, there are awesome things to do in Owatonna for any type of weather and in all seasons.

If you’ve experienced other awesome things to do in Owatonna that you feel should be added to our list, let us know by leaving a comment below.