Are there fun things to do in Worthington, Minnesota? Nestled at the intersection of Minnesota State Highway 60 and Interstate 90, Worthington, Minnesota is an excellent weekend destination.
The city of Worthington was founded in 1871 when the railroad came to St. Paul and Sioux City. Today, Worthington boasts robust agribusiness and economic development, along with a plethora of recreational activities.
With just over 10,000 residents, Worthington has a small-town feel and is one of the most diverse communities in Southwestern Minnesota.
Let’s explore all of the wonderful things to do in Worthington, Minnesota.
1. Worthington’s Historic Downtown
First on our list of great things to do in Worthington is to head downtown. With comfortable benches for seating, quaint lighting, and decorative columns, Worthington’s historic downtown features unique restaurants and shops that can keep you busy for an afternoon or a weekend.
While there, be sure to hit up North Humiston, Ryan’s Road, and Oxford Street for everything from hotels to jewelry and gift stores.
2. Research Your Family History
At the Nobles County Historical Society, you can dive into genealogy and research your family’s history. Learn about the history of Nobles County and access their digitized newspapers from the late 19th century, browse self-published family biographies and genealogies, dig into church records and early marriage records, and much more.
Winterfest takes place in January, and people can participate in an ice fishing tournament, the Deep Freeze Dip, a puzzle tournament, games such as pond hockey and broomball, and a chili cook-off competition.
4. Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival
Every year, the regatta promotes the windsurfing industry with recreational sailing and racing on the gorgeous shores of Lake Okabena. Located near Sailboard Beach, the Windsurfing Regatta and Music Festival is free to attend.
5. International Festival
Next on our list of great things to do in Worthington is to join in the fun of an annual festival. Worthington is a diverse city and the colorful International Festival that takes place every July puts Worthington’s full diversity on display. This festival features food and music from around the world, and you can enter (or watch) a fabulous talent contest that showcases all of the many talents of people who come from far and wide to enter.
6. Spomer Classics and Museum
Worthington is home to one of the finest automobile collections in the upper Midwestern United States. The Spomer Classis and museum features automotive memorabilia, classic automobiles for sale, and neon and porcelain dealership signs.
7. Nobles County Pioneer Village
How would you like to step back in time into a pioneer village? At Nobles County Pioneer Village, you can see how early settlers lived in Minnesota. The state’s largest historic village, Pioneer Village offers self-guided tours of more than 30 buildings.
From a railroad depot to a historic farm site, the exhibits show the full range of industries that built Minnesota. You can even see a blacksmith shop, iron long, and a saloon. Members of the Nobles County Historical Society get in for free.
8. Worthington Area YMCA
The Worthington Area YMCA is open seven days a week. The hours of operation vary depending on the day.
What can you do at the YMCA? Here are some of the programs offered at the Worthington YMCA:
- Adult sports
- Personal training
- Swimming and swim classes
- Group exercise classes
- Sports for people of all ages
A family membership costs $71 per month and individual memberships are cheaper, depending on your age. You can also get a day pass for $8 so you can go once and see if you like the facility and the offerings.
9. Nobles County Fair
In August, your family can find all sorts of fun at the Nobles County Fair. Thursday through Sunday, you can enjoy a full carnival with grandstand events featured from Friday through Sunday.
Check out the 4-H livestock entries, flowers, crafts, and Machinery Row. And don’t forget all of the incredibly tasty fair food that you can chow down on.
10. Camping at Olson Park
Olson Park is a city-owned park that offers camping and RV hookups. While the park doesn’t have sewer and water hookups, there is a dumping station. Also, the handicap-accessible bathrooms have private showers and are well-maintained.
11. GreatLife Golf and Fitness Club
People of all ages can enjoy the game of golf at GreatLife. There are paid lessons and free golf clinics, plus a junior golf camp and various tours for both juniors and seniors.
This club isn’t just about golf. There’s a 24-hour gym at the club that has weight training equipment and state-of-the-art cardio machines. You can also relax with a massage with the club’s massage therapy program.
12. King Turkey Day
Every September, you can take part in the King Turkey Day celebration in Worthington. This festival has been running for over 80 years and attracts thousands of people to the city every year.
Early in the day, you can enjoy free pancakes at a pancake breakfast. Then, watch live turkeys race down the street during the Great Gobbler Gallop. After the Gobbler Gallop, you and your family can enjoy one of the largest parades in the area, featured speakers, and a 10K race and carnival.
13. The Historic Dayton House
Witness Victorian hospitality and elegance when you explore the Historic Dayton House in Worthington, Minnesota. The home was originally built in the 1890s and has been fully restored to showcase the classic Victorian furnishings and architecture.
This historic home is unique because you can enjoy overnight accommodations in spacious suites. While there, enjoy the lower-level parlors, kitchen, dining room, outdoor spaces, and library. Tours need to be scheduled in advance and cost $10 per person.
14. Memorial Auditorium
For folks who enjoy performing arts, Worthington’s Memorial Auditorium has something for everyone. From school band concerts and choir performances to country and western entertainers, you can find all sorts of performances at Memorial Auditorium.
15. Nystrom Orchard
At the orchard’s shop, you can buy apple cider, orchard beef, orchard pies, honey, and more.
16. Lake Okabena
The city of Worthington is built around beautiful Lake Okabena, a 776-acre lake where you can canoe, kayak, windsurf, paddleboard, fish, and swim. At Slater Park and Centennial Park, there are public beaches where you can catch some sun and enjoy the water. If you don’t have your own canoe, kayak, or paddleboard, you can rent them at The Beach Nook.
If you’re a boater, you can find boat landings at Centennial, Sunset, Ehlers, and Slater parks. For picnicking and camping, be sure to check out the Lake Bella Recreation Area, which is 40 developed acres above the dam on the east shore.
17. Round Lake Vineyards and Winery
Step into the heart of Minnesota’s wine country with a visit to Round Lake Vineyards and Winery. The winery regularly features 15 different wines, and you can sip on your own glass of wine while sitting by the lake or on the patio. Located on-site is a full-service dining room where you can enjoy gourmet sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads, hearth oven-baked pizzas, and signature entrees such as bison tenderloin and grilled walleye.
One of the many activities that take place at the winery includes Spring Market, an annual craft and vendor show. You can show local craftsmen and artisans while you sip on a mimosa or a glass of wine.
18. Forbidden Barrel Brewing Co.
Last, but not least on our list of great things to do in Worthington is to wet your whistle at the Forbidden Barrel Brewing Co. If craft beer, Minnesota wines, and small-batch Minnesota spirits pique your interest, you must check out the family-owned Forbidden Barrel Brewing Company. Located in downtown Worthington a block away from Lake Okabena, the company brews with ingredients that they source locally.
The beer is brewed on-site, and you can choose from a wide variety of IPA, brown ale, herbed and spice beer, Pilsner, Czech beer, and wheat beer.
At Forbidden Barrel, you can also enjoy made-to-order pizzas and street corn nachos.
Final Thoughts: Things to Do in Worthington, Minnesota
Are you ready to spend a day (or a weekend) in Worthington, Minnesota? Once you’ve exhausted the list of activities listed above, head over to Oxford Street or Ryan’s Road to do some last-minute shopping. Let us know in the comments which of these great things to do in Worthington you enjoyed most, and be sure to mention anything we may have missed.
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.