If you live anywhere south of, say Des Moines, 30 degrees has probably never been called blissful, but in Winona this time of year it is like an all-out heat wave. I know, it’s all so relative. If it was August we’d all be pretty unhappy. If it was Florida, iguanas would be dropping out of trees. But this is winter in Minnesota, and most days anything above five degrees feels like winning the lottery.
For the past week people have been shedding their jackets as the balmy sun melted through the thick snow crust and warmed up our cars, kitchen windows and hearts. I don’t even think calling it blissful gives the sunshine enough credit, because frankly people are getting downright giddy. I am personally so excited I can’t breathe, because this great thaw, Mother Nature’s annual blessing to the north, means one thing: Good bye hat hair.
Okay seriously, spring in Winona is absolutely my favorite time of year. As the last vestiges of winter melt away the sidewalks and bike paths are once again filled with walkers and Rollerbladers, and the bluffs literally burst with the color of budding trees and spring green prairie grasses.
Winona is blessed with an abundance of fragrant flowering trees that dot boulevards through town, and bright tulips light up parks and flower boxes downtown. Our historic buildings are beautiful all year, but when they are lit up by spring they are especially beautiful.
Soon the pond that surrounds Princess Wenonah in Windom Park will flow with water, and delicate buds will appear on the roses in Winona’s rose garden, and Winona will be gracefully stepping into its most beautiful time of year when people travel from all over to soak in the charm of this historic river town.
To catch spring in full swing, these things are my favorites:
Wander around East Lake Winona then walk across the street to the Lakeview Drive Inn for one of their killer root beer floats.
Catch a few rays on a bench in the tiny city park behind the Post Office where red and yellow tulips brighten planters around Winona’s downtown American flag.
Stop into the Winona County Historical Society and ask about the walking tour, which will guide you past Winona’s famous and infamous landmarks.
Head down to Levee Park on the Mississippi River and watch some of the season’s first barges chug by loaded with grain.
This list could go on forever – there is so much to do here when the weather is warm enough to wander. But whatever you decide to do, what you don’t want to do is miss this town when it comes alive after a winter sleep – you’re guaranteed to come away feeling more alive too 🙂