The following is only a suggested itinerary. The locations mentioned here are not exclusive to any specific day or time of day.
Begin in Red Wing, where the renovated 1904 Sheldon Theatre hosts a full schedule of performances. Enjoy a matinee and lunch at the Historic St. James Hotel before a drive to an overlook for a bird’s eye view of one of the largest resting spots for wintering bald eagles. Tour the Red Wing Shoe Museum, home to the worlds largest boot, size 638.5, The Pottery Museum, and take a drive up or hike the bluffs for stunning views.
Continue along Highway 61, which follows the Mississippi River as it flows south along the state border. Drive through Frontenac State Park and Lake City, which sit on the shore where the river widens. It’s at this widening, known as Lake Pepin, where water skiing began. Stop at the apple stand for some cider or locally-produced gift items.
Another excellent vantage point for eagle spotting is Read’s Landing, just outside Wabasha.
Check into a Wabasha hotel and freshen up for dinner at a riverfront restaurant. Dinner is served at The Bluffs at Coffee Mill located on a bluff top providing spectacular views of the Mississippi and Chippewa River valleys.
Following breakfast, take a short ride to meet Angel, Harriet and Columbia, three of the resident bald eagles at the National Eagle Center in downtown Wabasha. Participate in educational, interactive and informative displays and presentations and have your group’s photo taken with one of the resident eagles.
Take a driving tour of Historic Downtown Wabasha with more than 50 buildings listed on the National Historic Register, and Lawrence Boulevard, which parallels the mighty Mississippi River and has stately river homes.
Enjoy lunch at Slipperys Restaurant while watching the boats pass by. Slipperys offers indoor and outdoor dining and is mentioned in the “Grumpy Old Men” movies, which can be viewed in the restaurant.
Drive 5 miles south of Wabasha on Highway 61 to LARK Toys, the largest specialty toy store in the U.S. Ride the spectacular hand-carved wooden carousel with 19 colorful and fantastic animals. Visit the numerous shops for toys, children’s books, candy, homemade fudge and much more.
As you make your way south toward Winona, look for the bluffs named Faith Hope and Charity at the John A. Latsch State Park. Rising high above the river, these bluffs served as navigational beacons for river boat captains. And migrating bird, too, no doubt.
Enjoy happy hour at the Garvin Heights Vineyard Gathering Room, and have dinner at one of the local restaurants.
Start your day downtown at the Winona County History Center and its remodeled addition. The region’s largest museum showcases the history of Winona County. Professionally constructed exhibits examine life in Winona as lived by both lumber baron and laborer.
Next stop is the Polish Cultural Institute and Museum, which showcases Polish Immigrant history of a third of Winona’s citizens. Then walk a short block to the Watkins Museum and Store and take a self-guided tour of the history of the Watkins Company. More than 350 Watkins products, including personal care, home care, remedies, and organic flavorings, are available for purchase.
Grab lunch in downtown Winona before riding Riverview Drive to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, home to some of the best collections of “art inspired by water.” Works by Monet, Van Gogh, Cole, and Bierstadt can be found in this gem of a museum, located on the banks of the Mississippi River.
Adjoining the great River Road in La Crescent is the Historic Bluff Country Scenic By-way. Venture into this awe-inspiring landscape known as the Driftless Area and noted for its deeply carved river valley. Lanesboro, just east of La Crescent, has an ordinance that prohibits national franchise businesses. The arts, outdoor recreation and the surrounding Amish communities are top attractions.Mississippi Flyway: A Bird’s Eye View