SO MUCH TO DISCOVER
Did you know that Louis Sullivan designed the first jewel box bank right here in Owatonna, or that more than 10,000 children lived in the Minnesota State Public School (now home to the Orphanage Museum)? Did you know that Justin Bieber’s albino boa constrictor now lives at the RAD Zoo? You will be amazed by Owatonna’s attractions!
Get ready for your outdoor adventure at one of the largest fishing, hunting and outdoor retail stores in the Midwest. Cabelas also features 100 game mounts, museum-quality dioramas, three aquariums, and outdoor lifestyle classes. After stocking up on quality outdoor products, get a snack in the restaurant, or a sweet treat in the fudge shop (made fresh, daily). Just down the road pick up chocolate, brittle, caramel gifts, and ice cream at Russell Stover Candies.
Stroll through the historic downtown districts specialty shops, salons, jewelry, and shoe and clothing boutiques. Come visit on a Saturday from May through October and shop at the Farmers Market in Central Park. The market is packed with farm-fresh produce, homemade goodies, houseplants, crafts and fresh cut flowers. Grab lunch at one of Owatonna’s local dining options listed on the downtown map. Don’t forget dessert! The Historic Walking Tour Guide Brochure is available at the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and at various downtown businesses. More info on Historic Downtown here.
The Little Theatre of Owatonna (LTO) creates a healthy community through live theatre! Let us entertain you! We entertain audiences with 4 or 5 productions per year and have wonderful features like a 4,000 piece Colette Flom costume collection, an Induction Hearing Loop system (which transmits audio clearly to a T-coil hearing aid for the hearing-impaired patron), and an upgraded sound system.
Visit the Medford Outlet Center for some retail therapy. Shop at great stores like GAP, Old Navy, Bath and Body Works, Nike Clearance Store and other unique retail stores at outlet prices.
The National Farmers’ Bank is a premier example of Prairie School Architecture and was named one of the “11 Can’t-Miss Stops on a Tour of America’s Hidden Architecture Gems”. The bank was designed in the early 1900s by Louis Sullivan who was known as the “father of the skyscraper”and Frank Lloyd Wright’s mentor. The National Farmers Bank became the first, and most famous of Louis Sullivan’s “jewel box” banks. The building features gold leaf arches, stained glass windows, ornate terra cotta, and 2-ton electroliers. Now an operating Wells Fargo, the bank is located across from Central Park in Historic Downtown. Take a self-guided tour or call the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism to organize a group tour.
Allow 45 minutes for tour.
Address: 540 West Hills Circle | Phone: 507-774-7369
Operations: Museum M-F 8am-5pm & Sat-Sun 1pm-5pm | Cottage 11 Tues-Sun 1pm-4pm from May 1 to Labor Day and 1pm-3pm other months. Closed Jan and Feb. Call to make an appointment during off hours.
Approximately 10,635 orphaned, abandoned or abused children were sent to Owatonna between 1886 and 1945 to live at the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, located on what is now called the West Hills Campus. The historic campus is now home to the Owatonna Arts Center, the Little Theatre of Owatonna, City offices and the only known Orphanage Museum in the nation. The museum was founded by a former “State-Schooler” to remember the children who lived there. Explore the Museum, historic Cottage 11, the Children’s Cemetery, and an audio tour to get a glimpse of what life was like for the children who called the State School their home. Whether you schedule a guided group tour or choose a self-guided visit, you will find unforgettable history awaiting you.
Spend an afternoon enjoying the current art exhibit at the Owatonna Art Center and the diverse group of works by local and regional artists, which comprises the majority of the OAC permanent collection. For over 35 years, the Owatonna Arts Center has been a cultural beacon serving community members by inviting them to explore, experience, and engage in unique and meaningful art experiences. The Owatonna Arts Center is housed on the West Hills Campus where the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children was in operation from 1886 until 1945. Make sure to check out the beautiful stained glass windows that were salvaged from a local church. Walk down the hall to the Orphanage Museum to learn more about the rich history of the State School. No Admission Fee – donations appreciated.
With 3 smokestacks, behind the signature red neon lettering; the old Owatonna Power Plant stands to this day as a local landmark. The original municipal power plant was built in 1855 as a steam power plant. After the Straight River flooded the building in 2010, the plant shut down. The inside was renovated in 2015 to house the Owatonna Public Utilities headquarters. The building still has its original iconic structure and powerful sense of space.
Take a walk through the lower level of the building to see parts of the original plant incorporated in the renovated architecture. Take group tour to learn about the plant’s history and visit all three floors, including the top floor with a one-of-a-kind view of the city. Contact the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism to organize a tour.
Guided Tours Available. Allow 45 minutes for tour.
The Reptile and Amphibian Discovery (RAD) Zoo is home to a diverse collection of more than 150 kinds of snakes, turtles, crocodilians, toads, frogs and salamanders from all over the world. Meet “Big Al”, a 12 foot long American alligator, and Justin Bieber’s former pet boa constrictor “Johnson”. Stop in for the daily Everglades Encounters show focusing on the animals of the Florida Swamps, or witness snakes and crocodilians during feeding time on the weekends. From autumn through spring, bring a large group and “Camp with the Crocs” overnight at the zoo. Get a souvenir photo taken holding a snake or alligator! Show Times: Mon.-Fri. 3:30pm; Sat. 11:30am, 2pm, & 4:30pm; Sun. 1:30pm & 3:30pm. Admission charged.
The Steele County Historical Society preserves Steele County’s past, shares our county’s stories and connects people with history in meaningful ways, for today and for tomorrow. Because history matters! We’re part of Minnesota’s rich history. Established in 1949 to preserve the history of Steele County, we have grown to become one of the largest and most prestigious historical societies in the state. We play an important role in historic preservation, education and tourism; and provide the public with educational award-winning programs, exhibitions and events. Currently on exhibit Over Here, Over There: The Great War 100 and Toys and Play, 1970 to Today. Admission charged.
Experience what life was like in Owatonna at the turn of the 20th Century at the Village of Yesteryear. Presented by the Steele County Historical Society, the 19 structure site has become a landmark in the county and a historic treasure. The Village of Yesteryear features two log cabins, railroad station and a caboose from Steele County, general store/post office, fire station, farm machinery building, blacksmith shop, country school, Dunnell mansion, and the St. Wenceslaus of Moravia Church. The buildings are furnished according to the time they were built, and are connected by a boardwalk. Allow 1 1/2 hours for the tour. Admision charged.