GROUP TOUR PLANNING
GROUP TOUR PLANNING
Treasures Await to be explored
In the heart of Southern Minnesota, Owatonna has been at the crossroads of history for decades. From unforgettable history to architectural masterpieces to bountiful argriculture, Owatonna showcases an array of treasures to explore! Call the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism for pricing and availability for your next Group Tour!
Visit Owatonna Invites…
your group to visit the heart of Southern Minnesota. Explore the world of State Schoolers, Louis Sullivan architecture and early Minnesota history. Enjoy outdoor adventures, local and international “foodie” experiences, shopping and much more.
Whatever the size of your group, our staff will create your very own customized tour schedule. Leave the details to us, we guarantee you will receive friendly and helpful service.
Tour guide services are available for tour buses and large groups when reservations are made in advance of a visit. Check out our Group Tour attractions and services below!
After your tour, stop by other group-friendly businesses like Russell Stover Chocolates, Country Goods, the candy counter at Costas’ Candies and Restaurant, and the new fiber arts store, Straight River Rug Hooking and Fiber Arts.
With so many things to do in Owatonna, it’s hard to see them all in one day. We are happy to reach out to our local lodging properties to secure room blocks for your group.
For group tour inquiries, call Emily Volkmer our Group Tour Director or click the button below.
Call us at: 800-423-6466
Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
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.
HISTORIC WALKING TOUR
Encounter a blend of architectural styles from the late 1800s to early 1900s during the Historic Walking Tour including historic homes, schools, churches and other buildings. The Historic Walking Tour Guide Brochure is available at the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism and can also be viewed online (click here). Allow 1 hour for the guided group tour. Admission is $5/person with a minimum charge of $50/group.
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 the guided group tour. Admission is $5/person with a minimum charge of $50/group.
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. Allow 1 1/2 hours for the guided group tour. Admission charged.
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. Admission is $5/person with a minimum charge of $50/group.
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.
Immerse yourself in the history of Steele County and Minnesota at the Steele County History Center. The beautiful new building is also home to many events throughout the year. Country Schools: The Beating Heart of Rural Community is on exhibit now. Visit the Village of Yesteryear next door (guided tours). Admission charged.
STEP BACK IN TIME: OWATONNA GROUP TOUR PACKAGE
Spend a full day with your group on the Step Back in Time tour in Owatonna. Your tour will feature the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum, Village of Yesteryear, Steele County History Center, and Louis Sullivan Bank. Lunch is included in this complete package. We look forward to hearing from you! Offered seasonally May 1 -September 30. Click here for details
Owatonna Mystery Tour
Keep the destination and activities a secret from your group. Add excitement back into your trips. Let us know your desired dates, attractions, and activities and we will help put together a custom itinerary! Take a look at our Mystery Tour Brochure for trip ideas.
Click here for details
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. Admission charged.
scroll Down To…