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by Linda Jenkinson

In this beautiful area of Minnesota, I found the folks in Winona among the friendliest, most good-natured, and warm-hearted that I have met.

"Lake Winona" courtesy of Amanda Gillett. Used with permission.
Winona, MN is a town of about 30,000 in the upper Mississippi River Valley. Known as the blufflands, here the river kept the glacier at bay (the one that flattened out most of the state). Tall, beautiful bluffs line both sides of the river and flatten out on top to what we call "the ridge". Bald eagles fly here and sometime nest among the many species of deciduous trees that are 4-season gorgeous.

To the southwest, Rochester, the home of the Mayo Clinic, is less than an hour away. On the north side of the river, Wisconsin is just two miles away. The beautiful, but larger city of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, is less than a half hour away.

Because Winona sits on a sandbar, our shoreline runs west to east, rather than north to south. The surrounding bluffs protect Winona from the harsher weather experienced by folks who live on the Minnesota prairies.

The sometimes harsh winter weather is a small price to pay for the luxury of living here, but winter brings Winonans a special perk. During winter, ice floes cascade down the bluffs and display every color of the rainbow. Tall evergreens stand guard over bare birch, hickory, walnut, maple, oaks and many more stately trees.

Every season is spectacular. In spring, song birds return and the hills are alive again. The bluffs light up with every shade and tint of green you can imagine. Walk through Levee Park on a bright spring day and watch small riverboats push huge barges up river. Enjoy the grandeur of the large riverboats, like the Mississippi Queen, as they dock for an afternoon visit. Or walk around Lake Park and enjoy the flocks of waterfowl returning to nest on Lake Winona in the center of town.

Hot, humid summers give Winonans and our visitors the excuse to head for the water. The river, its backwaters, and area lakes abound with fishing enthusiasts, water skiers, jet skiers, canoers, kayakers, and swimmers.

During autumn, take in the spectacular colors along highway 61 immortalized in song by Bob Dylan.

“Wow… How amazing to live in the midst of this beauty.” This quote comes from my niece, Amanda Gillett, who captured the scene of Lake Winona set against the bluffs. Amanda is one person who makes Winona an extra-special place to live.