Three years ago I had the fun of writing a story about Owatonna, a lovely town of about 25,000 located 35 miles south of my home. My story, Explore the Heart of Owatonna, was published in the Star Tribune’s travel section three years ago today – June 30, 2012. So, since today’s blogging challenge letter is O, I figured I write a bit about Owatonna!

Interior view of the National Farmers' Bank, now a Wells Fargo.

Interior view of the National Farmers’ Bank, now a Wells Fargo.

I’ve driven past Owatonna on 35 hundreds of times but really hadn’t taken the time to explore the town until I went about researching the story for the STrib. Even though I could have explored the town on my own, I prefer to get information from a local when I write my travel stories. Fortunately, my friend, Julianna (Director of The Merlin Players theater company) lives in Owatonna and knows the best places to eat, explore and shop.

Julianna took me around town, introduced me to people and shared her favorite places with me. One of Julianna’s favorite places is the gorgeous National Farmers’ Bank, a national historic landmark located in the heart of downtown. It’s well worth a visit to see the stunning architecture, murals and stained glass windows. She also took me to Costas Candies & Restaurant where I sampled many, many, great chocolates! We also visited the Orphanage Museum, the Steele County Historical Society and saw the statue of Princess Owatonna in Mineral Springs Park. My day in Owatonna was full of fun and I have been back several times since.

The candy counter at Costas Candies & Restaurant

The candy counter at Costas Candies & Restaurant

Most recently, my son and I went on a day trip to Owatonna during spring break. We took a self-guided walking tour of the bank, saw a bunch of snakes and other critters at the Reptile & Amphibian Discovery Zoo and ate a few too many chocolates from Costas. In short, Ryan and I had a great time  and we can’t wait to go back. Maybe we’ll see you there!

Ryan had the fun of holding a Python at the Reptile Zoo.

Ryan had the fun of holding a Python at the Reptile Zoo.

Owatonna is full of great places to visit. To find out more about the town and things to see and do, click HERE to read my Star Tribune Travel story: Explore the heart of Owatonna.

Click HERE to go to the website for the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism