Summer in the River Cities – Plan a day trip to the Mississippi towns

0008It is easy to put off spending quality time with your family, spouse or close friends. Before the summer slips away, plan a leisurely day trip that includes the festivities and events in the quaint communities along the Lake Pepin shorelines and Mississippi River bluffs.

Winona: Shakespeare and Beethoven

Winona is simply a summer hot spot of events. It is one of 12 towns celebrating Legacy Destination Weekend, July 15–17. The Winona History Center ( has family-friendly activities, including building paper boats or a Winona postcard.

    Visitors come by the thousands to Winona each summer to experience the Great River Shakespeare Festival. The 2011 season offers two Shakespeare productions (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “King Henry IV, Part I”), an intern/apprentice actor Shakespeare production (“King Lear”), a musical (“The Fantasticks”), and a Shakespeare for Young Actors program which will perform an abbreviated version of “The Winter’s Tale.”

    Every Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., visitors can attend free outdoor concerts by Winona State University Campus’s Theatre du Mississippi. Visit

    Another Winona event is the Minnesota Beethoven Festival. This festival includes nine performances in three weeks, ending on July 17 with the Minnesota Orchestra performing Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony.

    “The Beethoven concert in the park is wonderful,” says Jeannie Miller, a Beethoven Festival attendee. “About three years ago, it was one of the best experiences of my life. With the sun setting over the orchestra, it was a perfect summer night, with amazing music. It was the highlight of my summer that year.” Visit

Dog Days of Stockholm

Travel down the Great River Road to the charming town of Stockholm on July 16 for the 38th annual Stockholm Art Fair. Enjoy live music and food vendors as you wander through more than 100 high quality art and craft exhibits.

    “The Stockholm Art Fair is our favorite place to find one-of-a-kind pieces we can’t find anywhere else in the area,” says Brett Pauley, who has attended the art fair with his wife.

    If you are a dog lover, “hightail” it back to Stockholm for the Dog Days of Stockholm on August 5 and 6. All ages are welcome and it is, of course, dog-friendly. Friday night, you can party outdoors on the grounds of the historic Old School House. Enjoy live music, wine, cheese and pie.

    On Saturday in Village Park, local humane societies and shelters will showcase rescued dogs in need of good homes. Enter your dog in contests, watch fun dog demonstrations and browse pet-related vendors and exhibits. Visit

Riverboat Days

Wabasha’s 33rd annual Riverboat Days Festival begins Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m. with the crowning of Miss Wabasha and live entertainment. It continues on Saturday at 7 a.m. with the Grumpy Old Men fishing tournament and pancakes at Heritage Square Park. Activities throughout the day include kids’ activities, a craft marketplace, an art show, a volleyball and softball tournament, 5K river run and walk, horse and carriage rides, bingo, family entertainment, a grand parade at 6 p.m. and live music in the beer garden. Visit

River City Days

Red Wing’s annual River City Days August 5–7 are filled with food, music, kids’ games, crafts, free concerts, a commercial marketplace, rubber duck race, water ski show, grand parade, car show and Miss Red Wing Pageant. Visit

    Whatever festival or event sparks your interest, plan to take some well deserved time away from it all and return home renewed.

Suzanne Jones is a Rochester freelance writer. She plans on taking advantage of the long summer days with her girls Mikayla and Elyana.