Whether you're staying at the Villa Maria alone or as part of a group, our 70 acres of woodland and prairie areas can replenish your energy, relax your mind and renew your spirit. If you feel like exploring the immediate area, a plethora of activities, shopping and other entertainment await in the picturesque river towns of Lake City and Red Wing, Minnesota.
A labyrinth is a meditation path leading one to reflective prayer. The Villa Maria features indoor and outdoor labyrinths that our guests find to be powerful additions to their retreat experiences.
Hundreds of species of birds make their nests in and around the Villa Maria campus. More than 260 species have been recorded in neighboring Frontenac State Park, and by walking just a few hundred feet down the road, you can keep tabs on a number of resident bald eagles or witness the exciting spectacle of hundreds of cliff swallows at play.
Hiking, Biking, Skiing and Recreation
It could be argued that the Mississippi River bluffs of southeastern Minnesota are the best there is in Minnesota for these outdoor activities. Play volleyball, softball or bocce ball on our large open area located near the cabins. Bike along the lake and over the country roads surrounding the Villa Maria. Hike the trails here and into Frontenac State Park. In the winter, pack your cross country skis and use the groomed trails in Frontenac. Nearby, you'll find numerous additional outdoor recreation opportunities, including the popular Cannon Valley Trail.
Exploration of our 70 acre campus is greatly encouraged, both indoors and out. Architecture buffs can wander Marian Hall for hours, noting the many classic details, nooks and crannies. Those interested in local history will enjoy the hundreds of photos that track Villa Maria and Frontenac changes through the years. Once outside, our campus trails are teeming with wildlife, flora and geographical landmarks.
The calming waters of Lake Pepin await, just minutes from the Villa Maria campus. Walk from the Villa Maria to a boardwalk trail that winds through the giant elms of Frontenac State Park and leads to a secluded beach. Also, Florence Township Beach is less than one mile away and features a boat ramp, beach and picnic areas. Located a short walk from campus.
Frontenac State Park
The Villa Maria campus is surrounded by Frontenac State Park, nearly 2300 acres of trails, campgrounds and breathtaking views of the Minnesota River valley, not to mention some of the best bird watching in the country. It's impossible to come away from the park uninspired.
Pearl of the Lake
Learn about the history and environmental impact of our great river, take in some inspirational scenery and relax to the gentle rock of the Lake Pepin Waves. This replica 1800s paddle-wheel boat is ideal for group tours of Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River valley. The Pearl seats up to 125 people and is available May - October. Departs just 5.5 miles away in Lake City, Minnesota.
Nothing renews the spirit like the panoramic views from atop Barn Bluff. Just 10 minutes north of the Villa Maria campus, Barn Bluff is home to a number of hiking trails of varying difficulty, rock climbing areas and living geography lessons. Located just 12 miles north in Red Wing, Minnesota.
Bring your clubs for an invigorating day (or week) of golf. Seven unique and picturesque 18-hole golf courses are within 11 miles of the Villa Maria campus.
Mount Frontenac Golf Course, located just three miles away, offers stunning blufftop views of the Mississippi River valley from many of its 18-holes. The Lake City Golf Club is also just three miles away, and five miles down the road is The Jewel in Lake City, a Hale Irwin designed masterpiece. Mississippi National Golf Links is a mere nine miles away in Red Wing and features two very different 18-hole courses, one through the valleys and one on top of the bluffs. Red Wing Golf Club is just 11 miles from campus and features 18 holes that reward accuracy and positioning over power and strength, and Lake Pepin Golf Course offers views of the lake and is only 10 miles south.
National Eagle Center
It’s exhilarating to stand mere feet from up to five captive eagles, with no bars or glass between you and the birds. The National Eagle Center in Wabasha is your chance to get close to the majestic birds of prey that constantly soar over our campus. Focusing on conservation, research, education efforts relating to eagles, and offering live feeding demonstrations, a gift shop, interactive learning stations and other fun attractions, the center shouldn’t be missed. Located just 21 miles south in Wabasha, Minnesota.
Featuring thousands of unique, handmade and educational toys, a hand-carved carousel that must be seen to be believed, 18 holes of mini-golf, an antique toy collection, and a café featuring exquisite fudge and ice cream, Lark Toys is a must-visit. Located just 25 miles south in Kellogg, Minnesota.
Downhill skiing is less than 20 miles away at Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Resort, west of Red Wing, and Coffee Mill Ski and Snowboard Resort in Wabasha. Welch offers 60 runs and 10 lifts, while Coffee Mill features tremendous views and extra long runs.