The first settlers to Worthington were attracted by the prospect of bountiful harvests from these fertile prairies and, of course, beautiful Lake Okabena. In the Dakota language, Okabena means "nesting place of herons." It was transportation, however, that was responsible for the founding of the city in 1871 with the coming of the Sioux City and St. Paul railroads. Transportation continues to play a vital role with Interstate 90 intersecting with U.S. Highway 59 and Minnesota Highway 60.
Today Worthington has more than 20 parks, many of them located around 785-acre Lake Okabena. Chautauqua, Centennial and Olson Park Campground are three of the largest. Chautauqua and Centennial have shelter houses with water, electricity and restrooms and are in close proximity to boat landing, softball fields and tennis courts. Olson Park Campground has electrical hookups, a shelter house and shower/restroom facilities.
The city supports a complete, regional shopping center. Businesses are located on Oxford Street, Downtown, North Humiston, Northland Mall, The Betline and Ryan's Road - North McMillan Street. A community and technical college, regional hospital, specialty clinics and an up-to-date airport are located here. Amenities include eight motels, travel plazas, restaurants, theaters, museums, Pioneer Village, sports and recreation centers, two 18-hole golf courses, a performing-arts auditorium and new event center.