The name Warroad seems to come from the practice of Indian tribes using the location, which is now the town, as a route to war upon each other. In the 20th century, the town had a strong commercial fishing industry, which gradually turned to sport fishing and tourism. For many years, commercial boats provided regular service to the islands and to Kenora, Ontario at the north end of Lake of the Woods. Several flying services carried sport fishermen and tourists to lodges and fishing camps in Lake of the Woods until economics and increasing regulations drove them out of business. Warroad is known for the great fishing on Lake of the Woods.
Warroad, called "Hockeytown USA", is also noted for its strong hockey tradition. The Warroad High School program has earned four men's state championship titles ('94, '96, '03, '05) and two women's ('10, '11) in the past 20 years, and has produced NHL and Olympic players. No U.S. Hockey team has won a gold medal without a player from Warroad on the roster. Another important piece of Warroad hockey history is the Warroad Lakers amateur team that existed from 1947 to 1997.
Warroad is the site of St. Mary's Church, also called the Father Aulneau Memorial Church, which commemorates a French Catholic priest who accompanied French explorers and soldiers in their search for the Northwest Passage and was killed along with several other people, presumably by Native Americans. The Aulneau Peninsula in Lake of the Woods is named after Father Aulneau.