Minnesota (MN)

15 Fun Things to Do in Mankato, MN

Mankato, MN is known as one of the best college towns in the entire nation. You’ll find several universities here, such as Minnesota State University and Bethany Lutheran College.

But Mankato offers so much more than just higher education. It’s an amazing place to visit and see, so if you’re ever in Minnesota, make sure you stop by to check out all this city has to offer.

Wondering what makes Mankato such an interesting area? Keep reading for 15 fun things to do in Mankato, MN!

1. Visit Minneopa State Park

This state park is over a century old; it was first established in 1905, so Minneopa State Park carries lots of history.

Photo Credit: Doug Kerr / Flickr

Across 58 acres, you’ll find beautiful sceneries of nature. It’s got lots of waterfalls, so if you hike on the many trails here, you’re sure to catch a glimpse of at least one. Other points of interest include Minnesota River Valley and Seppmann Mill.

On the trails at Minneopa State Park, not only can you walk or hike, but you can also bike and cross-country ski in the winter. There’s also a boat ramp if you want to access the lake or river.

2. Check Out Seven-Mile Creek Park

Get a breath of fresh air and head out to Seven-Mile Creek Park, which was created in 1967. There are 628 acres of gorgeous lands, such as grasslands, valleys, deciduous forests, and bluffs. You’ll also get to see the Minnesota River.

This park actually gives you an extra mile of trails! You’ll find eight miles of multi-use ones where you can walk, hike, and bike. Keep your eyes peeled, as you’ll spot many bird species, as well as white-tailed deer and wild turkeys.

Bridge at 7 Mile Park.  Photo Credit: Kelly Scholl

There are also several picnic areas and shelters, so it’s always easy to stop and rest. In addition, there’s a public boat landing on the Minnesota River if you want to go boating.

If you’re bringing kids, they can go play on the playground. And you can have games on the baseball diamond and volleyball courts.

3. Give Red Jacket Trail a Try

Nature lovers will definitely enjoy Red Jacket Trail. Depending on the route you take, this trail will take you through 6 to 13 miles, along an old railroad.

What’s spectacular about Red Jacket Trail is it lets you cross MN-66. This lets you see the Red Jacket Trestle, a historic bridge that stands 80 feet high!

Photo Credit: Red Jacket Trail Park

Another plus point of this trail is it’s accessible to people of all fitness levels. You can hike and bike, but if you’re in a wheelchair, you can also go along Red Jacket Trail, as it consists of asphalt and crushed stone.

Just so you know, Red Jacket Trail meets up with Mankato River Trail and Sakatah Trail, so you can always branch off to those routes as well.

4. Visit the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

Are you traveling with the entire family? Then plan to spend a day at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota.

Photo Credit: Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

What’s interesting about this museum is it had several temporary locations since its opening in 2006. But as of 2015, it’s found a home in Mankato’s former mass transit building.

The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is dedicated to providing kids with a safe space to learn. Here, you’ll find exciting exhibits that teach children about how the world works. Your little ones will definitely enjoy themselves at this museum!

5. Spend a Day at Mount Kato

Mount Kato is a must-go destination if you’re visiting Mankato in the wintertime. Whether you go solo, or with your partner, friends, or family, there’s plenty to do here!

Photo Credit: Mount Kato

Mount Kato offers tons of winter activities, such as snow tubing, skiing, and snowboarding. You can even go mountain biking on their premises!

Don’t worry about bringing your own equipment, as they’ll have some to rent. There are also individual and group lessons, so if you’ve always wanted to snowboard but don’t know how to, this is the perfect time to learn.

Throughout the year, there are various events held at Mount Kato, like the Duct Tape Derby. So there’s never a dull moment here!

6. Admire Art at the Carnegie Art Center

The Carnegie Art Center was established in 1981 and ever since then, visitors have admired visual art there for decades. In fact, it’s the city’s largest art space, so if there’s anywhere you should be for the scene, it’s here!

Photo Credit: The Carnegie Art Center Mankato

Not only are there permanent galleries, but there are also monthly galleries that rotate to show off the work of local artists. So no matter when you visit Mankato, and how often you visit, you’re sure to see something new whenever you go to the Carnegie Art Center.

This art center also has a gift shop, so check it out to get yourself (and your loved ones) some unique gifts, like hand-blown glass, ceramics, paintings, and hand-turned bowls.

7. Explore Sibley Farm

Sibley Farm’s been around ever since 1893, so it’s another piece of Mankato that has extensive history. It’s a family-friendly place where people of all ages have tons of fun!

Your kids will be instantly delighted when they set their eyes on the farm, as it’s built in the typical farm-red color and style. Inside, there are many farm animals to interact with, such as horses, goats, lambs, chickens, and cows. You’ll also spot peacocks and koi fish on the premises.

You should also take your little ones to the children’s park, where they can play to their heart’s content. The Sibley Farm courtyard also has picnic tables, so you can bring a BBQ grill and have a cookout with your loved ones.

8. Check Out Betsy & Tacy’s House Tours & Gift Shop

Betsy & Tacy’s House Tours & Gift Shop isn’t actually one house. Instead, they’re two houses opposite one another that used to belong to Maud Palmer Hart and Frances “Bick” Kenney. They were best friends who immortalized their friendship in a book series!

Photo Credit: Betsy & Tacy’s House

Betsy’s house is a museum where you’ll get to see how her family lived back in the late 1800s. Marvel at the period furniture and decor, and take plenty of pictures.

As for Tacy’s house, it’s now a gift shop. But not only can you buy souvenirs, but you can also view outstanding artifacts from the late 1800s, such as photos, manuscripts, and scrapbooks.

9. Go Shopping at River Hills Mall

Shopaholics beware; you’ll meet your match at River Hills Mall! You’ll find over 80 stores and kiosks here, so you can easily spend a day or two getting lost in all the shopping you can do!

Photo Credit: River Hills Mall

Not only can you buy clothes, shoes, and accessories at this mall, but you can also get tech devices and home goods. In addition, when you need to refuel, there’s an excellent food court where you can chow down on delicious and nutritious food.

If your kids are tagging along, you can let them burn off some extra energy at the children’s play area. You can also catch a movie together at the 8-screen theater.

10. Have a Beer at Mankato Brewery

Mankato Brewery first opened its doors in 2012. Its opening ushered in a revival of beer brewing in the Key City, so they’re quite proud of that! In fact, they’re the first production brewery around since 1967.

This brewery needs to be a stop you make in Mankato, as they produce some amazing craft beers. Both tourists and locals alike kick back and relax here, so you’ll feel like you’re part of the crowd.

Photo Credit: Mankato Brewery

When having a beer in the taproom, you’ll gaze upon the brewhouse. You’ll also get to enjoy some live music on the Mankato Brewery stage.

Make sure you stop by the merchandise shop to pick up some souvenirs for your trip. And arrange a tour of the brewery on Saturday if you’re around!

11. Visit the Blue Earth County Historical Society

Are you a history buff? Then put the Blue Earth County Historical Society on your list.

This organization was established in 1901 when a group put up a fabulous exhibit on early pioneers and their lives. This celebrated Mankato’s 50th year of existence.

Photo Credit: Blue Earth County Historical Society

This exhibit was such a success that today, it’s a permanent display. It allows visitors to learn all about Mankato’s local history. Exhibits include information about Native American tools and artifacts, as well as downtown Mankato in the late 1800s.

There are also traveling exhibits that feature items from other museums.

12. Have a Peaceful Stroll Around Reconciliation Park

Reconciliation Park has a somewhat heavy past, but it was a vital part of history. In December 1862, 38 Dakota men were hung at this site by the government.

This park was dedicated in September 1997 as a means to promote peace and healing. Its theme is “forgive everyone everything.”

Photo Credit: Lorie Shaull / Flickr

In the park, you’ll find a large buffalo monument carving made of local Kasota limestone. This is a symbol of the Dakota people, so make sure you treat it with respect.

13. Tour the R.D. Hubbard House

R.D. Hubbard was an entrepreneur who founded the largest flour mill in the area: the Hubbard Milling Company. As such, you can expect his house to be quite impressive!

The Hubbard family actually moved out of the R.D. Hubbard House in 1938. After they left, the Historical Society bought the property and basically turned it into a museum.

Photo Credit: The R.D. Hubbard House

The Historical Society has left many of the family’s period furniture and decor in the house, so it’s like a snapshot in time. And the house itself is constructed in a classic Victorian style, so this house and its interior provide lovely picture opportunities.

14. See a Game at Franklin Rogers Park

Franklin Rogers Park used to be Key City Park. But in 1977, the name of the ballpark was changed to honor Franklin Rogers, who was the vice president of the Mankato Free Press.

Several high schools call this ballpark home for their games, as well as the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association.

If you’re visiting Mankato, take a look at Franklin Rogers Park’s schedule and see if you can catch a game. Supporting local teams is a great thing to do while in the area!

15. Go Wine Tasting at Javens Family Vineyard and Winery

Javens Family Vineyard and Winery is a family-owned and operated winery that’s created several award-winning wines since opening in 2010. What’s impressive is their wines are made from Minnesota-grown grapes!

Photo Credit: Javens Family Vineyard and Winery

The vineyard is located on the Le Sueur River, so you’ll get some stunning views out there. Bring your significant other and taste the red and white wines on offer.

While the winery doesn’t serve food, they do have prepackaged meat and cheese. You’re also welcome to bring your own food.

FAQs on Things to Do in Mankato, MN

We’ve given you several activities and points of interest above. But what if you’ve got additional questions?

Are There Kid-Friendly Activities in Mankato, MN?

Yes! You can take your kids to the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, as well as the numerous parks and nature trails in the area.

What’s the Weather in Mankato, MN Like?

In the summer, the days are long and warm, as well as wet. As for the winter, you’ll get lots of wind and often, snow. It’s mostly cloudy throughout the year.

What’s Mankato, MN Known For?

Mankato is well-known for its parks and trails. You’ll find lots of breathtaking scenes of nature in this city.

Come Visit Mankato, MN Today

You now have a comprehensive list of things to do in Mankato, MN. So if you want to visit Minnesota but weren’t sure where to go, we hope you put Mankato on your itinerary. It’s a fantastic city that offers both solo and group travelers unforgettable experiences!

Are you looking for other things to do in Minnesota? Then you’re in luck, as we’ve got plenty more on our site. Check out our other articles now!

Also read things to do in Alexandria, MN.

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