If you’ve ever Googled a medical issue, then you’ve most likely gotten some good advice from Mayo Clinic. This hospital is one of the best in the nation and it’s located in Rochester, Minnesota!
But the Mayo Clinic isn’t the city’s only claim to fame. In fact, there are tons of fun things to do here, so if you’re planning on going to Minnesota anytime soon, it’s definitely worth putting Rochester on your itinerary.
To help you out, here are 16 of the best things to do in Rochester, MN!
1. Quarry Hill Nature Center
If you’re a fan of learning about nature and love to hike, then you’ve got to go to Quarry Hill Nature Center. Here, you’ll get to observe live fish, birds, and other animals. In addition, there’s an indoor beehive that’s almost been around for 2 decades!
This park is spread across 329 acres and offers you a firsthand look at the wonders of nature in Rochester. It’s open all year except for 4 days, plus it’s free to visit!
2. The Plummer Building
This building is almost 100 years old; it was built in 1928. It’s a historical landmark that symbolises the Mayo Clinic. In fact, it’s named after Dr. Henry S. Plummer, who revolutionised the medical world and created many of the systems and procedures they use at the hospital.
Considering that the Plummer Building takes care of administrative things inside, it’s not terribly interesting to go inside. However, it’s worth coming around to snap a picture, as the architecture is gorgeous.
3. The Plummer House of the Arts
You might’ve already guessed it: the Plummer House of the Arts is also named after Dr. Plummer. he actually lives in this house with his wife Daisy, and they originally named it Quarry Hill in 1917.
The house originally spanned 65 acres and had a house and greenhouse, as well as a garage, water tower, and gazebo. Nowadays, just 11 acres are standing and the Rochester Park and Recreation Department maintains this piece of land.
Visit the Plummer House of the Arts for a nice stroll. Many people use the grounds for their weddings and receptions, so this should tell you just how beautiful it is here.
You can even stay in the house overnight. This gives you special access to the gardens, quarry, bird trail, and water tower.
4. Rochester Art Center
The Rochester Art Center actually doesn’t keep an art collection on its grounds. Instead, it features artists both local and international, and keeps rotating its exhibitions every year to offer you something new every time you visit.
Visiting this art center is very affordable for the family. It costs just $5 per adult and everyone under 21 gets in for free!
5. Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial
The Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial honors over 3,000 veterans from Southeast Minnesota. You’ll get to take a pensive walk across the Walk of Remembrance, which has 6,000 pavers.
You can also visit the Trees of Remembrance. There are 50, which represent each state in the US. This memorial is free to visit every day until 10:00 pm, so make sure you pay your respects if you’re in the area.
6. History Center of Olmsted County
This one’s for the history buffs! The History Center of Olmsted County has been around ever since 1926 and as the name suggests, its purpose is to preserve the history of the local area.
This center has events all throughout the year, so check out their calendar before visiting to see what’s in store for you. For example, they have day camps for kids and workshops for adults.
7. Mayowood Mansion
This is the mansion of the man who co-founded the Mayo Clinic: Dr. Charles H. Mayo. The 3,000-acre estate was built in 1911 and has an amazing art collection inside with antiques from all over the world and beautiful gardens outside.
In 1965, the Mayo family donated this mansion and 10 acres to the Olmsted County Historical Society. And in 1967, it was declared a Minnesota Historic Site. Furthermore, in 1970, both the mansion and the 10 acres were put on the National Register of Historic Places.
As of summer 2013, the Mayowood Mansion and grounds are now owned by the Mayo Clinic. Tourists can still visit though!
8. Silver Lake Park
Take a trip out to Silver Lake Park if you want to feel at one with nature. This freshwater lake is just 1 mile north of downtown Rochester but taking a look around, you’d never know it was that close to civilisation.
There’s a public park that surrounds the lake, which you can walk through. You can also jog, rollerblade, or bike through the area.
When you want to take a break or if the kids want to have some fun, stop at the Children’s Adventure Playground. It’s a handicap-accessible park where your little ones can play and you can also have a nice picnic. For older kids, they can enjoy the tier-one skate park at Silver Lake Park.
If you’re into fishing, you can also bring your rod here. You’ll get a chance to hook Bluegills, white suckers, and black crappies.
9. Bluffscape Amish Tours
While they’re a small population in the US, the Amish play an important role in our economy and society. So if you’ve always been curious about Amish life, you should go on a Bluffscape Amish tour. They give 2 tours per day, Monday through Saturday.
These professionals will take you on a 3-hour tour that shows you the largest Amish community in the state. They’ll teach you about Amish history and show you the various farms around. You’ll get a chance to buy crafts and goods from the community while on the tour.
10. Rochester Civic Theatre
The Rochester Civic Theatre is a nonprofit organisation that’s dedicated to providing the local area with quality shows for dance, theatre, and music. Its mission is to enrich people’s lives and elevate human connections and community organisations. This means that in addition to putting on performances, the Rochester Civic Theatre also holds classes for actors, dancers, artists, and more.
This theater’s been around ever since 1951, so it has quite a history in Rochester. So check out what performances are on when you’re in town for a real treat!
11. Rochester Trolley & Tour Company
Don’t want to hoof it around town? No problem! Hop on a Rochester trolley and see the sights this way. While this company offers public sightseeing tours, you can also book a private tour if you’d like a more intimate setting.
You can book a Rochester City Tour in the daytime and by night, spook things up by going on the Haunted Rochester Trolley Tour. Other tours include an Old Amish Country Tour, Scenic Mississippi River Valley Tour, Rochester City & Mayo Historical Trolley Tour, and the Jolly Trolley Holiday Lights Tour.
12. Maple Valley Golf & Country Club
If you’re a golfer, then this is one of the top weekend activities in Rochester you can do. Maple Valley Golf & Country Club is among the best places to play in Minnesota, so it’s a golfer’s delight! Not only is it just challenging enough not to be frustrating, but it also has a stunning landscape. You’ll get to see the Root River and limestone bluffs.
What’s even better about this golf course is while it’s fantastically made, it’s not extremely expensive. So you’ll get a wonderful golfing experience without having to spend a fortune.
13. Calvary Episcopal Church
Do you like to tour old churches? Then make a stop at the Calvary Episcopal Church. This is the city’s oldest church building and in the state of Minnesota, it’s one of the oldest Episcopal ones. It was originally built in 1862 and then made into a historic site in 1966.
You don’t have to be religious to visit either. Simply tour the grounds or listen in on a service if you’re curious about what goes on inside. Just remember to be respectful and not disruptive.
14. Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center
If you’re looking for outdoor things to do in Rochester, this is both fun and educational. The Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center spans 100 acres and is right next to Cascade Creek, which offers a gorgeous view.
You can walk along trails outdoors to see the wetlands and what nature has to offer you. And when you go inside, you’ll be able to learn about the local environment and more specifically, about the science of energy and water.
For those of you who’ve always wanted to learn about sustainable living, then this is the perfect place to go.
15. Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center
To learn even more about the environment, head over to the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center. This is actually private residential property, but it’s run by a nonprofit organisation. Like Cascade Meadow, the staff at Eagle Bluff are dedicated to helping the general public learn about caring for the planet.
There are several educational programs that are taught outside, which are great for kids. In fact, your family can camp overnight and have a bonding experience here!
There are also public hiking and mountain bike trails on the grounds. There are over 9 miles to explore, so you’ll have plenty to do.
16. Apache Mall
We know, you’re probably wondering: what about shopping in Rochester? For you shopaholics, when planning a trip to Minnesota, plan on stopping by the Apache Mall.
This mall features 87 stores where you can shop until you drop. Not only that, but there are plenty of places to grab a snack and/or cup of coffee. You can even sit down to a nice meal when you really need to rest your feet.
If you need to look up some reviews of products before you commit to a purchase, you won’t have to worry about eating up the data on your phone plan. There’s free Wi-Fi in Apache Mall, so just click and connect, then search away!
FAQs for Rochester, MN
Sure, there’s plenty of information in the above sections. But what if you still have questions about Rochester, MN? Then keep reading for some FAQs!
What Makes Rochester, MN Unique?
You’ll find the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, which is one of the top hospitals in the US. Not only that, but it’s also one of the largest nonprofit hospitals in the entire world.
Is Rochester, MN a Safe City?
Admittedly, Rochester isn’t one of the safest cities in the nation. However, you’ll be safe if you travel in the daytime and keep your wits about you. Make sure to keep your valuables hidden and cash stashed away in your hotel room if possible.
Is Rochester, MN a Nice Place to Live?
Maybe you’re thinking of moving out here and starting a new chapter of your life. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that it was named as one of the top 5 places to live in America! There are over 300 area businesses and the population is constantly growing.
Enjoy These Things to Do in Rochester, MN
Enjoy These Things to Do in Rochester, MN
With this comprehensive list of things to do in Rochester, MN, you’re sure to make the most of your time when in the area. From enjoying the outdoors at Quarry Hill Nature Center, Silver Lake Park, Cascade Meadow Wetlands & Environmental Science Center, and Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, to enjoying the arts at Rochester Art Center and shopping at Apache Mall, you and your family will have tons of fun in Rochester!
So if you were on the fence about visiting Rochester, MN, we hope this list of activities have you excited and convinced that this city is worth your time.
If you’re planning on visiting other places in Minnesota, then make sure you check out the rest of our blog articles for more things to do!