Rochester, Minnesota’s third largest city after Saint Paul and Minneapolis, is home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. Rochester, like the Twin Cities, has many of the same urban facilities, but it still has a small town atmosphere with city-wide celebrations and a welcoming community.
The city has a rich history that can still be seen today, combining natural settings with a vibrant urban district. Touring the historic Mayowood Mansion, appreciating global art at the Rochester Art Center, and experiencing the nature at the Quarry Hill Nature Center are all popular things to do in Rochester.
Rochester boasts a wide choice of sites worth visiting, as well as a large network of bike paths that carry you right to them, whether you’re searching for a city experience or a retreat in nature not far from the metropolitan scene.
Things To Do In Rochester MN
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• Heritage House Victorian Museum
The Heritage House Victorian Museum is one of the coolest tourist destinations near downtown Rochester. It’s a museum with a lot of interesting history, including its own.
This museum is a must-see for anyone interested in Rochester’s history. Timothy and Eliza Whitling lived in this house during the Victorian era, and it now serves as a museum. The abandoned house was to be demolished in the twentieth century. Louise Hill, a Rochester resident, fought hard to keep it.
It has since become one of the most popular things to do in Rochester MN. The Heritage House Victorian Museum could conceivably be dubbed the “Victory Museum.”
Rochester has a plethora of fun and educational places to visit. From June through August, Tuesdays through Thursdays, and Sundays, the Heritage House Victorian Museum is open for tours. Tours are available by appointment between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Adults pay $5, while students pay $3.
• Rochester Art Center
The Rochester Art Center, located along the Zumbro River’s banks, houses a diverse collection of multicultural, multimedia artworks that link people to the world around them. The Rochester Art Center has been open since 1946 and has been located on the banks of the Rochester River since 2004. While it is stunning from the exterior, it is inside that the actual cultural insights may be found.
The centre, which features an ever-rotating display of various media and artworks by emerging and nationally famous artists, making it easy to engage with something new every time you visit. It also offers a variety of community events, such as kid’s dance parties, adult Creative Development Series, and summer youth camps, allowing residents of Rochester to explore their own identities via the medium of art.
• Downtown Peace Plaza
The Peace Plaza is a terrific location to start if you’re seeking for a shopping and dining experience in Rochester. The Peace Plaza, which is adjacent to the Mayo Clinic, is a pedestrian-friendly public space that provides easy access to everything the downtown area has to offer. The plaza exudes the inviting environment prevalent throughout Rochester, with stylish retailers, first-class eateries, and a fantastic civic assembly area.
From the Peace Plaza, a vast network of skywalks and underground walkways extends across the city area. This allows you to travel in comfort while perusing the many shops and eateries, which is especially convenient in the winter. The Peace Plaza, nestled among the picturesque streets of downtown Rochester, may be rented for very memorable events.
• Bike Trails
The numerous varied bike routes available around Rochester provide limitless avenues of enjoyment and are a fuel-efficient and friendly way to tour the city. Bike routes lead to natural areas such as Silver Lake and the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial, while the attractive downtown waterfront route brings pedestrians close to the Rochester Art Center and a variety of shopping options. Bike paths in Rochester allow you to create your own journey.
While the majority of the paths are isolated from the roads, a few of them use bike lanes and sidewalks to get to their destinations. Commuters on their way to work, wildlife that shares the urban landscape, and many more members of the community who like the pace of muscle-powered transportation can all be seen along the road. Although most bike routes are not ploughed in the winter, the community still makes tracks throughout the colder months.
• Apache Mall
One of Rochester’s most popular tourist attractions is its biggest mall. Apache Mall is a delightful shopping mall with a fantastic layout that every shopper will like. One of the best things to do in Rochester, MN is to spend money or browse the shelves.
Apache Mall has something for everyone, whether you like fashion, technology, sports, or something else. There are 87 stores as well as many excellent restaurants. Come here late at night for a fun-filled evening.
If you’re looking for affordable things to do in Rochester MN, stay away from Apache Mall.
• Thursdays on First & 3rd
While any day of the week is a wonderful time to visit Rochester’s vibrant retail and dining scene, Thursdays in the summer are especially active. That’s because the city of Rochester conducts the Thursdays on First & Third Summer Market and Music Festival during the months of June, July, and August.
Thursdays on First & 3rd can fairly be defined as a weekly celebration of good weather and a welcoming community, with over 100 artisan and food sellers and a soundtrack of live music. Celebrations take place throughout the day, and thanks to the ever-changing schedule of live performers and special activities, each week is unique.
Rochester Farmers Market is another fantastic outdoor cultural event that takes place every Saturday throughout the year. Between May and October, the outdoor market, which has just relocated to the picturesque Graham Park, sells local produce rain or shine.
During the rest of the year, an indoor market is held at Graham Park on Saturdays. The Rochester Farmers Market sells everything from baked goods to fresh eggs, as well as specialty items such as soaps, honey, and hot sauces.
• Quarry Hill Nature Center
The Quarry Hill Nature Center has eight miles of hiking trails, a children’s pond, a limestone fossil quarry, and old sandstone caverns to explore on its 329 acres. The Quarry Hill Nature Center not only serves as a backdrop for connecting with these natural features, but it also serves as a source of environmental education. There are instructional exhibits and live animals within the actual brick and mortar nature centre, as well as naturalist activities.
The Quarry Hill Nature Center is open all year. During the winter, the hiking pathways are transformed into enjoyable snowshoe and cross-country ski courses. Cross-country skis and snowshoes can be rented at the nature centre. Binoculars, discovery packs, and GPS units are also available for rent at the nature centre in order to locate one of four geocaches concealed throughout the property.
• Plummer House
The Plummer House, which was once the home of Dr. Stanley Plummer and his wife Daisy, is another Rochester cultural destination that is linked to the adjacent Mayo Clinic. Dr. Plummer worked closely with the architects who began building on his home in 1917, as a founder and inventor of the Mayo Clinic.
This ancient mansion and estate has been scrupulously kept and is open to the public for a glimpse into the past a century later. During daylight hours, visitors to the Plummer House are free to roam the groomed grounds and gardens, and guided tours of the Tudor mansion are offered on Wednesdays in June, July, and August.
• Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial
The Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial was built to remember all southeast Minnesotans who gave their lives in battle, as well as all people who have stepped up to assist their country. From the Revolutionary War through the Gulf War, the memorial depicts pictorial representations of every military conflict. The Wall of Remembrance, a massive granite monolith etched with the names of almost 3,000 heroes who died in war, is its focal point.
You are welcome to visit the memorial at any time, including at night, when the names and figures displayed sparkle in the spotlight.
• Douglas State Trail
There are many gorgeous places to visit in the United States, but Rochester stands out for attractions such as the Douglas State Trail.
This is an immaculate walkway that can be enjoyed by a large number of people. On a sunny day, you’ll observe a diverse range of tourists taking use of the Douglas State Trail’s benefits.
There are two trails in this 12.5-mile system. The paved trail, for example, accommodates walkers, runners, bikers, and skaters.
It has a paved trail as well as a natural surface trail that is reserved for equestrian riders. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the Douglas State Trail save for snowmobiles in the winter, leaving plenty of room for hikers, bikers, and inline skaters to enjoy the scenery.
• Mayo Civic Center
The Mayo Civic Center is one of the largest event venues in southern Minnesota, with over 200,000 square feet of area to enjoy. The Mayo Civic Center has established itself as an important component of the Rochester community, hosting local and international musical acts, semi-pro and exhibition sporting events, as well as various conferences, business meetings, and conventions.
A second-floor grand ballroom and an architecturally attractive Civic Street front were built as part of a 2017 extension. While there is a broad variety of plays and performances to pick from, the venue’s riverfront terrace, which overlooks the gorgeous Zumbro River, is an easy way to enjoy everything.
• Mayowood Mansion
The History Center of Olmsted County is a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving the people, places, and stories that have shaped Olmsted County into what it is today. It offers locals and tourists alike opportunities to learn about the community’s evolution over time. The centre provides youth programmes, lecture series, and the family-friendly “Movies Under the Stars” throughout the summer, in addition to rotating exhibits and a few preserved ancient buildings.
Without mentioning the Mayo Clinic, which was founded in Rochester and has earned a reputation as one of the top hospitals in the country, no history lecture on Rochester and the neighbouring Olmsted County would be complete.
The History Center of Olmsted County collaborates with the Mayo Clinic to provide access to the historic Mayowood Mansion, the former home of Mayo Clinic co-founder Charles H. Mayo. A guided tour of Mayowood’s conserved and restored grounds is available to the general public. Tours take visitors through the opulent interior of the 38-room mansion as well as the estate’s meticulously managed gardens. Special Christmas Tours are provided during the holiday season and usually sell out quickly.
Rochesterfest, a week-long festival that takes place every June and draws the community together for a wide range of family-friendly activities, has been celebrating summer fun for more than 35 years. Rochesterfest has a lot to offer, from triathlons to treasure hunts, as well as live music, food vendors, and a Grand Parade. It’s a great way to start the summer season. Rochesterfest is a true celebration of the city, and it encourages newcomers to come out and join in the excitement.
Rochesterfest runs for nine days in June, with two weekends in between. During the event, a free lunchtime trolley service is available to make it easier to visit without driving.
• Silver Lake
Silver Lake City Park, located north of downtown, is a favourite urban retreat for Rochester residents and visitors, including a flock of Canadian geese who like to hang out near the water. Silver Lake is a man-made reservoir with over 50 acres of water that is fed by the Zumbro River. It has a paved pathway where you can stroll along the shore or stand and cast a fishing line.
During the summer, the park offers boat rentals, allowing guests to explore the waters in canoes, kayaks, or luxurious electric paddleboats. Whatever leads you to the Silver Lake shoreline, whether it’s for a morning run, an afternoon visit, or an evening paddle, you and the geese will appreciate the natural setting.
• Amish Tours of Harmony
If you want to understand more about the Amish community, go on an Amish Tour of Harmony.
You can witness how resourceful this community is with a guide showing out all the Amish-operated farms, stores, and other attractions. There’s a lot to learn about Amish history as well.
Plus, it’s such a beautiful area, with the horse-drawn buggies adding to the already-painting-like scenery.
These tours are taking place in Harmony, Minnesota, although they would be enjoyable under any name. Amish excursions are excellent for tourism as well as education.
• Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale
The Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale put up amazing instrumental and choral performances. Classical works are performed by a 70-member orchestra and a 60-plus-member chorale.
Even if the chorale isn’t in every performance, you can be sure that every show will be fantastic. Their efforts and abilities aren’t limited to the concert arena. They have excellent local programmes, particularly when it comes to working with adolescents. Check out Coda’s performances as well.
If you’re looking for free things to do in Rochester, Minnesota, these are excellent options. These are concerts in which members of the RSO perform in more current styles such as jazz and rock.
The Rochester Symphony Orchestra has been a vital part of the community for over a century, and the chorale is the cherry on top. Check out their upcoming season schedule and make sure to get your tickets before they sell out.
You should be enthralled by the event and the incredible music you’ll hear.
• Chester Woods Park
Perhaps you’d like to spend portion of your Rochester vacation exploring and admiring nature? If that’s the case, head to Chester Woods Park, a fantastic campground.
Chester Woods Park, located near Bear Creek in Eyota, Minnesota, is suitable for a family camping excursion. Chester Woods Park can be enjoyed without camping. Spend a nice day hiking a trail, kayaking, or having a picnic here.
While all of those activities are enjoyable, spending the night here, sleeping under the stars, is truly unforgettable. Natural areas of interest, such as Chester Woods Park, demonstrate the importance of nature. This weekend, come here for a camping trip or just a ramble.
• Rochester Civic Theatre
A fantastic stage play is more than just a great way to pass the time. It can also be awe-inspiring to witness. When playing live, performers must be at their best because there is no such thing as suddenly saying “Cut” in front of an audience.
The only way to grasp the wonder of live theatre is to attend a performance at the Rochester Civic Theatre. This theatre hosts performances all year round, and they cover a wide range of genres and mediums.
At this facility, you can see a hilarious comedy, a heartbreaking tragedy, and fantastic dance acts. Whenever you visit, it’s a completely fascinating experience. The Rochester Civic Theatre is the pinnacle of Rochester culture. See what shows are coming up by visiting their website or stopping by their box office.
You can also show your support for this theatre by making a one-time or monthly payment.
So this was our list of the best things to do in Rochester MN, hope you found some of your favorite places.