Things to do in Rochester Minnesota

Rochester Minnesota is located south of Minneapolis and west of the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. If you are traveling to Rochester Minnesota for the first time, the city is known for the Mayo Clinic, which is one of the best health care centers in the USA.
Things to do in Rochester Minnesota
Places To Go In Minnesota

Due to the city’s conservative nature, Rochester is also known as a great family getaway destination. Apart from the many things to do in Rochester Minnesota, the city is just 60 minutes drive from fun things to do in Minneapolis, and a couple of hours drive from La Crosse WI and fun things to do in Madison WI.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota: Outdoor Activities

One of the highlights of a vacation in Rochester Minnesota it’s enjoying the natural scenery and fun outdoor activities at one of the urban parks or nearby state parks.

Urban Parks

Rochester Minnesota is home to over 20 urban parks scattered around the city so if you fancy an early morning jog or an afternoon picnic, you have plenty of parks to choose from.

Some of the biggest urban parks in Rochester Minnesota include Woodside Park, Hawthorne Hills Park and Aborglen Park, which are located north of the city center.

State Parks

Whitewater State Park

If you want to enjoy fun outdoor activities in a more natural scenario during your vacation in Rochester Minnesota, the city is just 20 miles west of Whitewater State Park (around 30 minutes along the US Route 14 East).

The state park features plenty of nature trails for hiking, camping areas and the Whitewater River where you can enjoy fishing and water activities such as canoeing and swimming.

Carley State Park

Carley State Park is a smaller than Whitewater State Park but it also offers plenty of outdoor opportunities such as hiking, fishing and camping.

This state park is also great for bird watching and if you travel here during the spring, you can catch beautiful wildflowers carpeting the state park.

Carley State Park is also nearby Rochester and can be quickly reached by car along the US Route 63.

Cycling & Fishing

If you love cycling and are looking for things to do with kids in Rochester Minnesota that doesn’t involve much driving, the city itself has over 50 miles of paved cycling and walking trails that you can ride along.

Alternatively, if you prefer to cycle along natural scenery, you can explore the Root River and Harmony-Preston Valley Trails, which run along the Root River.

For a bit of fishing, there are angling opportunities at the nearby Bamber Lake and Lake George, although Bamber Lake is privately owned so you’ll need the permission of the owners if you want fish there.

Lake George, in the other hand, is a public lake and it is perhaps the best place for angling opportunities, sport fishing and recreational activities such as boating.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota: Places of Interest

History Center of Olmsted County

If you are a history buff, or simply want to learn more about the early beginnings of Rochester, the History Center of Olmsted County is an excellent place to visit.

This historic center features various rooms where you can marvel at 19th century old furniture, and kitchen utensils.

To reach Olmsted County, take the County Club Road South West, and drive past the Fox Valley Park.

Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial

If you are a war veteran or are interested in war history, the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial is a beautiful war memorial where you can see the names of those who lost their lives, as well as the statue of a widow and her son and the statue of a nurse treating a wounded soldier.

Rochester Ear of Corn

The Rochester Ear of Corn is, undoubtedly, one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.

The Ear of Corn is basically a big water tower shaped and painted as a giant corn, which makes for an ideal picture-taking opportunity.

Chateau Theater

Chateau Theater is a 1930’s movie house, which is included on the National Register of historic Places.

The Chateau Theater is today a bookstore, and all that remains of this historic movie house are the railings and doorways to the restrooms, as well as the film projection booth.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota: Shopping

The shopping scene in Rochester is concentrated in the downtown area, and it is here where you’ll find many specialty and boutique shops, as well as shopping malls.

For instance, Crossroads Sopping Center and TJ Maxx Plaza Shopping Center are both located near the popular Apache Mall, while Miracle Mile Shopping Center is found between Zumbro West Park and Kutzky Park.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota: Nightlife & Entertainment

Rochester Minnesota has a decent nightlife and you can find a variety of bars, pubs and clubs to choose from.

For instance, Whiskey Bones Inc is a small bar/ club with a vibrant atmosphere where you can socialize with friends. It features live music and night specials every week.

Aquarius Club is also a popular nightclub located near the University Center Rochester, and it is a great place if you intend to dance as it features dancing areas.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota: Events & Festivals

Olmsted County Fair

One of the best times to visit Rochester Minnesota is during one of summer events such as the Olmsted County Fair, which happens in August.

The Olmsted County Fair is a fun and family-friendly event that features plenty of live entertainment and yummy foods.

Down By the Riverside

Down By the Riverside is a popular music event held during the summer months at Mayo Park. The event itself is free and you can catch plenty of live music performed by local acts.


If you travel to Rochester Minnesota during the fall or spring, you can catch the Rochester Symphony Orchestra & Chorale performing monthly concerts.

The Southeast Minnesota Youth Orchestra is another popular orchestra that performs each week throughout the school year.

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