Minnesota’s third-largest city, Rochester is a charming city best-known for its world-famous Mayo Clinic. Offering a small-town vibe with plenty of entertainment options and urban amenities, this fabulous city boasts a bustling downtown district, friendly hospitality, and nearly 90 miles of biking and hiking trails. Whether you wish to enjoy recreational activities, join a guided tour of historical landmarks like the Mayowood Mansion and Plummer House, or go on a shopping spree at Apache Mall, Minnesota’s Rochester offers something for everyone. To have a better understanding of why we think Rochester is such an awesome destination, here is our list of the best things to do in Rochester, MN.
1. Rochester Art Center
Start your travel adventure in Minnesota with a visit to the fabulous Rochester Art Center. Located along the banks of Zumbro River, the art center is home to world-class exhibits including artworks by both emerging and state-famous artists. Rochester Art Center also hosts a bunch of programs ranging from dance parties and youth camps for the little ones to creative programs for adults. While you are in the neighborhood, feel free to explore nearby attractions like the Mayo Memorial Park.
2. Mayowood Mansion
With over 40 rooms and picturesque gardens, the Mayowood Mansion is one of the best historical attractions in Rochester. The mansion was built by the co-founder of the famous Mayo Clinic, Dr. Charles H. back in the 1910s and was placed on the national register list of historic places in the 1970s. Nowadays, Mayowood Mansion is open to the public and guided tours are available. Expect to see numerous artifacts from all over the world, as well as the doctor’s personal decorative arts collection. Don’t forget to visit the outdoor gardens which look amazing in summer.
3. Quarry Hill Nature Center
Nature lovers and travelers who are into hiking can spend a day at the Quarry Hill Nature Center. Located in a large park, this fabulous nature center is home to eight miles of hiking and biking trails, several sandstone caves, and a lovely limestone fossil quarry. It’s also a place where you can enjoy close encounters with 35 species of animals, birds, and fish. Some of the other attractions here include naturalist programs and informational exhibits.
4. The Plummer Building – Mayo Clinic Historical Suite
There are many things to do for adults in Rochester, MN and a visit to the Plummer Building is one of them. Opened in the 1920s, the Plummer Building is one of the must-visit attractions in Rochester. A part of the Mayo Clinic and National Historic Landmark, the building was named after the famous Henry S. Plummer, M.D. who came up with some of the procedures which are still used at the Mayo Clinic. The Gondo and Mayo centers are used for patient treatments, while the Plummer Building is more about administrative functions.
5. Plummer House
A cultural attraction like Rochester’s Plummer House is not to be missed when visiting the state of Minnesota. Dr. Stanley Plummer and his wife Daisy used to live here and today this historic estate has been preserved and is open to the public. During the tour, visitors can admire the beauty of the beautiful gardens and learn more about the history of the nearby Mayo Clinic.
6. Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial
Located in the heart of downtown Rochester, MN, Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial honors all Minnesota citizens who supported their country and soldiers who fought and died in the battle. See the visual illustration of military combats that took place during the Revolutionary and Gulf War and check out the Wall of Remembrance which is a granite monolith with names of more than 3,000 soldiers who died in the battles. You can even visit this Rochester attraction at night.
7. Silver Lake
If you wish to escape from the busy center of Rochester and reconnect with nature, we recommend spending an afternoon at the Silver Lake City Park. This tranquil oasis for both locals and tourists is a man-made reservoir with a lovely paved pathway that is perfect for long walks. During the summer season, kayak and boat rentals are available. Whether you wish to enjoy the lake’s water in a canoe or go for a morning run, a visit to Silver Lake promised to be an unforgettable experience.
8. Gonda Building
Designed by Ellerbe Becket Architects and Engineers, Gonda Building used to be the tallest building in the city before the Broadway Plaza was built back in 2004. This medical building is the largest project of the Mayo Clinic and it was announced that 4 new floors of clinical space and a hotel will be completed in two years. Adjacent to the famous Mayo Building, Gonda Building is one of the must-visit attractions while exploring Rochester.
9. Salem Glen Vineyard and Winery
Looking for more relaxing things to do in Rochester, MN? Pay a visit to the family-owned Salem Glen Vineyard and Winery, a boutique winery that produces small batches of wine made from locally grown grapes. The winery was established 14 years ago and still produces all of its wines on-site. Wine lovers will definitely want to include the Salem Glen Vineyard and Winery in their list of places to visit in Minnesota. Yes, they do offer wine tasting!
10. Apache Mall
Shopping in Rochester, MN is a fun way to spend the day. With nearly 100 stores ranging from health and beauty shops to sports, fitness, entertainment, and specialty boutiques, Apache Mall is a shopaholic’s paradise. Expect to find all kinds of world-famous and local brands here including American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Tradehome Shoes, Macy’s, Penney, and many other brands. This fabulous shopping mall is also home to dozens of full-service restaurants and bars such as the Red Lobster and HuHot to name a few.
11. Castle Community
Castle Community is an arts and events center situated inside the historical Castle building. There are three floors open to the public that house everything from unique art spaces and a record and a bookshop to eateries like Coffee and Juice and Cameo. Castle Community also is a creative environment where locals come to work and grow their crafts. This co-working space located on the second floor is equipped with a variety of amenities like foosball, free WiFi, and shuffleboard. Some of the other attractions here include the photography darkroom, the on-site art store, and the artist-run maker space.
12. Grand Shops of Kahler & Marriott
Located right beneath the Kahler Grand Hotel and Rochester Marriott Mayo Clinic Area, Grand Shops of Kahler & Marriott offers a memorable shopping experience in Rochester, MN. With more than 60 specialty boutiques and stores that specialize in everything from homeware and clothing to jewelry to spectacular dining options such as Dunkin Donuts and Grand Grill, this place has everything you need for the ultimate shopping spree in Rochester. In case you wish to unwind with a drink or two, check out Salute Wine Bar and More and Martini’s.
13. Rochester Trolley
Founded back in 2006, Rochester Trolley offers trolley charters and private and public sightseeing tours of the city. Whether you wish to hop on a Scenic Mississippi River Valley Tour, join the adult-themed Great River Road Wine Trail Trolleys Tours, or take the Rochester City & Mayo Historical Trolley Tour with your kids, Rochester Trolley allows you to experience the city from a unique perspective. There is also the fun Old Amish Country Tour, as well as the Twin Cities Tour.
14. Chateau Theater
Checking out the Chateau Theater is simply a must when exploring the streets of Rochester. Thanks to its castle-like décor, this theatre is situated inside one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Located in the downtown area, Chateau first opened its doors in the 1920s when it served as a Vaudeville property. It also used to be a coffee shop, movie theatre, and even a bookstore over the years. In 2015, the city bought the building and turned it into a lovely community cultural center that offers everything from bespoke retail and live music to a variety of health programs and traveling exhibitions.
15. Rochester Civic Theatre
Opened in the 1950s, the Rochester Civic Theatre is an award-winning venue that hosts both local and international performing artists. If a live production of music, dance, and live theater sounds like something you might be into, don’t hesitate to spend an evening at the Rochester Civic Theatre. Apart from theatre performances, the venue also offers a variety of programs for people interested in acting. The good news is that these training programs are suitable for all ages.
16. Unraveled Escape Room
Rochester’s Unraveled Escape Room is a perfect activity for any occasion. Whether you are visiting Rochester with a group of friends or you wish to organize a team building activity for your family, this unique interactive adventure won’t leave you disappointed. The rules here are simple. Participants get locked inside a themed room where together they have to solve a mystery through puzzles and clues within one hour.