20 Things To Do In Rochester MN

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Rochester, Minnesota, is world famous for its renowned Mayo Clinic. Celebrities from near and far, including President George W. Bush, Muhammad Ali, and Ernest Hemingway, along with everyday Americans, come here to see the best doctors and caregivers in the world. But did you know Rochester is so much more than the Mayo Clinic?

Set in idyllic southeastern Minnesota and surrounded by gentle flowing rivers, rich pasturelands, and rolling green hills, it’s hard to believe Rochester is Minnesota’s third-largest city. Tour the city on the Rochester Trolly or head to the underground mall if you enjoy the hustle and bustle. If you want to soak up the rich history, a visit to the Plummer Building and Mayowood Mansion will teach you about the early days of the Mayo Clinic. Or, if you prefer to connect with nature, Rochester has more than its fair share of parks and zoos.

No matter your reason for visiting Rochester, and whether you’re in town for a few hours or days, you’ll have no problem keeping yourself and your family busy. So let’s look at the best 20 things to do in Rochester, Minnesota.

Rochester, Minnesota

20 Things To Do In Rochester MN

things to do in rochester city skyline
Looking for things to do in Rochester Minnesota? Here are some fun activities to keep you busy.

1- Go For A Ride On The Rochester Trolly

things to do in rochester mayo clinic
Visiting the Mayo Clinic is the top thing to do in Rochester MN but if you aren’t in the city for your health, there are plenty of other distractions too.

Get your feel for Rochester and check out the famous sights on the Hop-On Hop-Off Rochester Trolly tour.

The classic red and green trolleys take you through the Mayo Clinic campus, to the historic Mayowood Mansion, “Pill Hill” Historic District and plenty more.

Plus, as you can hop on and off at many of Rochester’s top sites, it’s a fantastic way to tick off your favourite places on this list of things to do in Rochester.

The Rochester Trolly is at 972 14th Ave SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

2- Tour The Plummer Building

rochester minnesota
Rochester is a popular city for its health facilities but there are lots of other fun things to do in Rochester Minnesota for everyone.

The original building of the famous Mayo Clinic, the Plummer Building, is steeped in history and amazing architecture.

The building is named after Dr Plummer, who felt a quality building should be efficient and pleasing to the eye.

You’ll no doubt feel this as you walk through 16 feet (4.8 metres) high bronze doors, wander through the marble lobby and learn about the systems created back in 1928 that are still in use at the Mayo Clinic today.

The Plummer Building is at 100 2nd St SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

3- See Native Wildlife At Quarry Hill Nature Center

While just a few miles from downtown Rochester, the 329-acre (133-hectare) Quarry Hill Nature Center provides an exciting escape from the bustling city.

Here you can learn about and see 35 species of animals native to Minnesota, watch fish and raptors whizz around in the 1,700-gallon aquarium, or stretch your legs on one of the many short hiking trails.

It’s free to enter and the park is open all but four days a year, so there’s no excuse to skip this must-do in Rochester.

Quarry Hill Nature Center is at 701 Silver Creek Rd NE, Rochester, MN 55906.

4- Indulge Your Inner Child At Spark

fun things to do in rochester minnesota
You won’t have trouble finding fun things to do in Rochester MN.

Formerly the Minnesota Children’s Museum Rochester, there’s no escaping pure fun at Spark, whether or not you have young ones along.

The entire basis of Spark is to offer people of all ages the opportunity to learn from imaginative and interactive exhibits and let their creativity run wild.

The exhibits are always changing, but a few long-stand favourites include the Amazing ANTics, climbing a 16-foot (5-metre) Helix vertical maze and taking your turn at building a virtual Spark City.

Inner Child At Spark 1643 North Broadway Street A, Rochester, MN 55901.

5- Walk, Bike, Snowmobile Or Horseback Ride The Douglas State Trail

Stretching 12.5 miles (20 kilometres) through forest, fields and pastures, the Douglas State Trail provides the perfect spot to experience the outdoors any time of year.

With both paved and natural sections, bikers and runners can take advantage of the smooth surface, while horseback riders can enjoy the tranquil dirt path.

Come winter, the snow-covered trail becomes a paradise for snowmobilers.

The trail begins in northwestern Rochester and ends in Pine Island. For a circular route, quiet country roads can be added to the tour.

6- Sample Wine At Four Daughters Vineyards And Winery

Stop at the Four Daughters Vineyards and Winery when you’ve worked up an appetite.

Located about 20 miles (32 kilometres) outside of Rochester, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the rolling fields and picturesque grapevines surrounding the winery.

Either sit down and enjoy a freshly made brick oven pizza or head to the tasting room and sample the highly-rated wine and loon juice flights. And if you’re in Rochester on the weekend, be sure to book in for their bottomless mimosa and brunch board.

Four Daughters Vineyards is at 78757 MN-16, Spring Valley, MN 55975.

7- Tour The Plummer House Of The Arts

Once a 65-acre (26-hectare) estate of Dr Plummer, the Plummer House Of The Arts now sits on 11 acres (4.5 hectares) of protected land and features the maintained house, beautiful gardens, a bird trail, quarry and water tower.

During the summer months, Open House Tours are scheduled throughout the day, where you can take a self-guided tour inside the house.

Or, for a particularly unique experience, you can even rent the entire house and grounds for a hefty fee.

Plummer House Of The Arts is at 1091 Plummer Ln SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

8- Take A Moment To Reflect At Soldier Field Veterans Memorial

Tucked just outside of downtown Rochester is the impressive and goose-bump-inducing Soldier Field Veterans Memorial.

Parking and entrance to the memorial are free, and once inside, you’ll find a circular granite wall with the names of 3,000 service men and women from Southeast Minnesota.

Also in the memorial are 50 trees representing each state in the United States, along with a Walk of Remembrance, which features 6,000 pavers dedicated to veterans.

Soldier Field Veterans Memorial is at 300 7th St SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

9- Appreciate Local Art At The Rochester Art Center

rochester minnesota
Rochester is a popular city for its health facilities but there are lots of other fun things to do in Rochester Minnesota for everyone.

With ever-changing exhibitions featuring work from international artists to up-and-coming local artists, every visit to Rochester Art Center is a unique experience.

The building is a masterpiece with floor-to-ceiling glass windows mixed in with eye-catching copper and zinc-plated walls and lovely views over the Zumbro River.

You’ll want to allow yourself a couple of hours to explore the museum, and be sure to check out the Cicumcenter sculpture in front of the building, which translates your messages into song and braille.

Rochester Art Center is at 30 Civic Center Dr SE STE 120, Rochester, MN 55904.

10- Take A City Break At Siver Lake

things to do rochester silver lake
Relaxing at Silver Lake is one of the things to do in Rochester MN.

Visiting Silver Lake will put a spring in your step when you’ve had enough of the bustling small city, museums, and memorials.

The lake is surrounded by a 1.8-mile (2.9-kilometre) path perfect for walking, rollerblading and biking. Or rent a canoe or paddleboat and head out onto the water.

To cool off, you can choose to swim at the Silver Lake swimming beach or the lifeguard-observed outdoor pool.

A word to the wise, though, Canada geese are abundant around Silver Lake and are unfortunately not toilet trained.

Silver Lake is at 770 W Silver Lake Dr NE, Rochester, MN 55904.

11- Tour The Mayowood Mansion

Like the Plummer House of the Arts, Mayowood Mansion was built for a co-founder of the Mayo Clinic – Dr Charles H. Mayo.

This impressive estate had over 40 rooms, gardens, and a private art collection.

Today the Mayowood Mansion is looked after by the Mayo Clinic, and many original artefacts remain that showcase the life of Dr Mayo and his son.

Tours are limited to a few hours a day during the spring, summer and fall months, so check the timetable before heading in.

Mayowood Mansion is at 3720 Mayowood Road SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

12- Go Retro At The Gaming Bazaar LLC

Transport back to the 80s as you spend your afternoon playing Pac-Man, Silver Star Bowling, and plenty more arcade games at The Gaming Bazaar LLC (formerly The Machine Shed).

Don’t worry about lugging around coins because for an entrance fee of $10, you can play for as long as your inner child’s heart desires.

Pop into the store next door and check out the vintage video games, and you may just walk out with a new classic game console and a few favourite games from your childhood.

The Gaming Bazaar LLC is at 11 2nd St NE, Rochester, MN 55906.

13- Hop Aboard A Bluffscape Amish Tours

Certainly not your average city tour, the Bluffscape Amish Tours brings you through a thriving Amish settlement just 40 minutes drive from Rochester.

Watch as the Amish expertly navigate their settlement with a horse and buggy and learn about their simple way of living.

If you haven’t purchased a souvenir from your trip, check out their shop filled with Amish crafts, leather goods and mouth-watering freshly baked desserts.

Tours depart from Stone Mill Hotel & Suites in Lanesboro, and it’s always recommended to book ahead to avoid disappointment.

Bluffscape Amish Tours is at 102 Beacon St E, Lanesboro, MN 55949.

14- Learn About Native Animals At The Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

things to do in rochester mn bison
Visiting the zoo is one of the things to do in Rochester for kids.

A free zoo with 572 acres (231 hectares) of land, more than 30 native Minnesota animals, 8 miles (12 kilometres) of hiking trail and a campground?

That’s right, and all less than a 10-minute drive from Rochester at the Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo.

Get an up-close view of bison, otters, bobcats, wolf, bald eagles, and more – most of which were brought in to be rehabilitated from injury.

You can also see plenty of wildlife and watch birds zip in and out of trees on one of the many nature trails.

It’d be an afternoon well spent.

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo is at 5731 County Rd 105 NW, Byron, MN 55920.

15- Go Shopping At The Galleria At University Square

If you’re in Rochester for the Mayo Clinic or just in need of a bit of self-love, head to the Galleria at University Square for some retail therapy and delicious food.

The mall is connected to the Mayo Clinic by skyway and offers plenty of unique local stores and well-known brands.

It’s a great place to spend a rainy afternoon or kill time while waiting for friends or family at the Mayo Clinic.

The Galleria is at 111 Broadway Ave S, Rochester, MN 55904.

16- Wander The Charles E. Gagnon Museum & Sculpture Garden

For a much more relaxing experience than the busy mall, head to Rochester’s first private museum – Charles E. Gagnon Museum & Sculpture Garden.

An atmosphere of elegance and serenity are ever so present here, with small scheduled tours taking visitors to learn about the many bronze sculptures created by Gagnon himself.

If you time your visit right, you may even be lucky enough to enjoy a garden concert, often featuring string instruments and harps.

Charles E. Gagnon Museum & Sculpture Garden is at 2500 4th St SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

17- Enjoy A Day Out On A Microbrew Trolly Tour

things to do in rochester minnesota hands holding hops
Going on a brewery tour is one of the fun things to do in Rochester MN.

Rochester is home to five microbreweries, and the best way to sample the best of each is to head out on a Microbrew Trolly Tour.

Each tour is customised to the passengers on board, who can pick which breweries they’d like to try or make a stop at all five.

At each brewery, you’ll be offered a tasting flight along with extra beers to be purchased by yourself, so be prepared for a big day.

Microbrew Trolly Tour is at 972 14th Ave SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

18- Soak Up The Sun At Maple Valley Golf & Country Club

fun things to do in rochester mn teeing off
Playing golf is one of the fun things to do in Rochester, Minnesota.

Okay, we know golf is a bit of a niche sport, but if you fancy yourself a round or two every so often, the Mapple Valley Golf & Country Club is the place to do it.

One of the famous “Places to Play” in Minnesota, named by Golf Digest and constantly deemed a hidden gem, the course is both beautiful and affordable to play.

The Root River surrounds the course on three sides, and limestone bluffs provide an idyllic backdrop to spend the afternoon.

Maple Valley Golf & Country Club is at 8600 Maple Valley Rd SE, Rochester, MN 55904.

19- Enjoy Hours Of Entertainment At Bowlocity Entertainment Center

Whether you head to Bowlocity Entertainment Center for the bowling, multi-level laser tag, huge arcade area, the Sports Bar, or some of each, you’re guaranteed to have a fun time.

With 24 bowling lanes and plenty of other entertainment, it’s easy to spend a rainy day or fun-filled evening here.

The best part? With numerous combination packages, you don’t have to worry about spending a fortune to try your hand at the different activities.

Bowlocity Entertainment Center is at 2810 N Broadway Ave, Rochester, MN 55906.

20- Go Below Ground At Grand Shops Of Kahler & Marriott

If you can’t find what you are looking for at the Galleria at University Square, head below ground and try your luck at the Grand Shops Of Kahler & Marriott.

Located in the middle of downtown but underground, the pedestrian mall has everything from boutique popcorn stores and up-market clothing stores to Dunkin’ Donuts.

As the Grand Shops Of Kahler & Marriott is connected to the Mayo Clinic, you can easily pop in between appointments.

Grand Shops Of Kahler & Marriott is at 20 2nd Ave SW, Rochester, Minnesota, 55902.

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cropped Danielle Strayer Bio Pic.jpg
Danielle grew up in central Minnesota, spending her summers enjoying the many lakes and her winters playing ice hockey. After graduating from college, she booked a one-way ticket to New Zealand and never looked back. Now, 10 years later, Danielle spends her time hiking amongst the Southern Alps, Airbnb hopping around Europe and travelling the U.S. Rarely a day goes by you won't find her searching for her next grand adventure.