Looking for an unforgettable weekend escape? Join us as we delve into the hidden charms of Rochester, Minnesota, a captivating city brimming with cultural delights and natural wonders.
From vibrant festivals to picturesque parks, this article will guide you through the must-see attractions and insider tips for making the most of your visit. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, or an outdoor enthusiast, Rochester has something to offer everyone.
Located just a short 90 minute drive south of the Twin Cities on Highway 52, Rochester is a great weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Get ready to immerse yourself in a weekend of exploration, relaxation, and delightful discoveries. Don’t miss out on uncovering the secrets of Rochester, Minnesota – it’s time to embark on a memorable adventure!
Rochester, Minnesota, often sails under the radar of many travelers, yet it’s a city that deserves the limelight for numerous reasons. It’s not just home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic but also an array of other attractions that will make your visit memorable. Here’s a glimpse into our journey through this captivating city.
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Rochester: More Than Just Medical Brilliance
Rochester is known globally as a medical hub due to the Mayo Clinic (200 1st St SW, Rochester, MN 55905), a magnet for medical professionals and patients alike. Despite its global acclaim, the clinic maintains a serene and welcoming atmosphere, and the iconic Plummer Building (100 2nd St SW, Rochester, MN 55902) adds to its charm with its architectural grandeur. Built in 1928, the Plummer is a gorgeous example of Art Deco design. Look for the 4,000 pound (that’s 1,800 kg) ornamental bronze doors – they are always open as a symbol for willingness to help those in need.
But there’s more to this city than just medical brilliance.
Downtown Rochester is a buzzing hive of activity, with shopping, dining, and entertainment spots that cater to all tastes. Every Saturday, the Rochester Farmers Market (Graham Park, 35 Fairgrounds Ave SE, Rochester, MN 55904) offers a fantastic selection of locally grown produce and artisanal food products. Don’t forget to try some Minnesota sweet corn – it’s a local favorite!
The city center houses an array of arts and cultural institutions. Founded in 1946, the Rochester Art Center (30 Civic Center Dr SE, Suite 120, Rochester, MN 55904), located on the edge of the Zumbro River, boasts an impressive selection of contemporary art. The Rochester Civic Theatre (30 Civic Center Dr SE, Suite 100, Rochester, MN 55904) offers a range of performances from community theater productions to live music and comedy shows.
The Iconic Ear of Corn Water Tower
Outdoor enthusiasts won’t be disappointed either. Silver Lake Park (770 W Silver Lake Dr NE, Rochester, MN 55906), with its resident geese and scenic trails, is the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll or a picnic. The lake has an accessible playground, swimming pool, skate park, and is a popular spot for boating. The swimming pool at Silver Lake Park is located near the East Shelter (840 7th St NE, Rochester, MN 55906) and is open during the summer. Quarry Hill Nature Center (701 Silver Creek Rd NE, Rochester, MN 55906) offers hiking trails and a historical hand-made cave to explore, along with a nature center that has live animals. Visit the Explorational Hall to see 35 species of live Minnesota-native creatures as well as an 1800 gallon aquarium showcasing common fish found in Rochester area lakes. A must-see for the animal lover in your family is a visit with Quarry Hill’s Eastern Screech Owl…a real cutie pie!
For a bit of history and beautiful views, a visit to Mayowood Mansion (3720 Mayowood Rd SW, Rochester, MN 55902), the historic home of the Mayo family, is a must. Just be warned: there’s a pretty strict (and very lengthy) photography policy so you may want to read that before snapping pics on your phone. We find the policy somewhat antiquated, confusing and overwhelming. Part of the fun of travel is to create memories, and part of creating memories is preserving them through photos and videos. Keep this in mind as you make a decision about where you’d like to spend your time during your travels.
One spot where photography is encouraged is the delightfully unique landmark that sets Rochester apart from other cities. We’re talking – of course – about the iconic Ear of Corn Water Tower (1300 Fairgrounds Ave SE, Rochester, MN 55904). Standing tall as a testament to the city’s agricultural heritage, this towering structure serves as a striking symbol of the region’s rich farming culture. As you approach the Corn Tower, you can’t help but be captivated by its grandeur and the intricate details of the artwork that adorn its exterior. It’s 151 feet tall and is painted to look like a husked ear of corn. Built in 1931, the 50-thousand gallon water tower was used throughout the 1930s by the Army Air Corps and the Air Force to help guide pilots to a nearby airfield. This practice lasted well into the 1960s. The tower is well lit during evenings so it can be seen at all times of the day.
The Ear of Corn Water Tower not only celebrates the significance of corn in the local economy but also pays homage to the hardworking farmers who have contributed to the area’s agricultural legacy. Be sure to take a selfie with the Ear of Corn…it’s a fun way to let folks know you’ve been to Rochester!
Minnesota Nice and a Foodie’s Paradise
When it comes to dining, Rochester offers a diverse palette of options. For those with a taste for fine dining, the Prescott’s Grill (1201 Broadway Ave S, Suite 80, Rochester, MN 55904) is an excellent choice. If you’re looking for something more casual, the Newt’s Burger joint is famous for its juicy burgers. There are three locations in Rochester: Newt’s South (1201 Broadway Ave S, Rochester, MN 55904), Newt’s North (5231 E. Frontage Rd Hwy, 52, Rochester, MN 55901) and Newt’s Express (23 2nd St SW, Rochester, MN 55902). Don’t miss out on the popular Canadian Honker Restaurant (1203 2nd St SW, Rochester, MN 55902) and their award-winning Bunnie’s Coconut Cake, a dessert that has become somewhat of a city symbol!
Rochester’s spirit of hospitality is epitomized in its accommodation options: the city has a plethora of options to choose from. In Rochester you are sure to experience “Minnesota Nice”. If you’re looking for a fun old-timey experience, consider a stay at the historic Kahler Grand Hotel (20 2nd Ave SW, Rochester, MN 55902). Built in 1921, this conveniently-located in the heart of downtown hotel, is directly attached to the Mayo Clinic and the Grand Shops at Kahler – all via skyway and underground walkway, so no matter what time of year you visit Rochester, you’ll be comfortable.
Rochester, Minnesota, is a city that seamlessly blends urban life with the allure of the natural world. It’s a place that celebrates its medical legacy, supports local businesses, and fosters a vibrant arts scene, all while offering a charming Midwestern welcome. It’s a city that’s patiently waiting for you to discover and fall in love with.
In conclusion, a weekend visit to Rochester, Minnesota is a truly delightful experience that offers a perfect blend of culture, history, and natural beauty. From exploring the vibrant downtown area with its charming shops and restaurants to immersing oneself in the city’s rich heritage at the various museums and historical sites, Rochester has something for everyone. The abundance of picturesque parks and outdoor recreational opportunities provides a refreshing escape into nature. Whether it’s enjoying a scenic hike along the Root River Trail, marveling at the beauty of Silver Lake, or attending one of the city’s lively festivals, Rochester never fails to captivate visitors. This weekend getaway is an opportunity to rejuvenate, discover hidden gems, and create cherished memories. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey to Rochester, Minnesota – a city that promises an unforgettable escape filled with warmth, charm, and endless exploration.
Love Minnesota? You betcha!
If you love Minnesota as much as we do, you’ll probably love these cute items. They’ll definitely have you saying, “oh for cute”! Hehe…
About the Authors
Jack and Kitty Norton are Emmy Award winning travel experts. They have spent a lifetime on the road: as traveling musicians, documentary filmmakers and television producers. They now focus on writing for their travel blog (JackAndKitty.com) and making fun videos for their YouTube channel. Jack and Kitty offer travelers fun and quirky things to do in Minnesota, the Midwest and beyond. High school sweethearts turned married soulmates, the couple lives in the small college town of Winona, Minnesota and would love to have you over for some hotdish.