A family and their dog in a car, heading to Rochester, MN

These Are the 9 Things To Do in Rochester, Minnesota: A Weekend Escape

Looking for a weekend escape? Join us as we explore things to do in Rochester, Minnesota. A charming city with great food and fun!

Rochester, Minnesota is Unexpectedly Fun

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 in Southern Minnesota – 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. My hubby Jack and I went to Bible College in Rochester and loved living there. We now live in Winona, Minnesota – which is another great place if you’re looking for fun in Minnesota.

A family enjoys biking in Rochester, Minnesota

More Than Just Medical Brilliance

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.

A group of friends enjoys drinks at a brewery in Rochester, MN

These are the 9 Things To Do in Rochester, MN

Rochester is known globally as a medical hub due to the Mayo Clinic, 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 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.

Veggies at the Rochester Farmers Market in Rochester MN
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1. Visit the Rochester Farmers Market

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 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!

Travel to Rochester, Minnesota

2. Explore the Rochester Art Center and the Rochester Civic Theater

The city center houses an array of arts and cultural institutions. Founded in 1946, the Rochester Art Center, located on the edge of the Zumbro River, boasts an impressive selection of contemporary art. The Rochester Civic Theatre offers a range of performances from community theater productions to live music and comedy shows.

A family enjoys a picnic in Rochester, MN at Silver Lake Park.

3. Have a Picnic and Swim at Silver Lake Park

Outdoor enthusiasts won’t be disappointed either. Silver Lake Park, 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 and is open during the summer.

Owl at Quarry Hill Nature Center in Rochester, MN

4. See Minnesota Creatures at Quarry Hill Nature Center

Quarry Hill Nature Center 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!

A woman holds a camera. Photography is not allowed at the Mayowood Mansion in Rochester MN

5. Step Back in Time at the Mayowood Mansion

For a bit of history and beautiful views, a visit to Mayowood Mansion 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.

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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.

Travel to Rochester, Minnesota
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6. Snap a Selfie at the Iconic Ear of Corn Water Tower

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. 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.

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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.

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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!

Travel to Rochester, Minnesota

7. Enjoy a Meal at These Can’t-Miss Restaurants

When it comes to dining, Rochester offers a diverse palette of options. For those with a taste for fine dining, the Prescott’s Grill 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, Newt’s North, and Newt’s Express. Don’t miss out on the popular Canadian Honker Restaurant and their award-winning Bunnie’s Coconut Cake, a dessert that has become somewhat of a city symbol!

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A woman walks in a skyway in Rochester MN. She carries a coffee cup.

8. Wander the Skyways and Underground Walkways

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. 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.

A Hidden Gem in St. Charles: The House of Hidden Treasure

9. Visit a Super Cool Antique Store

Although not in Rochester, one of our favorite antique stores is located in the charming town of St. Charles – which is a short 15 or 20 minute drive from Rochester.

Imagine stepping into a treasure trove filled with vintage finds and unique knick-knacks. That’s what you’ll find at the House of Hidden Treasures. The best part? It’s run by an incredibly sweet lady in her nineties. Age is just a number when you’re living your passion, right?

A group of friends enjoying a meal in Rochester, MN


In conclusion, 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.

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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.

A family plays soccer at a park in Rochester, Minnesota.

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.

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