Mantorville, More Than Meets the Eye
Mantorville is a small, unassuming town. But if you take the time to explore this neighborhood, you’ll discover there is more than meets the eye. With an old, historic downtown, Minnesota’s oldest restaurant, and more ghosts per capita than any other city in the Midwest, Mantorville has a unique story to tell.
1. Start Your Day with Coffee
Mantorville has two great options for coffee and breakfast, Old School Cafe, which is a restored schoolhouse, and Country Seat Coffeehouse. Each offers a classic menu of eggs, muffins, coffee, and scones. Country Seat Coffeehouse is conveniently located in the center of town, and Old School Cafe is around the corner surrounded by cute homes and incredible gardens.
2. Support Local Artists at the Art Guild
This gallery and studio is a must-see while visiting Mantorville. Located inside a building built before the Civil War, you’ll immediately be greeted with beautiful handcrafted items for sale, like jewelry, furniture, and paintings, all made by local artists from Mantorville and the immediate surrounding area. This small but mighty non-profit also offers a summer art camp to local children.
3. Go Antique Shopping
For such a tiny town, you may be surprised to learn that Mantorville has three antique shops; Mantorville Square is the largest with the most variety, Memorabilia offers beautiful teacups, and glass items, and Finds on 5th is where you’ll discover paintings, small furniture items, spoons turned into keychains and everything in between.
4. Have Dinner at the Hubbell House
The Hubbell House is Minnesota’s oldest restaurant! Sitting inside a building built in 1854, the restaurant came to be just two years later. Today, the Hubbell House has achieved worldwide recognition as a fine dining restaurant. On one side of the building, you’ll find a casual bar with bright lights and a relaxed vibe. If you’re looking for something fancier, head over to the dining room for a more formal environment. The Hubbell House offers a great variety of food options such as shrimp, steak, chicken fingers, and everything in between!
5. Find Sweet Treats at the Chocolate Shoppe
The Chocolate Shoppe specializes in hand-dipped chocolates and homemade caramels. They’ve been around since 1976 and have had the same owners since 1989, a mother-daughter duo who purchased the business from the founders. They use high-quality ingredients and make everything in small batches on-site. Back in 2011, my husband Nic bought me chocolate-covered cherries from this shop for our first Valentine’s Day together. They were so delicious, I still remember them vividly!
6. Take a Historic Walking Tour
Mantorville has a lot of history and many unique stories! Spend a few hours on a self-guided walking tour and see how many spots you can find from Mantorville’s list of 28 spots. One stop along the walking tour is the Grand Old Mansion, pictured above. Built in 1899, this classic Victorian-style home is one of Mantorville’s most well-known landmarks. It was once a bed and breakfast and is currently a private residence undergoing restoration.
7. Walk Through Riverside Park and Dam
Take a stroll through this expansive park, stop to smell the flowers, go fishing in the Zumbro River by the dam, have the kids enjoy the playground, or set up a picnic. The bridge that runs across the river (behind me in the above photo) was the first large bridge that brought together early businesses south of the river with the main part of town.
8. Stop by the Covered Bridge
This bridge is located in the back of Riverside Park. In the 1950s goats would cross this bridge with the intention of eating the weeds and tall grasses to keep them from growing out of control. This little red bridge is one of just two bridges in Minnesota that are part of the National Covered Bridge Society.
9. Enjoy a Weekend at the RV Park
Set up your camper and enjoy the Zumbro River up close. Go fishing or cool off with a swim. Just a few blocks from downtown, you can either bring your own food to prepare or walk to town when you need something. The RV park is also next to a gas station, so you’ll have no problem getting access to the necessities like water, snacks, or band-aids.
10. Visit the Historical Society
Check out the Dodge County Historical Society and learn about the county’s unique history. The museum itself is located inside a limestone church built in 1869. Walk around the property and you’ll see a home built in 1856, and a one-room schoolhouse built in 1883, and many incredible artifacts. Adults and children alike will find this to be an interesting stop.
11. Stop by the Greek Revival House
Built in the 1860s, this little house was one of the first in Mantorville. The beautiful woodwork that frames the front door and the exterior corners of the house is a beautiful example of Greek Revival architecture. Marvel at the detailed woodwork and the stunning gardens, then walk behind the house where you’ll see an old limestone barn. Inside the barn is an exhibit with the original feed bins and farm tools.
12. See a Show at the Opera House
This thriving theater offers live performances, concerts, and melodramas. They invite you to “boo and hiss at the villain and cheer and sigh for the hero.” With eight different shows offered throughout the year, be sure to check their schedule often to stay up to date.
Plan Your Day Trip Today
Mantorville is about 75 minutes from the Twin Cities and can easily be done as a day trip. From antique shops, historic walking tours, and a chocolate shop, you’ll find a day trip to Mantorville is both fun and educational. If you’re looking for a two or three-day getaway, Mantorville is just 25 minutes from Rochester, where you’ll find an incredible amount of restaurants, breweries, and shops to continue the fun!