16 Great Things to Do in Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester is Totally Underrated

My husband grew up just 15 minutes outside of Rochester, so I’ve been lucky to have spent a lot of time in Rochester over the years. I think Rochester is often forgotten and overshadowed by Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth. It’s grown and evolved so much over the last 10 to 20 years, with tons of new restaurants, coffee shops, and stores opening up. Read on for a round-up of the best things to do in Rochester.

Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester, Minnesota

1. Rochester Has Many Breweries

Rochester has a ton of great breweries, each one offering something fun and different. Some of our favorites include Thesis, Little Thistle, and Kinney Creek. We visit Thesis the most often, they have a great variety of beers on rotation including 3 Birds (Mexican Lager), Tuba Nanas (German Hefeweizen), and Citrus Mistress (Berlin Weisse). Thesis also has great live music, food trucks, and a large outdoor patio during the summer. Little Thistle has a great patio and lawn for kids and dogs.

Rochester, Minnesota
Rochester, Minnesota

2. Visit the Nordic Shop

The Nordic Shop has a collection of high-quality Norwegian and Scandinavian goods. Some of my favorite brands in that store include Dale of Norway wool sweaters and hats, and Fjallraven Kanken backpacks. I could visit this store every time I’m in Rochester and never get sick of it. All the products in this store are beautiful.


3. Tons of Restaurants

Rochester has a ton of restaurants, and there is truly something for everyone. It’s amazing how many places have opened up in the past few years, each offering something unique and delicious. Some of the best restaurants include:

  • Bleu Duck Kitchen, for seasonal ingredients
  • Chester’s, for American comfort food in downtown Rochester
  • Crave, an American kitchen and sushi bar
  • Mango Thai, for great Thai food, and cocktails in a space with exposed brick
  • Purple Goat, a family-friendly restaurant with American food
  • Pescara, an upscale restaurant serving up seafood and steak
  • Olde Brick House, an Irish pub serving classics like fish and chips, and Shepard’s pie
  • Salad Brothers, for sandwiches, soup, and salad
  • Terza, a warm and inviting space dishing up Italian classics like pizza and pasta

4. Tour the Mayowood Mansion

If you’re looking for a unique experience, visit the Mayowood Mansion, previously owned by Dr. Charlie Mayo, co-founder of the Mayo Clinic. Take a guided tour of this 23,000-square foot, thirty-eight-room home, which was built in 1910. Enjoy the video above for a preview of this incredible house.


5. Tour the Plummer House

Another beautiful home in Rochester is the Plummer House, an English Tudor mansion built between 1917 and 1924. The Plummer House is the former residence of Dr. Henry Stanley Plummer, who worked for Mayo Clinic for 35 years. Take a tour of this incredible 65-acre estate which includes a greenhouse, water tower, garage, and gazebo.

6. Enjoy the Rochester Art Center

The Rochester Art Center is a contemporary art center with exhibitions of local, national, and international artwork. The Rochester Art Center opened in 1946 and currently offers tours, workshops, and classes. Click here to learn about upcoming exhibitions and programs.

Rochester, Minnesota

7. Search for Good Finds at Janky Gear

Janky Gear is a new and really cool store in Rochester filled with quality secondhand products, like paddleboards and kayaks, Columbia sweatshirts, North Face jackets, and Merrell boots. It’s a great place to not only find quality items for cheap but also sell your outdoor gear and clothing.


8. Take a Quiet Moment at Soldiers Memorial Field

The Soldiers Memorial Field is a beautiful and quiet place to walk through a large grassy area with flowers or sit on a bench in the sun. Spend time looking at the large curved memorial wall and learning about those who gave their lives for our country.

9. Enjoy Sweet Treats

Rochester has a few great options for those craving something sweet. For delicious freshly baked bread, visit Great Harvest Bread Co. For something sweeter, head over to Drift Donuts for root beer float, pistachio, watermelon, or lemon poppyseed donuts. Crumbl Cookie also has delicious, and giant cookies! My favorite Crumbl cookies are chocolate chip, peanut butter, and Oreo!

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota Mayo

10. Go Shopping at The Castle

The Castle is a unique brick building that looks like a castle right in the heart of town. Inside the Castle is a church, restaurant, and a gallery featuring the work of over 30 local artists and makers!

11. Walk the Halls of the Mayo Clinic

As of March 7, 2022, and because of COVID, you are only allowed into Mayo Clinic if you have an appointment. Hopefully, the beautiful artwork inside Mayo Clinic will reopen to the general public again soon. When it does, I highly recommend walking around Mayo Clinic where you’ll see beautiful paintings and Chihuly glasswork, and a piano that is often being played by talented people walking by. It’s essentially a free and incredible museum.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota Quarry Hill

12. Take a Walk at the Quarry Hill Nature Center

Quarry Hill Nature Center is a free and beautiful park to visit any time of the year. Spend time walking and biking through the wooded trails and around the ponds, or visit the indoor nature center, which is open year-round.

13. Pet Llamas at Pauley Alpaca

Hanging out with llamas might be one of the coolest things to do! Visit the Pauley Alpaca farm and spend time with their llamas, goats, chickens, rabbits, and cats. Visit the gift shop or online store and purchase a hat made from alpaca yarn, or buy a skein of yarn to knit your own.

Things to do in Rochester Minnesota Tangerine
Things to do in Rochester Minnesota Tangerine Mug

14. Shop at Tangerine at Wild Flowers

Rochester has a lot of great shops and Tangerine is one of the most unique. With mugs that have silly sayings and socks with fun graphics, this is the ultimate store to find lighthearted gag gifts.


15. Relax at a Coffee Shop

There are a handful of great coffee shops scattered around Rochester including Steam and Fiddlehead. I really enjoy Fiddlehead because they have so many beautiful plants, and it’s a bright, sunny space. They also have a lot of great food like sandwiches, soup, and lattes.

16. See a Concert at the Mayo Civic Center

The Mayo Civic Center is the main spot to see live shows and concerts in Rochester. The Civic Center was built as a gift to the city of Rochester by Dr. Charlie Mayo in 1938. A few years back we saw the Duluth-based band, Trampled By Turtles, perform live at the Civic Center. Check out their event calendar here for upcoming shows.

Rochester, Minnesota

Spend a Weekend in Rochester

Rochester, Minnesota is a great city that continues to grow and evolve. There is always something fun going on and some new restaurant opening.  You could easily spend a fun and busy 48 hours exploring Rochester!

Looking for more adventure ideas? Check out my blog posts on ideas for spring break, 18 awesome things to do in Minneapolis, and 12 unmissable things to do in Mantorville


  • Josy A

    It’s always funny seeing the Minnesotan version of places! I have a friend who grew up in Rochester in the UK (it is an old Dickensian town…so totally different to this!!)

    This Rochester looks fantastic! From Janky Gear, to the Quarry Hill Nature Center, the mansion and all that fabulous food/breweries. I can totally see why you liked it.

  • Farrah

    I’ve never been to Rochester but I had a friend who lived there for a while. All those restaurants sound delicious! *-* It’d be cool to check out the Mayowood Mansio + Plummer House too! I’d definitely be all aout trying to find some good deals at Janky Gear too (love the name, haha).

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