Awesome Things to Do in Mankato, Minnesota
Enjoy Mankato on a Warm Day
Mankato is a really cool day trip you can easily take from the Twin Cities or Rochester. There are a bunch of unique things to do in Mankato, which is also a college town. My mother-in-law and father-in-law met at Mankato State University, so they always enjoy taking a drive through campus and seeing how the town has changed. Read on for a fun day trip itinerary!
1. Start Off With Lunch at a Winery
Chankaska Creek Winery is technically in Kasota, but it’s super close to Mankato, so it’s on my list! It has a huge outdoor seating area, which backs up to a creek that runs through the property. I have been there a few times and there is always a wedding going on in the back of the property, which is heavily wooded and has a bridge you take over the creek to get there. It’s really nice.
The menu is really great too. We love getting a variety of things to share at the table, like pizzas and charcuterie boards. They have a really great selection of wine and specialty cocktails. Last time I was there I had their Rose, which was super refreshing and not too sweet for me.
2. See Bison and a Waterfall
Just down the road from the winery is the Minneopa State Park. There is a $7 daily entrance fee, or if you have an annual pass for Minnesota state parks you can go straight in.
Follow the line of cars through the park and hopefully you’ll get a view of the bison. We saw them crossing the road a few cars ahead of us and then we got a great view once they moved in to the open field area. One of my friends went another time and didn’t see them at all, so you’re taking a chance since they are wild animals.
You can also take a walk to the Minneopa Falls waterfall on the other side of the park. From the parking lot, the waterfall is a short five-minute walk on a paved path. You can continue on and hike around the park, but conveniently the waterfall is at the start of the hike if that’s all you wish to see.
3. Stop in St. Peter for Drinks
We were coming from the Twin Cities so we passed through St. Peter on the way back home. One of our friends went to Gustavus Adolphus College so we called him from the car and asked for a recommended bar in St. Peter.
He suggested Patrick’s on Third, so we decided to check it out. It had the vibe of a college bar, and we were loving it. They have a very laidback, and low-key environment. Patrick’s on Third has cheap beer and a large food menu and we would definitely go back.
4. Get Your Sugar Rush
Our final stop for the day was Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store in Jordan, Minnesota. This place is no joke! If you’re driving on Highway 169, you can’t miss the big yellow barn. It’s huge and the entire exterior is painted a bright yellow. Inside you’ll find an insane selection of candy, sodas, pies, cotton candy, popcorn and so much more. There are also massive statues of super heroes, a British phone booth, a fortune-telling machine and seasonal home decor. This strange place is a must-stop on any Minnesota road trip!
Enjoy Unique Things to Do
I hope this post gives you some fun ideas for an epic day trip to Mankato. There are so many things to do, and some of them are quite unusual! Many of these ideas are less known, but they really shouldn’t be because they are super fun and inexpensive.
Minnesota has always been a place I’ve been fascinated about because I’ve heard so many good things about it!
I’ll keep these things in mind if I ever make it there :o)
I hope you get to check it out some day!
I went to grad school in Mankato and lived there for two years so this is so fun to see. But I must have been studying too hard because I didn’t do any of these things. I would have loved to see the buffalo. I did love the praires around Mankato and the Blue Earth River.
Sounds like you have an excuse to visit Mankato again 🙂
I love that there are wild bison there! I haven’t been anywhere in Minnesota but Mankato looks charming.
It’s definitely a unique experience!
I still haven’t been to Minneopa State Park to see the bison! Good to know there’s a winery nearby – will def add that to my list. Thank you!!
Yes, a for sure recommendation. And the winery has a big patio so it’s great for right now and this awesome weather we’re having.
Ooooh this looks like such a fun way to spend the day with your parents! What did they think about Mankato? Did they say it changed a lot since their college days?
You know, I think I might love to copy you, but do it all backwards – visit the candy store, then eat candy while looking at the Bison/visiting the Minneopa State Park…then finish the day with a glass of vino at the winery.
Haha I think these activities can be fun in any order! And yes, my in-laws say it has changed a lot!