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Hidden Gems Nearby
Things to Do Near Rochester, MN
While there is plenty to keep you busy in Minnesota’s Rochester, you may want to explore a variety of unique area attractions within an hour and a half’s drive as well. Visit some of these popular destinations around Rochester.
Byron - a 10-minute drive. This 572-acre park and zoo is a hit for visitors of all ages. Enjoy the tranquility of the park’s eight miles of hiking trails and four picnic areas. The zoo features more than 30 species of Minnesota native animals, including the ever-playful otters, bison, black bear, eagles, snakes, and more. The Indoor Nature Center offers educational and recreational programs.
Oxbow Park & Zollmann Zoo | AB-PHOTOGRAPHY.US
Oronoco - a 15-minute drive. Minnesota is the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and visitors to Rochester can get a taste of lake life at Lake Zumbro, a 600-acre reservoir located just north of the city. An established shoreline fishing area is located near Fisherman’s Inn Restaurant, as well as public boat ramps and viewing for the SkiDox Waterski Team’s weekly summer shows.
Spring Valley – a 40-minute drive. Don’t miss visiting this fully operational winery, cidery, and restaurant about 30 miles south of Rochester. Visit the tasting room or dine on fresh, locally-sourced cuisine while taking in a view of the property’s 6-acre vineyard and enjoying some live music.
Austin - a 45-minute drive. Explore the history of the famous Hormel company and learn about the origins of SPAM through interactive videos, hands-on activities, and themed exhibits at this 14,000 square foot museum. Located southwest of Rochester.
A 45 minute drive to the nearest starting point. Visit one of the multiple interpretive centers to learn about the history of the roaring Mississippi, or explore the water’s path by driving down The Great River Road. Wabasha, Minnesota, located about 45 minutes northeast of Rochester, is a good starting point. Or, join a Rochester Trolley & Tour Company sightseeing tour (round-trip from downtown Rochester) of the Mississippi River’s Bluff Country.
Wabasha - a 60-minute drive. Learn about the majestic bald eagle and see exhibits focusing on the behavior, nesting habits, diet, and fascinating history of America’s bird. Located on the Mississippi River northeast of Rochester.
Photo courtesy of National Eagle Center
Near Faribault – 60-minute drive. The rolling hills and valleys of the popular Nerstrand Big Woods State Park are traversed by Prairie Creek with its picturesque waterfalls. Nature lovers will be awed by the assortment of trees in this state park--including sugar maple, basswood, oak, ash, and ironwood—as well as over 100 varieties of wildflowers. Hike on the park’s trails, or make a stop at the on-site playground.
Lanesboro/Harmony/Southeast MN – 60-minute drive. Enjoy the history and heritage of an established Amish community in the beautiful bluff country of Southeast Minnesota. Step back in time and experience a unique Christian way of life based on simplicity and hard work. Observe travel by horse and buggy, learn about the Amish culture, browse handcrafted furniture, and more. Rochester Trolley & Tour Company offers Old Order Amish Country Tours departing from Rochester. Other tour providers include Amish Tours of Harmony, Bluffscape Amish Tours out of Lanesboro, and more.
Bloomington – 80-minute drive. Get your shopping fix at one of the largest malls in the country! Located near the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, the MOA features over 520 retail stores (no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota!), the nation’s largest indoor theme park, Nickelodeon Universe®, and dozens of restaurants.
Check out 10 state parks within 30 to 90 minutes of Rochester, MN as well!