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Rochester Skyline from Quarry Hill.

Rochester, Minnesota, about 80 miles (130 km) southeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul, is home to the Mayo Clinic. Rochester is cold in the winter and warm, and many times hot, in the summer. It has a population of 107,890 in the city limits, with more in the surrounding areas, but hosts millions of out-of-town visitors coming for treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Owing to the large number of visitors, Rochester has a well developed infrastructure and is much busier than other cities of its size.

Get inEdit

By planeEdit

  • 1 Rochester International Airport (RST IATA). 10 miles south of downtown Rochester along Hwy 63. Owing to the large number of visitors to the Mayo Clinic, there are more flights than in comparably-sized cities, approximately 13 flights per day. Make sure you fly into Rochester, MN, not Rochester, NY! Delta Air Lines has flights from Minneapolis/St. Paul and Atlanta. American Airlines offers direct service from Chicago O'Hare. United Airlines offers direct service from Chicago O'Hare. There is also scheduled charter service at the airport. Non-stop service to Laughlin, NV and Biloxi, MS is occasionally offered on Sun Country, and non-stop service to Wendover, UT is occasionally offered by Allegiant Air. The airport is attempting to get more air service into Rochester. The airport directors have contacted the current providers American, United and Delta, about adding more destinations, and have also contacted other carriers to bring new nonstop destinations to the airport.    
    • There are several car-rental companies located at the airport. Taxis are relatively expensive, approximately $25 between downtown Rochester and the airport. Shuttle service is available, timed to meet each arrival; one-way fare to downtown hotels is approximately $11.50. Some hotels also provide shuttle service.
  • 2 Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP IATA). A 90-min drive NW of Rochester. A major airport, it has flights from most major cities around the world. Dominated by Delta Air Lines. Go Rochester Direct and Rochester Shuttle Service offer scheduled shuttle service between MSP and Rochester. Star Limousine Service and Gold Crown Limo offer private sedan service.    

When flying to Rochester, it is worth checking flights into both airports.

By carEdit

The closest interstate to Rochester is I-90 running east and west across Minnesota. There are two exits from I-90 that will take you north into Rochester, US Highway 63 (when coming from the west) and US Highway 52 (Exit 218) (when coming from the east).

US Highway 14 runs east and west through Rochester, connecting Rochester with Winona and Owatonna. Highway 14 east is a 4-lane freeway in Rochester (with the exception of a partial cloverleaf.)

US Highway 63 runs north and south through Rochester and is the main north-south thoroughfare through downtown Rochester, and connects Rochester with Lake City and south to Waterloo and connect you up with the Avenue of the Saints. It is a 4-lane expressway between I-90 and US 52, with a freeway portion in the last couple of miles towards Highway 52.

US Highway 52 also runs north and south through Rochester and is the main pipeline connecting Rochester with the Twin Cities and running south to the southeast corner of Minnesota and into Iowa. It is a 6-lane freeway.

By trainEdit

There is no train service into Rochester. The closest station is 45 minutes drive away in Winona. Ground transportation between Rochester and Winona is available from GoCarefree Shuttle. However, GoCarefree Shuttle does not wait in Winona for passengers disembarking at the Winona Amtrak station seeking transit to Rochester.

By busEdit

Jefferson Lines offers service to many cities, plus connects to Greyhound in Minneapolis. Jefferson Lines buses stop at the 3 Sinclair gas station located at 205 6th St SW. If part of your trip involves travel on Greyhound, you can purchase your ticket on Greyhound's website, which will cover travel on both carriers.

Get aroundEdit

Map of Rochester (Minnesota)

If you are only going to the Clinic, you may not need a car as most hotels provide (free) shuttle service to the Clinic. However, most visitors will want or need a car to get around.

The central part of the city is arranged on a more-or-less standard grid. Streets run east-west and avenues run north-south. This divides the city into four quadrants, NW, NE, SE, SW. There are some named streets you might encounter.

  • The dividing line between east and west is Broadway (up to about 25th St north when things get weird).
  • The dividing line between north and south is Center St.
  • Civic Center Drive runs east-west from Hwy 52 to downtown approximately at 5th St. NW.
  • West Circle Dr. (also called CR 22) runs north-south at the west edge of town.
  • There is also an East Circle Dr, but there are fewer businesses there. In case you're wondering, the two circle drives do not meet, yet they are both CR 22. They are both 4-lane expressways.

Most of the newer residential development has abandoned the numbered grid system and gone to named curved streets. If you need to find these, there are free maps available in most hotels and the local phone book.

By carEdit

In most areas of Rochester, parking is not an issue, with plenty of surface parking. The only exceptions are downtown and near the clinic. It is possible to find street parking downtown, although difficult in the inner downtown. The time limit on parking meters is enforced even for cars with handicap parking placards. The city-owned parking lots are free nights and weekends, with the first hour free during weekdays. However, the privately-owned lots do not offer this, so look for the "free evening parking" signs if you want to take advantage of this. The signage downtown is pretty much non-existent, so you're own your own to find the lots. If you are going to the clinic, there are Mayo-owned lots near the primary patient-care buildings; Mayo provides a map showing them. Rates are $2 for the first hour, $1 per hour thereafter. You can purchase 5 or 10 day passes which allow in-and-out in the same day. They also do not need to be used on consecutive days. The Mayo lots sometimes fill during the morning hours, but turnover is very quick and you are unlikely to wait more than 10 min.

By busEdit

There is a public bus system, but it is likely not to be useful to the visitor. There is no bus service on Sundays or holidays, and during the rest of the week, they will stop running fairly early: generally the last routes end at 9PM. The main goal of the bus system is to serve the downtown area. Also, the bus system revolves around the Mayo Clinic schedule, so if the Clinic were to close early (Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve), the buses will also stop running early as well. The buses run generally on an hourly basis with half hour service during the rush hours. The bus system utilizes a wagon-wheel-spoke type of grid, with routes all ending up in the downtown area to make transfers. You can request a transfer pass from one bus to the next if you are getting on a bus to get to another part of the city. On Tuesdays, there is a Shopper's bus that will get you to some of the different shopping areas in Rochester. A bus terminal was recently made downtown, with electric signs telling when the bus route is scheduled, and whether it is on time or delayed (like an airport).

By footEdit

Downtown Rochester has a network of enclosed walkways: above-ground "skyways" and underground "subways", which are kept at a comfortable temperature all winter long. These walkways are connected to the Mayo Clinic and Mayo Civic Center as well as several hotels, shopping, restaurants, parking, and so on. They aren't just bare hallways, either – inside the subway there are a variety of attractive features, restaurants, and shops, and the skyway allows views of the city from above.

SeeEdit

  • 1 Assisi Heights Spirituality Center, 1001 14th St, +1 507 282-7441. Guided tours M and Sa 2PM by appointment. Additional times may be arranged for groups of 10 or more. It was built as the home of the Sisters of Saint Francis, and now part is being used as a spirituality center. Italian Romanesque structure. Free, donations accepted.
  • 2 Ear-of-corn Water Tower (at the intersection of Hwy 12 (aka 12th Street South) and Hwy 63 (aka Broadway)). See what is probably the world's largest water tower painted to look like an ear of corn. Built in 1931 to celebrate the opening of the Libby Foods facility (now Seneca Foods).
  • 3 Heritage House, 225 First Ave NW, +1 507 286-9208. Hourlong tours June, July, and August, Tu W Th Su 1–3:30PM or by appointment. Exhibits the way of life of a typical middle-class Midwestern family in the late 19th century. The house has been restored and authentically furnished with antiques, quilts, dolls, and china. $5 for adults, $3 for children.
  • 4 Historic Chateau Theatre, 15 First St SW. Was one of the most elaborate theaters built in the early 1900s. Has French Village decor complete with balconies and turrets. (Not to be confused with the current Chateau movie theater.)    
  • 5 History Center of Olmsted County, 1195 W Circle Dr SW, +1 507 282-9447. Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. Rare pictures, maps, diaries, exhibits about Rochester's history. Visit William Dee Log Cabin, Hadley Valley School House, and the George Stoppel Farm. $5 adults, $2 children.
  • 6 Mayo Clinic. Guided tours are only for patients and their families, but you can pick up a brochure from any Help Desk for one of several self-guided tours. An audio tour is available of the art collection.    
  • 7 Mayowood Mansion, 3720 Mayowood Rd SW, +1 507 282-9447. 38-room mansion, former home of Dr. Charles Mayo. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is being renovated, but tours are still available. Adults (12 & up) $17, children (2-12) $5, children under 2 free.
  • 8 Minnesota Children's Museum Rochester, 1643 N. Broadway St, +1 507 218-3100. W 9AM–1PM, Th–Sa 9AM–5PM, Su noon–4PM, M Tu closed. Small Children's Museum (in the middle of the River Center Plaza stripmall). Great for the 1-4 age set.
  • 9 Plummer House, 1091 Plummer Ln SW. Grounds open sunrise to sunset year round, house open for tours every W Jun-Aug noon-6PM. Original home of Dr. Plummer. 49-room mansion on 11 acres. Building primary used for events. House tours $10 adults, $5 youth. Access to the grounds is free.    

DoEdit

TheatersEdit

ParksEdit

Rochester has more than 30 parks and 9 golf courses.

  • 6 Carley State Park, 50187 County Road 4, Plainview (15 mi NE of town on Wabasha Co Rd 4).    
  • 7 Chester Woods, 8378 14 Hwy SE, Eyota (20-min drive E of town along Hwy 14). Picnic areas. Small beach. Fishing. Canoe and paddle boat rentals. Camping.
  • 8 Douglas State Trail, +1 507 285-7176. 13-mile blacktop trail between Rochester and Pine Island. Suitable for biking, walking. Starts at Valleyhigh Dr. just east of W Circle Dr NW (parking available).    
  • 9 Oxbow Park and Zollmon Zoo, 5731 County Rd 105 NW, Byron (take Valleyhigh Rd NW /Hwy 4) W from Rochester about 15 min; just before stop sign, turn right), +1 507 775-2451. Picnic areas by river. Several miles of hiking trails through the woods. Small zoo featuring animals native to Minnesota. Free (donation requested for zoo).    
  • 10 Quarry Hill Nature Center, 701 Silver Creek Rd NE, +1 507 281-6114. Nature center with displays. Lots of trails and parks to explore. Cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in the winter. Free.
  • Parks and trails. Rochester has over 100 city parks totaling more than 3200 acres and over 60 miles of paved trails suitable for pedestrian, bike, in-line skate, wheelchair, and stroller use. Many parks have sports facilities (e.g tennis, basketball, soccer) and playgrounds. Downloadable pdf maps are available from the website listed, or paper versions can be purchased for $1.
  • Silver Lake Boat and Bike Rentals, 700 W Silverlake Dr NW, +1 507 261-9049. Apr-Oct: 11AM-sunset. Canoe, kayak, paddle boat, and boat rentals.
  • Silver Lake Park (7th St and 8th Ave NW). Small lake with many walking paths. Best known for the thousands of Canada geese that winter here. Park has outdoor pool, playground, and skateboard park.
  • 11 Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial, Third Ave and Seventh St. Consisting of 4 60-foot circular granite walls, created to honor veterans from the area. See the Wall of Remembrance. Free.

MoviesEdit

All three movie theaters are relatively new and offer stadium seating.

  • 12 Chateau Theater, 3450 East Circle Drive NE, +1 507 282-2020. 14-screen theater on the Northeast Side. All digital projectors.
  • 13 CineMagic (Hollywood 12), 2171 Superior Dr NW, +1 507 536-7469. 12-screen theater on the Northwest Side.
  • 14 Rochester Cinema + IMAX, 4340 Maine Ave SE, +1 507 529-1730. 14-screen theater on the South Side in the Shoppes on Maine lifestyle center. Also has one 60 foot wide MegaScreen.

OtherEdit

  • Prairie Walls Climbing Gym, 4420 19th St NW, +1 507 292-0511. Indoor rock climbing facility.
  • 15 Recreation Center, 21 Elton Hills Dr, +1 507 328-2500. Olympic length indoor pool. Two 85' x 200' ice rinks for hockey and figure skating. Make sure to call or check the website for hours the pool is available for open/lap swimming, and the ice rinks are available for open skating, as they are often in use for specific activities. City-owned, no membership required. $5 adults, $4 youth.
  • 16 Rochester Honkers (Mayo Field), 403 E Center Street. Collegiate baseball.    
  • Rochester Trolley Tour. One-hour trolley tour of the highlights of Rochester. Hop On & Hop Off at 5 different locations. $10.
  • 17 Skyline Raceway, 2250 40th St SW. Paintball, go-cart racing, mini-golf.

BuyEdit

  • 1 The Apache Mall, located southwest of downtown, is the main (indoor) mall. Major department stores are Macy's and J.C. Penney. Also contains about 60 other smaller stores. However, there are not any stores here that you wouldn't see at any other mall.
  • For most of the unique and interesting stores, the downtown is your place to go. 2 The Shops at University Square (which used to be called the Galleria Mall) is home to most of them, two blocks east of the Clinic. It is rather small, only about two dozen stores, but well worth the visit if you want something different. The subway level (between US Bank and Gonda Building) also contains several unique stores, well work a walk down there if you're downtown. There are also some nearby at street level between The Shops at University Square and the clinic.
  • Other small malls with some unique stores can be found in 3 Miracle Mile, located just northeast of the intersection of Hwy 52 and 2nd St S. 4 Second Street (just west of Hwy 52) is starting to turn into a small but interesting shopping area. 5 Crossroads, located at 12th Street and South Broadway, rounds out the small malls.
  • There are four major strip malls in town. 6 Northwest Plaza (at 55th St NW and Hwy 52) has Wal-mart, Sam's club, Dollar Tree, Petco. 7 Marketplace Plaza (at 41st St and Hwy 52) has SuperTarget, PetSmart, Staples, and Home Depot, with Best Buy and Hobby Lobby on the east side of Highway 52. 8 South Broadway between 23rd street and 30th street has Wal-mart, Kohl's, Shop-Ko, Menards, Bed Bath and Beyond, and others. The newest is 9 Shoppes on Maine (at Hwy 63 and 48th St S) is home to SuperTarget, Lowe's, Dick's Sporting Goods, PetSmart, Best Buy, numerous smaller tenets, and an enormous Fleet Farm.
  • The best place to buy Rochester souvenirs would be Eagle Drug in downtown Rochester as well as at the gift store in the Kahler hotel.

EatEdit

BudgetEdit

The majority of budget dining options are fast-food chain restaurants. A variety of chains exist. Downtown on the second floor of the University Shops are several other budget restaurants, many open only for lunch.

  • 1 El Carambas, 1503 12th St SE (East side of town new Big Lots), +1 507 281-3104. Hole-in-the-wall type casual in the best sense of the word. Great soft shell tacos.
  • 2 Daube's, 1310 5 Pl NW (One branch in subway (lunch only), one branch west of downtown on Civic Center), +1 507 289-3095. Bakery, also serves sandwiches and quiche and such.
  • Good Food Deli, 1001 6th St NW (hidden just north of Civic Center Dr inside the Good Food Store). Vegan.
  • 3 Newt's, 216 1st Ave (Downtown above City Cafe), +1 507 289-0577. Voted best burgers in Rochester. Beetles Bar and Brother's are also popular similar restaurants. Also has second location on the north side right off hwy 52.
  • 4 Nupa, 1035 Civic Center Dr NW, +1 507 206-5044. 10AM–9PM daily. Mediterranean fast food. Gyros, hummus, muffaletta, florettas, etc.
  • 5 La Poblana, 1112 Civic Center Dr NW (Barlow Plaza), +1 507 292-7791. M–Sa 10AM–9PM, Su 10AM–8PM. Authentic Mexican eatery, you'll find dishes here you won't find in a typical American-Mexican restaurant. In the back of a grocery store.
  • 6 Pho Tai (Pho Hoa), 1726 37th St NW (North side), +1 507 281-9993. Vietnamese. In addition to sit-down meals, bahn mi, inexpensive Vietnamese sandwiches on French bread, are usually available for takeout.
  • 7 Pi, 3932 Marketplace Dr NW (Near Target North), +1 507 424-3885. Wood-fired pizza. Somewhat limited menu, with very unusual ingredients.

Mid-rangeEdit

While mid-range dining is not dominated by chains, there are a number of popular chains in town as well.

  • 8 Canadian Honker, 1203 2nd St SW (across from St. Mary's). Traditional American. Serves fresh fish F-Sa. Often has live music.
  • 9 Fiesta Mexicana, 1645 North Broadway, +1 507 288-1116. Mexican
  • 10 Hunan Garden, 1120 NW 7th Street, +1 507 285-1438. Su-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM. Chinese. Voted Best Chinese Food in Rochester Magazine poll 8 of 9 years. Not to be confused with Hunan Wok across the street or Hunan on S Broadway.
  • 11 India Garden, 1107 Broadway Ave N, +1 507 288-6280. 11PM-2:30PM, 5PM-9PM. Indian. Consistently voted best in the "Indian/Other Asian" category in Rochester Magazine poll.
  • 12 Jac's Bar & Grill, 129 Main St S, Chatfield (South on Hwy 52 about 10 mins), +1 507 867-3939, . Su–W 11AM–9PM, Th 11AM–11PM, F Sa 11AM–1PM.
  • 13 John Hardy's, 1940 Broadway South, 929 West Frontage Road NW, +1 507 281-1727. Another local BBQ place, along with Roscoe's.
  • 14 Kingdom Buffet, 1639 N Broadway, +1 507 282-0211. All-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. Over 100 dishes, sushi, Mongolian grill, some American dishes.
  • 15 Opa! Opa!!, 1106 15th Ave SE, +1 507 282-1212. 10:30AM–10PM daily. Greek.
  • 16 Pannekoeken, 6 1st Ave NW (Downtown), +1 507 287-0722. 6AM–9PM daily. Dutch and American. Popular for weekend brunch. House specialty is the Pannekoeken (a fluffy egg-based pancake).
  • 17 Victoria's, 7 1st Ave SW (Downtown), +1 507 280-6232. 10:30AM–10PM daily. Wide variety of Italian-American food, with huge portions and cute decoration.

SplurgeEdit

  • 18 300 First, 300 First Ave NW (3 blocks N of downtown), +1 507 281-2451. M-Th 4-10PM, F Sa 4-11PM, Su 4-9PM. New American.
  • 19 Chester's Kitchen and Bar, 111 S Broadway (Downtown in Galleria/Shops at University Square), +1 507 424-1211. Traditional American with a twist, most popular restaurant in town. Voted Best Restaurant in Rochester Magazine poll in 2010 and 2011.
  • 20 Pescara, 150 S Broadway (in Doubletree/Radisson hotel), +1 507 280-6900. Great seafood. Smallish but fancy dining area.
  • 21 Prescott, 1201 S Broadway (Crossroads shopping center), +1 507 536-7775. Bistro-style French, casual but with great food. Smaller but excellent wine list. Voted Best Restaurant in Rochester Magazine poll in 2009.

Grocery storesEdit

  • 22 Asian Food Store, 1010 7th St NW, +1 507 536-9097. M–Sa 9AM–9PM, Su 9AM–8PM. Rochester's largest Asian grocery store. Also has more East Asian (China, Japan, Korea) food items than others in town, others focus more on SE Asia.
  • 23 Cub Foods, 1021 15th Avenue SE. Open 24 hours. Based on a warehouse model of business.
  • Good Food Store, 1001 6th St NW. Rochester's primary source of organic food. Also includes a bulk food room for spices, flours, pasta, beans, etc. Also home to a deli restaurant and delicious hot bar & salad bar!
  • Hy-Vee. The primary grocery store in town, with three locations. Both Wal-marts and both Targets also have grocery sections, but smaller selection.
  • 24 Hy-Vee Rochester North, 500 37th St NW, +1 507 289-1815. Open 24 hours.
  • 25 Hy-Vee Barlow Plaza, 1315 6th St NW, +1 507 288-8233. Open 24 hours. Renovated to be more upscale (e.g. has olive bar), has kids play area.
  • 26 Rochester #1 Hy-Vee, 500 Crossroads Dr SW, +1 507 289-7500. Open 24 hours, has complete pharmacy.

DrinkEdit

  • 1 Beetles Bar and Grill, 230 20th Ave SW, +1 507 529-9599.
  • Goonies, 7 Second St NW, +1 507 288-8130. Live comedy shows F-Sa. Open mic on Th.
  • Kathy's, 300 S Broadway.
  • Whistle Binkies (NE location near Chateau Theatre, and S Broadway location). Very popular pub atmosphere with a very extensive beer menu (easily the largest in town) to choose from. S Broadway location has outdoor seating during the summer months. Variety of menu items. Not for romantic evenings or business talk.

SleepEdit

Owing to the large number of visitors to the Mayo clinic, and their unique needs, there is a wide range of sleeping arrangements to fit almost any budget or need, from low-end to high-end, from short-term to long-term, from standard hotel rooms, to rooms with kitchenettes, to fully furnished apartments. While there are some hotels spread-out through-out the city, most of the hotels are grouped downtown (by the clinic), along SW second street (by Saint Mary's), and along South Broadway (where most of the cheaper, non-chain ones are located). Rochester has about 5,400 hotel rooms in the city, which is more than most cities that are twice Rochester's size.

Below are only a sample of the available hotels. Most of the cheaper, non-chain hotels are not listed.

Mayo Clinic areaEdit

The following downtown hotels are connected to the clinic, and to the rest of downtown, via the network of above-ground enclosed skyways and below-group passages (called subways). This is very useful in the winter!

DowntownEdit

Saint Mary'sEdit

South BroadwayEdit

Other locationsEdit

CampingEdit

ConnectEdit

Many many places offer free internet access

  • 1 Rochester Public Library, 101 2nd Street SE, +1 507 328-2300. Free computer use, free Wi-Fi.
  • Caribou Coffee. All five locations offer free Wi-Fi.
  • Dunns Brothers. Both locations offer free Wi-Fi and free computer use.
  • Panera Bakery. Both locations offer free Wi-Fi.
  • 2 Peace Plaza, 1st Ave SW and 1st St SW. Free wi-fi. East of Mayo Clinc near University Square.

CopeEdit

Go nextEdit

  • Twin Cities (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) – about a 90-min drive north on Hwy 52, the Twin Cities area offers all activities of a big city without being overwhelming. Including, of course, the Mall of America.
  • Whitewater State Park (take Hwy 14 to St. Charles, then north on Hwy 74; 3 mi south of Elba; 45-min drive from Rochester). Beautiful park with many miles of hiking trails.
  • Winona, Lake City, Red Wing, Wabasha – cute cities on the Mississippi River. Wabasha includes the National Eagle Center.
  • Austin – about 45-min drive from Rochester, the home of Hormel and the Spam Museum. For an experience you can't get anywhere else, give this one a try.
  • Forestville / Mystery Cave. Historic Forestville is a restored 1800s village operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, complete with guides in period clothing and activities. Mystery Cave is an underground cave.
  • Niagara Cave. Very impressive underground cave.
  • Mantorville. 15 miles west of Rochester. Antiques and other shopping, restaurants, museums, theatre and more in this historic community along the Zumbro River.
  • Lanesboro – historic village in a beautiful valley. Old-town main street with unique shops and restaurants. Many outdoor activities along the Root River. Near a fish hatchery where you can feed hundreds of fish with one toss.
  • Bluff Country. Beautiful area in SE Minnesota
  • Kasson – It is a small hometown place with a population of about 6,000 to 6,500. It is a nice place to eat, and it has an Aquatic Center with two slides, a rock climbing wall, and two diving boards if you visit in the summer. It is located about 15 to 20 minutes away from Rochester.
Routes through Rochester
Albert LeaAustin  W   E  La CrosseMadison
MankatoByron  W   E  WinonaLa Crosse
Saint PaulZumbrota  N   S  → Jct   EDecorahDubuque
BaldwinRed Wing  N   S  → Jct   EWaterloo



This city travel guide to Rochester is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.