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Top Things To Do in Rochester Minnesota over 2 Days

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Rochester Minnesota may be one of the most overlooked places to explore in Minnesota. With leading edge medical facilities, the town is well established as a globally recognized medical destination. However, there is so much more to the region.

Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, sommelier, outdoor enthusiast or someone who loves to shop, Rochester offers a ton and makes for the perfect weekend getaway. We were lucky to visit in the fall which is a stunning time of year to explore the area. However, any time of year you’ll find plenty to discover. While a day trip will give you the highlights, I’d suggest a weekend in order to explore all of the spots below.

Note: Experience Rochester Minnesota hosted our visit. I created the itinerary based on my own research. All opinions shared are my own.

Day One

Morning

Start your day at one of the best coffee/tea shops in town, Fiddlehead. We visited the Miracle Mile location which is beautifully decorated with lots of greenery (hence the name!). More importantly, the coffee and tea are delicious. I loved the spicy chai that’s made in house and Ryan enjoyed the seasonal pumpkin spice latte. There’s an emphasis on local and ethically sourced ingredients which is right up my alley.

From here, swing by Drift Dough to grab delicious and freshly made donuts! It’s in the same building as Forager Brewery.

If you enjoy farmers markets and happen to be in town on a Saturday, stop by Graham Market for the Rochester Farmer’s Market to buy some fresh produce. The market closes at noon and goes through October so plan to arrive prior.

For a really scenic walk, drive ~10 minutes east of downtown to Quarry Hill Park. There are beautiful walking trails and paved bike paths to enjoy the nature oasis. It is particularly beautiful in the fall when the colorful leaves reflect on the pond! It’s also the perfect place to enjoy your breakfast items from Drift and the Farmer’s Market.

Afternoon

For one of the best patio lunches in down, head to Forager Brewery. The tables are set up for social distancing and you can order delicious food made with local ingredients in addition to their famous beer brewed on site. We’ve tried to find Forager beer in the cities because it’s so good but you just have to get it on site in Rochester! We put together a little flight with our meal of their smaller 4oz pours and included one of their fun seasonal s.

After lunch, spend some time walking around downtown Rochester and checking out the shops. One shop I had wanted to visit for awhile just outside of downtown was Flowers by Jerry. They sell beautiful plants and fun gifts and I was glad to finally check it out! For more fun shops, review the list here.

After shopping, check in to your accommodation and drop everything off. We stayed at the Hotel Indigo Rochester, a boutique hotel through IHG, which recently opened! It’s centrally located downtown, has beautiful décor and very safe procedures for COVID. Check-in was seamless with plexiglass separating us from the masked employees. Note this is an affiliate link – I appreciate your support!

Our room was spotless, had really fun decorations and locally sourced Aveda products. The hotel has a market you can purchase food items at which is perfect to fuel up for adventures. The newly opened Crave restaurant is also connected to the hotel – convenient and fun for a meal or drinks. The rooftop even opens up in the summer! There’s an attached parking garage which has free parking on the weekends – just call the attendant to tell them your room number as you leave the garage.

Evening

For dinner, you can easily walk to many great places from your hotel. We picked up takeout from Bleu Duck Kitchen which was just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. Everything on the menu sounded delicious. We tried the lobster ramen and the coconut curry ramen. Both were great but the lobster ramen is very unique and since Bleu Duck is known for the fresh seafood it flies in, I’d suggest going for the lobster ramen!

One of the owner’s daughters painted the great bleu duck artwork hanging around the restaurant – check them out! We aren’t comfortable eating indoors yet but I’d love to come back in the future because it was a really cozy setting.

Before calling it a night, check out Crave for drinks on the rooftop back at the hotel!

Day Two

Morning

Start your day just across the street from the hotel with coffee/tea from Steam. I loved the matcha latte with honey and lavender mixed in!

For breakfast, a great spot just north of the hotel is Hollandberry for pannekoekens. We love Dutch pancakes and these did not disappoint. They offer a seasonal flavor in addition to traditional flavors – pumpkin for fall was very good!

We took our breakfast to go to enjoy along the river. There are beautiful views here which makes for a great picnic.

After breakfast, head just east of downtown to Sekapp Orchard. Sekapp has apple picking, a pumpkin patch, and a barn full of seasonal vegetables, pre-picked apples and other goodies. It’s one of the most complete orchard experiences I’ve had. Check it out if you’re in town August through October!

Afternoon

From here, check out one of the beautiful surrounding areas of Rochester. Four Daughters Winery is 30 minutes south of Rochester and one of the nicest wineries I’ve been to in the US. It reminded me of the gorgeous wine estates in Melbourne Australia so it was the perfect place to spend an afternoon! You can order pizza and other snacks to enjoy with your drinks. In addition to wine, Four Daughters produces Loon Juice hard cider which is what we sampled. The flavors range from dry to sweet so there is something for everyone! Ryan’s favorite was Grow a Pear and I enjoyed the Grapefruit Mango.

Another option is to drive 30 minutes east of Rochester to Whitewater State Park for an afternoon of hiking. The scenery would be beautiful most of the year but it’s especially stunning in the fall with the vibrant leaves. We hiked the Chimney Rock to Inspiration Point loop which took roughly 2 hours, with plenty of time for photos. It costs $7 for a day pass or $35 for an annual pass (which I’d recommend if you’re going to state parks 5 times or more in a year).

If you are interested in the history of the region, there are a variety of tours you could spend an afternoon (or more!) taking. Read more here and check for any COVID-related restrictions.

There’s a lot to explore in Rochester and I hope you are ready to plan your trip! Comment below if I’ve missed any of your favorite parts of the area.

Read here for more Minnesota travel ideas!

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5 Comments

  1. Wayne Moran on October 28, 2020 at 15:05

    This is such a great article! Rochester is such a wonderful city!!



    • Planet with Sara on November 1, 2020 at 02:25

      Thank you, Wayne! I agree – there’s so much to explore in Rochester!



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