Base yourself in downtown, where you can reach everything by foot and find most of the city’s action.
Start at the Mayo Clinic’s gleaming Gonda Building to admire the architecture, art displays and its Heritage Hall. Then head to the Plummer Building to see the historic office suites of the original Mayo doctors.
Explore the subway system, which is like Minneapolis’s skyway culture, connecting hotels, clinic buildings and businesses such as clothing boutiques, gift shops and galleries. Grab a sandwich on artisanal bread, rich soup, apricot kolache, pear-almond tart or slice of dense carrot cake from Daube’s Down-Under. If you prefer sit-down dining, opt for thin-crust pizzas, pan-crusted walleye and wild rice risotto cakes at Jasper’s Alsatian Bistro and Wine Bar, a few blocks away and also part of the Daube’s family. Both merge German and French cuisine.
Spend a day shopping at University Square and surrounding Broadway Avenue stores. Get a makeover at About Face with NYC-worthy, trendy cosmetics and body care. Enjoy adorable, whimsical clothing and toys at Baby Clementine, or find funny girlfriend gifts at Tangerine Gifts: funky cards, flavored floss, wild socks and snarky books.
Book lovers can’t miss Rochester’s Barnes and Noble, with its vintage sunburst marquee on the converted 1927 Chateau Theatre. The interior’s domed blue ceiling and mock French village gives it the feel of a children’s theater set.
Look for bright, modern home furnishings, kitchenware, attire and kids’ stuff at the two-story Counterpoint store. The Nordic Shop sells Norwegian sweaters, Helly Hansen sport clothing, Royal Copenhagen dinnerware and Kosta Boda crystal.
Semva Art Gallery brings together the works of regional artists with paintings, photography, mosaics, metalwork, jewelry, blown glass, sculpture and fiber arts—some of it crafted using southeast Minnesota’s hardwoods or reflecting Nordic heritage.
Dine outside on the Peace Plaza or indoors at Chester’s Kitchen and Bar, known for tender wood-fired rotisserie meats and creative twists on Midwestern meals. Look for salad with pulled chicken, sweet corn, bacon and apples and a made-to-order banana cream pie with walnut-almond crust.
Spend the night where presidents and royalty have slept at historic Kahler Grand Hotel or choose the modern vibe at downtown’s Doubletree Hotel.
Start with breakfast at Mac’s Cafe and Restaurant, offering a blend of American and Greek influences. Try lemon ricotta pancakes, Mediterranean quiche or a Spanikopita omelet.
Learn more about the Mayo family’s legacy while touring Mayowood Mansion. Visit the 100-year-old, 38-room country home overlooking the Zumbro River Valley during the summer to enjoy the extensive gardens—or come during the winter holidays when it’s festively decorated.
For a frosty gulp of summer nostalgia, stop at Roscoe’s for homemade root beer, Jo-Jo’s and sweet barbecue sandwiches, on Fourth Street Southeast.
Explore the paths around Silver Lake Park, which encompasses a scenic widening of the Zumbro River. When the weather is nice, rent kayaks, rowboats and canoes. Water stays ice-free all winter, making it a favorite hangout for more than 35,000 Canada geese.
Work up an appetite for apple cinnamon pork chops, slow-cooked ribs, and a slice of Bunnie’s coconut cake or the martini inspired by this sweet dessert at Canadian Honker.
For information: Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau, (507) 288-4331; rochestercvb.org