Summer has finally arrived! You know what that means…endless activity out about in our city to make up for the time spent indoors. The SE Minnesota area has so many activities and events for you and your family. Use our Rochester MN Ultimate Guide to Summer and free printable Bucket List to choose your own adventure. Print out the checklist below and you can fill in what you’d like to do to truly customize your summer! Have fun, friends. Cheers to the best summer yet!
The Great Outdoors
- Take a hike!
- Creek Stomping! We love Whitewater or Oxbow park for this.
- Fishing in the Silver Creek Reservoir
- Swimming at Foster Arend Park
- Go on a camping trip to a local campground. (Watch out for poisonous plants!)
- Watch the otters swim at Zollman Zoo!
- Participate in a Quarry Hill Nature Class
- Go on a family Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Pick strawberries at one of the local farms
- Go on a family bike ride on one of Rochester’s many bike paths
- Watch a movie Under the Stars at the History Center of Olmsted County
- Go fossil hunting
- Looking for adventure? Go on a real life treasure hunt by geo-caching!
- We aren’t the second windiest city in the US for nothing…go fly a kite!
- Check out our Guide to Rochester MN Day Trips!
- Go on a Laura Ingalls Wilder Trip
- Take a Kid-Designed Spontaneous Road Trip
- Visit Stockholm and Maiden Rock, Wisconsin
- Visit Lake City, Minnesota
- Visit Northfield, Minnesota
- Visit Winona, Minnesota
- Visit Red Wing, Minnesota
- Visit Pine Island, Minnesota
- Visit Byron, Minnesota
- Visit Lanesboro, Minnesota
- Visit Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
- Visit Decorah, Iowa
Festival & Concerts
There are so many local festivals and concerts to attend in and around Rochester. These events are listed by date for easy reference!
- Thursdays on First and 3rd! Rochester’s own classic Street Fair!
- Pine Island Cheese Fest (June 2-4)
- Rhubarb Festival-Lanesboro (June 3)
- Summer at the Civic: Free Concerts on Wednesdays from 5 – PM on the Patio at Rochester Civic Theater (starting June 7th)
- Winona, MN Steamboat Days (June 14-18)
- Elgin, MN Cheese Days (June 16-18)
- Our very own Rochesterfest (June 17-25)
- Lake City, MN Waterski Days (June 23-25)
- Zumbro River Community Festival (June 24)
- Stewartville Summerfest (July 1-4)
- The Riverside Concerts series starts July 9th with a different band every Sunday until August 13th!
Spin Doctors (July 9th)Dessa (July 16th)Cassadee Pope (July 23rd)Living Colour (July 30th)Pert Near Sandstone (August 6th)Burton Cummings – Singer/Songwriter of the Guess Who (August 13th)
- Eyota, MN Days (July 10-16)
- Olmsted County Free Fair (July 24th-July 30th)
- Byron Days Festival (July 27-30)
- 37th Annual Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN (July 28 and 29)
- Red Wing, MN River City Days (August 4-6)
- Bring your favorite hound dog to Dogs Downtown (August 6)
- Chatfield, MN Western Days (august 10 – 13)
- Oronoco Gold Rush (August 18, 19 & 20)
- Plainview Corn on the Cob Days (August 19 and 20)
- St. Charles, MN Gladiolus Days (August 20-16)
- Opa! Get your fill of gyros at the Rochester Greek Fest! (August 25, 26, and 27) **Pro Tip: go on the first night and stock up on baklava. You won’t be sad you did!
- Kellogg, MN Watermelon Festival (September 8-10)
Rochester has so much to offer during the summer months. Why not become a tourist in your own city! Consider exploring places and things you’ve never seen or done before. Here’s a list to get you started!
- Sign up for a summer camp in the SE MN Area
- Go on a Rochester MN Mural Hunt
- Watch a movie downtown at Movies in the Park
- Splash in the Peace Plaza Fountain
- Goose Scavenger Hunt
- Shake Your Groove Thang at Move on the Plaza
- Hang out with all your friends at Thursdays on First & Third
- Take a ride on Will, Charlie, Alfred, WW Mayo or Henry for a Kids Trolley Tour around the city!
- Take a leisurely paddle around Silver Lake with your goose friends with with their Boats/Bike Rental
- Watch the Waterski Show at Lake Zumbro Fisherman’s Inn dock
- Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt
- Take the kids to Color Me Mine to paint a Summer 2017 plate or mug
- Support our community of local artisans by shopping at Dwell Local or Kutzky Market at Forager Brewery (Pro Tip: Check out their incredible beer after all your shopping)
- Build your child’s library and tackle that reading list by visiting the Little Libraries around town
- Practice a random act of kindness
- Visit the Book Bike around downtown
- Take a tour of the Historic Mayowood Mansion
Around the Neighborhood
- Join a Neighborhood Group to meet other moms and families near you!
- Have a camp out in the backyard
- S’mores Bar (Try Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, salted caramel chocolate squares, use Nutella instead of chocolate, etc)
- Build a giant slip-n-slide and get crazy with foam or shaving cream
- Water Balloon wars…maybe time to invest in one of these and make it EASY
- Have a big neighborhood party for National Night Out (August 1st)
- Family Game Night!
- Play Giant Jenga or another awesome DIY Backyard Game!
- Plan a neighborhood squirt gun war! Winner picks the show for the next neighborhood movie night!
- Create a neighborhood Scavenger Hunt (get inspiration here and here)
- Ultimate Summer Beverage Contest: who can create the ultimate summer refresher?
- Find all your amazing summer produce at the Rochester Downtown Farmer’s Market
- Host an Outdoor Movie Night
- Make special treats and deliver them to neighbors
- Have a neighborhood sidewalk chalk art contest
- Organize a Neighborhood Garage Sale
- Dine al Fresco on all the area patios!
- Make the BEST summer drink
- Visit an area pizza farm. Our favorites are Squash Blossom Farm, Dream Acres and Berne Wood Fired Pizza and A-Z Produce and Bakery
- Try a handcrafted specialty coffee beverage at Cafe Steam
- Check out one of Rochester’s taco trucks!
- Eat some of Minnesota’s best ice cream at Flapdoodles!
- Work your way through the Rochester MN Coffee Shops
- Go Strawberry Picking
- Experiment with different popsicle recipes
- Visit the Farmer’s Market, pick out a tomato plant and make a pizza with pizza sauce made from your tomatoes at the end of the summer
- Order an Old Abe Coffee Co. War Eagle…if you dare!
- Enjoy the best homemade ice cream sandwich around from Mama Meg’s at Thursdays on First on Third
- Feast as you walk around downtown on the official Rochester Food Tour
- Plan a fun day with friends and taste the award winning wines at Four Daughters Vineyard
- Go on your own wine tasting tour by visiting the other vineyard or wineries in the area: Salem Glen Vineyard, Whitewater Wines, Post Town Winery, Cannon River Winery, Villa Bellezza, and Four Daughters Vineyard
Fun Family Activities
- Plant a family Victory Garden
- Build a Natural Playscape
- Try these outdoor “hacks” with your kids!
- Start a Summer Adventure Notebook. A fun tradition every year!
- Sign up for a kid’s workshop at Home Depot
- BUBBLES—Need We Say More?
- Build a backyard fort with boxes and blankets
- Spend an evening catching fireflies (release them later)
- Jump through the sprinkler or make your own!
- Jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops – turn all of these every day items into a fun obstacle course for the kids.
- Make your own DIY Fishing Game!
- Visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum – Rochester for Bremer Bank Free First Sunday on the First Sunday of Every Month!
- Can you ride your bike all the way around Silver Lake? See if you can!
SE Minnesota Love
- Plan a visit to the magical Lark Toys and ride the whimsical indoor hand-carved merry-go-round. Voted the best toy store in Minnesota!
- Go on a Zip-Line Tour through the Minnesota Forest canopy
- Visit Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store!
- Meet bald and golden eagles up close at the National Eagle Center in Wabasha
- Why not try something new on a stick at the Great Minnesota Get-Together?
- Plan a day trip to quaint and picturesque Lanesboro
- Go camping or hiking at Whitewater State Park.
- Visit Mystery Cave in Forestville
- Schedule a Factory Tour at Spring Grove Soda
- Another cave! Why not? Visit Niagara Cave
- Get an agricultural education at the Red Barn Learning Farm
- Climb the Elba Fire Tower
- Check out Move on the Plaza – a summer dance and fitness series
- Attend a MedCity FC Soccer Game
- Organize your friends for a game of BubbleBall
- Get a picture with Slider at a Rochester Honkers game
- Fore! Practice your putting skills on the mini golf course at Skyline Raceway.
- Attend a Roosters or Hens Vintage Baseball Game
- Check out Bowlocity to work on your bowling form, check out the latest arcade games and challenge your friends in laser tag!
- Got the need for speed? Race your friends in Go-Karts at Skyline Raceway!
- Check out Ironman Paintball, SE Minnesota’s only indoor Paintball
- Race your friends at the All Comers Track Meet on select Tuesdays this summer
- Go rock climbing at Prairie Walls Climbing or Roca Climbing
- Check out Archery Addiction – a cross between archery, paintball and dodgeball!
Trying to beat the heat? Check out these great ideas and destinations to stay cool this summer!
- Visit the Rochester Art Center on a Free Family Day
- Check out a Scheel’s Kids Klub event
- Take in a Kid’s Story-Time
- Read, explore, create and connect at the Rochester Public Library with their Summer Playlist
- Visit your childhood with vintage arcade games at The Machine Shed
- Take in a Free Kid’s Movie at 9 AM on Saturday mornings at CineMagic!
- Visit the Minnesota Children’s Museum – Rochester for their newest exhibit!
- Try the latest arcade games at Chuck E. Cheese
- Head to the grocery store and pick out a new fruit or vegetable
- Explore the subway downtown…can you find Carroll’s Corn?
- Hang out at the mall play area right outside Scheels
- Rent some skates and go ice skating at the Rec Center!
There are so many area pools, beaches and other ways to stay cool in the water in our area! Check out our Complete Guide to Swimming in SE Minnesota by clicking the image!
- Silver Lake Pool – Rochester MN
- Splash in the Downtown Rochester MN Peace Plaza fountain
- Aquatic Center – Kasson MN
- Soldier’s Field Pool – Rochester MN
- Pine Island Community Pool
- Community Pool – City of Stewartville
- Northgate Park – Rochester MN (about the closest thing we’ll get to a splash pad: a circle of cement with a giant spout in the middle!)
- Chester Woods Beach – Rochester MN
- Foster Arends Beach – Rochester MN
- Lake City Beach – Lake City MN (Pro tip: enjoy watching the sailboats!)
Still Need More Ideas?
Why not take the opportunity of the beautiful weather and summer sunshine to get an updated family photo?
Take a coffee tour around Rochester to all our great coffee spots!
All of our favorite Mexican restaurants…including taco trucks!
Our comprehensive list of all Rochester MN patios and outside dining options. Bring on al fresco!
Need something new to read? Find the Little Library closest to you!
A fun Farmers Market Scavenger Hunt with free printable!