The Rochester MN Ultimate Guide to Summer + Bucket List is sponsored by Experience Rochester MN
Summer has finally arrived! You know what that means…endless activity out and about in our city to make up for the time spent indoors. The Rochester MN and 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!
With over 12 categories and over 150 ideas, you’re sure to find a way to make 2018 your best summer ever. Simply scroll down and click on the icon in the category to jump to that list.
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!
Experience Rochester MN
Experience Rochester MN is the official destination marketing organization for Minnesota’s Rochester: America’s City of Care & Innovation. Visit the brand-new www.minnesotasrochester.com for an in-depth summer events calendar, and to explore things to do, festivals and events, dining, nightlife, shopping and entertainment. A valuable resource for visitors and residents, Experience Rochester MN is your go-to organization for information on the city’s scenic beauty, culture of caring, and friendly faces. Find your “destination inspiration” and savor your summer with Experience Rochester MN!
Ultimate Guide to Summer + Bucket List
The Great Outdoors
- Take a hike!
- Check out these 5 scenic places in Rochester MN!
- Rochester MN is a very bike-friendly city. Check our favorite trails!
- 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 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
Festivals & Concerts
There are so many local festivals and concerts to attend in and around Rochester. These events are listed by date for easy reference!
- Kick off summer at Family Fun Day!
- Thursdays on First and 3rd! Rochester’s own classic Street Fair! (every Thursday June – August, 11 AM – 8:30PM)
- Summer Sundays at Squash Blossom Farm (starting May 27th)
- Rockchetser pt. 3 (June 1-2)
- Pine Island Cheese Fest (June 1-3)
- Rhubarb Festival-Lanesboro (June 2)
- Jive Mill Summer Concert Series at 125 LIVE (June 5, 12, 19, 26)
- Summer at the Civic: Free Concerts on Fridays from 5 – 10 PM on the Patio at Rochester Civic Theater (starting June 22nd)
- Winona, MN Steamboat Days (June 13-17)
- Elgin, MN Cheese Days (June 15-17)
- Our very own Rochesterfest (June 16-24)
- Viola Gopher Count (June 21)
- Attend a performance of Wizard of Oz from Honors Choir of SE MN (June 2–24)
- Lake City, MN Waterski Days (June 22-24)
- Zumbro River Community Festival (June 23)
- Salute to the 4th Skate & BMX Contest (July 4)
- Salute to the 4th Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show (July 4)
- The Riverside Concerts series starts July 8 with a different band every Sunday until August 12th!
Gin Blossoms (July 8th)The Suburbs (July 15th)Lissie (July 22rd)Chase Bryant (July 29th)Artist TBD (August 5th)Jefferson Starship – Singer/Songwriter of the Guess Who (August 12th)
- Eyota, MN Days (July 16-22)
- Byron Good Neighbor Days (July 18-22)
- Olmsted County Free Fair (July 24th-July 29th)
- 37th Annual Riverboat Days in Wabasha, MN (July 28)
- Red Wing, MN River City Days (August 3-5)
- Bring your favorite hound dog to Dogs Downtown (August 4)
- Chatfield, MN Western Days (August 9-12)
- Foster Fest (August 11th)
- Oronoco Gold Rush (August 17-19)
- Plainview Corn on the Cob Days (August 15-19)
- St. Charles, MN Gladiolus Days (August 19-26)
- Kellogg, MN Watermelon Festival (September 7-9)
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
- Encourage reading skills by going on the Bookworm Walk in downtown Rochester MN!
- Go on a Rochester MN Mural Hunt
- Watch a movie downtown at Movies in the Park
- Splash in the Peace Plaza Fountain
- Shake Your Groove Thang at Free ZUMBA® on the Plaza
- Find out what makes you, YOU at Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code at the Rochester Art Center
- 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!
- Play Games on the Grass in the Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester MN
- Take a leisurely paddle around Silver Lake with your goose friends with with their Boats/Bike Rental
- Check out the downtown Rochester MN ArtWalk
- Watch the Waterski Show at Lake Zumbro Fisherman’s Inn dock
- Go on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
- Introduce your kids to Rochester’s art scene
- Farmer’s Market Scavenger Hunt
- Attend a performance at Rochester Civic Theatre
- Take the kids to Color Me Mine to paint a Summer 2018 plate or mug
- Enrich your life by taking a class at 125 LIVE
- Support our community of local artisans by shopping at Dwell Local
- 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
- Hire a babysitter and enjoy one of these date night ideas
- Take a tour of the Historic Mayowood Mansion
Around the Neighborhood
- Join our Community and Conversation 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 7th)
- 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!
- Can you visit all the #rochmn taco trucks? We bet you can!
- Is there anything more summery than ice cream? Check out one of Rochester MN’s ice cream spots for a sweet treat!
- Grab your friends and enjoy one of Rochester’s happy hours!
- Make the BEST summer drink
- Visit an area pizza farm and use our comprehensive guide to choose! Some great choices are: Squash Blossom Farm and Berne Wood Fired Pizza.
- Try a handcrafted specialty coffee beverage at Cafe Steam
- Check out one of Rochester’s food trucks!
- 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
- Take a class or activity at Quarry Hill Nature Center
- Have a family nerf gun fight at Archery Addiction!
- Movies in the Park with Downtown Rochester MN
- Plan a play date with friends
- Build a Natural Playscape
- Head to story-time!
- Try these outdoor “hacks” with your kids!
- Start a Summer Adventure Notebook. A fun tradition every year!
- Rainy day? Check out all of these places to play inside in Rochester mN!
- 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)
- Rainy day? Have no fear! Check out one of these indoor play activities with your kids
- 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 Free ZUMBA® on the Plaza – a summer dance and fitness series
- Check out one of the many races & fun-runs in the area
- Attend a MedCity FC Soccer Game
- Learn to dance for FREE on the Peace Plaza with Social Steps
- 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!
- 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
- 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!
- 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 Arend 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!
Our comprehensive list of of all the taco trucks in Rochester MN!
Some people are real ice cream snobs, while others are just happy with any old frozen, sugary treat. In an effort to be inclusive, soft serve, gelato, frozen custard, and frozen yogurt are all included in the Rochester MN ice cream guide.
Our Guide to Running, Races & Fun-Runs: a complete guide to all the races and fun runs in our area! These events are almost all family-friendly and are great opportunities to get out and get running!
We’ve rounded up some nearby pizza farms for you to enjoy while the sun is still high. Enjoy the friendly, country settings and the delicious local food for a truly special summertime experience!