Located within Blue Earth County in Minnesota, Mankato is a gorgeous location to explore. It is often named one of the best college towns in the United States and is home to the renowned Minnesota State University as well as Bethany Lutheran College and Rasmussen College. There are several family-friendly attractions, such as Minneopa State Park, the Betsy & Tacy Houses, Mount Kato, the Carnegie Art Center, and the R. D. Hubbard House.
1.Minneopa State Park
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Established in 1905, Minneopa State Park is a 58-acre park filled with many sites and trails. It is home to numerous waterfalls including the most popular, Minneopa Falls. You can hike through the native prairie grasslands to get to the scenic Minnesota River Valley. During your exploration there you’ll be able to see the underlying geology of the area as well as visit Seppmann Mill, which is a wind-driven grist mill made with lumber and native stone built to resemble the German style. On-site facilities include a bike trail, hiking trail, groomed cross-country ski trail, and a boat ramp for access to the lake or river.
54497 Gadwall Rd, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-386-3910
2.Red Jacket Trail
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The Red Jacket Trail is a 6 to 13-mile trail that follows an old railroad and crosses route MN-66 where bikers and hikers will be able to see the historic 80-foot-high Red Jacket Trestle. It is good to know that the trail surface is of crushed stone and asphalt, making it easily accessible to those in a wheelchair. People who have visited the trail love it because of its tranquility and the lovely scenery that you’ll pass through as you explore it. Keep in mind that the Red Jacket Trail links up with the Sakatah Trail as well as the Mankato River Trail within Minneopa State Park.
3.Seven-Mile Creek Park
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Seven-Mile Creek Park comprises 628 acres of valleys, grasslands, deciduous forests, the Minnesota River, and the bluffs of Seven Mile Creek. There are 8 miles of multi-use trails that are perfect for walking, biking, hiking, and more. You’ll go over bridges that offer stunning views of the surroundings and come across numerous picnic areas, shelters, and a public boat landing on the Minnesota River. Other aspects of the park also include a playground, a baseball diamond, and several volleyball courts for the entire family to enjoy while there. Be sure to keep an eye out as you’re sure to see interesting fauna such as wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and several species of nesting and migratory birds.
47454 U.S. 169, St Peter, MN 56082, Phone: 507-931-1760
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Mount Kato is a family fun location that is filled with numerous activities, making it enjoyable for the entire family, no matter their preference or age. All of the excitement surrounds the main seating area, Kato Cafe, and the Lift Bar and Grill, where you can drink and dine. Once you’re ready for the great outdoors, head out to participate in activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, or mountain biking. Equipment rentals as well as lessons for individuals or groups, children or adults, are also available at nominal costs. Various events are held throughout the year, including Spring Fling, Mogul Mash, and the Duct Tape Derby, where you race with a sled made out of cardboard and duct tape!
20461 Minnesota 66, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-625-3363
5.Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota
© Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is the brainchild of a group of community members, educators, and business leaders who wanted an inviting and safe place for children to learn, play, and grow. Though it has had many temporary locations since its origin in 2006, it wasn’t until 2015 that the museum found its permanent place in the city’s former mass transit building. All children and families are invited to participate in the unique programs, which vary throughout the year but may include exhibits such as understanding the workings of a dairy barn, figuring out how sun-sensitive paper works, or going on archaeology digs to better understand the land.
224 Lamm St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-386-0279
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People have flocked to Sibley Farm since 1893 for a day of family-friendly fun that both the adults and kids will enjoy. The farm itself, which is a red barn-style building with many farm animals, is located within Sibley Park. The one of a kind Mankato destination houses calves, horses, lambs, goats, alpacas, peacocks, chicks, and koi fish in the pond outside. Other aspects include a children’s park and a pavilion that can be rented for events. During the warmer months, be sure to bring your barbecue grill with you to enjoy in the Sibley Farm courtyard, which also has picnic tables for your comfort.
900 Mound Avenue, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-387-8600
7.Betsy & Tacy's House Tours & Gift Shop
© Betsy & Tacy's House Tours & Gift Shop
Betsy & Tacy’s House Tours & Gift Shop are two structures opposite of each other that were the childhood homes of Maud Palmer Hart and Frances “Bick” Kenney, two best friends who later chronicled their childhood in the children’s Betsy-Tacy book series. Betsy’s house is furnished as a museum that exactly resembles how it was when her family lived there in the late 1800s and will take visitors back in time with its period furniture and decor. Tacy’s house is an interpretive center and gift shop that has many artifacts on display such as photographs, scrapbooks, manuscripts, and more.
332/ 333 Center Street, Mankato, MN 56001
© Mankato Brewery
Head over to the Mankato Brewery to try their authentic beers that reflect the heritage of the area and the people there. The brewery started up in 2012, making it the first production brewery in Mankato since 1967 and reviving what was once a great tradition in the Key City. The taproom is a renowned place in the town and is one of the key locations for locals to meet up, socialize, and just unwind after a long day, so make sure to stop by on your visit to meet some friendly faces and try the delicious drinks. You’ll be able to see great views of the brewhouse, purchase gifts at the merchandise shop, or enjoy live music on the Mankato Brewery stage. Tours of the brewery are arranged every Saturday for those who want a more up-close look.
1119 Center St, North Mankato, MN 56003, Phone: 507-386-2337
9.River Hills Mall
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With over 80 stores and kiosks, River Hills Malls is the place to be when you’re in the mood for a day of shopping, dining, and having a good time. The stores feature everything from the latest apparel and technology to accessories and home goods. The diverse food court houses several fast food chains and restaurateurs that serve fresh, delicious cuisine throughout the day. Kids will love spending time in the children’s play area, where they can interact with others their age, or watching one of the latest releases in the mall’s eight-screen theater. No matter what you’re in the mood for, River Hills Malls is the ideal family-friendly destination and should be visited when you’re in Mankato.
1850 Adams St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-388-1100
10.Carnegie Art Center
© Carnegie Art Center
The Carnegie Art Center has been documenting and presenting various forms of visual art since 1981. It is now Mankato’s largest exhibition space with permanent galleries as well as a monthly gallery that displays the work of regional artists. Thousands of visitors head to the center to witness the creativity of artists from the community, whether it be in the form of paintings, ceramics, sculptures, photographs, street art, or digital works, among others. The center’s gift shop has tons of unique items that are perfect as gifts or for yourself, including but not limited to framed prints, paintings, hand-turned bowls, ceramics, hand-blown glass, origami gift boxes, and much more.
120 South Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-625-2730
11.Blue Earth County Historical Society
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The Blue Earth County Historical Society came to be in 1901 when a group of people decided to put up exhibits on early pioneers, industries, and lives for an event, the Semi-centennial of Mankato, to commemorate the area’s 50 years of settlement. Many years later it became a permanent display of work for people to view the collection and learn about the land’s history at any time. The History Center and Museum highlights many aspects of the people, places, and events that shaped the county. Visitors today will be able to see a diorama of downtown Mankato in the 1880s, Native American tools and artifacts, as well as an interactive children’s area complete with a pioneer cabin. Additional exhibits include an art gallery, hallway exhibits, and traveling exhibits borrowed from other museums.
424 Warren St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-345-5566
12.The R. D. Hubbard House
© The R. D. Hubbard House
The R. D. Hubbard House is the family home of R. D. Hubbard, an entrepreneur and founder of the largest flour mill in southern Minnesota, the Hubbard Milling Company. Visitors will get to see the home in its original form as it was purchased by the Historical Society immediately after the Hubbard family vacated the house in 1938. During your trip there you’ll notice that much of the period furniture and decor are actual pieces that were owned and used by the family themselves. Architecture aficionados will love the classic Victorian architecture of the structure and its surroundings on peaceful South Broad Street.
606 S Broad Street, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-345-4154
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Reconciliation Park is an important site to visit if you want to better understand Mankato and Minnesotan history. It became the largest mass hanging site in the United States on December 26th, 1862, when 38 Dakota Indian men were simultaneously hung for attacking settlers in New Ulm. There are various statues and historical markers on the site for you to contemplate and better understand this event in Mankato’s history. The Blue Earth County Public Library is situated there as well and is a perfect place to visit if you’re interested in reading up on the events that led to that day.
100 South Riverfront Drive, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-304-4001
14.Mankato Symphony Orchestra
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The Mankato Symphony Orchestra was organized in 1950 by the local Musician’s Union, Gustavus Adolphus College, the State Teachers’ College, and the Mankato Public Schools to execute a concert. It has since then grown to becoming one of the most prolific art organizations in Mankato and executes high quality, emotion-packed musical performances for locals and visitors to experience. Programs vary throughout the year, but current events include Family Series: Mozart in Me, Symphonic Series, and Music on the Hill. Visitors will be thrilled as they enjoy the sounds and sights that serenade them. Be sure to take part in the many educational events that take place, which are suitable for visitors of all ages.
523 S 2nd St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-625-8880
15.Franklin Rogers Park
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Franklin Rogers Park is a ballpark in Mankato that used to be known as Key City Park until 1977. It was named after Franklin Rogers, who was a sports editors and later vice president of the Mankato Free Press because of his dedication to championing local athletics. Today the park is home to Loyola High School, the Bethany Lutheran College Vikings, the Mankato Moondogs, and Mankato Area Public School’s West High School. It is also the youth asset facility of the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association. Whenever you’re visiting the area, be sure to check on the times of games and catch one to support the local teams.
601 Reed St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-625-7047
16.Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail
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The Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is a converted rail-trail that now offers nearly 40 miles of paved trails for you to walk, milk, and generally enjoy. The trail is paved, level, and wheelchair accessible so that everyone may enjoy. You can start your exploratory journey at Lime Valley Road, join through the Minnesota River Trail in Mankato, pass through 3 miles of Sakatah Lake State Park, and end in Faribault. Horseback riding is allowed though you will need a horse pass, as is snowmobiling yet snowmobiles must be registered. Sakatah Lake State Park, which runs along the trail, has separate picnic grounds, campgrounds, and biking/hiking trails that you can access.
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17.Twin Rivers Arts
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Twin Rivers Council for the Arts is an arts and culture tourism hub that provides opportunities for artists of all forms to express their creativity while the community is given a platform to enjoy their work. With the goal of building communities and connecting people to the arts, there are many events and exhibitions held throughout the year. In addition to these events, there are also artist workshops that focus on technique, methodology, acting, music, and much more. Other services include facility rental for private events, studios, resources, and various other opportunities.
523 S 2nd St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-387-1008
18.Vintage Mall Antiques and More
© Vintage Mall Antiques and More
Vintage Mall Antiques and More is a seasonal market that attracts vendors, new and old, from all over the state. These booths could include everything from antiques and collectibles to refurbished home goods and toys. A visit there is a great place to get some gifts for friends or a souvenir for yourself, as each time you go there there’ll be a different array of products on display. The mall also houses dedicated sections to fresh and organic produce as well as flower towers. Every first Sunday of the month is Craft Day, when people of all ages can participate in arts and crafts projects while also purchasing hand-crafted goods.
Hwy 169 N, 1247 Range Street, Mankato, MN 56001
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19.Minneopa Golf Course
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For over 75 years, the Minneopa Golf Course has been serving the Mankato area with its luxurious course and amenities. The course was constructed in 1928 by M. J. Donndelinger and John McRae, who was the club professional at the time. It was then sold to the Bohks family, who managed it until 2015 before selling it to the current owners, an investment group in Mankato. Visitors there will be able to enjoy the 18-hole course; extras include cart rental, pull carts, rental clubs, or a season range pass. If you’re interested in joining a league, the Minneopa Ladies Golf League is a fun and casual league for women of all ages – other league options include the Sportsmen Golf League and the Adam and Eve League.
410 Pintail St, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-625-5777
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20.Javens Family Vineyard and Winery
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Javens Family Vineyard and Winery is a family-owned vineyard that can be found on the banks of the La Sueur River. It was established in 2010 and has, over the years, become a comforting place for locals and visitors to relax and socialize when in Mankato. There is a range of white and red wines to choose from, all of which you can try in their gorgeous tasting room. Some of their more popular wines include the La Crescent, which is an off-dry white wine with a great aroma, the Marquette. which is dry and barrel-aged, and the Frontenac Gris, which is a semi-sweet, fruity white wine.
20011 589th Ave, Mankato, MN 56001, Phone: 507-382-7596
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20 Best Things to Do in Mankato, MN
- Minneopa State Park, Photo: Courtesy of johnsroad7 - Fotolia.com
- Red Jacket Trail, Photo: Courtesy of TATIANA - Fotolia.com
- Seven-Mile Creek Park, Photo: Courtesy of Anastasia - Fotolia.com
- Mount Kato, Photo: Courtesy of Svetlana - Fotolia.com
- Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota, Photo: Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota
- Sibley Farm, Photo: Courtesy of Friedemann - Fotolia.com
- Betsy & Tacy's House Tours & Gift Shop, Photo: Betsy & Tacy's House Tours & Gift Shop
- Mankato Brewery, Photo: Mankato Brewery
- River Hills Mall, Photo: Courtesy of www.karrastock.com - Fotolia.com
- Carnegie Art Center, Photo: Carnegie Art Center
- Blue Earth County Historical Society, Photo: Courtesy of bravissimos - Fotolia.com
- The R. D. Hubbard House, Photo: The R. D. Hubbard House
- Reconciliation Park, Photo: Courtesy of finaeva_i - Fotolia.com
- Mankato Symphony Orchestra, Photo: Courtesy of Roman Drits - Fotolia.com
- Franklin Rogers Park, Photo: Courtesy of mtsaride - Fotolia.com
- Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, Photo: Courtesy of Kentaro Hayashi - Fotolia.com
- Twin Rivers Arts, Photo: Twin Rivers Arts
- Vintage Mall Antiques and More, Photo: Vintage Mall Antiques and More
- Minneopa Golf Course, Photo: Courtesy of BillionPhotos.com - Fotolia.com
- Javens Family Vineyard and Winery, Photo: Javens Family Vineyard and Winery
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Evan Meyer - Fotolia.com