Consider these entertainment options and activities in the flourishing downtown area near Rochester, MN's convention and event center, the Mayo Civic Center:
The Rochester Art Center is located in the same building as the Mayo Civic Center and features contemporary art exhibits from some of the country's most talented artists. During a break in your conference, stroll through a strikingly-designed, spacious gallery that serves as a cultural center for innovation and creativity in southeastern Minnesota.
The Rochester Civic Theatre (also located in the same building as the Mayo Civic Center) presents a variety of professional and community theater, music, and dance performances. Attending a production at the Civic Theatre is just the ticket to an entertaining evening after your last meeting of the day!
Trolley tours, which load in downtown locations connected to Mayo Civic Center via the skyway system, are a wonderful way to see the sights and experience the history of Rochester. Individuals can hop aboard a Rochester Trolley & Tour Company sightseeing tour of the city or region, or meeting planners can book a group trolley tour for attendees. Trolley tour options include a Rochester City & Mayo Historical Trolley Tour, a Rochester Microbrewery Trolley Tour, a Frank Lloyd Wright Trolley Tour, a Wine Trail Trolley Tour, and more. Enjoy listening to your knowledgeable tour guide tell Rochester’s most interesting stories while riding in one of five charming, well-maintained old trolleys named after famous figures in the city’s history: Will, Charlie, W.W. Mayo, Alfred, and Henry.
Dozens of unique boutiques and stores are located at the Shops at University Square, connected to Mayo Civic Center via skyway, and in the underground pedestrian walkway system. You’ll find only-in-Rochester gift shops and clothing boutiques, as well University of Minnesota Rochester apparel at the M Gear Store. (Bonus: no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota!)
Festivals on Peace Plaza are always popular with convention attendees. During the summer months, the city hosts a weekly outdoor festival, “Thursdays on First & 3rd.” Bands perform on two stages each week, and downtown streets are lined with booths serving up delicacies from local restaurants and featuring items handcrafted from local artists. For a long weekend every winter, Peace Plaza is transformed into an outdoor ice bar experience, SocialICE. SocialICE features several uniquely designed and themed ice bars – each with signature drinks – as well as lighting effects, ice sculptures, and more.
Rochester Downtown Farmers Market is a must-do for visitors who are in town on a Saturday morning from May through October. Meet our local farmers and explore dozens of booths featuring fresh veggies, fruits, meats, flowers, and more. Be sure to try the scrumptious warm cinnamon rolls while you’re browsing! Located at 4th St & 4th Ave SE, just across the Zumbro River from Mayo Civic Center.
If you only have a few minutes to spare, several walking routes begin at the Mayo Civic Center. You can access Rochester’s 85 miles of paved, interconnected biking and hiking trails right outside the center along the Zumbro River. Enjoy a quick walk with downtown skyline views during a break in your day.
Restaurants Near Mayo Civic Center
A wide variety of locally-owned, only-in-Rochester restaurants are within blocks of Mayo Civic Center. Here’s a taste of a few restaurants that convention attendees may want to try:
Dooley’s Pub – A great choice for large groups, this spacious and lively sports bar is open for lunch and dinner, with a full menu served late into the night for convention attendees and event-goers who need an extra boost.
Porch and Cellar – You can’t beat this newly-opened establishment for its charm and local flavor. Located in a historic train depot on the outskirts of downtown, Porch and Cellar offers two unique restaurants in one building. Try Porch, located upstairs, for its “proper fried chicken,” or venture downstairs to Cellar for craft cocktails and plates.
Terza Ristorante – Convention attendees and event-goers always give rave reviews to Terza, which hand-crafts and serves fresh pastas and desserts “with amoré” in a stylish, friendly environment.
Bleu Duck Kitchen – You’ll love the combination of “fine dining” and “fun dining” at Bleu Duck Kitchen, which provides innovative American cuisine in a welcoming atmosphere. The menu emphasizes locally-grown produce and meats, and features an exhibition kitchen for you to follow the action as your food is prepared.
Chester’s – A favorite spot for downtown visitors to grab lunch or enjoy Happy Hour, Chester’s offers casual upscale dining and made-from-scratch food. Sit on the patio (seasonally) just steps from the beautiful Peace Plaza Fountain.
The Loop – Featuring American fare and creative cocktails served in a contemporary space, you’ll appreciate the diverse menu and vibrant ambiance of one of Rochester’s most popular restaurants.
Pescara – Pescara serves sustainable, fresh, line-caught fish on a daily basis, as well as chops, steaks, and other refined dishes. Experience high-quality service, savor fine wine, and enjoy elegant surroundings at this sophisticated eatery.
Nightlife Near Mayo Civic Center
Continue enjoying the city of Rochester after your meetings conclude for the day. Here are just a few nightlife hot spots located within a few blocks of the convention center and downtown hotels:
Grand Rounds Brew Pub -- Serving fresh food and craft beer that is brewed onsite, you can experience the city like a local at this neighborhood pub in the heart of the city.
Kathy’s Pub -- Treat yourself to a cocktail and a view from the third floor rooftop patio at Kathy’s Pub. Features live band performances, pool tables, darts, and a sports bar.
Check out more things to do, dining, and nightlife opportunities as you plan your visit to Minnesota's Rochester!