Rochester, Minnesota, was founded as a stagecoach stop between Dubuque, Iowa, and Saint Paul, Minnesota, in the mid 1800s. Located at the south fork of the Zumbro River, this third-largest Minnesota city is now home to the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Not only does this large integrated health facility provide patient-centered care, its special programs bring the arts to patients' bedsides. In addition, the Mayo Clinic hosts a free weekly concert open to the public in the Barbara Woodward Lips Atrium.
Regional groups sponsor the art and cultural activities occurring at the Mayo Clinic and elsewhere. The Choral Arts Ensemble of Rochester, located in the downtown area on Northwest 14th Street, showcases a mélange of voices that performs mainly classical music. A favorite venue of those visiting Rochester, the Rochester Art Center on Civic Center Drive, is housed in a 36,000-square-foot building featuring two distinct architectural forms. One part of the building is covered in copper, and the other is covered in zinc, with the two buildings linked by a glass atrium. Visual artists featured in this gallery include Tonny Tasset, Wilhelm Sasnal and Nancy Rexroth.
Visitors also enjoy catching a show at Rochester Civic Theatre. Located close to the art center on Civic Center Drive, this theater produces numerous live shows throughout the year for children and adults. Productions have included “Flowers for Algernon,” “’Tis the Season of Turducken,” and “The Neverending Story.”
Two Rochester attractions that grape connoisseurs must hit are the Cannon River Winery and Post Town Winery. Cannon River Winery is forty-five minutes south of the civic center by car. It offers visitors a variety of wine-tasting options, from a “small flight” to a full tasting, for a nominal fee. Bottlings include different whites, blushes, and red blends as well as apple and honey wines. Post Town Winery is located within Rochester, 10 minutes west of the civic center on North Frontage Road, on the outskirts of town. Rochester visitors from other areas will be particularly interested in their unique grape varietals: Frontenac, LaCrescent, Prairie Star, and St. Pepin grapes are a few. The tasting room is open on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons. Live music often accompanies tastings.
One not-to-miss Rochester attraction is the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial in the historic southwest quarter of the city, five minutes’ drive south of the civic center. This unique memorial park features a wall of remembrance, statuary and an 18-hole golf course.
Those visiting Rochester in warmer months should stroll through the residential Pine Hill district, two blocks to the west of the veterans’ memorial. Many of the homes between Third and Ninth Streets and Seventh and Tenth Avenues have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, including the Mayowood Mansion and the Historic Chateau Theatre, which also houses a Barnes and Noble bookstore. For less-structured sightseeing, take advantage of the city’s parks and 85 miles of paved hiking and biking paths, some of which front beautiful Silver Lake and the Zumbro River.