Looking for the best and most fun in Mankato, MN?
Rustic and charming, Mankato, Minnesota, is the perfect destination for those who love the great outdoors and quality family time.
Located in Blue Earth County, the city is often hailed as one of the best college towns in the US.
It is home to the famous Minnesota State University and two other colleges.
However, most visitors come for the natural attractions and historical destinations that the city has in store.
From beautiful waterfalls to large art collections, Mankato has something for everyone, and you should probably see it for yourself.
Mankato is the fifth largest city in Minnesota, located in Blue Earth County.
Part of this magnificent city lies in the region of Le Sueur; the city was designated as a metropolitan area, having a population of about 57,487 in the 2020 census.
The beautiful city has won several awards for its livability due to its economic growth, low energy and office costs, favorable housing plan, and many more.
In Mankato, you are assured to Experience live music concerts, national ice tours, theatre performances, funded local events, and other recreational activities; the truth is, Mankatoans enjoy a quality lifestyle and peace of mind.
This article highlights all the best and most fun things to do in Mankato, MN. Get ready to be blown away by the wonders of this city.
Fun Things to Do in Mankato
1. A Visit to the Minneopa State Park
If you are one fun-loving person, then visit Mankato, MN, Minneopa State Park.
It is a sprawling 58-acre park that opened in 1905.
The park is full of many trails and sites and is also home to several waterfalls, including the most famous Minneopa Falls.
Visitors can hike through pristine prairie grasslands into the scenic Minnesota River Valley.
On your tour here, you’ll be able to observe the geology that underpins the region and visit the Seppmann Mill, a wind-powered mill built of wood and natural stone designed to resemble the German style.
Facilities are on site, including a bike path, walking trail, groomed cross-country trails, and boat ramps for river or lake access.
2. A Visit to Mount Kato
Mount Kato is a family-friendly destination, bursting with activities that make it fun for the whole family, regardless of preference or age.
The excitement is all around the main seating area, the Kato Café, Lift Bar, and Grill, where you can enjoy a drink or a meal.
If you’re up for an outdoor adventure, head out for activities like skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, or mountain biking.
Equipment rental and lessons for groups or individuals of adults or children are available at a cost you can easily afford.
The area hosts various events throughout the year, such as the Spring Fling, Mogul Mash, and The Duct Tape Derby, made of duct tape and cardboard.
3. A Fun Time in Mankato Civic Center
Visit the renowned Mankato Civic Center for your special outdoor events, meetings, and entertainment shows.
This is definitely a well-chosen addition to your list of things to do in Mankato, Minnesota.
Located in the heart of downtown, the famous Civic Center has established itself as one of the best event centers in the Midwest.
The center houses the prestigious Mankato Mavericks Division of Men and women’s hockey teams and the well-equipped Minnesota State University.
The Mankato Civic Center boasts unique exhibits such as an estimated 5,100-seat hockey arena, a 6,500-seat concert arena, a state-of-the-art conference center, a large banquet hall, and much more.
In addition, various events can be held with more than 350,000 people, excluding campus students, who participate in events at the center every year.
The Civic Centre is one of the main attractions in the city. It opens for business from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
Things to Do in Mankato at Night
1. Visit Kiwanis Holiday Lights
Explore the Kiwanis Holiday Lights Spectacular and enjoy one of the largest holiday events in town.
We bet that this is a great addition to your list of things to do in Mankato, Minnesota.
The famous annual Kiwanis Holiday Lights celebration began in 2012 with a positive response from visitors; it is held in Sibley Park and attracts family, friends, and interested parties to ride along with 1.5 million holiday lights.
Kiwanis Holiday Lights hosts events such as animated lights, choreographed lights, live reindeer, sleigh rides, opening night parades, Nonprofit Trees, Tribute to the Troops, ice sculptures, and more.
The mission of Kiwanis is to create a colorful celebration of holiday lights for the Greater Mankato area while collecting food donations for those in need in the city.
Kiwanis Holiday Lights is one of the main attractions in town, open Sunday through Thursday: 5:00-9:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday: 17:00 – 22:00.
Christmas events are usually held every night starting in November and ending in the first week of January.
2. Enjoy Everything LocAle Brewing Company Offers
Visiting LocAle Brewing Company is one of the many nerve exciting things to do in Mankato, Mn.
We say this because, here, you get to feel the taste of fresh craft beer, wine, spirits, and many more.
LocAle Brewing Company has many years of experience in brewing quality beer, wine, and spirits that speak straight to your taste buds on the first taste.
Jim Parejko and Lauren, famous Midwesterners, had the vision to open a small neighborhood brewery in 2018, and this became the birth of this business idea.
Famous LocAle offers a wide range of styles such as tart and fruity barrel-aged sours, roasted porters and dark, crisp lagers, juicy pale ales, and big barrel-aged stout.
LocAle features a unique culmination of Midwestern ingredients that give its brews a distinct flavor; It is one of the best places to brew in town.
In addition, the place is open to people who are 18 years and above, 24 hours a day and 52 weeks a year.
You are welcome to relax, enjoy and spend the rest of your vacation at the famous brewing company LocAle.
3. Visit River Hills Mall
With over 80 kiosks and shops, River Hills Malls is the perfect place to go whenever you want to spend a day eating, shopping, and being entertained.
The stores offer all kinds of goods from the latest fashion, to technology, to accessories and homewares.
The food court is a mixed collection of numerous fast food chains and restaurants that serve delicious, fresh food throughout the day.
Your kids will be delighted to spend time in the children’s corner, where they can play with their peers or watch one of the latest films in the eight theatres of the shopping center.
Whatever you want to watch, River Hills Mall is the perfect place for families, one that deserves a place on your list of things to do in Mankato.
Things to Do in Mankato For Couples
1. Hike Along Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail
This state Trail is a restored railroad trail that has reopened to provide over 40 miles of paved trails for you to explore.
The trail is well paved, wheelchair accessible, and level for individuals of all ages.
Feel free to start your journey from Lime Valley Road, connect to the Minnesota River Trail in Mankato, pass through three miles of Sakatah Lake State Park, and then finish in Faribault.
Visitors can ride horses along the trail; however, they will require permits for both horses and snowmobiles. Snowmobiles must also be registered.
Sakatah Lake State Park, located on the same trail, offers self-contained campgrounds, picnic areas, and biking and hiking trails that are accessible.
2. Appreciate Art Together At Carnegie Art Center
If you are interested in art, Carnegie Art Center should be on your checklist of things to do in Mankato, MN.
The Carnegie Art Center is dedicated to showing and documenting various types of art since its inception.
It is currently the largest gallery space with permanent galleries and a monthly gallery that exhibits works by regional artists.
The center attracts thousands of visitors each month who want to experience the artistic talent of artists in the Mankato community, whether it is sculpture, ceramics, paintings or photography, street art, digital artwork, and more.
The gift shop in the center has many exclusive items to gift your loved ones. Some of these include framed prints and paintings, hand-turned bowls, glassware, ceramic origami gift boxes, and more.
3. Help Each Other in Kato Escape
The beautiful Kato Escape Room was founded by Escape Room enthusiasts Elizabeth Hanke and her husband based on accumulated experience from their frequent trips to other escape rooms in the area.
The facility features wonderful exhibits, such as the beautiful glass front door that welcomes you into the building.
The lobby has beige walls with branding and matching chairs placed in front of red and brick walls that offer you seats while you wait for the game to start.
Kato Escape Room is a thrill of adventures in a multi-room environment.
Each room consists of unique puzzles and clues that players must solve to unlock the safe and escape before the set time runs out.
In addition, take home beautiful pictures with escape props as souvenirs of the experience for those interested and feel like a movie star in action.
Things to Do in Mankato For Kids
1. Visit the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
Want to also give your kids a treat in Mankato?
If so, include a visit to the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota’s to-do list.
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota was the effort of a group of teachers, community members, and business managers who wanted to create a comfortable and safe space for children to explore, play, grow and learn.
Although it has been in temporary premises since its establishment at the end of 2006, it only found its permanent headquarters in 2015 in a former public transport facility.
Families and children of all ages can participate in special programs that change throughout the year.
These programs may include demonstrations such as learning about dairy barns’ inner workings and how sun-sensitive papers work.
One of the many activity options is a hunt for archaeologists to learn more about Earth.
2. A Tour of Vintage Mall Antiques and More
Vintage Mall Antiques and More is a famous summertime market that attracts old and new vendors from all over the country.
Exhibits range from collectibles and antiques to refurbished household items and toys.
It’s the perfect place to buy gifts for family members.
Own a souvenir for yourself, as there will be different merchandise displayed each time you visit.
The mall also includes organic and fresh fruit and vegetable sections and flower towers.
Every Sunday of every month is Craft Day, when people of all ages can get involved in arts and crafts projects while shopping for handmade goods.
3. Sibley Farm
Visitors have been flocking to Sibley Farm since 1893 to enjoy family-friendly activities suitable for both adults and children.
The farm is a red barn-style building with a wide variety of farm animals and is located in Sibley Park.
This unique Mankato attraction raises calves, goats, sheep, horses, alpacas, peacocks, chickens, and koi fish in a pond in front of the building.
Sibley farm also has a children’s playground and a pavilion that can be rented for special events.
Bring your grill and enjoy your meal on the Sibley Farm patio in warmer weather. Includes picnic tables for your convenience.
Indoor Activities in Mankato For Adults
1. Catch Fun at the Family Entertainment Centre of the Wow 40 Zone
Indulge your family in one-of-a-kind fun at the beautiful WOW Zone Family Entertainment Center 40, which tops your list of the best things to do in Mankato, MN.
Special Wow! Zone Family Entertainment opened in 2008 as one of southern Minnesota’s first indoor entertainment centers, making it one of the city’s main attractions.
This center Features a two-level laser arena, 24 state-of-the-art bowling lanes, blacklight miniature golf, sports bar, restaurant, snack bar, a full arcade, and much more.
Have tons of fun at one of southern Minnesota’s most spectacular courses, watch live golf tournaments, and explore casual or league bowling,
In addition, Brunswick Pro Lanes offers state-of-the-art exhibits such as 120″ projection TVs to complement the already installed 42″ LCD TVs and 42″ LCDs used as scoring monitors.
2. Mankato Symphony Orchestra
The Mankato Symphony Orchestra was born in 1950 through the Mankato Musician’s Union, Teachers’ College, Gustavus Adolphus College, and other Mankato Public Schools.
The orchestra grew to become one of the largest performing arts organizations in Mankato, performing high-quality music that is inspiring to visitors and locals alike.
The orchestra’s program changes every year. But the most popular shows are family series such as Mozart in me, symphony series, and music on the hill.
Visitors will be delighted to hear music and sights that will captivate them.
You should be sure to participate in the many educational activities that are suitable for individuals of all ages.
3. Franklin Rogers Park
It was formerly called Key City Park.
Franklin Rogers park is a ballpark worth adding to your list of things to do in Mankato if you’re into sports.
The park was named after Franklin Rogers, who was sports section editor and former vice president of the Mankato Free Press.
Today, the park is the home of Loyola High School, the Bethany Lutheran College Vikings, the Mankato Moondogs, and the Mankato Area Public Schools’ West High School.
It also serves as a youth facility that is part of the Mankato Area Youth Baseball Association.
If you ever visit the area, make sure you check out the game times and attend one to help cheer on the local teams.
Romantic Things to Do in Mankato
1. Minneopa Golf Course
One of the best things for golfers to do in Mankato is to visit the Minneopa Golf Course. This perfectly fits into your checklist of things to do in Mankato.
For more than 75 years since its inception, Minneopa Golf Course has served the Mankato area with a rich course and other amenities.
The course was designed by M.J. Donndelinger and John McRae, club professionals, in 1928.
The ballpark was later sold to the Books family, who operated it until 2015 when they sold it to its current owners, an investment company based in Mankato.
Golfers visiting the area will enjoy the privilege of playing on the 18-hole course. Other amenities include cart rentals, tow carts, club rentals, and an annual season pass.
If joining an organization interests you, you can join the Minneopa Ladies Golf League, a fun and informal league for ladies of all ages.
Golfers can join other leagues, including the Adam and Eve League and the Sportsmen Golf League.
2. Rounders Sports Bar and Grill
The bar opened in 2009 and has been a fun experience for sports fanatics.
You can also relax with a cold drink on the terrace or fill your belly at the bar.
Rounders Sports Bar boasts special exhibits such as over 20 50″ high definition televisions with many entertaining sports packages such as MLB, NFL, NBA, UFC, and NHL in constant view.
Enjoy the classy menu of burgers, appetizers, wings, and more, with over 12 beers on tap and 50 draft beer selections.
Rounders sports bar is a real entertainment center. So, kick back and enjoy a unique experience at Rounders, a famously crowded sports bar for sports lovers and enthusiasts from around the city.
3. Mankato Brewery
If you’re interested in the fresh beers Mankato has to offer, visit the Brewery in town.
Mankato Brewery was founded in 2012, making it the first brewery to operate in Mankato since 1967 and reviving a once beloved Mankato tradition.
This taproom has become a well-known spot in the city and is one of the most popular places where locals come to socialize, relax or simply unwind after a busy day.
Ensure to stop by during your visit, chat with friends and try some tasty drinks.
You can take in amazing views of the brewery, shop for items from the thrift store, or listen to live entertainment on stage at Mankato Brewery.
Brewery tours are scheduled for Saturday for those looking for an intimate look.
Visit the Mankato Brewery and taste their authentic beers that reflect the region’s rich history and the people who live there.
Free Things to Do in Mankato
1. Seven-Mile Creek Park
Seven-Mile Creek Park includes 628 acres of grasslands, valleys, and deciduous forests, as well as the Minnesota River and Seven Mile Creek Bluffs.
The park has eight miles of multi-use trails perfect for biking or hiking.
There are bridges that give you a breathtaking view of the surrounding area, and you’ll find numerous picnic areas, shelters, as well as a public boat launch on the Minnesota River.
Other features of the park include an outdoor playground, a baseball field, and a number of volleyball courts for the whole family to enjoy while visiting.
Be sure to observe the park’s fascinating fauna, such as wild deer, turkeys, and a wide variety of birds with permanent and temporal habitats.
2. Reconciliation Park
Reconciliation Park is the perfect place to visit if you want to understand Mankato and Minnesotan history.
The park has been the largest mass hanging of its kind in the United States since December 26, 1862, when 38 Dakota Indian men were simultaneously hanged for attacking New Ulm settlers.
There are a number of statues and historical markers on site that you can explore and gain a better understanding of Mankato’s history.
The park is home to the Blue Earth County Library.
In our opinion, it is one of the best places to visit for Liberians.
3. Javens Family Vineyard and Winery
Javens Family Winery and Vineyard is a family winery along the banks of the Le Sueur River.
Established in 2010, the winery has evolved over the years into a relaxing place for visitors and locals to relax and socialize while visiting Mankato.
You can choose from a variety of red and white wines to taste in their amazing tasting room.
One of their most popular wines is La Crescent, off-dry white wine with a wonderful nose and great aroma.
Another variety to try is Marquette, which is barrel-aged and dry, as well as The Frontenac Gris, which is a fruity white wine.
Cheap Things to Do in Mankato
1. Red Jacket Trail
The Red Jacket Trail is a trail that runs from 6 to 13 miles that is a former railroad line and runs along Route MN-66, where hikers and bikers can see the famous 80-foot-tall Red Jacket Trestle Tree.
It is good to know that the surface of the trail is made of crushed stone and asphalt and is easily accessible even for wheelchair users.
People who have walked the trail are mesmerized by its serenity, and stunning scenery will be seen as you walk the trail.
A portion of the Red Jacket Trail connects to the Sakatah Trail and the Mankato River Trail in Minneopa State Park.
2. BentRiver Outfitter
One of the fun things to do in Mankato, MN, is spending some time at the popular BentRiver Outfitter to enjoy one of the best outdoor adventures in town.
Owned and operated by local town men, the magnificent Bent River Outfitters is one of the main attractions for the people of Mankato.
Bent River Outfitter offers shuttles, boat rentals, guided tours for interested groups and families of all sizes, corporate tours, paddling lessons, eco-tours, yoga, and much more.
Enjoy fun activities like tandem kayaks, snowshoes, kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards for just $50 for a 24-hour rental and a discounted price of $100 for a 3-day rental.
2. Twin Rivers Arts
The Twin Rivers Council of Arts is a tourism and arts center that provides artists of all skill levels with the opportunity the expression of their creative talents for the public to appreciate.
In order to build communities and connect people with performing arts and culture, the organization hosts a series of shows and events scheduled throughout the year.
In addition, there are artist workshops that focus on techniques, methodologies, acting, music, and much more.
Additional services include space rental for private events, studios, facilities, and many other opportunities.
Cool Places to Visit in Mankato
1. Blue Earth County Historical Society
The Blue Earth County Historical Society was formed in 1901 when a small group of individuals decided to put together exhibits related to early pioneers, industries, and the lives of local residents to celebrate the sesquicentennial.
A sesquicentennial is an event in Mankato that has been 50 years since.
Over the years, it has become a permanent display of work, allowing visitors to see the collection at any time and gain knowledge of the history of the area.
The history center and museum highlight the various features of the people, places, and events that shaped the county.
The area also boasts of Native American tools and artifacts and an interactive children’s area with a cabin built by pioneers.
The museum also has an exhibition hall, art, and exhibits that travel from museums elsewhere.
2. Betsy & Tacy House Tours and Gift Shop
Betsy and Tacy Home Tours & Gift Shop are two buildings across from each other that were once the residence of Maud Palmer Hart and Frances “Bick” Kenney, two best friends who later chronicled their childhood through the popular children’s series.
Betsy’s house is a museum, exactly as it looked when her family was there in the latter half of the 19th century.
The house takes visitors on memory lane as it has furnishings and decorations from the past.
The Tacy House is an interpretive center and gift shop with a wide variety of exhibits such as manuscripts, photographs, clippings, and much more.
3. R.D. Hubbard House
The R.D. Hubbard House is a home owned by R.D. Hubbard, a businessman and the founder of one of the largest flour mills in southern Minnesota called the “Hubbard Milling Company.”
Visitors can tour the house in its original condition when it was purchased through the Historical Society shortly after the Hubbard family moved out of the house in 1938.
When you visit, you will see that majority of furnishings and decorations in the house are the exact items owned and used by the family.
Architecture lovers will be delighted by the traditional Victorian design of the building and surroundings on quiet South Broad Street.
From Parks to bars and full packed theatres, Mankato is full of fun and things to do for everyone, all year round.
On the above list of things to do in Mankato, MN, we have outlined the 27 things to do in Mankato and where you can get these things.
In the comment box below, we’d like to know all about your Mankato trip.