Contrary to popular belief, Mankato is not a small city. There are several activities to do in Mankato that will keep the entire family entertained. There’s something for everyone here, from sculpture excursions to parks to tycoon mansions.
Minnesota is a state found in the United States Great Lakes region. The land is known for its flatlands and forests, which are popular among nature lovers.
Mankato, Minnesota is a city in Southern Minnesota, with a rich history. The city of Mankato was established in 1868. Today, Mankato is home to Minnesota State University, making it a college town with cultural fun driven by the generations of tomorrow.
Mankato is set in the scenic Minnesota River Valley. The city features a long-standing history with its many historic sites, hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts, and an expansive downtown Mankato. There are a number of great hotels in Mankato too, book your stay before you go so you can plan your itinerary.
Table of Contents
- Fun & Best Things to do in Mankato, Minnesota
- 1. Mankato Walking Sculpture Tour
- 2. Minneopa State Park
- 3. Sibley Park
- 4. Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
- 5. Hubbard House
- 6. Riverfront Park
- 7. Carnegie Art Center
- 8. Highland Park
- 9. Rasmussen Woods
- 10. Sibley Farm
- 11. Land of Memories Park
- 12. Sibley Gazebo
- 13. Betsy-Tacy Society
- 14. River Hills Mall
- Final Thoughts: Best & Free Things to do in Mankato
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is there to do in Mankato?
- Why is Mankato, Minnesota called the key city?
- What is there to do in southern Minnesota?
Fun & Best Things to do in Mankato, Minnesota
1. Mankato Walking Sculpture Tour
Address: 127 S 2nd St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
The Mankato Walking Sculpture Tour is a popular tourist attraction in downtown Mankato. Mankato is a lovely city where local and foreign tourists can enjoy a number of spectacular works of art created by local artists.
The CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour is an exciting outdoor sculpture show in Mankato and North Mankato’s hearts. The CityArt sculpture exhibition attracts thousands of community members and tourists each year, establishing the Greater Mankato arts community as one of the best in the state.
Twin Rivers (TR), Greater Mankato’s art board, and the City Center Partnership (CCP), a downtown planning agency serving Mankato and North Mankato, partnered on the sculpture tour.
Both organizations are dedicated to using arts and culture programming to foster a vibrant community.
This year-round outdoor artwork exhibit is on display in Mankato and North Mankato, Minnesota. For a year, artists collaborate with their pieces in the curriculum. The majority of the artists who participate in the tour hope to sell their work.
The sculptures are accessible to the general public. Artists will compete for money and the opportunity to have their work chosen by The People’s Choice and acquired by CityArt for long-term display.
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2. Minneopa State Park
Minneopa State Park is a 58-acre park with natural features and pathways. It has a variety of waterfalls, including the most well-known Minneopa Falls. The Seppmann Mill is a windmill mill built using local stone and timber in the Germanic style.
There are bicycle paths, hiking tracks, ski slopes, and a boat ramp for access to lakes and rivers at the resort. The Minnesota River Valley is a great way to explore native prairie grasslands.
Visit the Seppman Mill, which was built of wood and stone with the opportunity to delve into the underlying geology.
See Related: Best Things to do in Minnesota
3. Sibley Park
Address: 900 Mound Ave, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Sibley Park is a lovely tourist attraction and a lively neighborhood park in Mankato, Minnesota. Henry Hastings Sibley, the state’s first governor, gave the park its name.
The park has previously housed a horse racing track, a regional zoo, clay tennis courts, a museum, a community bandshell, and well-known gardens.
Sibley Park Mankato Map
Softball, tennis, swimming, and a sliding hill are among the park’s entertainment options on the north side. There are extensive landscapes and gardens, a storybook farm site, open space, and picnicking areas on the park’s south side.
The mound’s hilltop is restored to an Oak Savanna setting, close to what once existed, through plantings and managed burns.
Sibley Park is ideal for organized sports, big group parties, loud music, and exclusive use. Family reunions, corporate meetings, company picnics, and large group events are common uses for the picnic shelters.
Outdoor weddings and photography sessions are typical at the gazebo and gardens. Many of these spots can be reserved in advance.
Within the park, visitors can enjoy a number of facilities such as the reservoir, the CHS Pergola, the Sibley Pavilion, and Sibley Farm. Visitors can also watch a video of the farm and playground, a unique Mankato attraction.
The Sibley HealthBeat outdoor fitness equipment and more than two miles of walking trails are located within Sibley Park and are divided into three levels: simple, moderate, and experienced.
If you’re looking for hotels near the park or anywhere in Mankato, you can find teh best deals by using Booking.com.
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4. Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
Address: 224 Lamm St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is a children’s Museum and tourist attraction in Mankato, Minnesota. It offers a variety of art and science programs on a daily basis.
An interactive quarry, a tree made of tree forts, and a vertical wind tunnel are among the indoor exhibits.
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota’s mission is to awaken every child’s natural curiosity through the power of play in a vibrant, awe-inspiring atmosphere. It’s a fantastic place for kids to play, learn, and develop.
Every exhibit and program is customized to provide the best possible experience for each child.
Individuals, families, and organizations can select from a range of membership choices at the Museum.
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota membership provides unrestricted access to the Museum’s galleries during daily business hours, exclusive discounts in the Museum gift shop, and invites to members-only activities.
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota not only offers a fun place for kids to play, but it also allows them to learn through hands-on play because growing minds need challenges and experiences.
It is not only a wonderful place to play and have a lot of fun, but it is also very important for children’s health and well-being.
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5. Hubbard House
Address: 606 S Broad St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
The Hubbard House, also known as The R.D. Hubbard House, is one of Mankato, Minnesota’s finest examples of classic Victorian architecture. In the city of Mankato, it is a beautiful museum and a popular tourist attraction.
The R.D. Hubbard House is one of Minnesota’s most exquisite examples of French Second Empire architecture.
Only the Hubbard family (1871-1938) and the Blue Earth County Historical Society have lived in the Historic Hubbard House in its original form (1938-present).
The 16-room mansion of local flour mill tycoon R.D. Hubbard and his family, completed in 1905, is open to the public. Admission to the museum is paid for guided one-hour tours.
The Blue Earth County Historical Society maintains the Hubbard Building. It was once a private residence and is now a museum.
On June 7, 1976, this remarkable structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Rensselaer D. Hubbard, a wealthy businessman, had the house designed in 1871 for him.
Visitors will be amazed not only by the elegance of the building but also by the extensive tour of the house, stables, and carriage house.
Hubbard House is a Victorian home with beautiful woodwork and stained glass. It’s a fantastic tourist destination with outstanding guides who share stories behind the house and its wonderful history.
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6. Riverfront Park
Address: 309 W Rock St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Riverfront Park, one of the Mankato Park system’s jewels, provides breathtaking views of the Minnesota River that delivers as well as an amphitheater and playground.
Mankato, Minnesota, is a beautiful and popular tourist attraction. This location on the Minnesota River’s bank has served as the birthplace of Mankato’s industrial and commercial growth since the city’s founding in 1852.
The annual Ribfest festival, as well as other summer activities, are held at Riverfront Park. The Vetter Stone Amphitheater, which is located in the park, hosts both nationally recognized and local bands.
The park, which is located in Old Town, is close to several local shops and restaurants. The park has bathrooms, a water fountain, and a bike repair station, making it a convenient stop along the Minnesota River Trail.
The park has river access, which is suitable for kayaking and canoeing. The Mankato Piece, a large sculpture in the center of the park, is also worth seeing.
On the banks of the Minnesota River, Riverfront Park has been the birthplace of industrial and commercial growth in Mankato since its establishment in 1852. This area also served as a community center for power distribution (electricity, gas, and oil) and the greater Mankato region, and there is a retail marketplace.
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7. Carnegie Art Center
Address: 120 S Broad St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.6 out of 5
Mankato’s Carnegie Art Center is a must-see tourist attraction and is considered one of the best things to do in Mankato. It was designed in 1902 with Carnegie funds as the Mankato Public Library and Reading Room.
A representative of Carnegie arranged for the company’s design to be performed by a New York firm. The Western League of Architects, which represents local architects, objected to this decision.
Since 1981, Carnegie has used the visual arts, crafts, and architecture to record and present the contemporary culture of this particular area of Greater Minnesota.
The museum’s exhibitions are continually evolving, and there is an annual member’s show where museum supporters and visitors can submit artwork.
The Carnegie Art Center is the area’s most significant visual arts exhibition venue, featuring monthly gallery exhibitions by local artists.
The Carnegie also provides affordable workshop space, grant-funded art education workshops, a gift shop that introduces the community to the work of regional and local artists, and ongoing maintenance and restoration of Mankato’s historic former Carnegie Library.
Carnegie Art Center, a long-standing Mankato art gallery, has been exhibiting local artwork for more than 36 years. In rotating exhibitions, local artists’ paintings, woodworking, sculpture, and other works are showcased.
In addition to artist studios, the building has a gift shop where visitors can buy local artists’ work.
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8. Highland Park
Highland Park Mankato
Address: 950 Warren St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.3 out of 5
Highland Park in Mankato, Minnesota, is a great place to visit. It’s a perfect place for kids to play and enjoy the park’s playground, as well as adult tourists who want to work out while admiring the park’s beauty and views of Mankato.
There is plenty of space to roam around in the Highland Park and playground facilities, sand volleyball courts, picnic tables, and grills. It’s a perfect place for visitors who want to get some fresh air and relax after visiting some of the best tourist attractions and things to do in Mankato.
The parks, which were previously known only to a few people, have seen significant modifications since they became public knowledge. The addition of the playground was made possible by a city investment, and even local youngsters had a say in the design.
Adults can use the park’s fitness equipment, which can be linked to a mobile app for workouts at each stop. Highland Park is the perfect place to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities with family and friends.
The park is also pet-friendly, and dogs on leash are welcome and accepted to stroll along the park’s walking trail. Visitors may either stroll around the area or enter a game with other visitors to make new friends.
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9. Rasmussen Woods
Address: 555 Stoltzman Rd, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Rasmussen Woods is an ideal destination for travelers who want to reconnect with nature. In the City of Mankato, Minnesota, Rasmussen Woods is a well-known tourist attraction.
Rasmussen Woods, situated just off Stoltzman Road in Mankato, is a city-centered nature preserve. Rasmussen Woods is a beautiful place to go for a run or a walk.
The Rasmussen Woods is surrounded by a lot of wildlife, including hills, lakes, meadows, birds, deer, and squirrels.
This fantastic tourist destination is rich in wildlife. It is a place where people of all ages can go hiking, enjoy the natural beauty of the region, and see various wildlife.
Rasmussen Woods is a beautiful place to visit to enjoy the abundance of natural beauty in its natural setting at any time of year. The Floating Trails at Rasmussen Woods provide access to wetlands.
Rasmussen Woods is a 5.8-kilometer mildly trafficked loop trail near Mankato, Minnesota, with beautiful wildflowers surrounding the area and a mild difficulty rating trail.
A gazebo, two floating trails, dolomite cliff formations, and a hillside park overlook await hikers.
The Elk’s Nature Center in the Rasmussen Woods is family-friendly, and dogs are welcome to use the trails as long as they are kept on a leash by their owners.
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10. Sibley Farm
Address: 1080 Mound Ave, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Mankato, Minnesota’s Sibley Farm is a popular tourist destination. Sibley Farm features a small zoo and a playground.
Sibley Farm, which is also in Sibley Park, allows visitors to pass through red barn-style buildings and see farm animals. It’s a lovely farm-style zoo with koi ponds and beautiful gardens.
Sibley Farm is a farm situated in the home of Sible Alpacas, goats, calves, peacocks, pigs, horses, lambs, chicks, and ducklings are among the animals cared for at Sibley Farm. In the farm’s pond, there are beautiful Koi fish.
Visitors to Sibley Farm can feed the animals by purchasing park-licensed food from vending machines located throughout the farm for a few cents per handful of pellets. After checking out and feeding the animals, young visitors will play on the big playground.
Newscastic has named Mankato’s Sibley Farm playground as one of Minnesota’s nine coolest playgrounds. Farm-themed play equipment, like a live tractor, can be found on the playground.
Sibley Farm is a perfect place to have a good time while being surrounded by beautiful farm animals. It’s a fun park to relax in, and there’s plenty to do and play on for the kids.
This is definitely one of the top things to do in Mankato with kids.
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11. Land of Memories Park
Address: 100 Amos Owen Ln, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Land of Memories Park of Mankato, Minnesota, is a beautiful and popular tourist destination. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the hiking trails in Mankato’s Land of Memories Park, which wind along the Blue Earth and Minnesota rivers and through the forests.
The campground, which is close to Mankato and offers a rustic, relaxing camping experience, is one of the park’s features.
The campground has 39 campsites with a number of open grassy areas, shaded wooded sites, and secluded places for tents and recreational vehicles to camp along the Minnesota River (RV).
The campground also has a general store, restrooms/showers, electrical connections, individual fire rings, picnic tables, picnic shelters, and playground equipment. The campground is located on 100 acres and is surrounded by natural beauty with a variety of wild animals.
The historic park, known as the Park of Memories, is located on the outskirts of Mankato along the Minnesota River and features stunning views of the river, greenery, and woodlands. There are both soccer and lacrosse fields on the west side of the park that are used by local and international visitors.
There’s also an open space for Frisbee golf; bike trails; a boat ramp; and the Floyd Roberts Jr. Pavilion, which can be reserved for a variety of activities and events.
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12. Sibley Gazebo
Address: 900 Mound Avenue, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
The Sibley Gazebo is a lovely place in Mankato, Minnesota, situated within Sibley Park. It’s a popular outdoor spot for picnics, afternoon tea, outdoor weddings, and photography sessions, and it’s a great place to spend a day with family and friends.
The Sibley Gazebo is an unusual venue for an outdoor festival. The pavilion and flower gardens of Sibley Park are expected to be used for outdoor weddings and photo sessions.
The Gazebo is a freestanding, open garden structure with a roof that is placed in Sibley Park’s beautiful garden as a focal point to be viewed. Its Gazebo offers shade, rain cover, a place to relax, and an attractive feature. Some public park gazebos are wide enough to be used as a bandstand.
Sibley Park Gazebo is a lovely spot for a wedding, whether it’s in the spring, summer, or fall, and is highly recommended by locals and the city of Mankato, Minnesota.
It’s a directory requirement for most couples to assist them locate a list of wedding providers and locations in Southern Minnesota. Sibley Park’s Gazebo may be used as shade and a resting spot by visitors to the park who are there for pleasure.
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13. Betsy-Tacy Society
Address: 332 Center St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
In Mankato, Minnesota, the Betsy-Tacy Society is a historical tourist attraction. Maud Hart Lovelace (MHL), an author best known for her beloved Betsy-Tacy series as well as adult literature, was the inspiration for the home.
The Betsy-Tacy series is based on the author’s childhood memories of growing up in Mankato, Minnesota.
The Betsy-Tacy Society bought Maud’s childhood home, Betsy’s House on 333 Center Street, and her lifelong best friend, Frances Kenney Kirch’s Tacy’s House on 332 Center Street. They did this to keep these landmarks for future generations to enjoy.
Betsy’s house has been renovated and decorated as a museum to resemble the Hart family’s home from 1892 to 1906. Tacy’s house has also been rebuilt, and the Society now uses it as an interpretive center and a repository for MHL archives. There is also a gift shop fund on the premises.
In 2010, the houses were named National Literary Landmarks. The Betsy-Tacy Society teaches about life at the turn of the century by using the stories as a base.
The mission of the Betsy-Tacy Society is to promote literacy by ensuring that future generations can read the Betsy-Tacy novels. The books are meant for people of all ages and focus on family values and friendship.
See Related: Best Things to do in Grand Marais, Minnesota
14. River Hills Mall
Here’s how to spend the day in Penrose: stroll, recline on a park bench, window-shop, eat lunch at one of the restaurants or cafés. The food court is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and offers something for everyone’s taste buds.
The youngster’s play area or seeing some of the recent films at the mall’s eight-screen theater would be a great way for them to spend some time.
The shopping center is located at 1850 Adams Street in Mankato, Minnesota 56001, and has more than 80 shops and kiosks.
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Final Thoughts: Best & Free Things to do in Mankato
Mankato has a lot to offer! There are so many fun things to do and attractions to see it is hard to fit in all in. We hope that your visit to Mankato is filled with new memories and cool spots.
There are a number of great hotels in Mankato too, book your stay before you go so you can plan your itinerary.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is there to do in Mankato?
Mankato is a small town and the county seat of Blue Earth County. There are things to do for just about everyone. For kids, there’s the Children’s Museum and Big Blue Apple Playground. For writers or budding poets, visit the Mankato Public Library to get inspired by the gorgeous architecture.
Don’t forget about dinner at many restaurants such as Dream Cafe’, Guido’s Pizza, Shogun Japanese Steakhouse, The Modern Café, and others that call this sleepy town home.
Why is Mankato, Minnesota called the key city?
Mankato, Minnesota is called the key city because it’s located on the banks of the Blue Earth River that was once home to many Native Americans. The town of Mankato owes its name to Chief Makata, leader of the Shakopee Indians, who originally lived in this area.
What is there to do in southern Minnesota?
Southern Minnesota is home to an underrated town called Mankato. It has a population of about 40,000+ and is known for its excellent natural scenery nearby.
Visit the riverside walkway that follows the city channel up to Levee Park.
You can find sculptures that depict different times in Minnesota history like loggers, Native Americans fishing with nets on horseback, and trappers entertaining this green feline among others things.
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