Skip to Content

14 Best Things to Do in Mankato, Minnesota

We take pride in providing authentic travel recommendations based on our own experiences through unique imagery and visiting each destination. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product or book a reservation. Learn more ›

Contrary to popular belief, Mankato is not a small city. There are several activities in Mankato that will keep the entire family entertained. This city offers diverse experiences here, from sculpture excursions to parks to tycoon mansions. These are the best things to do in Mankato, Minnesota.

Mankato is a charming city located in the heart of Minnesota with a lot to offer its visitors, featuring outdoor recreation, family-friendly activities, and great places to eat. Here are some of the best things to do while visiting this vibrant community.

Things to Do in Mankato, Minnesota

1. Mankato Walking Sculpture Tour

Bison Sculpture in Mankato'
image by Mcb133aco is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 127 S 2nd St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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 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.

See Related: Day Trips from the Twin Cities

2. Minneopa State Park

Falls in Minneopa State Park
image by Michael G/TripAdvisor

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 to access the resort’s lakes and rivers. The Minnesota River Valley is a great way to explore native prairie grasslands. Visit the Seppman Mill, 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

Sibley Park
image by Heather W/TripAdvisor

Address: 900 Mound Ave, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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
Sibley Park Mankato Map

The park’s entertainment options on the north side are softball, tennis, swimming, and a sliding hill. 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 the 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 the best deals by using Booking.com.

See Related: Things to Do in Rochester

4. Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota

Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota
image by Myotus is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 224 Lamm St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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 daily. The indoor exhibits include an interactive quarry, a tree made of tree forts, and a vertical wind tunnel.

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 offers a fun place for kids to play and 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.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Lanesboro

5. Hubbard House

Hubbard House Mankato

Address: 606 S Broad St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

The Hubbard House, also known as The R.D. Hubbard House, is one of Mankato, Minnesota’s finest examples of classic Victorian architecture. This is a beautiful museum and a popular tourist attraction in the city.

The R.D. Hubbard House is one of Minnesota’s most exquisite French Second Empire architecture examples. 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.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota

6. Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park, Mankato
Source: Mankato

Address: 309 W Rock St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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 been 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, located in the park, hosts nationally recognized and local bands.

The park 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 park’s center, 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 serves as a community center for power distribution (electricity, gas, and oil) and the greater Mankato region, and there is a retail marketplace.

See Related: Best Mexican Restaurants in Minnesota

7. Carnegie Art Center

Carnegie Art Center Building
image by McGhiever is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 120 S Broad St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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, representing local architects, objected to this decision.

Since 1981, Carnegie has used 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 exhibited local artwork for over 36 years. Local artists’ paintings, woodworking, sculpture, and other works are showcased in rotating exhibitions. In addition to artist studios, the building has a gift shop where visitors can buy local artists’ work.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Victoria, Minnesota

8. Highland Park

Highland Park Mankato
Highland Park Mankato

Address: 950 Warren St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

Highland Park 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 Highland Park and playground facilities, sand volleyball courts, picnic tables, and grills. It’s a perfect place for visitors who want fresh air and relaxation after visiting some of the best tourist attractions and things to do in Mankato.

The parks, 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, 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 leashes 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.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Minneapolis

9. Rasmussen Woods

Rasmussen Woods

Address: 555 Stoltzman Rd, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

Rasmussen Woods is a natural paradise for those who want to reconnect with nature. Located in the City of Mankato, Rasmussen Woods is the perfect destination for travelers seeking respite from city life.

From miles of trails that weave through rolling hills and past sparkling lakes to meadows filled with singing birds, Rasmussen Woods offers options to suit various interests who visit. Animal lovers will appreciate getting up close and personal with local deer and squirrels before finishing their trek and basking in the sights of lush greenery.

A gazebo, two floating trails, dolomite cliff formations, and a hillside park overlook await hikers. In addition, the Elk’s Nature Center in the Rasmussen Woods is family-friendly, and dogs are welcome to use the trails if their owners keep them on a leash.

See Related: Best Parks in Saint Paul, Minnesota

10. Sibley Farm

Sibley Farm

Address: 1080 Mound Ave, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

Sibley Farm is a charming farm-style zoo situated in Sibley Park that provides the perfect opportunity to do something unique and fun.

This perfect spot is home to many animals, including alpacas, goats, calves, peacocks, pigs, horses, lambs, chicks, and ducklings. If you’re looking for something extra special to do while visiting Sibley Park, Sibley Farm is definitely worth your time.

Feed some of the farm’s animals with fresh food from one of the park’s vending machines (for only a few cents per handful). There’s even an outdoor playground aptly named one of Minnesota’s nine cool playgrounds. It’s a fun park to relax in, with plenty to do and play on for the kids. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Mankato with kids.

See Related: Best Travel Accessories

11. Land of Memories Park

Land of Memories Park Covered in Snow
image by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Address: 100 Amos Owen Ln, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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 winds 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.

Land of Memories Park of Mankato

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. Both soccer and lacrosse fields on the west side of the park 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.

See Related: Best Museums in Rochester, Minnesota

12. Sibley Gazebo

Sibley Park Gazebo

Address: 900 Mound Avenue, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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 in locating 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.

See Related: Best Waterfalls in Minnesota

13. Betsy-Tacy Society

Betsy-Tacy Society Establishment
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 332 Center St, Mankato, MN 56001, United States

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.

Betsy-Tacy Society

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 using 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: Things to Do in Grand Marais, Minnesota

14. River Hills Mall

River Hills Mall Department Store
image by Jilly070/TripAdvisor

Address: 850 Adams Street, Mankato, Minnesota 56001

Here’s how to spend the day in Penrose: stroll, recline on a park bench window-shop or 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 recent films at the mall’s eight-screen theater would be a great way for them to spend some time. The shopping center has more than 80 shops and kiosks.

See Related: Things to Do in Ely, Minnesota

What is Mankato Known For?

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 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. 

Is Mankato Worth Visiting?

Mankato has a lot to offer! There are so many fun things and attractions that it is hard to fit in. We hope your visit to Mankato is filled with new memories and cool spots.

There are a number of great hotels in Mankato as well, so book your stay early depending on the time of year you plan to visit.

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. There’s the Children’s Museum and Big Blue Apple Playground for kids. 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 and was once home to many Native Americans. 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. Its population is about 40,000+, and it 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 other things.

Related Minnesota Guides