Skip to main content

Staycation 2012 ~ SE Minnesota

I had hoped to take the family to the Black Hills this summer but unfortunately taking a week off of work AND the cost of such a vacation just isn't in the budget this summer. Besides last week I received the dreaded letter calling me to fulfill my civic duty so I'm taking two weeks off so that I'm available to serve jury duty. Right smack dab in the middle of summer. For two weeks I will be calling each week night to see if I need to report to duty on the following day. I'm hoping that I won't be needed. :)

Although not excited about two weeks off of work, I'm excited about the possibility of doing a few fun things that I normally am unable to do. Such as leisurely spending the day in the garden, heading to an Amish produce auction, kayaking on a nearby stream.....the more plans I make the more nervous I get of being chosen to spend two weeks inside the courtroom. Either way, it will be a change of pace. Meanwhile I will plan a few fun weekends close to home regardless of work or jury duty. I'm also intending to use some of this time at home to catch up with many friends that I rarely see. You know how life gets really busy and you run into a friend at the grocery store and say, "OH, I haven't seen you forever! We really must set aside some time to get together!"? Yeah, my goal is to set aside some people time.

Here's my list of things to do in Rochester, MN and the surrounding communities:


Movies Under the Stars at the History Center of Olmsted County
Friday nights from July 20 - August 24

Last years movies included Bee Movie, Bye Bye Birdie, Back to the Future, and Goonies. Movies begin at dusk.

We never been able to fit this into our schedule but I'm hoping that this year we can!

Photo credit: Chad Johnson, Flickr

Thursdays on First and Third, weekly outdoor market in downtown Rochester, includes food vendors, arts and crafts and live entertainment. The strolling and entertainment is FREE. Pack a meal or eat at one of the many vendors (I recommend the fish tacos from Pescara. SO GOOD!) Find out more here. Thursday on First and 3rd begins June 3 and runs every Thursday until August 30 from 11am - 8:30pm.

<b>Down by the Riverside</b><br /><br />Listeners arrive to hear Jesse Lang perform at the opening of a past Down by the Riverside concert series held behind the Mayo Civic Center.</br><span style=color:494e7f;>Ken Klotzbach/Post-Bulletin</span>

FREE SUNDAY NIGHT CONCERTS  DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE CONCERTSBeginning in July and running through August. Featuring bands such as Foghat, Herman's Hermits, the FIXX, and George Thorogood. Grab a lawn chair, pack a picnic and join others on the lawn of Mayo Park.


And of course, my favorite place to visit, QUARRY HILL NATURE CENTER. Yep, it's FREE. :) Pack a picnic and enjoy the hiking trails, the pond (fish and/or canoe), and the fabulous nature center.

Open: Monday-Saturday 9 am - 5 pm and Sunday noon- 5 pm

Rochester Downtown Farmer's Market ~ Saturdays 7:30 am - noon
Before heading out on your adventure, stop at the Farmer's Market and stock up on healthy, locally grown snacks (or not so healthy but yummy donuts and pies from the Amish vendors).

WINONA, MN just an hour east of Rochester
Winona Park and Recreation Department offers FREE canoe and kayak rentals at Lake Lodge Recreation Center. Monday through Fridays from 4 pm - 8 pm and Saturdays, 1 pm - 6 pm. Find out more information here.

Great River Shakespeare Festival June 20 - August 5
Although the plays aren't free, Tuesday night performances are $10. Free concerts "on the green" of Winona State University campus are performed on Friday and Saturday evenings.

I've been wanting to go to the Shakespeare Festival for a couple years but hadn't been able to fit it in. This summer I will. In fact I'm heading over to the website now to order tickets before they sell out!

Lanesboro, MN just under an hour southeast of Rochester 
Grab your bike and hit the Root River State Bike Trail, sixty miles of trails that follows the Root River touring through towns such as Harmony, Preston, Fountain, Whalan, Houston, Rushford and Peterson. Not into working up a sweat? Lanesboro offers "no sweat" options with it's quaint shops, an art center, diners and winery. On Father's Day Lanesboro hosts Art in the Park at Sylvan Park from 10 am - 5 pm.

Chatfield, MN ~

Lost Creek Trail Thanks to a great group of people, the Bluff Country Hiking Club, Chatfield is now home to a great hiking trail! I've only done a small section of the trail through the beautiful, wooded area just outside Chatfield. Lost Creek Trail begins at Groen Park and meanders through wood, prairie grasses and farmland for six miles (one way).

Concerts in the Park at the Chatfield City Park Bandshell 
Thursday evening June 7 - August 11 at 7 pm
Chatfield Brass Band performing a concert in the park

Chatfield Growers Market is also on Thursday evenings from 3 pm - 6 pm
Easy access to the Root River can be found in Chatfield to kayak, canoe or fish. 

CAVES in the area 
on a sultry summer day cool down by hiking in a cave

Mystery Cave at Forestville State Park  (a one hour tour costs $6/children and $10/adult)

Niagara Cave in Harmony (tour cost depends on age ranging from $7 - $11)

Whitewater State Park near St. Charles, MN
Years ago this was one of my favorite places to take my daughter camping. It's close enough for an overnight get away and has much to offer with hiking trails, fishing streams and a sandy beach for swimming.

Regardless of where you live, here's a few other summer fun ideas for you:
1. Check if the museum's in your area have "free days".
2. Camp out in the backyard.
3. Check your public library for summer programs.
4. Visit a garden nursery and have a scavenger hunt!
5. Many communities have free outdoor concerts.
6. Scavenger hunt at a local park. (think bugs, rocks, varieties of leaves and flowers)
7. Organize a block party, it's a great way to get to know your neighbors. Or just invite the neighborhood to your backyard for a potluck. Make it easier by asking your guests to bring their own serving ware, a dish to pass and a lawn chair. All you have to do is mow the lawn and make a salad.
Christmas Day. Yes, I was ecstatic! Cooper could care less, he's just thirsty.

8. If your darling son gave you a kayak for Christmas get out and USE IT! ;) That's my plan. I'm making sure we have a few weekends free so that The Boy and I are able to kayak!

I've only listed a few fun things to do in SE Minnesota. On the top of my summer's bucket list is the Shakespeare festival and many floats down the river, soaking in some sun in my new kayak. I'm looking forward enjoying not only my backyard but the areas just outside my "backyard".


  1. Thanks for this great list! In a week, We're heading Rochester way to visit family, and this is a great reminder of some of the fun things to share with the kids.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Stay-cation: Fun Things to Do Around Rochester, MN

Family vacations are expensive. Gas, lodging, meals...oh, and then there is the admission cost to all the cool things that you want to see. Vacations cost more than a small fortune. Now figure in the loss of income (some of us don't get paid vacations) and you've "broke the bank". Enter the stay-cation. Gas costs are reduced. Lodging is covered. Meals, although still necessary, can be made at home and packed in a cooler. This summer, instead of taking a week off, I am taking a couple long weekends. One weekend we will be traveling "Up North" to visit my husband's college buddy. Otherwise we're keeping our exploring near to home.

Another benefit to a stay-cation is a little extra time for home projects. I can keep up with the laundry, instead of having a week's worth of laundry to do when I return home. Isn't that the worst part of vacation - the accumulation of dirty clothes you have to wash after being away from home all week? Gardening can…

Homemade Facial Cleansing Pads

My son become a teenager last fall and has since had to battle with teenage acne. At first he seemed to wear it with pride. His acne was a sign for all to see that he had made a passage from boyhood to manhood. This "rite of passage" has grown old and has been replaced with another rite of passage. Vanity. He's willing to try all the acne products at Walmart despite the way his mother freaks out as she reads the labels. Not to mention the cost. Thus began my search for a natural, homemade acne treatment for my dear man-child.

Common sense told me to start with tea tree oil and witch hazel. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and witch hazel is a natural astringent. Both helpful in treating acne.

Witch Hazel
Tea Tree Oil
Cotton Rounds

1 cup water
1/2 cup witch hazel
10 drops of tea tree oil

Place cotton rounds in a container (I happened to have a small glass jar that the rounds fit perfectly in!) and top with mixture.

Day 27 ~ Italian Meatloaf in a (Freezer) Bag

Making meals ahead of time saves time, energy and stress as I discussed onDay 12. This is another meal that I prepared a few weeks ago when I made ten meals for the freezer. This recipe won my families approval so I can now share it with you! :) In a freezer bag combine: 2 lbs of ground beef (or turkey if you wish), 1/4 cup oatmeal, 2 T. Wildtree* Hearty Spaghetti Blend, 2 T. Wildtree*Rancher Steak Rub, 2 eggs. Now here's the fun part. Squish it all up to distribute the herbs into the meat. Label the bag and store in the freezer. Easy. Gathering supplies (if already on hand) and assembling this meal takes less then 15 minutes. The hard part is remembering ahead of time to take the meatloaf out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This is where sticky notes on the refrigerator come in handy.  When ready to bake, form into a loaf and bake for 50-55 minutes. Add marinara sauce during last 10-15 minutes of baking. 
While baking the meatloaf prepare the "topping&qu…