Rochester Local

Things to Do in Downtown Rochester With a Bit of Free Time

This guide is sponsored by Rochester Downtown Alliance

Downtown Rochester, Minnesota, offers a dynamic array of activities and attractions that cater to residents and visitors alike. From cultural experiences to outdoor adventures and everything in between, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this vibrant downtown area. Make sure you stay up-to-date on all the events by visiting the event calendar frequently!




photo by Rochester Art Center


Art4Trails is a unique public art initiative in Rochester, Minnesota, that combines the beauty of nature with the creativity of local artists. This project aims to enhance the city’s extensive trail system by integrating art installations along the pathways, providing residents and visitors with an enriching outdoor experience. Art4Trails features temporary and permanent sculptures.  Click here for a map of the permanent sculptures.

As you stroll along the trails, you’ll encounter a diverse array of artworks, ranging from sculptures and installations to murals and interactive pieces. Each artwork is thoughtfully placed within the natural landscape, complementing the surroundings and creating unexpected moments of beauty and inspiration.

Art Heads Emporium

319 Broadway Avenue S, Rochester MN | (507) 319-0117

Art Heads Emporium | photo courtesy of Art Heads Emporium
Art Heads Emporium in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, is a lively and eclectic artistic destination that captures the essence of the city’s vibrant cultural scene. Situated in the heart of the downtown area, this unique establishment is more than just a gallery—it’s a dynamic hub where art enthusiasts, collectors, and creators come together to celebrate creativity in all its forms. Art Heads regularly hosts creative workshops such as guided painting, candle-making, artistic collage, jewelry-making, and more.  Check their calendar for a complete listing of events. 

Visit the Heart of the City

Peace Plaza in downtown Rochester MN

heart of the city
Peace Plaza in Heart of the City | photo by ab-photography.us

The Heart of the City is a gathering place; a space where the Rochester MN community comes together to celebrate, participate, observe, learn, and just be together.

The Heart of the City is alive with a vibrancy that reflects the diversity of our city.  Steps away are Methodist Hospital and the Gonda Building where children are born and lives are saved every day. The Historic Chateau Theatre, operated by Threshold Arts, curates and hosts collaborative programming with a wide variety of partner organizations.

Public art is one of the core foundations for the Heart of the City. Public, community artwork allows residents and visitors to have both shared and individual experiences. There are several art installations within the Peace Plaza and this Heart of the City Family Activity invites you to explore these artworks further.


309 Broadway Ave S, Rochester, MN | (507) 206-3298

Treedome is a multi-disciplinary Creative Studio & Storefront. Offering music video production and show curation, Treedome is also a music venue, vinyl record shop, vintage clothing store, and more.  Visit Treedome to roam its eclectic offerings and browse the various prints, gifts, sneakers, and more.

Treedome has been recognized as a music and arts supporter through work with arts organizations, music festivals, musicians, and promotors throughout the region. The shop brings together traditional skate and street culture with the local music scene, and bespoke pieces.


The Machine Shed

11 2nd St NE, Rochester MN | (507) 258-6501


downtown activities
The Machine Shed | photo by CHOOCHOO-ca-CHEW

The Machine Shed Arcade in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, is a retro-inspired gaming destination that offers a nostalgic trip back in time for visitors of all ages. Located amidst the vibrant downtown area, this arcade is a haven for gamers and enthusiasts seeking classic arcade games and modern entertainment alike.

One of the highlights of the Machine Shed Arcade is its extensive collection of classic arcade games from the golden era of gaming. Visitors can enjoy iconic titles such as Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, and Street Fighter, providing a nostalgic trip down memory lane for seasoned gamers and a fun introduction to retro gaming for younger generations.

Thursdays Downtown (June – August)

1st Avenue Southwest, 3rd Street Southwest, and Peace Plaza
downtown activities
Thursdays Downtown | photo by ab-photography.us


Once we officially enter the summer season in Rochester MN, it means the return of one of our most beloved local outdoor festivals – Thursdays Downtown. This outdoor street festival occurs in downtown Rochester MN every Thursday throughout the summer from 11:00 AM – 8:30 PM.  There is so much to see and do: this expansive food, drink, craft, and artisan market stretches several city blocks.  1st Avenue Southwest and Northwest, 3rd Street Southwest, and Peace Plaza. Rochester MN residents are proud of our city and this festival celebrates our community.


Rochester Art Center

30 Civic Center Dr SE, Rochester MN | (507) 722-2552

downtown activities

The Rochester Art Center, located in Rochester, Minnesota, is a vibrant cultural hub that celebrates contemporary art and fosters creative expression within the community. Situated in downtown Rochester, the art center serves as a dynamic space where artists, enthusiasts, and the public come together to engage with diverse exhibitions, programs, and events. Rochester Art Center is attached to Mayo Civic Center and is a great place to enjoy the beauty of Downtown Rochester cityscape, the Zumbro River, and Mayo Memorial Park. Parking is free after 5 PM on weekdays and on weekends. Additionally, there are many more ways to experience and introduce kids to art in Rochester, MN!


SEMVA Art Gallery

20 2nd Ave SW, Rochester, MN | (507) 281-4920

The Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artists (SEMVA) started in 1991 as an opportunity for regional artists to network, better their craft, and market their creations. Over 50 local artists are featured at SEMVA to offer this one-of-a-kind art gallery. The artwork encompasses jewelry, photography, pottery, glass, woodworking, sculpture, wearable art, and much more. Stop by to take a look and when you find something you cannot pass up, remember that all artwork is available for purchase.



Historic Chateau Theatre

Peace Plaza, downtown Rochester MN

downtown activities
Historic Chateau Theatre | photo by: ab-photography.us

Originally constructed in 1927, the Chateau Theatre was designed by renowned architect Ellerbe Architects, featuring an exquisite blend of French Renaissance and Art Deco architectural styles. Its striking facade is adorned with intricate details, including ornate carvings, elegant columns, and a grand marquee that lights up the night sky, inviting guests to step into a world of enchantment and wonder. Currently, the Chateau Theatre is open during scheduled events. Check the events calendar to see a list of current offerings!  At the very least, stop and take your photo in front of the marquee.


Mayo Clinic Art Tour

200 1st Street SW, Rochester MN | (507) 284-5520

Chihuly Glass – Gonda Building | Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic offers a variety of tours to learn about the interesting history and heritage of the institution. Learn about the artwork found across the Mayo Clinic Campus on a Mayo Clinic Art Tour. Many of the pieces have been donated and come with unique stories. The tours are for patients and their guests on the day(s) of medical appointments. Mayo Clinic Art Tours begin and end at Heritage Hall in the Matthews Grand Lobby of the Mayo Clinic. Self-guided tour brochures are also available at the information desk.


Rochester Public Library

101 2nd Street SE, Rochester MN | (507) 328-2300

rochester public library
Rochester Public Library

When you need a reprieve from tournament games or medical appointments, the  Rochester Public Library (RPL) is a place where you can find a wide variety of programs and services for all ages throughout the week. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the library and pick up a temporary library card or gain internet access. Check their schedule of events for a robust offering of things to do. Don’t forget to visit the Friends of the Rochester Public Library used bookstore! Located in the heart of Downtown Rochester, RPL is connected via the pedestrian skyway/subway system from Mayo Civic Center and Mayo Clinic Campus. Parking is free after 5 PM and on weekends.



Explore Flavors at Downtown Rochester MN Restaurants

table with candles
Redwood Room | Downtown Rochester MN


Dining in downtown Rochester, MN offers a delightful culinary experience that reflects the city’s diverse community and vibrant culture. From upscale restaurants to cozy cafes and casual eateries, there’s something to suit every taste and occasion in this bustling downtown area.

One of the defining features of dining in downtown Rochester is the variety of cuisines available. Visitors can explore a wide range of culinary traditions, from American comfort food and Italian classics to Asian fusion and global cuisine. Many restaurants in the area pride themselves on using locally sourced ingredients, showcasing the flavors of the region, and supporting local farmers and producers.



Shopping in Downtown Rochester MN

downtown activities
Shopping in Downtown Rochester MN | photo by ab-photography.us

All within an easily walkable 44-block district, you’ll discover charming, on-trend boutiques, seek-and-find antiques, and everything in between. Find what you’re looking for while shopping in downtown Rochester, MN!

Shopping in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, offers a unique experience, with a variety of boutiques, specialty shops, and local stores to explore. From fashion-forward clothing boutiques to charming gift shops and everything in between, downtown Rochester has something for every shopper’s taste and style.

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