Med City: A Beginner’s Rochester Guide

By: Beth Erickson

January 20, 2014

If you like surprises, the city of Rochester, otherwise known as Med City, is sure to delight. For a city of 100,000 it has a decidedly metropolitan feel. Perhaps that’s because it hosts 2.7 million annual visitors, many who come from all over the world for care at Mayo Clinic. Take a look at our Rochester guide for a little more local information”¦

This bustling city on the prairie lies on the banks of the Zumbro River and has a history of innovation, attracting some of the brightest minds in medicine, computer engineering, architecture, and more. The city’s forward thinking extends to its expertly designed subway and skyway system, which makes pedestrian travel a breeze. Below the streets, are wide, airy corridors where people can walk, shop, and dine. Two floors above, the skyways offer the same – a two-and-a-half-mile system that means you don’t have to step foot outside, which is especially nice when the snow flies.


Silver Lake | Med City | Rochester Guide

Silver Lake Park rents boats and bikes © Olive Juice Studios

Bikers, walkers, and runners of all abilities flock to the city’s 85 miles of paved trails. The Quarry Hill Nature Center and Silver Lake Park offer additional outdoor opportunities for hiking, boating, bird watching, kayaking, and more.


Med City | Rochester Guide

The famous Boy and Dolphin sculpture in Rochester’s Annenberg Plaza © Chad Johnson

If the architecture and origins of the area interest you, satisfy your need-to-know at The History Center of Olmsted County. Explore Mayo’s strong local history by touring Mayowood Mansion, Plummer House, and Assisi Heights. Mayowood is a 3,000-acre estate atop a wooded hillside and the former home of Mayo co-founder Dr. Charles H. Mayo. Another famous Mayo physician, Dr. Charles Plummer, was the mastermind behind the Plummer House, built in 1917, which includes many stunning innovations that remain in working order. Assisi Heights is home to the Sisters of St. Francis who founded St. Marys Hospital, now part of Mayo Clinic. It offers beautifully landscaped grounds and Italian Romanesque architecture.


Mayo Clinic | Flower City | Rochester Guide

Drs. Will and Charlie Mayo founded the Mayo Clinic © Ron Bennett

For a lively history lesson, garden or romantic night tour, the Rochester Trolley & Tour Company is the ticket. Depending on the time of year, you might even be able to board the haunted Rochester or holiday lights tour.


Shoppers like the city for its brand name retail stores and local shops with everything from eclectic finds to specialty, high-end products. Explore Apache Mall or the Shops at University Square. Go antiquing or hoof it among the downtown shops.


And when your palate prompts, Rochester pleases with an array of international, upscale, and casual dining options. But what the city is really famous for is its rich, tangy, mouth-watering barbeque joints like John Hardy’s Bar-B-Que and Roscoe’s Barbeque.


Med City | Rochester Guide

Night settles gently on the downtown Peace Plaza © Chad Johnson

When the sun goes down, the city pulses with a new vibe. Sip a Grand Salted Caramel Old Fashion at The Loop, enjoy throwback cocktails at the Doggery, an underground speakeasy and cocktail lounge, grab a craft beer on the rooftop patio of the Tap House, or shoot some pool at Top Shots.


Partnering with Delta allows us to connect you to and from a selection of destinations across the United States and Canada, making it even simpler to book flights to Rochester.


Have you ever paid a visit to Med City? What’s your favourite Rochester pasttime? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Written by Beth Erickson


Beth Erickson

Beth Erickson is owner of Jobe Communications, LLC, ( a writing, editing, and creative concept company. She lives near Rochester, MN, and visits the city frequently for work and play. She also loves to go fishing and hiking on the Mississippi River with her family.

Categories: Our Places