Edit ModuleShow Tags

Family Weekend in Mankato


Minneopa Falls in Mankato

Photo by johnsroad7 - fotolia

I’ll be honest. I would have never driven an hour and a half to spend a weekend in Mankato if it weren’t for my friends (and now their five-month old son) who lives there. Before the baby, my weekend trips to Mankato encompassed events typical for a college town—bars, dancing, and late night snacks all in one area along Front Street, just about a mile from Mankato State University.

Now that my friends have a little guy in tow, my latest visit introduced me to a new kind of Mankato—a city that’s welcoming for families to getaway for the weekend and experience the outdoors and new discoveries.

The drive from the cities is quick, even if you’ve got squirmy ones in booster seats behind you. Along the drive down Highway 169 in Le Sueur, you can point out the Jolly Green Giant that stands among the trees. The town is also the start of the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway where you’ll encounter bluffs and rocky landscape as you travel along the River. During our drive in late February, we spotted a few bald eagles making their migrations, so keep your eyes out!

The natural landscape continues in Mankato, where you can stop and admire the sites, go on a hike, or setup camp. We wished it was a bit warmer for our visit, but now that spring is officially on the way, you will want to add Minneopa State Park and Minneopa Falls on your to-do list, one of the most impressive natural sites in southern Minnesota.

Another outdoor destination a bit closer to town is Sibley Park (home of the popular Kiwanis Holiday Lights), where my friends and I took a walk with the baby while he slept soundly in his stroller. This park not only has farm-themed play equipment in exceptional condition, but in the springtime, it turns into a petting zoo! Ducks float in the pond, peacocks flaunt their colors, and the sheep are just begging to be pet (aren’t they the cutest?). During our visit, the park was quiet without the presence of the animals, but I look forward to returning and watching the baby interact with the critters.

Adults can play too! At Sibley Park in Mankato. Photo supplied.

The walk helped us work up an appetite so we went to Shogun Sushi and Hibachi to satisfy our fried rice and sake craving. Other spots to check out for a family dinner include Charley’s, Boulder Tap House (for beer enthusiasts), and Number 4, where on an past visit I ordered the Weekender signature Bloody Mary—a meal in itself. For dessert, Mom and Pop’s is as homey as it sounds, serving Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream from Madison. Its outdoor patio area is ideal for kids to eat and not worry about the mess.

If you get a night free of kids, head downtown where the action is, but my boyfriend and I opted for a quiet night around our hotel at the AmericInn. Right by the Mankato State campus, the hotel is in walking distance of several bars, restaurants, and cafes. We walked to a liquor store and on the way we discovered Insomnia Cookies. They deliver baked goodies until 3 a.m.! We stopped in to order some s’mores and double chocolate chip cookies.

The next morning we took the advice of friends and visited Friesen’s Family Bakery & Bistro on Riverfront Drive. On this Sunday morning, we easily found parking on the street, which was occupied by only one other car (ahhh…isn’t it nice to take a break from the Cities?). We ordered homemade sandwiches and soups, with bread made in-house. Despite my cookie indulgence the night before, I couldn’t help but order a chocolate chip cookie with my meal.

Just a block down the road we then checked out Coffee Hag. We intended on grabbing our beverages to go, but the darling baristas convinced us to stay for the jazz musician that would be starting in five minutes (what timing!). While sipping a chai tea latte, we listened to Hanna Cesario strum her ukulele. Leaving Coffee Hag was like trying to get out of bed on a Monday morning, but it was an idyllic end for an unexpectedly tranquil weekend away from the Cities.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Journeys: State Fair Royalty

Who better to talk about the State Fair than the princess of Minnesota’s Great Get-Together?
August 2018

Minnesota State Fair To-Do List

Your must-do list for all things Great Minnesota Get-Together
August 2018

Journeys: How to Love Baseball While Knowing Little to Nothing about It

Whether you’re a fan for life or an ultra casual like me, baseball is a sport for the summer
August 2018

A Gala Befitting Glensheen

At the Glensheen Gala, you can explore the gardens, see normally closed-off spots, and relish in the after party along Lake Superior
August 2018

Seven Days of California Adventure

New adventures await in California, even for Travel Club guide and travel editor Todd Walker
August 2018

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Traditional Powwow This Weekend

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe welcomes the public to enjoy traditional dancing, drum ceremonies, and contests
August 2018

A Day Trip to the North Loop

Just north and west of Target Field, North Loop has some of the best restaurants and shops in Minneapolis
August 2018

The Museum of Pizza Has Minnesota Ties

Todd about Town: New York's new museum dedicated to pizza came from a U of M alum
August 2018

Spa Central

When it comes to relaxation and rejuvenation, the Twin Cities do it right
August 2018

A Bay Area Break

Go on a worry-free, weeklong vacation to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Napa Valley, with the Minnesota Monthly Travel Club
August 2018

This Week’s Top Artist Picks

Sam Smith, Reba McEntire, and Rod Stewart come to Minnesota
August 2018

3 Fairs This Weekend

Celebrate Minnesota’s heritage—by raising a glass at the country’s biggest free Irish fair, by marveling at fierce lumberjack competitions, or by slipping into Civil War re-enactments
August 2018

Ramsey Falls: A Photo Essay

Picturesque bridges, four miles of hiking trails, a gorgeous waterfall, and more await at Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls
August 2018

Journeys: A Civil War Woman

Pipestone Civil War Days reenactor Kate Heller talks about what the festival is like, how she began reenacting, and how her Civil War Days wedding went
August 2018
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags