Journeys: Baseball and Bridges

Even with very little time to explore, a trip to Rochester was nothing but pleasant

A bridge extending over water at Silver Lake Park in Rochester, Minnesota.
Silver Lake Park

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Jennifer Pelletier had her list of things to bring to her son’s baseball games down pat: lawn chair, sunblock, water, peanuts, and sunflowers. (As she puts it, “Sunflower seeds are the ultimate 13-year-old baseball boy’s snack.” Her son’s favorite flavor? Barbecue, although dill pickle is also a popular choice among the team.) What was less certain was what spending a weekend in Rochester would be like during a tournament in 2017.

“It was a big tournament, 16 teams from the metro and the state, and it was a Friday to Sunday type of deal,” Pelletier says. “The field, it was so beautiful. It was a glorious complex, a bit away from downtown, yet close by. I just loved the tone of everything. Downtown was way more urban and cosmopolitan than I expected; I thought it would be like Bloomington, but it has a downtown. This is for sure because of Mayo, and the U of M’s new satellite school, but it really has a vibrant downtown. Everywhere we drove, we saw arts and culture. We saw [signs for] plays, music, music festivals.”

The pedestrian subways surprised her, too, as did the commerce and the activity that they brought with them. Everything seemed walkable, and everything seemed clean despite the hustle and bustle.

While she didn’t do much tourism exploration—she had 25 innings of baseball to watch—she did stop at Porch restaurant and enjoyed delicious fried chicken, dipping sauce, and some craft beers. And, without trying, she also found Silver Lake Park near downtown Rochester.

“The bridges were the prettiest things I’ve seen in ages. There were tons of bridges just stretching across the water. You’d be in the parking lot, and you’d see a bridge here, a bridge there, and a bridge there. … The park was the most calming place, just a lovely, unique part of the weekend. It was definitely a gathering place for the community and those visiting. You could tell they spent a lot of time protecting what they have, capitalizing on the open space.”

“It’s a really happy environment to be in, very family-friendly,” she says. “Honestly, it is.”