Beat the heat

For a lot of youngsters, teens and even college students, August triggers a primal "I’m bored!" reflex reminiscent of waiting around for school to start so they can see friends on a daily basis again. Even adults and parents may find themselves wondering what to do after a long day at work and on the weekends.

Fortunately, southeastern Minnesota’s got it all. If you’re stuck in a late-summer rut, don’t worry. Check out some of the items from our to-do list for Rochester and the surrounding area.


Thursdays on First & Third

With music, shopping, art and more, it’s hard to beat Thursdays on First & Third. From belly dancing to cupcakes and the blues to cocktails, more than 100 vendors offer food and crafts, and live entertainment performs on dual stages at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.


Starting every Thursday at 11 a.m. through Sept. 2, the summer market and music festival transforms downtown Rochester. Admission is free.

For more information, call (507) 424-2866, e-mail or visit .

Zumbro River

OK, so it’s not exactly cruising the beautiful blue Danube or the famous river Seine, but southeastern Minnesota’s sleepy waterway is still pretty awesome. Floating down the river in a canoe or inner tube just might be the quintessential summer activity — especially when those canoes or tubes are linked together, barge-style, and stocked with sunblock and plenty of cold beverages.

Canoe and kayak rentals are available in Oronoco (Boulder Dam Canoe & Kayak Rental) and canoe and tube rentals are available in Goodhue (Zumbro Valley Canoe Rental); both offer shuttle services back to your vehicle once you’ve floated your leg of the river.

Just remember, no matter how hot the weather is, the life-jacket look is always in fashion.

Three Rivers Wine Trail

You don’t have to be a wine snob to appreciate good, fermented grape juice, and you don’t have to fly out to California, either. Minnesota has its own version of wine country, thanks to five of the state’s oldest wineries that have paired together to form the Three Rivers Wine Trail.


Travelers and tasters along the trail can collect stamps in a Three Rivers passport (the closest destinations to us are the Cannon River Winery in Cannon Valley and Falcon Heights Winery in Red Wing), that when filled earns the owner a free glass of wine and the chance to win a wine gift basket.

Wineries along the trail host events such as Federweisser & Roter Rauscher Festival, a German festival celebrating the harvest, Halloween Wine-O-Ween, with complimentary wine tasting for people in costumes, and Cheese and Chocolate Weekend, with cheese from local dairies paired with local artisan chocolate.

Visit for more information.

Chester Woods

Escape the city and take a walk in the woods, or the beach. Located seven miles east of Rochester, this county park offers a sunny spot to swim on Chester Lake, the headwaters of Bear Creek, along with canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals and seven picnic shelters.

If you end up getting more sun than you bargained for, the park also offers 15 miles of shady trails for hikers and horses and cross-country skiing in the winter.

Rochester Honkers Sports Deck

Sure, the Twins have a new outdoor stadium, but Rochester has had outdoor baseball for years.


Adults will enjoy the unlimited hamburgers, brats, hot dogs, pulled chicken, pulled pork, baked beans, popcorn, pop and beer available for $28 for a ticket.

There’s just something refreshing about watching athletes who play for the love of it, not for millions of dollars per game.

Goonie’s Comedy Club

Rochester has a lot of bars, but Goonie’s stands apart as the only comedy club in town. It features two chances to laugh every Friday and Saturday, in addition to open mic nights on Thursdays.

Tickets for weekend performances are $13 in advance, $15 at the door. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces get in free. Call 288-8130 or go to .

Quarry Hill

Rochesterites are pretty lucky to live in a town with such extensive parks — just about anywhere you are in town, you’re never far from a patch of green. One spot that tops the list is the 320-acre Quarry Hill.

With landscapes ranging from oak savanna to limestone quarry and paths both paved and natural, the park is the perfect spot to for a peaceful stroll or a rugged hike. The combination of nature and history makes for an appealing afternoon.

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