Adventure + Arts + Culture in Mankato’s City Center
City Center Mankato has blocks upon blocks of entertainment to enjoy, especially in summer. Whether your business assists seasonal travelers in finding things to do or you and your family want a much-needed stay-cation, Mankato provides the perfect summer retreat. Here are some of the top activities and events visitors and locals alike will appreciate.
Take It Outside
On milder summer days, Mankato can be counted on as being a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Get out on the river systems (360° virtual tour) for a day of kayaking, canoeing or stand-up paddle boarding. Let Bent River Outfitter be your guide for a leisurely float or a thrilling paddling experience. Many of Mankato’s bike trails run through the City Center (and for many miles beyond). Start your venture by renting your ride at Nicollet Bike Shop or by checking out the routes on your own two wheels.
Venture through the walkable CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour of 25+ sculptures in a variety of mediums. See and enjoy art out in the open on nice summer days. Sibley Park (360° virtual tour) , recognized as having one of the coolest playgrounds in the state, is the perfect spot for a picnic or stroll through the gardens. With the warm weather comes the addition of animals in the park’s petting zoo to fit in with the farm-themed playground.
Tastes & Tunes
When you hear “outdoor music,” think Vetter Stone Amphitheater (360° virtual tour) ! No matter if you come for the summer concert series or take in the abundance of delicious eats at Ribfest in August, the acclaimed venue (voted the Star Tribune’s No. 4 Best Outdoor Venue in Minnesota) ramps up your experience this year. “This summer, Vetter Stone Amphitheater will have new concrete risers with steps and lighted handrails, making it easier for people with disabilities to access and providing increased seating capacity,” said Eric Jones, the Mankato Center’s marketing manager. “The seating’s stone has been repurposed as a feature wall along the river, creating a dramatic visual element. All these new amenities combine to enhance the concert experience for patrons.”
What “hot new thing” in Mankato combines art, entertainment and food? It’s The Hub Food Park, of course! Located in Old Town Mankato (360° virtual tour) , it’s a green space for enjoying the weather, scrumptious grub from food trucks and live music. On the Fourth of July, The Hub will host a celebration like no other, including multiple trucks, and a great view of the Red, Hot, Boom fireworks.
Just down the way, Music in the Plaza makes its return to Front Street (360° virtual tour) . The summer Saturday series provides free live music in a family-friendly environment through the end of August. Kick back to blue grass or kick up your heels with classic rock at the 15th annual Songs on the Lawn every Thursday in June. Let’s not forget Alive After 5 for your after-hours entertainment. Music and an artisan & craft pop-up market grace the Civic Center Plaza lawn every Thursday evening in August. If a full-on music festival is what you seek, try out Blues on Belgrade or Mankato Solstice, complete with live bands, food trucks, Paddle Jam and kids talent competition.
Beat the Summer Heat
Summer becoming too much of a scorcher? Head to indoors to a cool local museum or gallery; there are plenty in City Center Mankato! Now open Fridays and Saturdays for the summer season, the R.D. Hubbard House offers two unique Gaslight Series, complete with costumed characters; one traces today’s superstitions to the Victorian era, while the other illustrates life during the Spanish influenza outbreak. The newest temporary exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (360° virtual tour) is sure to get your kids fired up. Through August, children can pretend to be an engineer, technician or production worker to get hands-on experience in a simulated manufacturing environment, all while in the chill comfort of the Museum.
Stop in to any of the local art galleries like the 410 Project, the Emy Frentz Art Guild at Twin Rivers Council for the Arts, or the Carnegie Art Center to view incredible works in summer-long exhibitions. Tour a historic neighborhood of Mankato while on the Lincoln Park Tour of Homes, which features the well-known Betsy-Tacy homes of author Maud Hart Lovelace and her best friend, Frances Kenney.
Retreat to the recesses of a movie theater or an escape room, both of which can be found in the City Center. Ciné Grand theater offers affordable movies with comfort-of-your-own-home viewing. No matter the weather, it’s always a cool experience with an escape room. Enter Kato Escape or and use your observational and critical-thinking skills to explore the elements of the room and use them to solve the puzzles that will allow you to escape.
For more things to do in Mankato, find other local attractions and activities. Go>
For more events in Greater Mankato, visit our events page. Go>
For a comprehensive list of events in Mankato, be sure to check the Greater Mankato Events Calendar. Go>