If it’s fresh air and adventure you seek, you’ve found it. Mankato is a designated “bronze” Bike Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists, Washington, D.C. The confluence of local, county and state trails culminates into over 50 miles of paved trails, nestled in a scenic river valley for cyclists and runners. Energize your soul by cycling to a nearby winery, kayaking the Minnesota River or skiing the slopes of Mount Kato. You’ll find a plethora of invigorating outdoor adventures in Mankato all year round.
Top things to do outdoors in Mankato. Go>
10 of the Best Ways to Explore Greater Mankato by Land. Go>
Hiking in Greater Mankato. Go>
Along the beautiful Minnesota River, state and local parks and trails dot the river valley, inviting you to get out and explore the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway. Go>
Bring Your Bicycles
Greater Mankato has more than 50 miles of paved trails for a nice family bike ride; miles of scenic, low-traffic, wide-shouldered country roads; and mountain biking opportunities at the Kiwanis Park and Fort Le Hillier Mountain Bike Trails. The more experienced mountain biker will also enjoy the trails at Mount Kato. Learn More. Go>
Rolling Down the River
Pack a Picnic
Mankato is home to more than 600 acres of quality parks and recreation areas featuring a wide variety of facilities including playgrounds, scenic trails, ponds for fishing and swimming, farm animal petting zoo and lots of green space to have a picnic. Don’t leave town without visiting one of our many parks. Learn more. Go>
Get on the Green
Whether a classic golf green or a thrilling disc golf course, Mankato has many options for getting out on the green. Learn more. Go>
Discover Art on the Street
Spend your day exploring downtown Mankato’s outdoor art scene. CityArt is a special project that includes 30 art sculptures from talented artists around the world that have been installed on different corners of the city sidewalks in the core of the City Center. Go on a self-guided walking tour with a downloadable brochure to see the impressive display of statues and sculptures of cubist nudes, abstract pieces, dinosaurs and more. At the end of the tour, you can opt to vote for your favorite sculpture by using the ballot next to your chosen piece. CityArt On the Go exhibits colorful traffic signal box murals in City Center Mankato, turning infrastructure to CityArt On the Go. The newest form of public art in Mankato is poetry posted on signs in our numerous parks and along our miles of recreational trails. Learn more. Go>
Venture Out with Hunting
Whether it’s for deer, turkey, pheasant and or waterfowl, Mankato is a great area for hunting. Within 20 miles of Mankato, there are more than 9,100 acres of public hunting ground. The city was also host to the 2015 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Just 15 minutes from Mankato is legendary Swan Lake. At more than 10,000 acres, it is considered North America’s largest prairie pothole. Its 70 miles of shoreline, along with many shallow bogs, points and islands, offer some of the best waterfowl hunting in the state. Learn more. Go>
Catch a Fish
Anglers looking for a unique and relaxing fishing experience will be rewarded with the time they spend on the Minnesota River. A recent sampling of the river by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources included 54 species of fish, including walleye, sauger, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, muskellunge, flathead and channel catfish, crappies and shovelnose sturgeon. The river is becoming well known for producing trophy flathead catfish that can exceed 40 pounds. It is also one of the few places where sauger can be caught in the southern part of the state.
Visit a Historic Farm
Visit a sod-roof home and log cabin from the 1850s, then experience a one-room schoolhouse and a 1930s historic farm site complete with big red barn and farm animals at Farmamerica, just 20 minutes east of Mankato off Hwy 14. Visitors can take a guided or self-guided tour, bike, run, or walk on the ¾-mile paved trail as they experience the prairie and farm.
Be Entertained with Outdoor Concerts
Enjoy the warm summer air while listening to music at an outdoor concert in Riverfront Park. Home to outdoor Vetter Stone Amphitheater, the park is ranked among the best concert venues in the state and has hosted big-name musicians like Willie Nelson, Old Crow Medicine Show and Merle Haggard. Concerts are set up to surround the stage, allowing every seat at the amphitheater to have a great view. Regular performances include local choirs and the symphony orchestra..
Drive a Tank
Experience an extreme adventure at Drive A Tank, the nation’s only venue where civilians can drive real military tanks and shoot at an indoor gun range. Drive A Tank is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity perfect for a group or an individual to experience adrenaline-inducing, quasi-military adventures. With eight authentic military tanks and several military vehicles that have been used in actual combat, you can drive a tank in a combat scenario and run over just about anything that gets in your way like cars and mobile homes. Learn more. Go>
Mankato never goes into winter hibernation. Outdoor winter sports in Mankato get you exploring great hills and trails on skis, snowshoes, sleds, snowmobiles and snow bikes. Learn more. Go>
Conquer the Slopes
Ski, snowboard or tube at Mount Kato. Whether you are experienced or need a few lessons, Mount Kato has everything you need for a fun day with the family including, 19 trails, eight chair lifts, four terrain parks, a two-level chalet with food service, a full service rental shop and The Lift Bar. In the off-season, bring your bike and experience the mountain biking trails at Mount Kato. Learn More. Go>
Flock to Mankato for Bird-watching
The birds are singing, and they are a sight to see. Bring your binoculars for an afternoon hike through the trails of Seven Mile Creek or for a stroll around the picturesque Minneopa State Park waterfalls. With ample prairies, parks and wetlands to explore, Mankato and the Minnesota River Valley area are great destinations for a bird-watching excursion. Learn more. Go>