Top Things to Do in the Fall in Mankato
There is always something to look forward to during every season in Greater Mankato and fall is no exception. Continue reading for some of our favorite fall experiences this year.
1. Trek through the autumn-colored trails
There’s no better way to discover the exquisite fall colors of Mankato than by taking a bike ride on some of the more notable trails. In Mankato, where the motto, “It’s all so close!”, you’ll find multiple bike trails that connect to every corner of the city and surrounding area. The 34-mile long Red Jacket Trail is among the most popular biking routes, taking cyclists through the historic City Center, past a 39-foot waterfall and by various scenic lakes. During fall, when the leaves change to breathtaking shades of gold, red and orange, a bike ride through the area will have anyone feeling as if they’ve wandered into a Thomas Kinkade painting. Sakatah Singing Hills provides a more challenging ride with a hillier terrain that spans 15 miles. Along the way, you will find plenty of restaurants and shops in which you can break for lunch and leisure.
2. Ride in a Scenic Bike Race
Meet cyclists from the Twin Cities and surrounding communities October 10 at the Mankato River Ramble, a race that includes both off-road paved trails and country roads. Various routes—from 12 to 50 miles with different scenic views—are there for the choosing. There’s everything from cycling through the state park to the 26-mile “Pie Run,” with an array of mouth-watering pies alluring you to the finish line. Plan to enter this Sunday race and stay the weekend for a full range of Mankato fall fun.
3. Visit the Children’s Museum
Those traveling with kids will want to check out the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. Designed for children from toddler to pre-teens age, the museum has everything to pique their curiosity. The museum’s purpose is to allow children to live and act like “adults” with play stations full of props where they can pretend to be farmers, grocery store owners and doctors. Outside in the live petting zoo, they can meet and greet livestock like ducklings, goats, cows and pigs. A staff member will give lessons on the behind-the-scenes process of what it takes to farm and to raise animals. And if your kids live on the thrill-seeking side, an indoor treehouse with two stories full of nets and ropes will keep them entertained for hours.
4. Participate in the Mankato Marathon
Give back to the community by being part of a cheer team at or by entering to run the Mankato Marathon October 15-16. Dubbed Minnesota’s top marathon worth traveling for by Trip Advisor, the marathon allows people of all ages and handicap to join in, participating in a full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, Toddler Trot, KidsK or Diaper Dash. All proceeds go to local charities like Committee Against Domestic Abuse, YMCA LIVESTRONG, Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota, and more. If running isn’t your thing, consider volunteering. There are a number of different activities and ways to help out, including being a part of the cheer team: make signs, dress up in costume and cheer your support for the runners.
5. Step back in time with History Fest
Fire eaters, belly dancers, singers and cannon ball shooters—you can find it all at History Fest at McGowan’s Farm October 9. The farm is known for its mixture of old Western-style buildings and play stations for families. During History Fest, the place teems with talented carnival-like professionals performing as living reenactors; a harpist will play in a saloon; a cowboy will show off his lassoing tricks; and a cobbler will demonstrate the art of shoe making. For a spooky experience, meet the Grave Digger, who will tell you the history of diseases and death, and a woman who specializes in quack medicine methods called “brain tanning.”
6. Go grape stomping
Learn the art of grape stomping, old-school style, at Indian Island Winery’s annual Grape Stomp this fall. Live music will be played throughout the event September 11 while four teams of two players will compete for the best grape-stomping results. Attendees who are not participating in the stomping can enjoy the dozens of vendors scattered throughout the winery and partake in a costume contest. Indian Island Winery will have its seasonal spice wine available as well. The winery’s campfire is the perfect fall spot to enjoy its drinks. Morgan Creek Winery is hosting another fall event called STOMP! New Ulm Morgan Creek Vineyards Annual Oktoberfest Grape Stomp October 2 that involves grape stomping, too. However, the festivities are celebrated a bit differently—with belly dancers, traditional Morris dancers and wood-fired pizzas served to participants. The winery is known for specializing in German, French and American-style wines. You’ll know you’ve come to the right place when you spot an oversized oak tree looming over the lush vineyards.6
7. Experience the Mahkato Pow Wow
From September 17-19, Mankato will play host to the annual Mahkato Pow Wow, an event that celebrates the lives and heritage of the Native Americans who inhabited the land. Located at Land of Memories Park, the Pow Wow will be packed with native dancers in full traditional attire, showing off their best moves in the middle of a drum circle. Multiple vendors will sell their best Native American goods, and designated kids areas will entice children to get creative with arts and crafts while learning about the history of the land. Guests can explore the teepees and watch live entertainment, including a bird show. Come early to watch the Wacipi Breakfast and enjoy some fried eggs before starting your day.