Full of gorgeous nature, interesting history, stimulating culture, and TANKS (yes, like the armored fighting vehicles), North Mankato, Minnesota literally has something for everyone. Read on for more detailed information about the great things to do in North Mankato and what this town has in store for you.
First on our list of great things to do in North Mankato is to visit the Mankato Brewery. Since 2012, Mankato Brewery has been producing consistently high-quality, locally made beer. They are a traditional full production brewery and you can stop in and see the system through a big, clear view in their Tap Room. While they’re not a restaurant, they’ve got snacks for sale in the Tap Room, or you’re welcome to order food and have it delivered there.
Mankato Brewery has something for everyone, and if you want to try more than one of their beers, you can get a “Super Flight” to try out seven of their most popular brews. There are also a lot of local restaurants that sell their brewed beer and you can use the Beer Finder on their website to go and support two local businesses at the same time!
North Links Golf Course
North Links Golf Course features a traditional, prairie-style layout with multi-tiered and rolling greens, sure to be a challenge for golfers of all abilities. It is open to the public and provides extensive practice facilities, a full-service banquet facility, and a fully stocked Golf Shop.
If you’re a local and looking for a beautiful place to use as a wedding venue, give them a visit! The banquet facilities provide panoramic views of the golf course with patio areas both indoor and outdoor to give you event a little extra ambiance. Events can be held indoors or outdoors, depending on what you’re looking for and the weather.
Circle Inn Bar
If you’re looking for an evening out with friends among the many fun things to do in North Mankato, meet the gang at Circle Inn Bar. Circle Inn Bar is your friendly neighborhood bar in Lower North Mankato. They provide a wide range of tap beers, a large liquor selection, and a huge variety of canned and bottled options. In addition to great drinks in a great, friendly environment, they also have live music almost daily. There’s a large outdoor patio to gather on when the weather is nice as well. They have regular fun, local things happening regularly, including open mic nights, so make sure you check out their Facebook page to see what’s happening this week!
Drive A Tank
For a once in a lifetime experience, you absolutely need to check out Drive a Tank! It’s exactly what it sounds like— you get to drive a real, functioning, live tank! Since 2006, Drive a Tank has been giving civilians the opportunity to see what it’s like to maneuver a tank. There are several packages to choose from, but all include training, driving a real tank through the woods in a challenging course, and visiting a gun range to shoot a machine gun.
There are even add-on options where you can crush an actual car with a tank or even drive a tank through a house! I’m not sure if or when you’d find this opportunity anywhere else, so it’s definitely something you should explore while you’re in North Mankato, Minnesota!
Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota
The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota features regularly scheduled art and science activities that the entire family can enjoy! Some of the indoor exhibits include a tree made of tree forts, a vertical wind tunnel, and an interactive quarry. Infants and toddlers can enjoy the play porch, while preschoolers will love climbing the tree forts and getting their hands dirty in the quarry.
School-aged children can venture up to Cecil’s Imagineering Loft in the Mezzanine, which provides a variety of tools and materials for investigation into the world of STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. There are always seasonal exhibits changing, so make sure you check their website before visiting to see what they’re offering currently!
Minneopa State Park
Next on our list of great things to do in North Mankato is a trip to Minneopa State Park. “Minneopa” comes from the Dakota language and is interpreted as “water falling twice,” referring to the amazing waterfalls inside Minneopa State Park. Walk the hiking trail encircling the falls and leading down to the valley below. Continue up the path and enjoy a panoramic view of the entire valley. There’s also a wind-driven grist mill, Seppmann Mill, built in the 1860s from native lumber and stone to explore.
Minneopa is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Depending on the time of year, you may see the eastern bluebird, western meadowlark, or even an American bald eagle. One of the most interesting things you can do, that your whole family is sure to love, is take a trip down their Bison Drive. Minneopa State Park is home to the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd and every Thursday through Tuesday you can drive among them. Not only are you getting an up-close view of an amazing animal, but you get to play a part in the conservation of a threatened native species.
Sibley Park is a very family-friendly destination in North Mankato! There’s something for everyone to enjoy. It’s been around since 1887 and has served as a community center ever since. They offer over two miles of walking trails in varying difficulty, fishing in the Minnesota River, wide-open spaces to run, picnic tables under picnic shelters, a storybook farm-themed playground, and even a petting zoo! Sibley Farm includes alpacas, calves, goats, horses, peacocks, lambs, pigs, ducklings, and chicks for your family to watch and pet daily from mid-spring through early fall.
In the valleys created by the Le Sueur, Blue Earth, and Minnesota rivers, Mount Kato is in the perfect geographical position to be excellent terrain for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and snow tubing! They offer 19 different trails for varying skill levels with 8 chairlifts to get to them, conveyor lifts for a beginners area and a tubing park, a full-service rental shop, and multiple food options with a food court and a Life Bar & Grill.
If you’ve never been skiing or snowboarding before, Mount Kato also offers a certified ski and snowboard school to help teach you the ropes. If you’re visiting during the summer, the skiing trails double as bike trails!
Mankato Symphony Orchestra
For 60 years, the Mankato Symphony Orchestra has been entertaining and educating the community with music. They have three recurring events. First, they’ve got their “symphony series,” where a full orchestra presents a range of pieces from classical, all the way to current popular hits. They also have “music on the hill,” which is a smaller, more intimate setting where a chamber group of two to six musicians with special guests perform powerful pieces. And lastly, they have FREE family performances!
The family performances are 45 minutes long and are perfect for younger children who want to dance, clap, and participate in the music. The first two events are for guests 13 years and older. All ages are welcome at the family performances. You can find their schedule right here to see if they’ve got a performance coming up!
Javens Family Vineyard and Winery
Next, let’s enjoy a refreshing adult beverage at Javens Family Vineyard and Winery, one of the great things to do in North Mankato. A completely family-owned and operated winery, Javens Family Vineyard and Winery produces award-winning wines made completely from Minnesota-grown grapes. Since being established in 2010, the vineyard has quadrupled in size and is now about 8 acres big. The entire family is involved in the vineyard in some form, from planting and watering to pruning and harvesting—even the kids! Talk about learning the value of hard work!
You can head to the winery and try some of their amazing, locally grown, harvested, and made wine in their tasting room overlooking the vineyard. They do close during the winter, so check their website to find their current hours before heading there!
Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail
Using segments from two different rail lines that were built into Mankato, Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is the ultimate trail for nature lovers in North Mankato. The blacktopped trail covers 39 miles between Mankato and Faribault, following along pastures, farmland, and several lakes. It will also take you through three small towns and a forested state park. Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is perfect for biking and hiking and is groomed for snowmobiles in the winter. You can also travel the path on horseback or cross country skiing if those sound fun to you!
Blue Earth County Historical Society
Neighboring Blue Earth County has decided that the history of the area cannot go forgotten. Taking a modern approach to preserving and sharing history about the region, the History Center highlights the heritage of the area and what has made it what it is today. The displays and exhibits work hard to bring Minnesota history to life and desire to inspire everyone who interacts with them to personally connect to history. There is an interactive pioneer cabin and barn and a diorama of 1880s Mankato.
The nearby R.D. Hubbard House is a home frozen in time that the Society also manages. It was the first local private residence to have electricity, a telephone connection, and indoor plumbing, which leaves it being a beautiful mix of old and “new” that is still in pristine condition and gives guests an image of what life was like in a different time.
Where will you be visiting?
Now that you know some of the great things to do in North Mankato, Minnesota, and its surrounding area, what are you most excited to visit? Are you going to be brushing up on your history facts or learning to drive a tank? Maybe you’re seeing the sights on a hiking trail or enjoying a beverage in a tasting room with friends? Let us know in the comments! And let us know if you know of something we didn’t mention here. We always love learning more about Life in Minnesota!
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.