24 Hours of Bike Vacation Bliss in Rochester

By Brian Fanelli

rochester art center bike path

Rochester is broadly known for the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, but you don’t need to be checked-in to check out this extraordinary Minnesota bike-vacation destination. The Med City has a robust network of bike trails, Minnesota’s newest bike-sharing system, and enough bike-friendly restaurants, breweries, museums and public plazas to satisfy all your vacation desires. Biking in Rochester reveals a city full of world-class urban amenities without the complications, long lines and high costs of a bigger city. So grab your helmet and follow us on a whirlwind 24 hour bike-vacation in Rochester!

peace plaza from overhead
Peace Plaza, photo by Kirsten Alana

No bike? No problem. Start your biking vacation by renting a Nice Ride at Peace Plaza, the crown jewel of downtown Rochester. Peace Plaza is a focal point for all things shopping, events and street-art in Rochester. Whether it’s hosting a summer concert series, an annual dog show, or a group bike ride, there’s always something unique happening at Peace Plaza!

While you’re downtown, pick up a coffee at Café Steam or Old Abe’s Coffee Bike before heading to the Rochester Farmer’s Market to pore over its overflowing selection of baked goods, cheeses, produce, farm crafts, flowers and plants. You’ll likely be tempted to buy some of everything, and although your appetite may limit you, your bike will not. Each Nice Ride is equipped with a sturdy front basket, ideal for farmer’s market indulgences.

From there it’s just a short jaunt to the incredible, 329-acre Quarry Hill Nature Center. Wildlife is abound at Quarry Hill, home to 35 Minnesota-native animals, a 1700 gallon aquarium with seven varieties of fish, and two raptors! The adjacent Quarry Hill Park features paved and hiking trails, a pond, and a historical man-made sandstone cave. Photography lovers, don’t forget to bring your cameras!

By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite, and it’s only a fifteen minute ride to the award winning Tonic Local Kitchen and Juice Bar. Tonic serves up one-of-a-kind organic juice blends, hearty breakfasts, wraps, salads, and soups—as they say, it’s good food that is good for you. Or for something saucier, head to Roscoe’s Root Beer & Ribs for tender succulent ribs, juicy chicken, fantastic pulled pork and thin sliced Brisket among other things.

After lunch, take the riverfront bike path to the Rochester Art Center. Behind its soaring, copper and zinc-plated walls, you’ll find world-class exhibitions and programs that encourage questioning, creativity, and critical thinking. With programming for all age-levels, the Rochester Art Center is a winner for the whole family.

Beer flight at Grand Rounds Brewpub in RochesterAs afternoon fades into evening, saddle back up to explore the city’s burgeoning craft brewery scene. Start downtown with a drink at Grand Rounds Brew Pub, a small batch brewery and restaurant housed in the historic Union Block building. From there it’s a quick ten minute ride to Forager Brewery, and don’t even think about reaching for your wallet—customers who bike or walk to Forager receive a complimentary tulip (5.5oz) of beer each time they visit! When you’re ready to get those pedals turning again, continue your brew-tour with a trip to the LTS Brewing Company, just another short fifteen minutes away on the Douglas State trail.

The next morning, after a comfortable stay at one of Rochester’s many outstanding lodging options, you’ll probably want to do two things: eat a good breakfast, and drop off your Nice Ride before heading home. Fortunately, you can do both at the People’s Food Co-Op. Scratch-made muffins, scones and kuchen, baked daily, perfectly compliment the bakery’s selection of organic coffees and espresso drinks. And as the sun reflects off the humble downtown skyline, end your Rochester bike-vacation by relaxing on the co-op’s expansive outdoor patio. Take a sip of your coffee, nibble on a perfectly-baked pastry, and start dreaming of the many exciting things you’ll do on your next bike-vacation in Rochester.