5. Soldiers Field (Or any other park really)
Once the winter coats come off it's fair game for... any game really. Get your sport on at Soldiers field or one of Rochester's other community parks, because after a video game binge or watching Netflix for the 8th straight hour you should really stretch out your Cheeto fingers and get outside. Soldier's memorial field has a large field that is good for running around and playing Frisbee or ball sports and it also has a baseball diamond if kickball or baseball is your thing. If you just need to get out for a run, Soldier's field has a running track and a few trails that lead from the park that are good for running. Soldier's field also has an impressive monument dedicated to Minnesota Veterans, so you should check that out too if you have a chance.
4. Rochester Public Library
For those times when the summer heat is a little too much I like to go to the Public Library. The Library is a nice and cool place to hang out, and of course it is filled with tons of books! Over 360,000 books, actually. I love getting lost inside books and discovering new things or new worlds, it really helps me de-stress. The library also hosts events for the community, generally for free, every week. The events vary, but there is usually something for everyone to do.
3. Quarry Hill
If you enjoy the great outdoors Quarry Hill Nature reserve is a great destination for summer fun! The 320-acre park has numerous hiking trails which will lead you through some of Minnesota's fauna and give you a great opportunity to see some woodland critters. The trails will also lead you to the limestone quarry, which is riddled with Ordovician fossils. If Hiking isn't for you, Quarry hill features a two acre fishing pond where you can catch (and release) panfish and other lake fish. Quarry hill also has several nature facilities where you can learn about wildlife including a bird observatory and a small museum of the nature found in the park.
2. Foster Arend Park
On a blistering hot day nothing cools you down quite like a dip in a lake. Foster Arend Park is Rochester's own free beach located on the edge of Foster Arend Lake, an 18 acre brown lake that is stocked with around 10,000 rainbow trout every year. Its sandy beach makes for a great place to lay in the sun or play some beach volleyball, and the water near the shore gets pretty nice during the summer. In my opinion, there isn't a better place to swim in town. Foster Arend Lake is also an excellent fishing location. The water gets to be around sixty feet deep, which makes it great for catching cold water fish like largemouth bass, bluegill, perch, rainbow and brown trout, crappies, northern pike and, of course, walleye.
1. Thursdays on First & 3rd
Every Thursday starting on the first Thursday in June, Rochester hosts an outdoor market with over 100 food, crafts, and arts vendors and live local entertainment. Of course, the food and crafts aren't free, but window shopping is. The two live concerts that are performed each week at the Coca-Cola stage or the peace plaza stage on either end of the market are also free to attend. Personally, my favorite part about going to Thursdays on First is seeing all of the people! There are hundreds of people that show up to the market, so a person watching is always interesting.
(Photo Credit Chad Johnson, Flickr)