We wanted to put the spotlight on smaller college towns in America where the quality of life is high. These smaller spots on the map tend to offer big city advantages thanks to the cultural and cosmopolitan influx created by universities (such as theater, concerts, & public lectures) minus big city inconveniences (like high property prices, traffic, & pollution).
This is a love letter to a slice of apple pie, old-fashioned American city, Rochester, Minnesota. Here, the median resident population is 35, the income is high, and the healthcare is outstanding. It’s the birthplace of the famous Mayo Clinic and the Mayo Medical School. This research, economic, and professional engine gives the city much more than a town of 100,000 could normally provide. Rochester is home to a branch of Winona State University, the University of Minnesota Rochester, Rochester Community and Technical College, and a host of private colleges. It’s also home to great music, beautiful outdoor scenery, and a variety of tours and amusements. We love it here. Ask us, and we’ll be happy to tell you all about it!
If there’s one thing Rochesterites love, it’s music. There are choral groups for every age group and ability. There are even women’s and men’s chorales as well as barbershop quartets to choose from. If you’re in the mood for more variety, you could always see what’s going on at the Mayo Civic Center. There are local, national, or international concerts, plays, competitions, lectures, and even conventions. For something more formal, you may try chamber music, opera, dance, or other classical music venues throughout the city. If you want to join in, take a spin on the Blue Moon Ballroom floor. Dance classes are offered regularly, but dance events are free.
Some of us prefer a nice, quiet morning on the reservoirs, lakes, and ponds in and around Rochester. Of course, our favorite thing to do here is fish. In fact, our official tourism website offers a list of the best places to go, the kinds of access available, and which fish you may find where. What do we do when not fishing outside? We golf. There are nine golf courses and clubs in the area to choose from. Some of these, like the Rochester Golf & Country Club is private and have quite a few restrictions. There are several options if you don’t wish to join a club, such as the Oak Summit Golf Course and the Willow Creek Golf Course.
Rochester has many pubs, bars, and bar & grills to choose from. Grand Rounds Brewing Company offers a variety of beers crafted on-site and a full menu (and a discount for card-carrying American homebrewers), while places like the North Star Bar offer Texas Hold ‘em, pool and dart leagues, and live music on weekends. There’s a little something for everyone here, including late 19th century homes open to the public like the Plummer House and the Mayowood Mansion; Amish tours just moments away, and the Soldiers Field Veteran’s Memorial. Just sit back, relax, and take in a bit of Minnesota life.
Related: Love Letter to Santa Cruz, CA