Last weekend my friend Candice and I drove to Minnesota to visit our friend Amy, who recently moved to Rochester.

There are so many places in the US that should be on my travel bucket list but I just don’t know about them, yet.  Rochester is one of those places.  It’s about an hour from Minneapolis.  It has the small-town feel with the big-city perks (think amazing restaurants, lots to do, etc).

Thursday we had some pizza and local beer and relaxed a bit after our 10 hour drive.  That evening we headed downtown for “Thursday’s on First and Third.”  We listened to live music, tasted more local beer and admired some Minnesota arts and crafts.  Most notably, we experienced a fried treat straight from the Midwest gods – cheese curds. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

HOLY.  If you’re anywhere near the area stop by Grand Rounds Brew Pub for some cheese curds dipped in their “banana Ketchup” (has the kick of banana peppers).  Cheesy goodness.  All their food and beer was delightful, and made with all local ingredients. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

Friday morning we woke up early (in a failed attempt to beat the heat) to hike the Elba fire tower in Whitewater State Park.  Names and phrases were carved into almost every step. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

We climbed 500 steps to the tower, surrounded by tall trees and an unreal veil of humidity.

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

The pups loved it.

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

The tower consists of several more staircases, but when you reach the top, the views are incredible. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

It was breathtaking (in all aspects of the word).

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

After the hot and sweaty hike we headed to Lanesboro to float down the Root River.  There are few things more satisfying than floating down a cold river when it’s hot as heck.  And the town of Lanesboro was adorable. Nicknamed the “bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota,” (can you think of a cuter nickname?!) there are cute shops and restaurants and lots of things to do. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

I then made Candice and Amy pose for me in a corn field.  Because I love corn fields.  And the sun was setting. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

And because you can’t go to the midwest without spending some time in a cornfield or two. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

We topped off our long day with some Thai food.  I’ve not had much exposure to Thai cuisine in good ole’ Casper, so it was a treat to experience something new.  I had curry over rice noodles and it was oh, so satisfying. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

We also stopped by an awesome speak-easy, a rooftop bar and a Hefeweizen bar (guess what it specializes in) where Candice found the Grapefruit Hefe that she’s been searching for since she first tasted it in DisneyWorld.  Needless to say, Friday was a success.

Saturday, we rested.  Kinda.  Candice made us some stuffed French toast with a strawberry syrup, delicious.  We watched a movie.  We got some Pho.  We shopped.  We ate more cheese curds. 

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

And we topped off the evening with a good ole’ homemade meal featuring some Iowa sweet corn.  Basically, we ate.  All. Day.

As a side: Charley was the most spoiled pup ever at Amy’s house.  TONS of toys to play with, because Amy’s pup, Skip, isn’t a toy destroyer, like Charley.  Also, puppy sweaters.

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

Such a lovely trip.  Such a lovely town.  I’ll definitely be returning.  What towns have you visited that should be added to my American travel bucket list?

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer

Rochester, Minnesota in 72 hours || DayDreamin'Engineer