Seeing the doctor is always stressful. It’s even more so when you’re from out of state (like me) or even out of country. It can be very overwhelming. I admin a group and we get a lot of questions from people asking what it’s like, where to stay, where to eat, what you can do in Rochester, etc. so I decided to make my own mini guide to Mayo. I’ve broken things up into categories for some semblance of organization but I highly recommend reading all of it.


Full disclosure: I love the Mayo Clinic. It is actually a delight going there. They have truly mastered Patient centered care and it shows. The details (like actual art and sculptures, not just “hospital art” ) really help to create a calm and dare I say fun environment. Most hospitals are full of a stressful agitated energy that Mayo just doesn’t have. Sure there’s hustle and bustle and occasionally small chaos but it’s a calm chaos. As my mom says “It’s a place of healing, not just a hospital.” There truly is no hospital I’ve ever been to that is like it.

Places to stay

First thing you should know Mayo has subway tunnels under the streets. Some hotels are connected by subway tunnels to the clinic which is really convenient, unfortunately, those tend to be more expensive as well. Many hotels also offer shuttles to and from the clinic back to the hotel which is also very convenient. I stayed at the Best Western a couple years ago and it was nice and had a shuttle. If you have your own car I highly recommend staying at an Airbnb. That’s what we did this last time I went and it was great. Also I highly recommend buying a parking pass. They are way cheaper than not buying one and they never expire as long as you have the pass so you can use it year after year until you run out of days.

Places to eat

  • Nupa – Mediterranean and Greek food like gyros, dolmades, greek salad, etc. I just ate here for the first time last week while I was there and it was wonderful! My gyro was overflowing, the service was great and they didn’t charge me for extra tzatziki sauce. All around win-win for me!
  • Victoria’s – I can’t say enough good things about Victoria’s. I’m Italian so I don’t eat out Italian food – except here because it’s that good. I have had the spaghetti bolognese and the chicken rosa verde which I highly recommend! And their calamari is so good!
  • Newt’s – Best burgers in Rochester! Also have wonderful nachos. (They layer the toppings so you never get any sad empty chips). It is a bar so maybe not perfect for small children but also not bad for kids. All around good bar food and they have Minnesota beers that you can try if that’s your thing.
  • Chester’s – Amazing food and possibly the best service I have ever had (Seriously ask for Devin she’s the best). I have a bell pepper allergy and she was very helpful and understanding and knew the ingredients of everything on the menu. I got a quinoa healthy bowl this time but they also have amazing steak.
  • Pannakoeken –  Breakfast with a Dutch flair! They serve all day but we went there for breakfast. I am super picky about my eggs and they got them right so A+ for eggs. If you go you have to get a pannakoeken (also known as a dutch baby) – a stuffed, oven-baked pancake. We got one with strawberries that came with brown sugar and sour cream to mix and make a fruit dip. It was honestly life-changing. 12/10 recommend getting a pannakoeken. Also their muffins looked wonderful as well but we were too full to get any.
  • Caribou Coffee – Amazing coffee and really nice staff. It is a chain but it’s not nationwide. There is also a Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts nearby if those are your thing. Also highly recommend either bringing a reusable cup or getting a fun one from the Mayo gift shop because they’ll charge you less to do a refill and because it’s good to be environmentally friendly.


Things to do (Rochester)

Rochester is pretty small but there are a surprising amount of things to do. Some of these are in Mayo so you can do them in between appointments if you have time/ need something to do

  • There’s a little like “town square” out the back of the Gonda building. I believe it’s called Peace Plaza but I am not positive. Anyway, there are a bunch of things that happen out there like concerts, dance lessons, etc. There are little signs out there with a website you can go to to see all the events.
  • Visit the hospital gift shop. I know it sounds kinda lame but they have some fun stuff like the rubber duck soap. It’s a bar of soap around a rubber duck and they are hilarious and really great for kids.
  • Go look at the artwork! Mayo is part clinic, part art museum. There is art EVERYWHERE. They have big sculptures by Dale Chihuly that I could stare at for days. Seriously it’s everywhere so take a couple minutes to enjoy the art as you walk by.
  • Nature! If it’s nice out you can check the many trails, lakes and other nature-y things. I’m not going to list them all but there’s a ton. Silver Lake, Douglas State Trail, Quarry Hill Park/ Nature Center, Chester Woods, Foster Arend Park. etc…
  • Heritage House – Victorian-era house  (only open in Summer June-August) with tours and antiques
  • Plummer House – Built in 1924, English Tudor mansion with 11 acres of landscaped grounds
  • Minnesota Children’s Museum


Things to do (Minneapolis)

  • Minnehaha Falls/Park – Beautiful falls and park right off the Mississippi River. There is also a little restaurant called the Sea Salt Eatery with local beers, fish, shrimp, that is amazing. They also have a little ice cream shop in the back. I high;y recommend the Nicollet Drive Pothole (no that’s not a joke it’s actually the name of an ice cream)
  • Lock and Dam #1 of the Mississippi River – Beautiful views of the river and a self-guided tour of the lock and dam where you can get really close and see how it works. Very cool! My mom and I spent like an hour here.
  • Mall of America – We didn’t go here because my mom doesn’t like crowds but it is a fun touristy thing that everyone will ask you if you went. There are so many things to do here! There’s an aquarium, water park, flight simulator and more just to name a few.
  • Bakken Museum – A museum of electricity featuring Frankenstein! It was also originally sponsored by Medtronic. They sadly are not open on Mondays so we didn’t get to go but I really wanted to.
  • Walker Art Center
  • Minneapolis Sculpture Garden featuring the classic “Spoonbridge and Cherry” sculpture
  • There’s also a bunch of other parks, lakes and other nature-y things to do here as well.


Miscellaneous Things

  • If you get blood drawn in Peds you get a rubber duck. Don’t let them skimp out on the duck. I’m still a bit salty that I was denied a duck because I’m an “adult” now and they don’t have them down in the adult section. Also, ask for stickers if you want one. I got a Pua (the pig from Moana) sticker after my echo and wore it proudly.
  • Navigating Mayo is very confusing but the people are very nice and are more than happy to help with directions or anything else you need. One day we forgot our paperwork and the people at the information desk printed it right out for us.
  • If you are in a hurry, you can pull into the drop off at the Gonda Building and the parking guys will take Holter Monitors and things you need to drop off. It was very nice of them to do this for me when I was there last week.


These are just a few things I have learned over the years going to the Mayo Clinic. Hopefully, this information will be helpful to you and can put your mind at ease (even if it’s only about where to get good food for dinner). Good luck and enjoy Rochester!