We’ve been to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, more than a dozen times in the past five years. In fact, we started our blog, Postcard Jar, from there in 2014, just before Ann was diagnosed with a chronic disease called cardiac sarcoidosis. Typically, our trips to Rochester are short and we go straight to the clinic for appointments and then come home. This fall, however, we decided to spend a few extra days to experience Minnesota’s Rochester a little bit more. If your travel schedule allows, we’d encourage you to do the same.

Mayo Clinic Rochester

Here’s a look at some of the experiences we loved most on our visit to Rochester, Minnesota. We’d like to thank the Hilton – Rochester Mayo Clinic Area hotel and Avra Hospitality for the complimentary one-night stay and Experience Minnesota’s Rochester for taking care of some of our meals. All opinions expressed are our own.

The new Hilton Rochester Mayo Clinic Area

The new Hilton Rochester Mayo Clinic Area, owned and operated by Avra Hospitality, is simply spectacular. Honestly, it is one of the most luxurious hotels in which we’ve stayed this year. Built as a Hilton with the high-end finishes of a Waldorf Astoria, the new Hilton hotel sits just blocks from the Mayo Clinic. In fact, you can walk from the hotel to the clinic inside the whole way via Rochester’s Skyway/Subway system.

The hotel combines world class luxury with thoughtful amenities for business travelers as well as patients of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Though we were treated to a one-night stay by the Hilton, we enjoyed it so much that we opted to stay an additional night on our own dime. Professional staff greet guests in the spacious lobby that is accentuated by Indiana limestone natural wood elements. The hotel also includes a cocktail bar and two on-site restaurants.

Hilton Hotel Rochester Mayo Clinic pool

We especially enjoyed spending some down time at the 5th floor hotel pool area, complete with a hot tub overlooking the Rochester sunset. The area also has a steam room and sauna that is complimentary with any stay. As Hilton Honors Diamond members, we had access to the hotel’s Executive Lounge, as well. There, we enjoyed a hot breakfast, personalized coffee selections from a sophisticated coffee machine, and complimentary evening hors de vours  and drinks served in a relaxing atmosphere.

Attention to detail at the Hilton

We took special note of all of the added amenities and the attention to detail for guests who may be sick or undergoing medical testing at Mayo Clinic. Wheelchairs are available for guest use at no charge, rooms are spacious and calming, and several varieties of complimentary broth are available throughout the hotel.


visitors guide Rochester Minnesota

Figue in Rochester, Minnesota

Pronounced “fig,” this new Rochester hot spot is a unique space created for people like us who enjoy food. Yes, Figue is a retail store full of higher-end kitchen and cooking essentials, but it is also the perfect place to gather for culinary experiences. Created by the mother + daughter team that developed Gardenaire products, Figue serves as a state-of-the-art venue for both cooking classes and camaraderie. Check out upcoming classes and special events on the Figue website HERE. Be sure to sign up in advance for courses taught by local chefs and home cooks, including MasterChef Season 10 finalist Shari Mukhergee.

Enamel at Figue Rochester

Bleu Duck Kitchen

Voted Rochester’s best restaurant and cocktails for 2019, Bleu Duck Kitchen lives up to the accolades. The restaurant’s chefs use locally sourced and fresh ingredients to create innovative dishes that are also works of art. Ann enjoyed every bite of the cucumber and smoked salmon salad pictured below and said it was one of the most unique and exquisite dishes she’d had in some time. The bartenders at Bleu Duck were also among the best we’ve had on our travels. We were treated to well-crafted cocktails, including a perfectly mixed Blood and Sand as well as a Cosmopolitan garnished with a dried orange.

salmon salad bleu duck rochester

Entrees were also one-of-a-kind creations plated with care and served by professional staff. We can’t wait to return to Rochester, Minnesota, and dine at Bleu Duck Kitchen again.

Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

If you have any extra time in Rochester, Minnesota, you simply must visit the Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center and learn about this program. The seven-story wellness center that houses the program was made possible by Slim-Fast founder Dan Abraham. His mission was to provide a place that would improve the health and well-being of Mayo Clinic employees, retirees, volunteers and their spouses. However, the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program there is available for visitors and Mayo Clinic patients, as well.

We toured the facility, stopping for a photograph at the 7th floor meditation space and learned about the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. There are all kinds of fitness classes available daily, including several drop-in classes that would be ideal for a patient and/or family member who is looking for an interesting activity to pass time. Also offered are healthy cooking classes in a teaching kitchen as well as free classes on a variety of subjects, including one we attended on “Sitting Disease.” The workshop space is unique in that participants can sit, stand, lie on the floor, or listen from a slow moving treadmill desk like we did.

Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center

While we only had time this trip for a cooking class and the workshop, there are also programs designed for one to five-day experiences. We’re considering returning for some of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program experiences to learn more about nutrition, physical activity, and resiliency.

Lunch at the People’s Food Co-Op

When we mentioned we were looking for a place to have a healthy lunch, a Rochester local suggested People’s Food Co-Op. This neighborhood grocery store not only had a plethora of fresh and organic produce for purchase, it also had a fantastic soup and salad bar. We were able to easily create a low-calorie salad for lunch and have a bowl of delicious soup, as well. People’s Food Co-Op is not far from the Mayo Clinic and is an excellent place to grab a few groceries, a salad, or a pre-made meal to warm up later in your hotel.

People's Food Co-Op Rochester3

The Mayo Clinic itself

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, is a world-renowned medical facillity unlike any other. We first visited the clinic when a local doctor suspected a rare imflammatory disease in Ann’s heart and knew of an expert who treats the chronic illness at the clinic. Since our first visit in 2014, we’ve been back to Mayo Clinic many times for tests, scans, and surgeries. Each time, we’re amazed at the professionalism and efficiency of the clinic and its staff. Patients at Mayo Clinic can be referred by their local physicians and they also have an easy self-referral process for anyone who wants to receive diagnostic or treatment services there.

Mayo Clinic Rochester Minnesota


We also tried another local restaurant called Tonic Local Kitchen and Juice Bar that serves fresh and locally sourced foods from the Rochester, Minnesota, area. It is just across the street from St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester. There, we had a refreshing lunch that began with Kangan water and an Immune Boost juice blend. Steve had the soup and side salad while Ann had the Harvest Salad entree served with a multi-grain roll. Both meals were delicious and and the portions were large.

tonic salads at rochester

Doubletree by Hilton Hotel – Rochester Mayo Clinic Area

Finally, we have to mention the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel – Rochester Mayo Clinic Area because we stayed there one night on this trip and it is where our blog began. We published our very first blog post from the executive lounge at the Doubletree by Hilton – Rochester. We had just decided to start a travel blog in early 2014 after Ann had become very sick and was unable to work. We thought the blog would be a good distraction and hoped it would be a resource for other people like us who love to go places and see new things.

The staff at the Doubletree by Hilton – Rochester is special. Many of the employees have been there for years and recall the names of guests like us who have been there multiple times. They are incredibly accommodating and caring and we always feel right at home.

If you have any questions about Rochester, Minnesota, or comments about the places you like to stay, the restaurants you’ve tried, or the experiences you’ve had, let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.

We’d like to thank the Hilton – Rochester Mayo Clinic Area hotel and Avra Hospitality for the complimentary one-night stay and Experience Minnesota’s Rochester for taking care of some of our meals. All opinions expressed are our own. 

  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome
  • Our daughter, Meghan, is a cardiac ICU nurse. Despite all of the current uncertainties in healthcare during this pandemic, early this morning she put on her scrubs and went to work a 12+ hour shift. 
She is not alone. Across the country and around the world, healthcare workers are putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk to help others. It's what they do. Every. Single. Day. 
We are incredibly grateful that there are selfless people like this in the world and we pray for them and we hope you'll join us. 
We couldn't sleep this morning, so we wrote instead. Click on the link in our bio to read our morning thoughts and prayers.
  • Trying to decide where we’ll travel this weekend. Covered porch? Living room? 😉
  • We are staying home. 
We've been here for almost a week now because Ann is one of "those people." You know the ones. Those people with an underlying health issue. Those people with a suppressed immune system. One of those people who could become seriously ill, need hospitalization, and even die if exposed to the coronavirus.  Those people need your help to stay safe and live. And all you have to do is stay home when you don’t NEED to be out.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen photos, videos, and witnessed first hand people of all ages (but mostly young people) gathering in groups for what us mid lifers would consider “non essential” reasons: birthday parties, movies, youth sports practices, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at the bar, spring break at the beach, and the like. 
We don’t understand it. 
We try not to judge. 
But just for a time during this worldwide pandemic, could we ask people who are participating in non-essential activities to consider who “those people” most at risk really are?

Those people are already battling serious illnesses.

Those people want to see their grandchildren grow up.

Those people need to do their jobs as nurses and doctors.

Those people are first responders. 
Those people run the grocery store, and the pharmacy, and the gas station. 
Those people pray for you and your generation. 
And what about those other people? 
The ones you know.

Those people who made sacrifices to meet your needs.

Those people who took care of you when you were sick.

Those people who went to your games and cheered you on. 
Those people who taught you in school.

Those people who helped you pay for college.

Those people who cooked your favorite dish for you.

Those people who taught your Sunday School class.

Those people who have forgiven you.

Those people who will always love you unconditionally.

We keep wanting to scream, “It’s not about you, it’s about those people!” But the truth of the matter is, IT IS ABOUT YOU. 
You have the power to help.
You have the power to influence others.
You have the power to flatten the curve.

And by not changing your behaviors, you also have the power to harm. 
How will you choose to use your power?j
  • We’re sharing your postcards and encouraging you to help others and stay positive. 
If you’d like to send us a postcard, mail to: Postcard Jar, PO Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.

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