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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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. She 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. Mayo Clinic also has an easy self-referral process for anyone who wants to receive diagnostic or treatment services there.
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.
If you have any questions about Rochester, Minnesota, or comments about lodging, restaurant, or personal experiences, 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. Thanks also to Experience Minnesota’s Rochester for taking care of some of our meals. All opinions expressed are our own.
I’m so glad I’ve found your Blog. I have on/off sarcoidosis and am inspired when reading how other people cope with the fairly annoying side effects that (at least in my case) flare up and down. I’m sure I’ll get lots of take-aways from your writing! Thank you for sharing.
I’m so glad you have found our blog posts helpful. Sarcoidosis is a unique disease and I don’t know many people who have it. Please keep in touch and let us know if you find other positive ways to cope with your illness. Travel well.
I loved reading your postcard blog and will have to check out some of your recommendations next time we are in Rochester! We visit often as we have family there and I have become a frequent flyer to Tonic Local Kitchen and Juice Bar as our son works there. Love their healthy breakfasts and salads and the smoothies are the best for a quick on the go healthy snack! Also their very casual ambience is enjoyable!
Wishing you the best with your health issues!
Thanks so much, Lisa. We love Tonic, as well. Those salads are amazing. Thanks also for following along on our journeys.
Thanks for sharing your visit to Rochester. Our family has lived here for 27 years and I just retired from Mayo last year. It truly is a wonderful place to be seen and the needs of patient come first as I’m sure you know and have experienced (Sorry you are experiencing medical issues). The Bleu Duck is our favorite restaurant also… we will typically eat there and then go to Bitter and Pour for after dinner drinks which if you like craft cocktails, I would highly recommend on a return visit. I too will be sharing your post and look forward to following your blog as well.
Thank you for the kind words, and we’re glad to have you along with us (virtually, anyway,) on our journeys!
We think we will have one more trip to Rochester this year and will definitely have to put Bitter and Pour on our list.
Thank you for sharing this story based around your health journey! I’ve lived in Rochester for three years as a spouse of someone studying medicine at Mayo Clinic, and it is such a joy to hear from a visitor’s perspective about these businesses. As the manager of Rochester Farmers Markets, working with farmers from all around southeastern Minnesota, I can say that you had some lucky, well-researched, or fabulous recommendations on where to shop and dine! Tonic, Bleu Duck, PFC, and Figue are some of the most authentic businesses in town when it comes to truly local sourcing and small business innovation. Thanks for the beautiful pictures and kind words! I will definitely be saving this post to share with my out-of-town family and friends as a perfect example of why I’m proud to live here.
Thank you so much for your kind words! We have really come to enjoy our visits to Rochester (well, as much as you can enjoy going to see the doctor, anyway) and think you have a truly wonderful city.
And we did have some finding places to go from the folks at the CVB. We sure think they pointed us in the right directions!