Free things to do in Rochester, MN - Including Oxbow Park/Zollman Zoo

This Labor Day weekend, we visited Mr E's parents who live in Rochester MN. I had never been to that city before meeting him, and when I go to new places, I like to be out and about to soak up the local happenings.

Whenever I ask Mr E what there is to do in Rochester, I get a shoulder shrug and "I-dunno" as my answer. I've seen the mall, played mini golf, and did Black Friday shopping at Kohls there, but not much else. So I took it upon myself to do some research.  I found this blog - Everyday Notions - which has a list on free or cheap things to do on a "staycation". 

On my list of places to visit were:

Oxbow Park/Zollman Zoo

The feel of the zoo was much more like nature park, than the zoos in Madison or Milwaukee. It featured animals native to Minnesota, like a bear, wolf, coyote, lynx, bobcat, fox, eagles, owls, and so many more. T had a blast seeing all the animals, and making their noises at them, and it was surprisingly educational for Mama too. I didn't realize just how big eagles really are. It was very easy to take Baby C in the stroller around the grounds too. The main parts of the zoo have boardwalks.  Paths to see the agriculture animals and large animals (there are also bison and deer) are just grass paths, so a heavy duty stroller worked fine, but I wouldn't recommend it for a wheelchair.

 There was also a section of the park that had what they called the "backbone of agriculture" animals. There were turkeys, chickens, goats, cows, and a pony. Mr E is already completely amped up to go turkey hunting this fall at my parents house, so practicing his calls on those zoo turkeys just made his day. These captive animals were very friendly, and I wish they would have had some treats for us to feed them - T kept feeding the goats sticks from the ground! Yuck, I guess goats will eat anything.

The thing I looked forward to most at this zoo? THE BADGER!!!

 The last part of the zoo we visited was out a bit from the rest. It had a historic house. It blew our minds to think about how homes were built by hand, and how small of a space a family had indoors.

They also had bison, white tailed deer, and some other animal. But by this point we were too warm from the afternoon sun, and ready to start out naps... so we didn't snap any pictures of the grumpy kids, and headed back.

Quarry Hill Nature Center -

Before we went, I told Mr E how excited I was for the quarry hiking trail.  I love exploring new places outdoors, and hope to instill an active lifestyle in our boys by doing family activities like this.
Sadly, after the boys were tuckered out from the Zollman Zoo, then napped, it was already time for supper then bed.  The weekend just went too fast! Well, this goes on the list of things to do next time we visit!


Rochester Art Center - 

Free Family Day on the first Saturday of each month, with hand-on art activities from 1-4pm.
We didn't make it to the Art Center since the Badger game was on, which our family CANNOT miss.

So our Labor Day weekend ended up being too short. But I know we'll be back in Rochester again sometime soon, and hopefully I can update on those other FREE places to visit!

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