Rochester, MN downtown

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 61
Demographics 55
Economy 45
Education 59
Health 78
Housing 81
Infrastructure 62

#14. Rochester, MN

Home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN is a small but mighty city with a thriving downtown scene, tons of professional networking opportunities and lots of family-friendly activities to keep little ones busy. In addition, the city’s 120,000 residents get to enjoy all four seasons (and their accompanying activities like hiking, biking and cross-country skiing!), as well as a relatively low cost of living and quick commute times (the average here is just 16.5 minutes).

Top Colleges/Universities: Rochester Community and Technical College

Top Industries & Employers: The Mayo Clinic is the largest employer in Rochester, followed by IBM, which operates more than 3.5 million square feet of space here. 

Weekend Plans: Spend the day kayaking the Zumbro River or exploring the 8 miles of trails at Quarry Hill Nature Center, then scope out an exhibit or attend an open mic night at Rochester Art Center.

Favorite Place to Feast: Chester’s Kitchen and Bar, which serves up crowd favorites like jambalaya and walleye cakes.

Beloved Beverage: Hot chocolate, because it gets pretty chilly here in the winter. Locals love this warm, divinely delicious brew at Fiddlehead Coffee or Cafe Steam.

Outdoorsy Activity: Birding, rollerblading, walking, jogging or cycling around Silver Lake. You can also rent paddle boats, canoes, bikes, bike strollers and more. Kiddos will love the Children’s Adventure Playground and the outdoor pool and skate park.

Rooftop Bar: The Tap House, where you can sip more than 50 different types of craft beers while snacking on light appetizers and enjoying the views of downtown Rochester.

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: Rochester loves dogs so much that it hosts an annual event dedicated to its four-legged residents and visitors. The Dogs Downtown event, held in the fall, features Pupstagram-worthy crafts, games, activities and giveaways.

Remote Work Perk: Whether you’re a remote worker or an entrepreneur, Collider is your source for making professional connections, coworking, learning new skills and socializing. The organization hopes to foster a diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rochester. Still, even if you aren’t planning to launch a business, you’ll benefit from working around other creative individuals and attending Collider’s regular educational events.

One More Thing … Thanks to the smart people at IBM and Mayo Clinic, Rochester is responsible for some seriously cool innovations and inventions, including the country’s first blood bank and one of the world’s first portable computers.

– Sarah Kuta

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