I’ve lived in Mankato officially since August 2013. As my impending graduation is coming up I’m preparing myself to pack up all of my belongings and head north to the great city of Park Rapids.
Just kidding! As much as I loved growing up there you’d have to give me my own tax-free, three story cabin on the lake with all expenses paid to get me to hoof it back up there at this point in my life. Sadly, my plans for escaping to Nashville got delayed due to lack of funds. Not sad, I get to live with one of my best friends and take on Minneapolis starting sometime this late summer or early fall.
So as my time here in Mankato is coming to an end I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting. Coming from a town of 3,000 people Mankato seemed huge and like there was so much to do, until about a month in when I realized the entire town is surrounded by farmland and I was spending most of my time at the mall or doing homework on campus or at my apartment. It’s like home, but with more shopping and less lakes. But I have discovered a few places that I will miss. So if you are ever in Kato, make sure to take a stop at one of them.
As a recovered caffeine addict this is where I go to get my bi-weekly fix, soak in some art, and people watch. It’s located in Old Town, which is full of cool locally owned shops everyone should check out (Salvage Sisters, Curiosi-Tea House, Friesen’s Bakery, and Tune Town just to name a few). Yet, this coffee shop stands out because of the atmosphere and the community that it has built. There is always art on the walls featuring a new artist every month and the stage built into the place is perfect for the live music you often find being played. It’s a place to go to be inspired, to meet friends, and to get a Ying Yang with a homemade organic, vegan cookie while you hang out for a while. I’d say more, but once you go you’ll understand.
Once Read Used Book Store
If a penny pincher and a book lover had a baby this store would be its offspring. It’s a secondhand store that specializes in books. There’s a section for everyone
and the shelves go all the way to the ceiling. It’s run by a cool old man who hangs out in the back and can literally answer almost any question you have about a book and where to find it. I don’t go here often enough. Mainly because I once walked out with five books, got home, and then stacked them on the five other books I had just gotten at Barnes and Noble and all I could think was, girl you have a problem. It’s a quiet little shop with charm that seems to be old-fashioned and entirely modern all in one. My favorite part is the owner’s cat who sits in the corner and eyes you until you pet him, but once you do that he tails you throughout the store until you leave. It’s a magical, quaint place that is hard to recreate and even harder to find.
Minneopa State Park
Not exactly inside of city limits, but worth the drive. This state park is split since the highway runs right through the middle of it and if you are short on time and have to pick a side, I’d recommend turning left and checking out Minneopa Falls. The waterfall is beautiful in the summer. I’ve accidentally ruined a wedding photo shoot once or twice since it’s a popular spot for those getting, or already, hitched. You can stand on the sidewalk and watch it, but if you really want to have fun, you should head down the stairs and hike around so that you can almost go under the waterfall. The rocks next to it are carved with years of names and hearts with initials and you can get as close to being in the waterfall as possible without actually stepping into the water. It’s a great place to get reenergized. If you have more time, head to the other side of the park and hike up to Seppman Mill. Although, if you’re feeling lazy and would rather skip the walking, stay in your car and go on the Midwest version of a safari. Also known as, the Buffalo Drive. Within the last year and a half, the state of Minnesota released a herd of Buffalo back into this area, which is a natural habitat for them. The buffalo are pretty evasive, but if you’re lucky, you can spot them off in the distance eating. All in all, Minneopa makes for a fun afternoon.
Seven Mile Creek County Park
The only pictures I have of Seven Mile are head shots that I took with my friend Zach. The reason is Seven Mile isn’t a super scenic area, but a place to walk (for seven miles) and clear your head. My favorite time of the year to go here is in the fall. Being the extrovert that I am I don’t go by myself often. I like to grab a friend, walk around the park, and talk. It’s a pleasant, quiet area that is great when you need to stop thinking about the number of hours you’ve put into your senior project or when the words standard deviation and sigma start sounding like lines from an action movie instead of the homework. One of my favorite parts is a specific trail that I don’t quite remember the name of, but it has signs that translate into the sentiment of “not for the faint of heart, turn back.” The last time I went on it I emerged from the woods with my yoga pants caked in mud because it happened to be spring and I may or may not have slid down the hill on my butt instead of face planting. There’s also a giant valley that is impressive and breathtaking in the fall with all of the foliage glowing orange and yellow. I think part of the reason it was breathtaking is because I was literally out of breath, but it was still pretty.
Performing Arts Building
This isn’t a place that many people go to. I mean, I don’t even go there unless I have a
meeting or need a printer. All the same I’m probably going to miss this place the most. I had almost every single class in this building for two and a half years. I spent hours in the music library “studying,” but normally talking with my friends instead, sitting in the mezzanine actually studying, in the practice rooms singing, playing piano, on the phone, and watching much more talented people going over their repertoire for the semester. It’s the place I made quite a few lifelong friendships. It’s where I cried because I just couldn’t figure out how the hell I was supposed to do all of my economics and music theory AND have my French opera piece memorized. It’s where I’ve felt the most excited and alive performing Regina Spektor in the Recital Hall, getting excepted into my major, learning in classes that challenged and excited me, and singing in the choirs. I once posted the picture below of the Performing Arts Building with this caption:
Because when it’s all said and done I’m going to miss this place. I came to Mankato undecided and unsure. I’m leaving with confidence and a vision for the future. This campus showed me the diversity I didn’t have the opportunity of seeing growing up. It’s taught me so much. So grateful I chose to be educated by a college that is so welcoming, open-minded, and beautiful. Walking through these hall, hearing music being created gives me hope for the future. Love will win.
And I think that sums it up.
Let me know what your favorite places where you live are so that I can go and check them out! But in the mean time, don’t be shy. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, here on WordPress, and drop a line and say hello.