Living in Saint Peter

map Welcome to Gustavus and the St. Peter/Mankato Area. South-Central Minnesota offers a great range and variety of places, activities, and services contributing to and enriching our life-long education.

The following guide is certainly not exhaustive; rather, it is an indication, with some specific details, of what our location offers. Further, this Guide hopes and fully intends to entice newcomers to leave your offices, classrooms, and other workplaces.

The Arts

In addition to the Music, Dance, Theatre, and Studio Arts, which are such a strong presence at Gustavus and at Minnesota State University at Mankato and Bethany College in Mankato, there are many Arts venues available in the area.


The Arts Center of Saint Peter
315 South Minnesota Avenue

The Arts Center of Saint Peter offers art classes for adults and children in ceramics, painting, drawing, and other fine arts. We provide gallery shows, sponsor musical events, and have rental space for small plays and performances.

Mankato Ballet Company and School
327 N. Broad, Mankato

The finest dance school in Southern Minnesota, with classes from Creative Movement for pre-schoolers through adult classes in both Ballet and Modern Dance.

Mankato Children's Chorus
Director, Julie Aune - 934-4550

Wonderful opportunities for children to sing and learn about vocal music. Four separate choirs, serving grades 2-12. Rehearsals once per week, Christmas and Spring concerts and additional performance opportunities.

St. Peter Choral Society

No auditions, and wonderful music making. This group usually rehearses Monday evenings September-November and January-February for a concert or two in March, although some years the schedule differs. The leaders on alternate years are Sara McKay and Annete Meets.

Mankato Symphony
Director, Diane Pope

Auditions required.

Mankato Youth Orchestra
Director, Adrian Lo of Bethany College

A highly respected youth orchestra, with players from our area and the Twin Cities.

Gustavus Orchestra

Several Gustavus community members play with the student orchestra.

Merely Players

The Mankato Region Community theatre produces several shows per year. Contact Lincoln Community Center in Mankato

Prairie Fire Theatre

Watch the community education bulletins for information about registering for this amazing theatre event. Early each summer, Prairie Fire brings its directors to St. Peter for a fantastic weeklong workshop culminating in a multi-performance production. All individuals 7 and older, who register are guaranteed roles.

St. Peter Community Education Theatre Camps

Three weeks of immersion in theatre arts, culminating in at least 2 performances. These camps are for children from 4th-9th grades. Watch the bulletin, which is mailed twice a year to all homes in the St. Peter School District.

Art Classes

Sponsored by Community Education, The Arts Center of Saint Peter, and/or St. Peter Recreation. Wonderful opportunities to experiment, at a very reasonable cost (often at no cost), with performance and studio arts. Watch the Bulletin!

All of the aforementioned organizations present public performances, which are well-publicized. In addition to these are many others.

Observing (Twin Cities Area)

  • Park Square Theatre in St. Paul
  • St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ordway
  • St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ordway
  • Minnesota Opera Company, at the Ordway, which puts on four completely professional productions a year, sometimes with very well known singers
  • Plymouth Music Series, Plymouth Congregational Church
  • Schubert Society, chamber music at Landmark Ctr., St. Paul
  • Guthrie Theatre, 725 Vineland Place, Mpls, MN. For more information, call 612-377-2224
  • Historic State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN. For more information call 612-282-3111
  • Park Square Theatre, St. Paul
  • Penumbra Theatre, 270 North Kent Street, St. Paul, MN. For more information call 612-224-3180
  • Theatre de Jeune Lune, Steven Epp, a Gustavus graduate, is a principal actor and director with this acclaimed international company.

St. Peter & Mankato Area

Minnesota Valley Sommarfest, now in its 13th season, which puts on concerts of classical chamber music every Thursday evening in July.

  • Rock Bend Folk Music Festival, Minnesota Square Park in St. Peter, first weekend after Labor Day. Many superb folk musicians, vendors, special activities for children. FREE
  • Traverse Des Sioux Treaty signing recognition, early September
  • Childrens Theatre of Minneapolis Production, early November at Gustavus
  • Nutcracker Ballet, Mankato west High School, mid-December, produced by Mankato Ballet Company for 18 years.
  • Rockin' in the Quarry, Mankato Symphony and various rock bands, first weekend in June, Kasota Quarry, FREE!


In addition to the opportunities listed under ARTS, once again the Community Education and Recreation Bulletin signal all sorts of activities for children, from Arts and Crafts to Gymnastics, to Yoga. Also, St. Peter Library, in Gorman Park has regular story-readings and other activities in addition to the splendid Children's Library itself. The Mankato Library has a Maud Hart Lovelace Wing, named for the writer of the beloved Betsy-Tacy stories, complete with a mural of Deep Valley, the Mankato of those books. Excellent facility and activities. Both the Gustavus and the MSU Libraries have extensive children's and adolescent holdings. There is the Children's Museum in St. Paul and The Children's Theatre, housed with the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts.

Day Care

St. Peter Community Childcare Center provides high-quality care for children from the age of six weeks through enrollment in kindergarten.  SPCCC is a non-profit cooperative that offers a safe and nurturing environment for learning through play, art, and developmentally appropriate learning activities.
SPCCC has two locations:  Infants and Young Toddlers grow in the 1616 Jefferson Lane building at GAC, and Older Toddlers through Prekindergarten age children learn in the Community Center Site at 600 South Fifth St. Suite 125.  Please find more information at or call us today at (507) 934-3606.

Kids Corner located at 100 Freeman Drive, in St. Peter. Kids Corner child care center is a non-profit facility dedicated to providing quality child care for infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers, in a healthy, stimulating and fun environment. For more information, please call (507) 931-1002.

Little Saints is a pre-school operating for nearly 50 years, which offers morning and afternoon programs for three to five year olds. Little Saints is located at the Church of St. Peter, in St. Peter, (not affiliated with the church), and can be reached at (507) 931-4313.

Another pre-school is Little Lambs and is located in the community center at Gorman Park.


  • Bray Park on Madison Lake: swimming beach and boat launch
  • Flandreau State Park, New Ulm: camping, hiking, nice swimming pond
  • Gorman Park: located in St. Peter, at the corner of Grace Street and Washington includes a new, community-built playground and the St. Peter Library and St. Peter Community Center
  • Minneopa State Park, Mankato: hiking, camping, waterfall and an old mill
  • Minnesota Square Park: located in St. Peter, on the corner of south Minnesota Avenue and College Avenue. A recently remodeled pavilion is the centerpiece of the park, which also features a basketball court, sand volleyball court, tennis courts, picnic grills and tables.
  • Nerstrand Woods, near Northfield: remnant of Big Woods, hiking and camping
  • Mile Creek: hiking and picnic grounds
  • Sibley Park, West Mankato: you can enjoy the flower gardens, walk along the trails, visit the zoo, or play softball, tennis or skate.
  • Spring Lake Park, lower North Mankato: fifty acres, which include a natural wildlife reserve, a paved trail surrounding Spring Lake, tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, and horseshoes.
  • Tourtellotte Park, north 4th street in Mankato: includes a picnic facility, playground and pool
  • Traverse des Sioux Park, north of St. Peter: located on the original site of the historic Traverse des Sioux crossing of the Minnesota River.
  • Veterans Park, 300 n. 4th St., St. Peter: city swimming pool, outdoor hockey, baseball diamonds, soccer, and more.
  • Kasota: 3 parks, the largest with good tennis courts, new playground equipment, skating rink and warming house. The smallest has a small merry-go-round, just the right size for toddlers.


Beaver Dam Resort, hwy 13 out of Cleveland, on Lakes German and East Jefferson. Several resorts in this area and around Elysian and Waterville. Beaver Dam is only 15 miles from St. Peter. It is an old family-owned place, with a heated outdoor pool, a variety of cottages, camping facilities, and the most reasonable rates around. It is a great place for a day trip: canoes and paddleboats for $5/day. Very safe, quiet, welcoming.


  • Cannon Valley Trail: starts in Cannon Falls.
  • Flood Wall Trail: located along the Minnesota River in downtown Mankato. The trail is a couple of miles long, beginning at the old Mankato train depot and ending in Sibley Park in West Mankato.
  • Minneopa Falls: the trail starts just off hwy 22 as you enter Mankato. It travels into a ravine and onto a plain with lost of wildflowers, great for walking, biking, or skiing.
  • Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway: for more information on routes from east to west along this byway call 1-800-473-3404.
  • Ottawa Bluffs: a nature preserve between St. Peter and LaCrosse.
  • Rasmussen Woods: located off Stoltzman road, in west Mankato.
  • Red Jacket Bike Trail: runs through spectacular scenery from the Minnesota River at Mankato, south to productive prairie land. The trail, which follows a former railroad, runs near the Blue Earth River, crosses the LeSueur River and, for much of its length, follows a deeply incised natural ravine - 5.6 miles.
  • Root River Trail: starts in Lanesboro.
  • Sakatah Singing Hills Trail: starts north of Mankato on North Riverfront Drive. Paved 39-mile trail from Mankato to Faribault.
  • Seven Mile Park: located on south 169 between St. Peter and Mankato, good bird watching.


  • Henderson Sibley County Museum: housed in an 1884 brick mansion with furnishings generally from the late Victorian era- call (507) 248-3434 for more information.
  • LeSueur Museum: exhibits, videos and archives tell the story of the Green Giant Company. For more information call (507) 665-2050.
  • LeSueur W.W. Mayo House: the home of Dr. William Worrall and Louise Mayo where history interpreters share stories about the founders of the Mayo Clinic and the Green Giant Family. Call (507) 665-3250 for more information.
  • Mankato Heritage Center: excellent museum, research facility and gift shop. Call (507) 345-5566.
  • Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 3rd Ave., South, Minneapolis: for more information call (612) 870-3140.
  • Walker Art center: museum of modern art, housed with Guthrie Theatre.
  • Harkin Store: costumed guides offer visitors a glimpse of a town and time of yesteryear. For more information call (507) 354-2016.
  • Schell's Brewery and Park: elegant home, peacocks, tastings.
  • St. Julien Cox House, St. Peter: this fully restored home is the only Gothic Italianate structure in Minnesota. Color and fragrance abound in the gardens. Call (507) 934-2160 for more information.
  • St. Peter State Hospital Museum: housed in the oldest building on the State Hospital campus; photos, artifacts and vignettes are witness to turn-of-the-century life and treatment in the states first psychiatric treatment facility. Call (507) 931-7182 for more information.
  • Treaty Site History Center Museum: located on hwy 169, north of St. Peter. Features three exhibit rooms to display the rich and intriguing history of the city of St. Peter and of Nicollet County.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum: located in Walnut Grove. Contains a few actual Wilder artifacts. Each summer the city presents a play about the Ingalls family.

Commercial Venues

  • Holiday Inn, Owatonna: a wonderful indoor water park for all ages. Rather amazingly low prices, with children eating free, but make reservations really far ahead. This place gets booked.
  • Lake Crystal Water park (outdoors): many St. Peter children have memorable birthday parties here.


  • Aardvark Pets, St. Peter: emphasizes animal expressions with a variety of arts, gifts, cards, toys and t-shirts, aquatic room, birds and pets.
  • Bookmark: located in the Jackson Campus Center on the Gustavus campus. This is the Gustavus book store, offering books, textbooks, Gustavus clothing and gifts, cards, unique gift items, office and educational supplies, health and beauty aids, candy, magazines, etc.
  • Mankato Farmers Market: located in the parking lot of Madison East Shopping Mall next to Burger King. Farmers bring fresh, seasonal produce, flowers, and homemade crafts Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and Tuesdays and Thursday from 3:30-6:00 p.m., June through October.
  • The Mexican Store, St. Peter: authentic Mexican and Latino foods and gifts.
  • Mary Lue's Knitting World and St. Peter Woolen Mill, St. Peter: historic woolen mill specializing in custom wool carding for comforters. Unique wools and gift shop. Informal tours anytime.
  • Swedish Kontur Imports, St. Peter: Scandinavian gift shop, offering Scandinavian clothing, fine crystal, and lovely gift items.
  • Vinh Long Asian Grocery, Mankato
  • Many area Antique Shops: Collective Memories and Mike's Stuff in St. Peter; Generations, Old Town Antiques, and Riverfront Antiques in Mankato.

Bargain Shopping

  • Thrift shop in St. Peter
  • Trading Post located in the oldest building on the State Hospital Campus. Trading Post is open to the public only on Wednesdays from noon until 4. Most things cost a quarter, except on the 4th Wed. of the month, when everything (except specially marked items) is a dime.


  • China Buffet, Mankato
  • Coffee Hag, Mankato: coffee house featuring a variety of arts and entertainment
  • Country Pub, south of St. Peter on hwy 22 for 1.8 miles
  • El Caporal, Mankato
  • Food Coop, St. Peter: a full-line, natural foods, unique gifts and housewares. Also a deli, with in-store eating area
  • Gilligan's, Waterville: grill your own meats is their motto. Great salad bar and view, along with the fun of cooking your own meal.
  • Great Wall, St. Peter: Mandarin and Szechuan cuisine
  • Harpie's Bazaar, Mankato: offers a bistro with wonderful coffee and a boutique all in one
  • Kokomo's, Cleveland: karaoke, savory suppers in comfy atmosphere, and you can cook your own meals
  • Mexican Village, Mankato: Mexican food and the best margaritas and daiquiris around
  • Oodles Café, St. Peter: home-style cooking at hometown prices
  • River Rock Coffee House, St. Peter: offering a variety of coffees, homemade soups, cold salads, hot sandwiches, homemade baked goods (their scones are a favorite), movies, live music, and an outdoor patio.
  • Ruttles, St. Peter
  • Whiskey River, St. Peter—scenic view and full menu and bar


  • Kind Vet Clinic, St. Peter: superb care for animals, providing excellent kennels for boarding as well as the best medical care. Opportunities for older children to help take care of animals.
  • Gustavus Dog Play Day: has been Saturday mornings in the Arboretum.


In addition to St. Peter and Mankato, the village of Kasota often has very fine housing stock for sale/rent. It takes less time to drive from Kasota to Gustavus than from the north end of St. Peter.


  • Land-to-air services from Mankato go to the Minneapolis Airport twice a day from St. Peter, leaving from the Hometown Travel office.
  • St. Peter Transit is the local bus service, which is phoned for like a taxi.

Exercise Areas

  • Lund center at Gustavus: pool, weight room, and cardio machines
  • The Wellness Center, St. Peter
  • Sun/Moon Yoga, St. Peter and Mankato


  • The Master Gardeners Program: regionally based in Mankato this program requires its students not only to pass exams but also to spend many hours gardening for the community in both public gardens and for private citizens.
  • St. Peter Community Garden: this garden was begun by Gustavus faculty members and community members as a practical means to help and also to engage and get to know better immigrants to our community.


  • Friends of the St. Peter Library: maintains and ensures the diversity and variety of services provided by the library.
  • Reading in the Schools: south elementary school and John Ireland Catholic school welcome adults to listen to and help young pupils read.