Every year at the beginning of May the downtown centers of Mankato and North Mankato are reborn with a new CityArt walking sculpture tour that graces the town for another year. It’s a walking tour that can be done all at once, in just a few hours. Or just explore the North Mankato side one day and follow it up with the Mankato side the next!
Note: This post is sponsored by VisitMankato because I love walking the sculpture tour so much that I asked if I could help promote it! All opinions expressed are my own.
CityArt Walking Sculpture Tour
Make an entire day of exploring the Visit Mankato CityArt walking tour by stopping into the local coffee shops and restaurants along the way! No matter how you experience the walking tour you’ll want to see all that you can see, so read on for tips on what to eat, drink and visit along the way!
This year the walking tour has been spread out to encompass even more of the Mankato downtown area, which means more walking but more chances to explore the area and eat at all the great restaurants.
Walking Tour in North Mankato
The North Mankato side of the walking tour is only one block long- along both sides of Belgrade Avenue from Range Street to Nicollet Avenue so it’s a great part the CityArt tour to do if you only have an hour’s time (or less). There are several great pieces to see- from the incredible sculpture “New Life” created by the Janesville, Waldorf, Pemberton High School’s advanced metal class to the 2015 “People’s Choice” award winning sculpture: Godzilla by Dale Lewis.
Where to grab coffee:
Stop in at Neutral Groundz at 229 Belgrade Ave, North Mankato to fuel up before you stroll. They also have a fabulous gift shop, so if you’re not in the mood for coffee it’s still worth peeking inside!
North Mankato Kid Friendly Restaurant:
If you’re in the mood for some crazy good pizza with a cute atmosphere, I recommend stopping into Dino’s Pizza and ordering the Farmer’s Market or the Belgrade Ave pizzas.
They also have an awesome kid’s pizza program where the kids get some dough to play with and “make” their own pizza. It’s incredible! Plus you can color on the paper table clothes- so it’s uber kid friendly.
Walking Tour Mankato
Mankato’s side of the CityArt walking tour is much more robust- with five blocks worth of artwork to explore. You’ll want to dedicate at least a few hours to exploring!
It is easier to park somewhere in the middle of the walking tour, that way you can walk up one side of the street and come down another. There is a great public parking lot on the corner of South 2nd Street and Jackson Street. Pull into the lot that’s next to Raydiance Salon to be closest to the sculptures in the plaza next to Visit Mankato.
Walking Tour for Cherry and Front Street
If you park there then I recommend starting your walk by heading straight through the Mankato Place Mall/Intergovernmental Center. You will come out on the other side onto Cherry Plaza and Cherry Street. There are four sculptures on the one block radius of Front Street and Cherry Plaza- the coolest one being Water Works by Greg Mueller and the best one for kids being Big Shoes to Fill by Susan Geissler.
You can swing into Pub 500 while you’re in the area to grab a bite of their bread pudding! They also are one of the few restaurants in town with a few different vegan-friendly entrees that are well worth ordering. After your delicious snack (or beer) then turn back around through the Mankato Place Mall and head out onto the Civic Center Plaza to complete the walk.
Civic Center Plaza Sculpture Walk
There are numerous sculptures in the Civic Center Plaza that aren’t even a part of the yearly CityArt Walking Tour. One of my favorites is Oak Leaf Arch II by Jim Gallucci. After exploring the plaza head east on Civic Center Plaza towards South 2nd Street to experience four more lovely sculptures.
South 2nd Street Sculptures
You’re going to love the 12 total sculptures along 2nd Street for three blocks of walking. There are an even six sculptures on either side of the road, each with their own character and charm- ranging from Endless Summer by Gregory Mendez, with her flowing, golden hair, to the (contortionist) Book Peddlers by Jack Morford.
Four of the sculptures are past Main Street and heading back up towards the bridge to Mulberry Street (which becomes Belgrade to North Mankato). These are always the most visibly stunning sculptures, so they are given the most a prominent location for visibility. The huge horse made out of horseshoes, Bob’s Passion, by John Hughes is particularly impressive.
Where to eat along the way
While you’re busy enjoying the Book Peddler sculpture swing into Number 4 for their Weekender Bloody Mary or walk across the street to Tandem Bagels for another cup of coffee (and might I recommend the chocolate chip bagel with their sweetest fruit cream cheese?)
Vote for your favorite sculpture on the CityArt Walking Tour
After you’ve walked through and enjoyed all 27 of the sculptures make sure you go and vote! The ‘people’s choice’ sculpture is usually purchased for the cities to be enjoyed for years to come!