Kato Ballroom is a step back in time- from its vintage sign to the lights and decorations inside that are more reminiscent of a 1980's wedding than a fundraiser banquet like Pheasants Forever (think camo and beards mingling with china dolls ) or for the school . Nonetheless the place will quickly grow on you, with a regular schedule for love music and a continuous stream of events; from weddings to dances to classes and more.
The Kato Ballroom has recently come under new ownership and management and is making a big push to revitalize itself by bringing in bigger events. Catering is done on site- nothing special about the good but the price is good for fundraisers! and they have a stage and two rather nice sized bar areas.
Minneopa State Park is located just west of Mankato on highway 68. It is divided into two sections by highway 68. The northern section is the larger of the two and follows the Minnesota River. In the larger section you can camp, hike, and even venture out to Seppmann Mill, a 19th-century windmill that is well worth the hike.
Minneopa Falls are located on the southern side of the park- the smaller side. Minneopa is a word that comes from the Dakota language and is interpreted to mean "water falling twice"- which perfectly describes the waterfalls at Minneopa Creek. A smaller, wider falls comes first, while a more narrow, but much higher falls drops the water down into the valley.
The park does have a required entrance fee of $5 for a day pass- vehicle pass- or a $25 fee for a yearly pass which will allow you access to any state park in Minnesota. The park is open from 8 am to 10 pm every day. If there isn't any one around when you arrive you still need to pay the fee and can leave your vehicle information and payment in a mailbox next to the ranger building.
The lights dim and the stage lights up. The violinists raise their instruments and slowly the sad, but rich music begins to drift up to the balcony where we sit. How fun it is to experience Mozart in such an unexpected location- in a school atrium of a smaller sized town in Southern Minnesota.
Mankato is a fairly small town, and yet it has an amazing symphony orchestra that currently plays in the auditorium of the Mankato West High School building, but will soon move to the new space at the Verizon Wireless event Center. There is a wide range of prices for tickets and they can be purchased online at their website or bought day of (though you'll want to plan for standing in line for a bit).
They also do some fun events, like Pops at the Kato Ballroom or Music on the Hill, both events are well attended and fun to go to.
Hire a guide and kayak, canoe or paddle board for a day of fun on the water from Bent Rover Outfitters. Or just rent the "boat" of your choice to take out on the water by yourself (guides cost more) , You'll have to sign a waiver but they also won't let you go out on the water if it's dangerous- no less than 1.5 feet of water and no more than 6 feet of water.
Ask for advice for different places to go- the Minnesota or Blue Earth River. They will also drop you off and pick you up if need be.
They also do a monthly paddle board session as a group for $15 or even a yoga paddle board session! Only open in warm season months.