Attracting approximately 2.6 million visitors per year with its rare combination of modern sophistication and small town charm, Rochester is quickly becoming a sought-after destination for both business and leisure travelers. Centrally located in America's heartland, Rochester is fewer than 550 miles from 16 major metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, flying into Rochester is a breeze with the Rochester International Airport located just a short 10-minute drive from the downtown district. Offering connections to more than 600 destinations, Rochester International is a convenient gateway for the city. Just 90 minutes away, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is another popular option for air travelers.
Once in Rochester, visitors will have no trouble navigating the city. Easily managed and pedestrian-friendly, Rochester's climate-controlled skyway and underground walkway system allows easy access to nearly 2,000 hotel rooms, the Mayo Civic Center as well as a surplus of shopping, dining and entertainment options. This unique patchwork of indoor neighborhoods keeps the city bustling all year long. In fact, Prevention magazine named Rochester one of the Top 100 Walking Cities in the U.S.
When it comes to meeting facilities, Rochester is also on top. From intimate retreats to large convention halls, the city is home to some of the most spectacular event spaces in the Midwest. The centerpiece for meetings and conventions is undoubtedly the stunning Mayo Civic Center. As southern Minnesota's largest event facility, the center features 120,000 square feet of meeting space including a 25,200-square-foot exhibit hall, an 11,800-square-foot auditorium and a 25,000-square-foot arena. Surrounded by 11 acres of lush parkland and connected via skywalk to restaurants and hotel rooms, the civic center makes it easy to combine business with pleasure.
In addition to the Mayo Civic Center, several other facilities top meeting planners' list of traditional Rochester event venues. Just moments from the Rochester International Airport, the Rochester International Event Center offers 13,000 square feet of space, on-site catering in a fully-equipped gourmet kitchen, and free high-speed Internet access. Alternatively, the Olmstead County Fairgrounds and Graham Arenas, with 94,000 square feet of indoor event space, is the site of choice for the county fair, antique shows, concerts and exhibitions. The city's spectacular $2.9-million Peace Plaza is also an unexpected spot for meetings and events.
From museums to historic homes and gardens, Rochester has a range of unique options that impart a true taste of the city. Host a meeting at the awe-inspiring three-story atrium of the Rochester Art Center. Step back in time at the lavish Mayowood Mansion by enjoying its 38-room manor, teahouse and surrounding gardens. For an evening of sumptuous tapas, groups can gather at Sontes restaurant's private function space for up to 40 people.
The fastest growing city in the state, Rochester enjoys a thriving economy based heavily on the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. The clinic provides care for more than 500,000 patients per year and employs over 31,300 people. Additionally, the Rochester campus of IBM is one of the company's most prominent manufacturing centers and employs nearly 4,400 residents. The city is also home to several high profile colleges and universities including the University of Minnesota Rochester, the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester Community and Technical College and Winona State University-Rochester.