The world-famous Mayo Clinic is in Rochester. With its outstanding medical research and treatment facilities, the clinic founded by two physician brothers has become synonymous with the finest in health care and scientific research. Take a tour of the clinic and be sure to see Mayowood, a lovely 100-room country estate furnished with antiques from the Mayo brothers' travels. Information about the estate tour is available through the Olmsted County Historical Society. Phone 507-282-9447. http://www.olmstedhistory.com/mayowood.
If there's time, make the short trip west (35 mi/55 km) to Owatonna. In the town square is the grand Norwest Bank (formerly the National Farmers Bank), designed in the early 1900s by Louis Sullivan's firm. Though elaborate and ornate, it's still solidly American (look for the mural of a herd of cows). Southeast of Rochester (30 mi/48 km) is Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. It contains the historic town of Forestville, a village that's been restored to appear as it did in 1899. There's a post office, a store, a home and a farm to tour. Costumed guides explain what small-town life was like in the late 1800s. The cave, which stays a chilly 48 F/9 C year-round, also can be toured. Rochester is 75 mi/120 km southeast of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
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