15 Best Things to Do in Austin, MN

Austin, MN
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The small, warm, bustling city of Austin lies in Mower County, Minnesota.

The town features two artificial lakes, Mill Pond and East Side Lake.

Austin gets its name from Austin R. Nichols, the first European settler in this area.

In the past, Austin was a small town that grew up around the railroad.

At one point, it had five railroad lines running through its downtown area.

Workers would rely on the train system to get them to and from work.

Austin has some pretty cool parks that are worth visiting if you’re ever in town.

You may even be lucky enough to catch a festival or a concert while you’re at it.

This charming, picturesque city has an unsurpassed variety of adventures, food, entertainment, activities, and art venues.

Discover the top things to do in Austin, MN.

Learn about America’s Favorite Canned Meat at SPAM Museum

Exterior of the SPAM Museum
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The SPAM Museum is a free non-profit museum established in Austin, Minnesota.

It’s located close to the Hormel office.

The museum presents the history of Hormel’s successes and world-famous products to visitors of all ages.

Everyone can learn about the importance of SPAM in modern global cuisine through various self-guided exhibits.

The SPAM museum relocated when it re-opened in 2016.

The museum’s seven galleries include a gallery called Can Central, which is the heart of the museum.

Interior of the SPAM Museum
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The World Market allows visitors to experience SPAM from 44 different countries.

Learn how people across cultures enjoy the spread as an ingredient in recipes.

The World War II-themed display at the SPAM museum encourages visitors to explore a surviving vintage fragment of American history.

The SPAM Brand 101 exhibit gives visitors a chance to engage with multiple varieties of this classic food choice and experiment with attractive recipes.

Tons of fun interactive videos, games and other activities make it possible for even the family's youngest members to start learning about America’s favorite canned meat.

SPAM cans displayed in SPAM Museum
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Take a Picture of Buffy the Cow

After you’re done visiting the SPAM Museum, you might want to meet Buffy the Cow, which is not far away from town.

Buffy the Cow, seems to have come from a store advertisement.

Today, she sits at the County Fair Grounds, which seems to be a fitting setting for her.

This fiberglass dairy cow stands outside the fairgrounds on its lawn with her 15-foot tall and 20-foot long frame.

Austin residents love this local mascot.

There’s also a steam locomotive and historical museum at the fairgrounds, which are open for tourists to visit during peak season.

Play Outdoor Sports at Todd Park

Todd Park is a vast park in Austin, Minnesota, perfect for hiking, jogging, cycling, and playing volleyball and sand volleyball.

You can also play baseball, soccer, softball, frisbee, and disc golf here.

There are plenty of places for recreation like barbecuing, holding events and parties, and more in this well-maintained park.

The old Robot Slide at Todd Park is a famous and infamous attraction, but many kids have had great fun there.

While some thought it was scary, it’s excellent, like the many other incredible playgrounds throughout the park.

There’s a small trout stream in Todd Park, along with several picnic tables and pavilions.

You need to reserve the pavilions through the local Park and Recreation Department.

The Izaak Walton Cabin offers terrific scenery for those who prefer even more privacy during their dates yet still have amenities nearby.

Take a Self-Guided Tour of Hormel Historic Home

Exterior of Hormel Historic Home
McGhiever, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hormel Historic Home morphed into a home for the local community in 2010.

They established Autism Programming to serve locally expecting families and their autistic children.

The programs help them participate in the same community events as other Austinites.

The home has renamed the initiative “Autism Friendly Austin”, making strides toward creating an autism-friendly city by teaching locals how to spot signs of trouble.

Once the home of George A. and Lillian Hormel, this 1871 historic home is now a resource to preserve local history and shelter educators involved in natural history studies.

The museum also hosts community programs that celebrate hospitality, music, and family as part of George A. Hormel’s legacy.

Just two blocks from downtown, the home has seen many additions to accommodate various events like weddings, meetings, conferences, etc.

There’s plenty of free parking on the side street.

A commercial kitchen is also on-site for those with severe cravings for homemade treats.

Explore the Austin Public Library

As soon as you walk into the doors of Austin Public Library, you’ll see a comfortable and inviting space.

The layout makes finding books a walk in the park.

And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, the staff will always help you track down those rare titles.

The Austin Public Library currently opened to the public in 1996.

In 1884, the library was in the basement of the Mower County Courthouse.

In 1904, they moved it to the newly-constructed Carnegie building.

The present facility’s collection contains over 80,000 books, both fiction and non-fiction, for everyone to enjoy.

The library is a part of SELCO, an organization that provides public and school libraries with access to various services, including new technology and resources.

Check Out Fun Animal Shows at Mower County Fair

When you visit Mower County Fair, you won’t miss all the events going on here.

There are so many beautiful things about this place that will leave you with countless memories of every season here.

This place is a true delight for any animal lover.

There’s even a Hall of Fame where one can check out some exhibits which showcase the many different kinds of animals in the area.

The carnival here will keep everyone entertained, with plenty of rides and games on offer.

Several restaurant options also offer delectable meals that you won’t want to miss.

The Mower County Fair is a must-visit this holiday season.

Watch a Hockey Game at Riverside Arena

The Riverside Arena opened to the public in 1976.

Hockey players as young as two years old can enjoy learning the sport in this city-owned arena.

The Austin Packers High School hockey team and the Austin Youth Hockey Association often use this facility.

The Riverside Arena offers opportunities for ice skating lessons and public skate times throughout the year.

In 1974, a junior hockey team from Minnesota named the Austin Mavericks called this arena home.

This novel-function facility also hosts various entertainment, concerts, and other public events.

The NAHL Austin Bruins play hockey here and host several athletes and tournaments worldwide, such as junior hockey leagues.

At a width of 200 feet and a length of 85 feet, Riverside Arena provides an optimum ice surface that can seat up to 2500 spectators.

Enjoy Sledding at Bandshell Community Park

Bandshell Community Park is a unique outdoor space for most events like festivals and concerts.

There’s a Veterans Pavilion with a restroom, bandstand with power, and several other pavilions.

Not only does it have a great children’s playground, but the park also allows dogs of all sizes and breeds to roam its dog park freely.

You can also enjoy a beautiful view of the open green space while taking a stroll along an accessible trail.

When snow starts falling, you can enjoy sledding/tubing on a hill at Bandshell Community Park.

You can find Bandshell Community Park near other attractions.

Visit the park after a show or at any point throughout the day.

Stay Active in the Winter at Wescott Field/Packer Dome

Exterior of Wescott Field/Packer Dome
Darb02, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Even though it gets cold in Minnesota, there’s no reason to let the weather stop you from being active.

The Wescott Field/Packer Dome is a great place to stay active year-round.

Packer Dome’s playing field is temperature-regulated to maintain 55 degrees throughout the day.

The dome encloses the football field at the Wescott Sports Complex, creating a comfortable enclosed environment with alluring red and green turf.

The facility boasts batting cages, an artificial turf field, and a walking/running track.

The walking/running track is for everyone, and it’s always open.

You can rent a batting cage seven days a week, and it’s available to anyone.

You can use the field in many different ways.

Recently, local softball teams, soccer players, and football teams have started playing there.

Explore Lafayette Park

Lafayette Park is a great meeting place for families, parties, reunions.

It also hosts special events like 5k runs, and friendly gatherings.

This park has an open and relaxing atmosphere, making it a great spot if you’re interested in enjoying some trophy-winning ball.

There are baseball fields, basketball courts, and a six-hole disc golf course available for anyone.

If you are interested in watching or getting involved in sports, go to this park.

And if you like nature meets urban living, strolling through this park with its trail paths is the way to go.

Clear your mind and flex your intuition as each route weaves in and out of the park.

This park is also where Austin’s annual fireworks show takes place.

Bring Your Friends to Austin Country Club

Country clubs are more than just colossal golf courses.

In 1919, George A. Hormel founded the country club in the city. He was also the first Club president.

Likewise, George founded the globally renowned Hormel Foods Corporation.

The Austin Country Club boasts a well-laid-out and maintained golf course.

The Austin Country Club is an example of the ideal club.

Its members have worked hard to make the club look and feel uniquely their own through years of good work and dedication.

This member-owned, private golf club has picturesque scenery and gorgeous views amid majestic oak trees and towering pines.

It has an 18-hole beautifully carved course that integrates with the natural environment to create a one-of-a-kind golfing experience.

Dobbins Creek catches errant shots; the creek strategically snakes through the course.

This trendy new clubhouse has a classy restaurant on the first floor with a bar open to members.

Go upstairs to find a formal party venue where wedding receptions, baby showers, and other such events occur.

There are tennis courts and a swimming pool available to members as well.

Spend Family Time at Lions Park

Lions Park is a lovely place to spend family time together.

The local club maintains this park’s clean bathrooms and offers two pavilions with picnic tables and electricity.

It also has a wide variety of playground equipment for families to enjoy.

It’s an excellent place for all ages.

The park has ample parking and every amenity to ensure all visitors enjoy a safe and welcome visitors.

There are fun playgrounds for kids.

Grandparents or parents who would like to do some working out while they play can visit the park, too.

The whole area wraps along the banks of the Cedar River, where there’s always a spectacular view.

One can find Lions Park at Oakland Avenue East.

Roll a Strike at Echo Lanes

Echo Lanes is a great spot to go bowling with family and friends.

This all-inclusive 34 wood lane bowling alley offers patrons a 34-lane facility with automatic scoring and ramps and bumpers for kids.

The strobe lights light up the place during darker hours.

This entertainment space has a full-service bar with fantastic food and drinks that you can enjoy with your family, friends, or even business associates.

League games also happen throughout the week, from Sundays through Saturdays.

They also have a pool hall next to the lanes where you can hang with your friends.

In addition to traditional bowling, they also have arcade games here.

Explore the Local Arts Scene at Austin ArtWorks Center

Nestled north of Main Street in the beautiful city of Austin is the urban and contemporary art center named Austin ArtWorks Center.

The Austin ArtWorks Center is a warm, welcoming building comprising three eye-catching, multi-story floors.

This center brings together local artists and art lovers who are passionate about the arts.

Likewise, the center exhibits fantastic works of art from around the world.

On the lower level of Austin ArtWorks Center is the Clay Studio, a modern studio boasting high-quality clay, pottery wheels, and more.

Also on this floor are galleries for six-week exhibits from professional and emerging artists and private collectors.

On the upper level, art enthusiasts will find an on-site classroom in addition to office and lounge space.

This versatile building is perfect for creating a sense of community or hosting a dazzling party.

See Fantastic Plays and Movies at Paramount Theatre

Exterior of the Paramount Theatre
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Wagner Construction built the Paramount Theater in 1929.

This atmospheric theater served as a first-run movie palace for the people of Austin.

Paramount Theatre can seat 914 people and features an orchestra pit and a small stage.

A tornado destroyed the old Park Theatre in 1928.

Minneapolis’ Ellerbe & Co. then used the ruined theater as the foundation for Paramount Theatre.

The construction firm designed and built the Paramount.

They also used traditional elements to create a lovely atmospheric design complete with a Baroque-inspired facade.

See figures of winged creatures, dogs, and other imaginative designs painted on the ceiling.

Meanwhile, admire the Spanish Baroque exterior of the theater.

The Paramount became a famous movie theater in the 1930s and 1940s.

In later years, the theater became one of Austin’s most well-known live entertainment venues.

Final Thoughts

Austin teems with fun activities to do throughout your vacation.

Whatever your reasons for coming to this lovely city, you will never suffer through a dull moment.

Austin boasts an array of activities guaranteed to keep visitors purring with satisfaction.

You’ll want to start planning your vacation, so you’ll have a more enjoyable experience.

Book your Austin trip today!