The Minnesota Vikings are set to reconvene in Mankato next week for training camp, where fans will get their first live look at rookies like Laquon Treadwell and Mackensie Alexander.
But while there’s sure to be some compelling action on the field at Minnesota State, the players don’t actually spend much time, well, playing.
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They’ll have playbooks to study and meetings to attend, meaning that you’ll be spending most of your time doing something other than watching football.
Whether you’re pining for some post-practice pizza, thirsting for a tall drink at the end of the day or just desperate for a way to keep your kids occupied, we’ve got you covered.
Check out our picks for the top eateries and attractions in Mankato, and let us know where you’ll be heading once training camp gets underway.
When you just really, really need some pizza
The crown jewel of the Mankato pizza scene, Pagliai’s makes up for its hole-in-the-wall sensibilities with some of the best pies in the state. Located just down the street from several of the best bars in town, Pagliai’s lives up to its reputation with thick crusts and generous piles of toppings.
When you just really, really need more pizza
JAKE’S STADIUM PIZZA
You really can’t talk about pizza in Mankato without giving at least a passing nod to Jake’s: the local masters of thin crust. Jake’s has been plugging away just down the street from campus since the ’60s, making them a favorite for training-camp vets, and the odds that you’ll run into a retired player or two are reportedly pretty high.
When you need a quick lunch after standing in line for an autograph
Another eatery close to camp, the Massad family runs the local Mediterranean scene, and a few dabs of their locally-famous schwarma sauce should help you understand why. Grab a 10-inch chicken schwarma or take your palate on a wilder trip with their schwarma pizza. A thick-ish crust topped with schwarma sauce, pickles and chicken, it’s an odd and appetizing change of pace.
While the Vikings are studying and recovering you can take a few hours to wander around Minneopa State Park, where you’ll find two waterfalls, ample room to roam and a herd of bison just a few miles west of Mankato.
When the team takes a day off and you have kids
Kids still like petting zoos, right? Located along the Minnesota River in North Mankato, Sibley’s most prominent feature is the fully-stocked "Sibley Farm," where visitors can check out standard farm fare like goats and chickens, as well as peacocks and alpaca. If you still can’t convince your kids to tag along we hear it’s a Poke-stop too. If you don’t know what that is, well, you probably wouldn’t understand.
When the team takes a day off and it’s unbearably hot outside
A new player in the local brewing space with a nice taproom and a healthy selection of craft beers, Mankato Brewery got its start in 2012 and has been winning over the locals ever since. Order a flight. You might need a driver.
When you’re sunburnt and dehydrated at the end of the day
TAV ON THE AVE
We’re not sure where Tav gets its chickens, but wherever those birds are from they must be well fed. This local institution boasts boneless chicken wings the size of drumsticks and a healthy collection of big-screen TVs, all wrapped up in a cozy, pub-like atmosphere. They have beer, sure, but you could also top things off with the Rubber Ducky, a wild concoction that brings rum, pineapple juice and (stay with us) banana Schnapps together alongside a literal rubber duck garnish.