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The infamous history of Mankato is depicted in the movie "The New Land" (1972) by Swedish director Jan Troell when in 1862, 303 Dakota Indians were scheduled to hang in the largest mass execution of the United States. Eventually 265 were pardoned and only 38 swung by their necks at the end of the Dakota War. The city sits on a large bend of the Minnesota River and the Blue Earth River. It is one of two principal cities of the Mankato-North Mankato metropolitan area only 75 miles from Minneapolis. It was named after a chief of the Santee Dakota whose village inhabited the original site.
Today there are no gallows to swing from but there is plenty of wild water to navigate down boiling rapids, over 50 miles of paved cycling trails to ride on and open roads to explore. Mankato has a small town appeal but with a thriving local art scene, mega shopping experiences to be had, a night life to appease the insomniacs and a mother nature environment showing off her beautiful bounty. Even staying indoors can be fun if you take in a hockey game, get a wet rear end attempting to ice skate, go rock climbing on the wall at the Myers Field House or chill out to live music in the historic city center. You can take a walk over the Veterans Memorial Bridge constructed in 1880 that connects North Mankato to Mankato, if you want a taste of ghosts long past. In the winter months the town is cloaked in white snow perfect for snowshoes, sledding, snowmobiles, snow biking or skiing. If you are in to cross country skiing, the trails will take you through Indian Lake Park, Bray Park, Wildwood Conservation Area, Daly Park and Williams Nature Center.
When you get tired of all the outdoor activities then head to a winery for some down time with a wine tasting or check out the local cafe/restaurant scene where you will find everything from New York style pizza to local craft beer on offer.
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