Grace Worwa – Opinion Columnist
St. Peter is a small college town. That’s how I always describe it to my relatives after I tell them I go to school in St. Peter and they give me a blank stare. Yes, it has that single main road lined with old-looking shops and restaurants, that community where everyone seems to know each other and that calendar year that revolves around one college’s schedule.
However, while St. Peter is important to us, Mankato is just as much our college town. St. Peter is simply too small to offer students everything they need, so they rightfully take advantage of the endless opportunities available in Mankato. As such, the city is an integral part of the Gustie experience.
One of Mankato’s biggest student attractions is shopping, whether that be for practical or entertainment purposes. Family Fresh simply can’t compare to the vast selection of, well, just about everything, in Mankato’s many stores.
“I go to Target in Mankato because they have a lot more housing goods,” Sophomore Annalise Schaaf said.
Indeed, Mankato’s department stores are definitely a Gustie favorite.
“Obviously, Target and Michaels are the go-to,” Junior and Weekly staff writer Tori Smith said.
Students also like to visit stores with a more specialized product selection. I, for one, enjoy an occasional trip to Barnes and Noble. On the other hand, Scheels is at the top of the list for Junior Arianna Fredrickson
“One of my favorites is Scheels, the athletic store. I can’t walk out of there without buying something,” Fredrickson said.
On top of shopping, students also go to Mankato to dine. Don’t get me wrong, St. Peter has several wonderful local restaurants, but the options at Mankato are just, well, more. Mankato also has more hang out coffee shops too, a favorite being the Coffee Hag on Riverfront Drive.
“I go to Panera a lot because I love their soup,” Sophomore and Weekly staff writer Autumn Zierman said.
Students reported many other favorites as well, including Culver’s, Potbelly and A&W, among others.
“One great place to eat is La Terraza. It’s a Mexican place, and it’s really good. I get the Mexican Flag Combo every time,” Fredrickson said.
Mankato also offers students an opportunity to spend time outdoors, from hiking trails, to parks, to Mount Kato Ski Area. These options are a huge relief for students on those days when they want to go beyond the Arb.
“I like to go to Sibley Park or walk down by the river downtown,” Fredrickson said.
She also recommends Seven Mile Creek Park, Red Jacket Trail and Minneopa State Park. Other Gusties are on the same train.
“The other day, I visited Spring Lake Park with my family, and I’ll definitely visit again. It’s really beautiful,” Smith said.
Lastly, we can’t fail to mention the career opportunities offered to students in Mankato, whether that be internships, jobs or volunteer experiences. A search on Handshake alone produces 22 part-time opportunities in Mankato, from Human Resources Intern with Partners for Affordable Housing to Snowsports Instructor at the Mankato Ski Area to working at the Mankato YMCA.
I can speak to the career benefits in Mankato from my own experience working as an adoption volunteer at BENCHS Humane Society. Not only was it a great resume-builder, but I learned how a nonprofit functions and how to properly work with homeless dogs and cats. I also met and interacted with many people from around the community.
Whether it’s for shopping, dining, enjoying the outdoors, or career-building, Mankato offers Gusties what St. Peter cannot, and there are countless sites to explore.
“Now that I have a car on campus, I’m hoping to visit Kato more and find all the hidden gems,” Smith said.
And I encourage Gusties to follow Smith’s example. If you don’t have a car, hitch a ride with someone else because exploring Mankato is an integral part of the Gustie experience. After all, it’s as much our college town as is St. Peter.