The noticeably slim Entertainment section in the Thursday edition of the Rochester Post-Bulletin (www.postbulletin.com ) is the best source of what’s going on in town.
With two locations, Whistle Binkies packs in crowds at both. Their Old World Pub (3120 Wellner Dr. NE, 507/289-9200, www.whistlebinkiespub.com , 11 a.m.–midnight Sun.–Wed., 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Thurs.–Sat.) hosts live music ranging from polka to classic rock. Whistle Binkies on the Lake (247 Woodlake Dr. SE, 507/424-1227, 10 a.m.–midnight Sun., 11 a.m.–midnight Mon.–Wed., 11 a.m.–1 a.m. Thurs.–Sat.) has a great patio on the water.
The dance floor at Rookies Bar & Grill (1201 Broadway S., 507/252-5161, www.rookiesbar.com ) is among the most popular in town, whether there’s a live band or a DJ. It’s a something-for-everyone sort of place, with sports on the TV sets and pool tables in back.
For something a little more grown-up, have a glass of wine at Söntés (4 3rd St. SW, 507/292-1628, www.sontes.com , 4–10 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 4–11 p.m. Fri.–Sat., closed Sun.). Whether you take a table or a lounge chair by the fire, you’re welcome to stick around a while. There’s a long menu of creative small plates, more filling than your usual tapas options.
The Rochester Orchestra and Chorale (507/286-8742, www.rochestersymphony.org ), founded in 1919, serves up seven shows a season at the Mayo Civic Center. Tickets start at $21. Also popular is the Choral Arts Ensemble (507/252-8427, www.choralartsensemble.org ), a 40-voice choir performing classical and jazz pieces several times a year at the beautiful Assisi Heights convent (1001 14th St. NW). Ticket prices begin at $15.
Both the Rochester Civic Theatre (20 E. Civic Center Dr. SE, 507/282-8481, www.rochestercivictheatre.org ) and the Rochester Repertory Theatre (103 7th St. NE, 507/289-1737, www.rochesterrep.org ) offer comedies, dramas, and musicals at their respective homes. Tickets are around $15 at each. Children take the stage between October and June at the Masque Youth Theatre (14 4th St. SW, 507/287-0704, http://themasque.bravehost.com ), performing anything from fairy tales to Shakespeare, and tickets are as low as $3.
Rochester  has two large movie theaters: CineMagic (507/280-0333, www.cinemagictheatres.com ) on the west side and Chateau (507/536-7469, www.chateautheatres.com ) not too far north of downtown.
The Rochester Honkers (www.rochesterhonkers.com ) play in the Northwoods Baseball League, made up of top Division I college players who get minor league experience while keeping their college eligibility. Home games are played at Mayo Field (403 Center St. E., 507/289-1170, $6–28).
The Rochester Giants (www.rochestergiants.com ) are a semi-pro team in the Great Plains Football League; they won the first three league championships. Home games for the summer season are played at Soldiers Field (244 Soldiers Field Dr. SW, 507/358-7075, $6) south of downtown.
The city’s biggest blowout is Rochesterfest (www.rochesterfest.com ), a nine-day affair with a sandcastle contest, kite festival, hot air balloon races, and an 1860s baseball game—not to mention the usual food, parade, music, and carnival rides. It begins the third weekend in June. The ever-popular Midwestern Lumberjack Championships are always held concurrently with Rochesterfest.