Mankato, Minnesota, offers easy access to the Minneapolis metro area while maintaining small city charm at just over 40,000 people. After a cool hike through Minneopa State Park or a walk along the Minnesota River, you can settle down to a slice of pizza, some Mediterranean food, or a hearty plate of Mexican cuisine. If the winter's been hard and you need something warm, a stop at one of the local coffee houses will warm you up and recharge your batteries. Finally, if you find out there's snow coming and don't want to run short of critical pastries, no need to worry. Mankato has abundant access to quality baked goods and bistro sandwiches, many of which are vegan-friendly.