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16 Best Things to Do in Stillwater, Minnesota

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Looking to explore one of Minnesota’s best small towns? We’ve covered you with the best things to do in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Stillwater is a small town with much to offer. It’s a year-round destination, and its attractions include trails, orchards, food tours, gondola rides, and vineyards.

Downtown Stillwater is only a 30-40-minute drive from Minneapolis and St.Paul, the MSP airport, and the Mall of America.

Things to Do in Stillwater, Minnesota

1. Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge

Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: 106 Chestnut St E, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

Walking on the lift bridge is a must-do when you are visiting Stillwater. It takes State Highway 36 between Houlton and Stillwater.

This historic bridge, constructed in 1931, is an ideal example of a vertical lift bridge of the Waddell and Harrington type. Six bridges of this type were constructed before the Second World War.

This renovated historic lift bridge and the concourse are in the Stillwater Cultural Landscape District. The ten-span bridge consists of six steel Parker through truss spans, one movable span, and three slab approach spans. It remains one of the top Stillwater tourist attractions near the heart of Stillwater’s historic main street.

See Related: Things to Do in Taylors Falls

2. Brown’s Creek Trail

Hiking Trail with Birch Trees in Stillwater, Minnesota

Address: 8312 Neal Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

One of the best things to do in Stillwater, Minnesota, is to visit Brown’s Creek Trail. It’s a recreational gem of the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Thousands of visitors head to the trail every year, making it one of the most popular places in Stillwater. This trail was the rail bed of Soo Line in the past and has now been paved.

Brown’s Creek Trail runs eighteen miles from Stillwater’s Pine Point Park to St.Paul. It is a multi-use trail that offers skiing, running, walking, horseback riding, biking, and rollerblading to users throughout the year. It remains one of the popular activities in Stillwater.

3. Warden’s House Museum

Warden's House Museum in Stillwater
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: 602 Main St N, Stillwater, MN 55082, USA

The Warden’s House was constructed in 1853, and it was initially used as the home of the Warden of the Minnesota Territorial Prison. The museum is located just a short walk north on the main street.

Over the years, thirteen wardens resided in the house until 1914, when the prison was shifted to a different location. The house was sold in 1941 and converted into a museum in the same year.

Many rooms in the museum have exhibits showing different parts of the county’s history, including the Civil War, the Old Stillwater Prison, and the lumber industry. Other rooms reflect those commonly seen in traditional middle-class houses.

See Related: Hotels in Stillwater

4. Teddy Bear Park

Teddy Bear Park, Stillwater, Minnesota
Source: TripAdvisor

Address: 207 Nelson St E, Stillwater, MN 55082, USA

Teddy Bear Park is a famous attraction for kids in Stillwater. This park is small but an amazing place to spend quality time with kids of all ages. Teddy Bear Park is conveniently located about a block from Main Street.

Stillwater is famous for its many shops and restaurants, which are located a short distance from the park. The park has a massive tree structure, a sandpit, picnic benches, train slides, a rock cliff, and several teddy bears.

When you enter the park, you will be greeted by a ten-foot-tall teddy bear. It is one of the must-do things for kids in Stillwater.

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

5. St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail

Address: Houlton, WI 54082, United States

The 4.7-mile loop trail is a must-visit in Stillwater. It connects the Minnesota and Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River. St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail is open to pedestrians and bicycles and crosses both the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge and the historic Lift Bridge.

At the different lookout points, you will find amazing views and detailed information. To access the St. Croix Crossing Loop trail, park in the lot off Highway 36 downtown and then walk south on the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge to Wisconsin and back.

See Related: Best State Parks in Minnesota

6. Aamodt’s Apple Orchard

Visitors in Aamodt's Apple Ochard
image by 633busyt/TripAdvisor

Address: 6428 Manning Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082, USA

Lucille Aamodt and Thor started Aamodt’s Apple Orchard. It is their unique version of the American Dream. The orchard is more than six decades old, and it still retains the same charm that once served as an inspiration years ago.

You can reach for an apple on the tree and imagine you have returned to the good old days. The farm has many historic structures from the 18th century, including an apple store, a bakery, and a winery. A day at the orchard will be fun, delicious, and educational.

See Related: Things to do in Rochester

7. Gondola Romantica

Riding on the Gondola Romantica, Stillwater
Source: TripAdvisor

Address: 425 Nelson St E, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

Enjoy a Venetian-like experience in Stillwater at the Gondola Romantica. You can take a relaxing cruise along the St. Croix River from the downtown area of Stillwater on an authentic gondola, similar to the one you would find in Venice.

It is one of the most romantic experiences you can have in Stillwater. There are many packages to choose from, and you can enjoy a range of experiences on the Gondola.

There are moonlit evening and daytime cruises to choose from. It is undoubtedly a unique experience, making it a popular proposal place. The Gondola ride is also a great way to enjoy the town’s charm.

8. Nelson’s Ice Cream

Nelson's Ice Cream Shop
image by Anurag Saurabh/TripAdvisor

Address: 920 Olive St W, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

Founded in 1923, Nelson’s Ice Cream is a historical treasure of Stillwater. It’s a beloved ice cream place among all types of people, residents, and visitors. There is much more than just an ice cream shop in the place. It offers memorable experiences shared with family, friends, and the community.

Nelson’s Ice Cream has the most generous scoops of any ice cream shop within the five-state area. It has received many awards and recognitions from the state and international levels.

See Related: Reasons Why Traveling Is Important

9. Lift Bridge Brewing Company

Lift Bridge Brewing Company in Stillwater

Address: 1900 Tower Dr W, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

Located in the historic town of Stillwater, Lift Bridge Brewing Company is a craft brewery based in Minnesota. The company has one of the state’s oldest operating taprooms and is the seventh-largest craft brewery in Minnesota.

It is known for several flagship beers, including the Farm Girl Saison and the Hop Dish IPA. The company was established in 2008 by many homebrewers. They initially brewed beer only for their families and friends but soon started brewing larger batches and sold the first beer keg in September 2008.

See Related: Best Breakfast Spots in Minnesota

10. Foodies on Foot

Ice Cream Spot in Stillwater, Minnesota

Address: Downtown Stillwater, Stillwater, MN, United States, Minnesota

A premier food and tourist destination, downtown Stillwater offers the state’s most exciting and memorable food. At Foodies on Foot, you will be taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the best shops in the town.

Local chefs in the area are proud of the quality of the ingredients and are committed to using fresh, local ingredients. This tour lasts about three hours and offers a unique walking tour with exceptional food. The culinary walking tour is one of the best ways to explore Stillwater’s culture.

Enjoy the town’s history and satisfy your appetite with your favorite dishes. The tour is well-planned and organized in a very logical manner. It will give you the finest food offerings and allow you to meet the chefs and owners known for their impressive culinary innovations.

Plan your tour well and make the most of your time in Stillwater. Take a tour at the beginning of your stay in Stillwater to enjoy the best food and beverages at Stillwater restaurants.

See Related: Things to See and Do Around Minnehaha Falls

 11. Lady Chateau

Aerial View of Downtown Stillwater with Fall Colors

Address: 575 Main St N, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

A premier charter yacht, the Lady Chateau cruises on the stunning St. Croix River. At this yacht, you will see the exceptional luxury of leather furnishings, stunning art, and warm wood interiors from the minute you step in. The 1.5 million dollar yacht will take you to a different world altogether.

The vessel can accommodate up to seventy passengers, but a typical size for groups abroad the cruise is around twenty to thirty guests at a time. The ship’s main salon includes a bar area and a buffet, while the top deck has comfortable seating.

The romantic three-hour cruise will leave you with lifetime memories. On the yacht, you will notice etched glass by a Florida artisan that highlights the entrance to the area and offers the perfect place to relax or party.

The top deck has a comfortable sun-shading area, and the forward portion of the flybridge can be enclosed as requested. Below the deck, there is an intimate salon and two bathrooms.

See Related: Best Breakfast in Minnesota

12. Stillwater Library

Address: 1107 S Duck St, Stillwater, OK 74074, United States

Built-in 1901, the Stillwater Library is a stunning example of Renaissance Revival architecture, giving exceptional views of the St. Croix River Valley. You can easily spend a few hours at the library.

The building retains the old-world charm and unique architecture of the 1900s and is one of Stillwater’s best things to do. The library’s terrace is a trendy wedding venue. From the top, you can see a stunning view of the beautiful surroundings.

See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota to Visit

13. Stillwater Trolley Company

Stillwater Trolley Company
Source: TripAdvisor

Address: 400 Nelson St E, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

You can enjoy 45-minute tours daily with the Stillwater Trolley Company. The trolley tour of Stillwater is properly narrated and takes passengers back in time. You will go back to when the town was transformed from a lumber town into one of the most beautiful small towns in the country.

Most of the tour will take place in the hills of Stillwater, and you will be able to see the old mansions built by the barons between 1850 and 1915. They also offer kayak tours. This tour is a must if this is your first time in Stillwater. It will give you detailed insights into the development of Stillwater and make it easier for you to explore the destination.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Ely

14. Washington County Historic Courthouse

Washington County Historic Courthouse
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Address: 101 Pine St W, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

The Washington County Historic Courthouse was constructed in 1870 and was the country’s judicial and administrative center for over a hundred years. Later, in 1971, the Courthouse was on the National Register of Historic Places, the oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota.

Free guided public tours are offered from Monday to Saturday, which take you around the courtroom, the old county jail, and the exhibit rooms. It is an architectural gem that should be on your list of must-sees when in Stillwater.

During the tour, the guide will discuss historic events in Washington County history as you tour the rooms. In addition to public tours, they also offer private tours, community events, and large group tours. If you are traveling in a large group, you can book a tour in advance.

Beyond just the history and amazing architecture of the building, you’ll also get amazing views of the St. Croix River Valley and the rest of Main Street Stillwater.

See Related: Minneapolis vs. St. Paul

15. Visit the Washington County Historical Society

View of Stillwater Minnesota During Fall

Address: 1862 S. Greeley Street, Stillwater, MN, United States, Minnesota

The Washington County Historical Society collects some of the most important pieces of Minnesota history. The society’s collection encompasses more than 150 years of history and has continuously expanded since its inception in 1934. Some of the information you can learn about and research about the historic town of Stillwater include:

  • Copies of registers for Fairview Cemetery, Stillwater, through 1906, and other cemetery indexes.
  • City directories for Stillwater, Bayport, and Hudson, Wisconsin
  • File folders on county subjects, communities, individuals, and families
  • Printed histories from around the county and other historical books
  • Prison records
  • Stillwater telephone books
  • More than 15,000 photographs of the area are included, including the original John Runk historical photograph collection of 435 images and photographs from the Stillwater Gazette, Country Messenger, and Woodbury Bulletin newspapers.

Stop by to learn more about the importance of Stillwater for the entire state of Minnesota.

See Related: Things to Do in Duluth

16. Saint Croix Vineyards

Front of Saint Croix Vineyards, Minnesota
Source: TripAdvisor

Address: 6428 Manning Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082, United States

Saint Croix Vineyards is one of the most fun things to do in Stillwater. If you are looking for a great winery in Minnesota, this is one of your best chances to visit a hidden gem in the area. Saint Croix Vineyards is a winery in Stillwater, Minnesota, established in 1992.

Stop by, try their wines, and explore the picturesque vineyards with owners Paul Quast, Peter Hemstad, and Chris Aamodt. Their rustic wine-tasting room is in a historic barn west of beautiful Stillwater.

No food or restaurant is served on site, so grab some to-go food from one of your favorite Stillwater restaurants and bring it in to go with your wine tasting.

What is Stillwater, Minnesota, Known For?

Aerial view of downtown Stillwater, Minnesota

Stillwater is known as the birthplace of Minnesota and offers breathtaking architecture, food, and the St.Croix River. You can explore the best of this destination on foot or by bike. It is the site that led to the statehood of Minnesota in 1858 and featured the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge that connects both the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the St. Croix River.

A century later, Forbes recognized Stillwater as one of the most picturesque towns in America. It is often described as a small town that offers everything you’d want in a destination, such as historic architecture, historic streets, and plenty of year-round activities, such as the many walking trails and the Stillwater riverboats in the main downtown.

It is famous for its comprehensive collection of art galleries, restaurants, exciting shops, and old inns. At one of the many boutiques, you’ll be sure to find a fantastic Minnesota gift.

Stillwater, Minnesota Main Street in Summer
Sandra Burm /

Irrespective of your age and preference, you will not get bored here. There are plenty of things to see and do throughout the year. This is why Stillwater is considered a year-round destination and is loved by everyone.


What is there to do in Stillwater, Minnesota today?

There is a lot to do in Stillwater; one thing you can do year-round is head to the St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail, visit Warden’s House Museum, or the historical courthouse offering views of the St. Croix River Valley.

How can I spend a day in Stillwater, Minnesota?

We recommend starting your exploration by driving along the St. Croix Scenic Byway to enter the town. Then, visit the Old Courthouse Museum and Warden’s House Museum before walking along the St. Croix River and visiting the famous Lift Bridge.

From there, you can tour some of Minnesota’s most iconic architecture, such as the Water Street Inn. Consider taking the trolley tour to keep your visit efficient. Finish the day by visiting one of the many boutiques or with live music at one of Stillwater’s best restaurants.

What is Stillwater known for?

Downtown Stillwater is known for many things, such as being the first established city in Minnesota, its historic main street, beautiful architecture, and the legendary Lift Bridge over the St. Croix River.

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