Experience the simple pleasures of fall with with outdoorsy activities in Stillwater, Minnesota (20 miles northeast of downtown Saint Paul).
Gondola Ride
Credit: Courtesy of Gondola Romantica

Go for a gondola ride

Who needs Venice, Italy? Get cozy in the cushioned seats of a Venetian gondola powered by a gondolier wearing a striped shirt and straw hat. For optimal romance, time a 45-minute gondola ride to watch the moon rise over the St. Croix River.

Take a St. Croix boat cruise

Enjoy frame-worthy views of the St. Croix River Valley aflame in fall color. The St. Croix Boat and Packet Company's paddle-wheeler takes leaf peepers on a variety of two-hour excursions. One of the most popular options: weekend dinner cruises paired with live Dixieland music.

St. Croix Boat Cruise Stillwater Minnesota
Credit: Courtesy of St. Croix Boat and Packet Company

Cruise the bike trail

Visitors from the Twin Cities can bike the 18-mile Gateway Trail northeast from Saint Paul and branch off at the Duluth Junction (where you can sometimes catch a food truck) then pedal east to Stillwater on the 5.9-mile Brown's Creek Trail. The mostly flat rail-to-trail route winds around parks and golf courses, follows a trout stream for about 2 miles and then parallels the St. Croix River until it reaches Lowell Park in downtown Stillwater.

Bike Trail Stillwater Minnesota
Credit: Courtesy of Minnesota DNR

Taste the season's bounty

Come hungry to Aamodt's Apple Farm on the southwest edge of Stillwater. Fresh Minnesota apples, apple oatmeal cookies, apple cinnamon doughnuts, fresh cider and pies stock the sprawling 1880s barn. Kids love the goat farm, pedal tractors, hay wagon rides and a hay bale maze. For a change in perspective, a hot-air balloon lifts off from the farm for views of the St. Croix River Valley and surrounding bluffs.

Stillwater, Minnesota

Sip a sweet wine

Next door to Aamodt's, Saint Croix Vineyards fittingly serves an apple wine, but also pours close to 20 wines showcasing Minnesota-developed grapes, such as fruity Frontenac Gris and oak-aged Marquette. Cap off the tasting with Raspberry Infusion, a rich red that pairs beautifully with dark chocolate. Bring a picnic to pair with the wine and enjoy it at tables overlooking a pond.

St. Croix Vineyards near Stillwater Minnesota

See supersized pumpkins

Watch expert pumpkin carving and see brave souls willing to paddle down the St. Croix in giant carved-out pumpkins at the Harvest Fest and Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off at Lowell Park (October 8-9, 2022).

See Supersized Pumpkins in Stillwater, Minnesota