Top Things to Do in Stillwater, Minnesota
Along the wild and scenic St. Croix River and 28 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, Stillwater combines a historic downtown with contemporary dining, shopping and lodging.
As a quiet neighbor to Saint Paul, historic Stillwater lures Twin Cities locals and vacationers to the scenic banks of the St. Croix River. Boutiques, bell towers and wooded bluffs make a day trip fun, but the Venetian gondola may sway you to stay the night.
What to do
Aamodt's Hot Air Balloon Rides Take flight from the property of Aamodt's Apple Farm and Saint Croix Vineyards for panoramic views of the Twin Cities skyline and the countryside. Then try a wine tasting at the vineyard, or buy some freshly picked apples at the farm to complete a picnic. aamodtsballoons.com
Franconia Sculpture Park A rotating collection of modern sculptures dots the 43-acre park 25 miles north of Stillwater. franconia.org
Gateway-Brown's Creek State Trails The 5.9-mile Brown's Creek State Trail leads bikers and walkers to the heart of Stillwater, and it connects to other trail systems, including the 18-mile Gateway State Trail running from Saint Paul to Stillwater. gatewaybrownscreektrail.org
Gondola Romantica Former Boundary Waters guide John Kerschbaum traded canoe paddling for gondola cruising in 2000 (after shipping an authentic vessel from Venice to Minnesota). He's been crooning to lovers on the St. Croix ever since. gondolaromantica.com
Shopping Stillwater earned a reputation as the state's birthplace after hosting the first territorial convention in 1848. The Main Street where settlers met has become one of the state's most popular stretches for vintage wares and collectibles. Explore 50-plus shops, like Reincarnations in an old sawmill, Cooks of Crocus Hill (for new kitchen goods and cooking classes) and Kathe Wohlfahrt of America (for holiday decorations). discoverstillwater.com
Urban hike The city built on hills holds five long, iconic staircases with San Francisco-like inclines. A 3-mile urban hike challenges visitors to scale all 500-some steps in a day. Create your own path or find a route at discoverstillwater.com.
Where to eat
Freight House A former railway warehouse from the 1880s churns out beer-brined steaks and elk burgers. thefreighthouse.com
Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter Refuel with schnitzel, sausage and Munich beers near the Brown's Creek State Trail, 4 miles west of downtown Stillwater. gasthausbavarianhunter.com
LoLo American Kitchen and Craft Bar LoLo (short for locally owned, locally operated) has won over regulars from Saint Paul with inventive fare like Korean barbecue steak tacos. loloamericankitchen.com
Marx Fusion Bistro Eat your way around the world with a menu that combines Caribbean, Italian-American and Asian dishes. marxfusionbistro.com
Phil's Tara Hideaway Bar and Restaurant Join locals for walleye, pastas or Greek dishes. Located off of State-36. tarahideaway.com
Where to stay
Ann Bean Mansion One of the six bedrooms in the former home and estate of a lumber baron has an oversize copper soaking tub; another room has a ladder leading to a tower with scenic views. If you don't want to leave, ask for breakfast in bed. annbeanmansion.com
Lora The new 40-room lodging traces its roots to an 1868 brewery built into the bluff. Today, modern linens and decor soften the look of original stone walls and vaulted ceilings. Borrow a complimentary bike to explore the town. lorahotel.com
The Outing Lodge at Pine Point The 1858 Georgian premises in the heart of 300-acre Pine Point County Park is known for sumptuous theme dinners. outinglodge.com
Rivertown Inn Guests sip wine and nibble on hors d'oeuvres at an evening social hour before retiring to rooms named for Victorian authors. Some rooms have antique crystal chandeliers and stained-glass windows. rivertowninn.com
Water Street Inn Each room in this historical inn has period furniture and a whirlpool tub; all but five have a gas fireplace. waterstreetinn.us
For information visit discoverstillwater.com