The Best Things to do in Stillwater for 2023

Things to do in Stillwater, photo of the lift bridge, lilacs, and the St. Croix River

Spring is just around the corner, and we’re already seeing the signs of life bursting from the ground and more crisp sunny days. Our charming small town on the St. Croix River is beautiful to visit all year round—there are so many exciting things to do in Stillwater every season—but the start of spring brings new energy back to our historic area. For those planning an upcoming getaway or looking ahead to your vacation time this year, you should consider heading to Stillwater to explore and relax. 

Stillwater, MN, is about a half-hour east of Minneapolis, making it an ideal spot for a quick weekend getaway from the city, but with so many activities and adventures, you could easily make a full week out of it! This picturesque town has everything you need to feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle and stresses of daily life. Plus fresh air, exciting dining opportunities, local boutiques and specialty shops, and stunning riverfront views. Luckily, our Stillwater Hotel has one of the best locations in the city, right on the St. Croix River.

The Water Street Inn is the perfect location to book your Stillwater, MN, lodging for a weekend away or a longer leisurely vacation in our charming little city. Our Inn is in the heart of downtown, directly across from the riverfront, with impressive views of the historical 1931 Lift Bridge spanning the St. Croix River. Our 61-room Stillwater Hotel is Victorian by design but updated with modern amenities to make your stay extraordinary. We offer on-site dining opportunities and are within walking distance of the majority of all the best things to do in Stillwater. Book your room today!

Things to do in Stillwater, a photo of one of the best outdoor patios in Downtown Stillwater

Discover These Things to do in Stillwater MN This Year

There are beautiful sights at every turn in Stillwater! You’ll watch riverboats and authentic gondolas navigating the river, find historical gems tucked around bends, and enjoy the small-town charm. There’s a specific draw to our small town in every season: crisp spring days, sunny summer on the St. Croix, the fall colors of Autumn, and cozy days in winter. There are plenty of things to do in Stillwater, MN, all year!

Here are our top things to do in Stillwater each season: 

Best Activities in the Spring: 

  1. Stillwater Trolley has been taking guests on historical city tours since 1989, offering an in-depth guided tour. The 45-minute narrated tour takes you by beautiful Victorian architecture and the St. Croix River and gives you an overview of all the best things to do in Stillwater.
  2. Spring up the stairs! Stillwater is built into the hillsides surrounding the St. Croix River, so there are several sets of stairs (five to be exact), each with 100 steps that take you up and down for exceptional views of the river and valley below. 
  3. While Stillwater has a year-round Farmer’s Market, spring is the best time to see the beautiful bounty of local produce, flowers, and artisan goods. 

Things to do in Stillwater this Summer:

  1. Hit the river: always one of the best things to do in Stillwater during the summer! There are many ways to enjoy the St. Croix River, but one of the most classic ways is with Stillwater River Boats on a lunch and dinner cruise. You’ll climb aboard an old-fashioned riverboat and glide in style. There are many other ways to get out on the water for those who would rather be the captain. 
  2. Enjoy an afternoon of hiking and biking along some of the area’s best trails. The recently completed St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail starts just outside our Stillwater, MN, lodging on the historic lift bridge and continues 4.5 miles before looping back across the river on the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge into downtown.
  3. Be sure to grab a cocktail at one of the rooftop bars. And conveniently, on your stay at our Stillwater, MN, lodging, our favorite spot is on Papa’s Rooftop for Italian-style meals, wood-fired pizza, and cocktails with a stunning view opening in early spring. Or check out our neighbors at Portside or Brick and Bourbon.


Explore Stillwater With Fall Colors:

  1. One of the most romantic things to do in Stillwater is take a memorable gondola ride with Gondola Romantica. It’s a little touch of Venice in the midwest. Sit back and relax as you glide across the St. Croix River with a seasoned and knowledgeable guide. Even more special with the fall colors ablaze! 
  2. Aamodt’s Apple Farm Bakery & Store is a one-stop destination for all things autumn. This iconic family-owned Stillwater destination allows you to pick your own apples or purchase or taste everything from apple cider (hard and N/A) to apple oatmeal cookies and apple butter. They also offer hot-air balloon rides with amazing views of the St. Croix River Valley and surrounding bluffs. Book here.
  3. Take a scenic drive along the St. Croix Scenic Byway. The route is beautiful at any time of year, but it is especially fantastic when the fall foliage changes.

Best Things to do in Stillwater during Winter:

  1. Stillwater is renowned for having one of America’s finest small-town food scenes, and there are plenty of delightful opportunities to enjoy during the cozy winter months. You’ll find everything from traditional Italian and New American to international delights and street tacos.
  2. Each winter, the World Snow Sculpting Championship comes to Stillwater. Teams travel from all areas of the globe to compete in this impressive art form, and the Snow Sculpting event takes place each January. 
  3. The Water Street Inn adds winter fun to the waterfront with a River Side Ice Skating Rink. It’s free, and we hold hours for free skating, hockey nights, and family skating. Bring your own ice skates. It’s one of the most memorable things to do in Stillwater year after year!

For personalized recommendations on all the best things to do in Stillwater throughout the year, feel free to ask our warm and welcoming staff members during your stay!

Things to do in Stillwater, photo of a lovely guest room at the Water Street Inn looking out over the historic Lift Bridge

The Best Stillwater, MN, Lodging for Getaways

As you can see, the list of things to do in Stillwater, MN, is quite long, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. If you’re taking the time to visit us in Stillwater, MN, this year, then you might as well stay in the heart of downtown at the only waterfront hotel in town with elegantly appointed guest rooms, world-class amenities, and fantastic hospitality. Our Stillwater, MN, lodging overlooks the beautiful St. Croix River and the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge. From our iconic Stillwater hotel, most of the area’s top attractions are easily accessible and even walkable.

You’ll love sitting on your private balcony or our rooftop bar gazing at the water. The guest rooms are comfortable with high-end amenities, from comfy king-size beds, cozy fireplaces, and double whirlpool tubs (suite rooms only), and all with that midwest charm. All of our 61 rooms offer the perfect layout and design for various vacations, from family-focused to couples-only; you’ll feel relaxed at our quiet and spacious Inn.

Moreover, our hotel offers you a choice between three great restaurants: Charlie’s Restaurant, which offers a delicious fine dining experience in Stillwater; Charlie’s Pub, with a casual ambiance and live music; and our seasonal Papa’s Rooftop Restaurant, which offers its own menu of delicious food with incomparable views of the St. Croix River (open in the spring, depending on the weather). Book your room at our Stillwater, MN, lodging today!

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