One of the hottest tourist destinations in Minnesota is along the shores of the St. Croix River; the quintessential river town of Stillwater. Experience riverboat rides, downtown boutique shopping, live music at the many bars and venues around town, and romantic accommodations among the bluffs of the river valley. With its close location to Lake Elmo Airport, you may be a pilot in the area looking for some solid R&R before the next leg of your flight. Or, you may be a tourist of some other kind — regardless, if you’re planning a visit for fun things to do in Stillwater, here are a few fun things to do in Stillwater and consider putting on your to-do list.
The History of Stillwater
Along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, is Minnesota’s oldest town—older even than the capital St. Paul and most-populous city, Minneapolis—and birthplace of the Gopher State. In 1848, the first territorial convention took place at the corner of Main Street and Myrtle in downtown Stillwater. This meeting officially defined Minnesota’s boundaries as a new state in the U.S. Beyond this remarkable event, early Stillwater established itself as a lumber capital of the Midwest, thanks to the extensive pine running through the St. Croix Valley. With the creation of stage roads, access opened between St. Paul and Stillwater, bringing more and more interest to the area. By the time railroads arrived in the 1870s, it was already a booming industrial town. Many of Stillwater’s magnificent homes, hotels and historic buildings that still stand today were built around this time, paving way for a booming tourist industry. It turned out to be a smart investment, because by 1900, the steady deforestation took its toll and the mills started to go under. As employers moved out of the town, the population dwindled from 13,000 to 7,000 by the start of World War II. By the boom era of the 50s and with better automobile accessibility, Stillwater hit a recovery phase that continued well into the 1970s when the first planned residential developments were built west of downtown and a strip of businesses appeared along highway 36. Today, Stillwater is a top tourist destination in Minnesota, thanks to its historic downtown, river access, natural scenery and closeness to the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. If you’re searching for a new place to explore on your travels, there are plenty of reasons to visit this unique town.
Things to do in Stillwater
Minnesota’s first city has many fun things to do for visitors. Take a look at some of the highlights below:
Parks in Stillwater
- Lowell Park: Experience the mighty Mississippi up close and personal at Stillwater’s most popular park, also offering walking paths, a gazebo, access to downtown shopping areas, public parking and restroom facilities.
- Lily Lake Park: With an onsite hockey arena, great access to fishing and other aquatic activities on Lily Lake, and a small playground, this is a great park to get lost in.
Restaurants in Stillwater
- Mon Petit Chéri: Serving up baked goods as well as breakfast and brunch, this upscale spot is well-known for their blueberry buttermilk pancakes and brioche french toast.
- Brick & Bourbon: After a day of exploring the town, unwind at this late-night hangout serving American fare, cocktails and draft beer.
- Mad Capper Saloon & Eatery: Enjoy classic burgers with a side of Stillwater history at this long-standing establishment housed in a building built in 1890.
Shopping in Stillwater
- Jori & June of Stillwater: Find unique women’s clothing at this locally owned, chic boutique.
- Stillwater Antiques Mall: Bring home a treasure from this sprawling collection of décor, collectibles and other odds and ends.
- Art N Soul: Feed your creative instincts with a trip to this shop, offering a great collection of beads, stones and other jewelry-based products.
Other Activities & Fun things to do in Stillwater
- Stillwater Country Club: Enjoy 18-holes of premier golf on a well-kept course, along with a full restaurant and bar.
- Oak Glen Golf Course: Next door to the country club is this 18-hole, par-72 course that includes an additional nine-hole championship course.
- Discovery Flight: Team with the top flight crew in nearby Twin Cities, Inflight Pilot Training and fly an airplane (under direction of a professional flight instructor, of course). Get the chance to take control of the cockpit and explore the metro area from thousands of feet above.
Do you want to become a licensed pilot?
Whether you want to experience flying before signing up for lessons or you’re ready to start training today, our certified instructors will help you experience the joys of becoming a pilot. We have hundreds of hours of flying under our collective belts, and specialize in private pilot licensing throughout the Minneapolis metro area. Find out what it’s like to work with our team and explore the skies at the helm of an airplane — contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.