Weekend Explorer - Stillwater, a quick getaway from Minneapolis

Flight of cheese. Romantic gondola cruises. 50 different flavor-infused olive oils. Lumber baron’s mansions as B&B. Stillwater has it all covered.

Published by Waqar on 04/06/2015

Ask a Minnesotan to name a quaint destination for a day trip with an exceptional food scene, art & antiques, and plenty of outdoor activities, and more than likely you will be directed to Stillwater, a town 40 minutes east of downtown Minneapolis.

The historic river town of Stillwater located on the Minnesota side of St Croix River bordering Wisconsin, was once a booming lumber town. Today, it is a getaway destination offering beautiful scenery, fine dining, cruises, and unique shopping.

Built in 1870 and used as a courthouse until 1975, the historic Washington Country Courthouse building is used primarily as a rental facility today, and is a popular venue for weddings and receptions.

In service since 1931, the vertical lift bridge over the St Croix River connecting Stillwater in Minnesota to Houlton in Wisconsin will be replaced by a newer bridge at a neighboring location before the end of next year at a cost of nearly $650 million.

Beyond the shores, the St Croix River is a playground with options to play with all of your water toys. The St Croix scenic riverway is popular to boat, canoe, or kayak. For anglers, walleye, smallmouth bass, bluegills are among the common fishes to be found in St Croix River this time of the year.

Main Street Shopping Area.

Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop – retro style diner with a walk-up ice cream window.

Located up the hill, away from Main Street (read neighborhood hangout), Chilkoot Café and Cyclery, is a full service café - and bike store. The café displays art from local artists, and has been instrumental in raising funds for the training of US Cross Country skier, Jesse Diggins, a Stillwater native.

The brainchild of Chris Kohtz, a former radioman, The Wedge and Wheel, features cheese and charcuterie in his downtown store.

For a town the size of Stillwater (population 18,600) there is no dearth of candy stores. Tremblay’s has been a family business since 1963. Their on-site fudge-making lures kids and adults alike.

A visit to Stillwater is incomplete without a stop at the Stillwater Olive Oil Co. store offering over 50 different oils and vinegars.

If your day trip turns into an overnighter, not to fret, in addition to regular accommodations, a number of lumber baron’s mansions from days gone by have been renovated over the years as Bread & Breakfast.


Other Noteables you should definetely check out:

  • If you find yourself exploring Stillwater on a summer Wednesday afternoon, head on over to Lowell Park along the river for Cruisin’ On The Croix Hot Rod & Vintage Car Show, a weekly vintage car show.

  • Valley Bookseller – a well-stocked independent bookstore with knowledgeable staff and ‘hand-picked’ selection of titles, is always a welcome sight.

  • Carnegie Public Library – view from the terrace is worth the visit even on a day trip.

  • St Croix Boom Site – just north of Stillwater lies the historic boom site along the St Croix River where harvested logs were sorted back in the day. The picturesque site can be accessed by taking the stairs down the bluff to the beach.

  • LoLo American Kitchen (locally owned, locally operated)

  • Domacin Restaurant & Winebar (America’s 25 Best Wine Bars – Travel & Leisure magazine)


Travel & Leisure: America’s Best Wine Bars  (March 2012)

Fodors: 10 Best Antiquing Towns in the US (Jan 2015)

Forbes: America’s Prettiest Towns (April 2011)


- Waqar -

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