Field Trip Friday: Stillwater

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(Photo of Downtown Stillwater taken by Jeff Ross)

Welcome to my hometown! Stillwater is the birthplace of Minnesota and a gorgeous historic town right on the St. Croix River. I grew up going to most of these places regularly with my friends. A lot has changed over the years, and I find myself saying “Oh that used to be an empty lot” or “back in my day that was an Italian restaurant” or even “we had to walk uphill both ways”. That last statement is definitely still the truth in Stillwater. If you leave the downtown area be prepared for some steep climbs. 

Anyways, I hope you and your family enjoy the sites, food, and of course the river!

But first, coffee…

Valley Bookseller & The Daily Grind Espresso Cafe

217 Main Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082

When first arriving in town, slowly drive down Main Street and scope out the shops you might want to explore. Continue driving to the north side of town and find a place to park in one of the public lots by the river (try lots #5-11). Make your way to the lovely Valley Bookseller. Let the kids explore while you order a coffee from The Daily Grind Espresso Cafe at the back of the independent bookshop.

Take a Stroll 

(Photo of Stillwater Lift Bridge taken by Sue Hedin)

With your coffee in hand and the children in sight, walk along the St. Croix River. Take cute pics in the gazebo, by the historic lift bridge, and the various flower beds. 

There are so many wonderful little shops in Downtown Stillwater, including several antique stores. I recommend leaving those for a weekend getaway sans children. However, Minnesota Made is one of my favorite shops that sells locally designed and printed clothing for all members of the family. 

Minnesota Made

220 East Chestnut St, Stillwater, MN 55082 

Make your way to the South end of Main Street and pop into the glorious Tremblay’s Sweet Shop. This place is overflowing with old-school candies that you can purchase by weight. Be warned it’s VERY easy to get carried away. 

Tremblay’s Sweet Shop

308 S. Main Street, Stillwater, MN 55082

Play

Teddy Bear Park

207 East Nelson Street, Stillwater, MN 55082

(Photo of Teddy Bear Park taken by Jeff Ross)

Teddy Bear Park is a beloved destination for younger kids. Equipped with giant concrete teddy bears, slides, bridges, a play train, and a gazebo. This park is within walking distance of all downtown lots, but if you want to park closer try lots #15, 14, or 2

Historic Main Street Stairs

The bottom of the stairs is right next to Made Coffee & Lora Hotel

400-408 St Croix Trail N, Stillwater, MN 55082

(Photo of Main Street Stairs taken by Jeff Ross)

If the kids are still wired from all the sweet treats from Tremblay’s you could also challenge your crew to climb to the top of the Stillwater Historic Main Street Stairs. I can’t remember how many steps there are in total but there are enough that you lose track while you huff and puff your way to the top. The view at the top is worth the labored breathing. You can see up and down the St. Croix River, the historical lift bridge, Main Street, and many of the beautiful Victorian houses. 

Time to Eat

Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop

131 Main St. Stillwater, MN 55082

There are various restaurants scattered throughout Stillwater that are all pretty great. A tourists’ favorite is Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop in the middle of downtown right by the historical lift bridge. It always looks like there is a party going on there and they have plenty of outdoor seating.

Oasis Cafe

806 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082

Or another favorite place is Oasis Cafe which is on the south end of town. The owners have done incredible work to expand and update this historic diner. It has old-school vibes with modern amenities. A great place for the whole family!

Quiet Time

Stillwater Public Library

224 Third Street North, Stillwater, Minnesota 55082

(Photo of Stillwater Public Library taken by Netanya Roden)

One of my all-time favorite places in town is the Stillwater Public Library. This old Carnegie Library has been updated several times since it was originally built in 1902. “General fiction can still be found on the same wrought iron shelves installed in 1903” (Stillwaterlibrary.org) and you can still spot some of the original stained glass windows. The children’s and teen’s spaces are fun to explore with play areas and reading nooks. And of course, another great spot for catching a spectacular view is from the Library’s Terrace. (Library Parking Ramp)

(Photo of Stillwater Public Library Terrace taken by Sue Hedin)

An Enormous Treat

Nelson’s Ice-Cream

920 Olive St. W, Stillwater, MN 

After some quiet time you and the kiddos deserve an unforgettable treat. Jump in the car and drive up the massive hill to visit a popular Stillwater landmark, Nelson’s Ice-Cream. This place is known for hysterical servings of delicious ice-cream for a very cheap price. Tip from a local: only order a child’s size cup… trust me.

One Last Adventure

St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail

1315 Main St. S, Stillwater, MN 55082

(Photo of St. Croix Crossing Bridge taken by Jeff Ross)

As if you didn’t get enough walking and eating packed into your day, one last stop and more recent addition to this historical town is the state-of-the-art St. Croix Crossing Bridge. You can find parking near this new bridge and walk across. If you are extra adventurous you and your family could bike, walk, run, rollerblade, etc the entire 4.7 mile loop that takes you over both bridges. 

** Parking Information

Downtown Stillwater Parking Map

Downtown Stillwater Parking Info

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Erica was raised in Stillwater, MN and never thought she would leave the Twin Cities area. However, this extroverted librarian was on the hunt for a new challenge. At the end of 2018, she convinced her high school sweetheart, their two-year old son Milo, and their three cats to move to Rochester. She has been having a wonderful time exploring the area and later sharing her treasured finds with loved ones. In her spare time, Erica is constantly binging audiobooks and podcasts, wrangling her toddler, working on sassy embroidery and trying out new recipes (but dreads the clean-up). She has decided her new life’s goal is to convince friends and family, one by one, to move to the charming city of Rochester. Follow Erica on Instagram @ericarossmn

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