12 “Stay Safe” Activities in Stillwater, MN

Minnesota’s health officials have now moved to a “Stay Safe” recommendation during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are still many ways you CAN enjoy Stillwater, Minnesota while following the guidelines. Read up…

St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail headed south from downtown to get on the new bridge. Cover image of both bridges by Kelley Brenner.

St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail – Have you driven, walked, or biked over the new St. Croix Crossing Bridge yet? Discover the 4.7-mile loop trail that connects the Minnesota and Wisconsin sides of the St. Croix River. The St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail is 3/4 complete. Park in the lot just off the highway 36 downtown Stillwater, MN exit and walk south over the new bridge to Wisconsin and back. Find amazing views and river valley information at three lookout points. Family challenge – see if you can find the MN/WI border marker. The view from the St. Croix Crossing bridge was named Best View 2018 by City Pages. Bring your own bikes or rent electric bikes downtown.

St. Croix River Crossing Bridge Loop Trail Lookout: Photo by Andrew Dodd.

Something to Look forward to – The final section of Loop Trail will be complete by June when the renovated historic lift bridge and hilly trail up the Wisconsin side opens up! Stay tuned for details as the official celebrations that were planed for mid-May have been postponed.

Renovation of Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge, March 2020. Photo by: Bill Pohlmann

Enjoying outdoor trails is a FREE activity can be practiced with social distancing. Mother nature is here to heal and the beauty of the St. Croix River Valley welcomes you. We will even mail you a complimentary map, click to order a visitor guide.

Stillwater Bike Trails Map

Gondola Romantica: Is your dating or romantic life in need of a boost after quarantine? The gondolier remains a safe distance of 7 to 10 feet away from you and it’s just you and your special person out on the water, so this is the ultimate social distancing date! See the rest of their COVID-19 precautions at when you book your St. Croix river gondola cruise here.

Main Street Historic Stairs – Look for inspiring chalk messages on the stairs as you gather the stamina to keep climbing higher. Reach the top and there are free spectacular views of downtown Stillwater, MN. Find this staircase as 402 Main St. next to Lora hotel. There are more sets of staircases, so look up the map to other spots for an awesome one-hour walk working downtown here (scroll down to find ‘historic stairs’.)

Brown’s Creek Trail: Dust off your bike and go for a ride. Fresh air and exercise will do you wonders in a time of uncertainty. The Brown’s Creek State Trail is built along an old railroad line so it follows the St. Croix river north out of downtown Stillwater then curves into a beautiful forest and country prairie. Up for a longer bike trail challenge? – at the end of the trail connect to the Gateway State Trail and head into St. Paul.

St. Croix Scenic Byway Drive – watch spring come to life along the St. Croix River Valley towns. This 124 mile route that follows along the St. Croix National Scenic River for much of its length at some times hugging its banks and other times traversing bluff lands. This section of land was originally the connection between the Mississippi River, St. Croix River and Lake Superior. The route goes right through Stillwater’s historic Main Street – we recommend the stretch north to Taylors Falls. Before you head too far from downtown, pull into the 2nd wayside to see the historic Stillwater Boom Site and take a quick hike down to the riverside to see the limestone caves.

St. Croix Scenic Byway, Highway 95 heading north from downtown Stillwater

Self-Guided Historic Walking Tours – History can teach us so much. Times change and people persevere. If you are in need of a walk and want history to entertain you, check out the self-guided historic walking tours from the Washington County Historical Society and City of Stillwater as well as the Lens Flare Stillwater online app where you can literally stand in front of a historic building with your phone which recognizes where you are, then displays interesting stories, photo or video of that location. They also just launched a new tour on the Loop trail! Find links to all walking tours here.

Steamship at Stillwater, MN Riverfront: Washington County Historical Society

Discover Nature in Nearby Parks and Waters: the beauty of the Stillwater area extends beyond the river – drive to a nearby state, county or city park for a day of outdoor enjoyment. North of Stillwater is Pine Point Park or William O’Brien State Park and south you’ll find Lake Elmo Park Reserve or Afton State Park. Full list of parks here. Get out on the water with Friday morning “Heron’s & History” guided kayak tours with Wahoo Adventures. See Stillwater from a new perspective! This guided paddling tour includes stories of the lumbering era as we look for herons, egrets, eagles, and turtles. No experience necessary.

Afton State Park hiking trails.
Kayak tour on St. Croix River with Wahoo Adventures

Horseback-Riding: For equestrian fans, horse-back riding is a great social distancing activity as well. Connect with Madeline Horsemanship clinics for horseback riding on beautiful trails daily.

Restaurant Take-Out: You love your local fare and let’s face it, cooking every meal during stay at home restrictions is tiring so treat yourself once and a while with delicious food from our amazing chefs. No matter your craving, there’s a restaurant in Stillwater that cooks it! We’ve got contact-free curbside pick-up or local delivery from restaurants and coming June 1st, outdoor patio dining! Coffee-shops and sweet shops are offering take-out as well.

Delicious take-out from Phil’s Tara Hideaway. Photo by: Charli C.

Retail Therapy with FREE Parking NOW OPEN: Need to re-stock extra virgin olive oil, spices or add a new piece cookware? Outfit your new spring look or the perfect blazer for your next Zoom conference call? Discover new books or cookbooks? How about movie night popcorn and candy or wine? Or gifts for graduations, weddings, baby showers and birthdays! These celebrations are still important as our daily needs, so here’s a list of shops that are open as well as a list of shops with online stores. You can also follow along with your favorite shops via social media as many are getting creative with virtual tours, live shopping events, featured items available for shipping or by appointment only private shopping. Due to COVID-19 our wonderful city of Stillwater has made all parking downtown FREE for right now, too! As of May 18th, Main Street retail was allowed to open per the Governor so most shops are OPEN!

Map of Shops in the Historic District of Stillwater

Plan a Staycation: Stay within United States and closer to home with your summer and fall travel by discovering all of the fun sites right here in Minnesota. One of America’s Most Picturesque Towns is just short drive away from Minneapolis/St. Paul, so plan to hit the road and take advantage of cheap gas prices. When you feel comfortable traveling again, you’ll have your Stillwater getaway all planned. You know you need an escape after being so cooped up. Our new hotels, bed & breakfasts, and vacation home rentals are open and ready to welcome you with health & safety measures in place!

Stillwater, Minnesota. Photo by: Steve Jacky

Virtual Event Space Tours: There will be a day when we can gather again, so start planning for those rescheduled parties, anniversaries, graduation parties, birthday parties, corporate meetings, and life celebrations like weddings! You can tour 20 unique Stillwater event venues right from your computer. We just added tours of 4 new spaces as well: Lady Chateau Yacht, The Lumberjack Axe Throwing Bar, The Stills at Hotel Crosby, Party room at The Tilted Tiki, and The Serenity Room and Mineral Pool at Just for Me Spa.

Golf: Okay..we were wrong here’s bonus idea #13. Golf courses have safe protocols in place to enjoy this fun outdoor sport, too so discover the several courses in the Stillwater area and hit the greens soon!

Visit DiscoverStillwater.com for a list of restaurants, shops, attractions, and more. Take note of What’s New and be ready for the re-opening in late May/early June of the renovated historic lift bridge now converted for pedestrians to enjoy as part of the St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail connecting downtown Stillwater to Wisconsin. Psst: Win prizes through May 31st as we are doing daily giveaways as we “Countdown to Connection.”

St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail, just south of downtown Stillwater. Bike rentals from Mike’s Electric Bikes.

DISCLAIMER….all subject to change. Follow our COVID-19 blog for updates on the latest recommendations by health officials in Minnesota. Thank you to everyone for working together to make a difference to slow down this pandemic!


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