13 Things to Do in Stillwater, MN during the Pandemic

St Croix Crossing Bridge

Minnesota’s health officials may have just announced a “Stay at Home” order essentially temporarily closing most everything but hotels in our tourist destination, but don’t fret because there are still many ways you CAN enjoy Stillwater, Minnesota during the pandemic while following the guidelines. Read up…

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 about 3/4 completed. 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 CityPages. Please NOTE: As of March 31 the City of Stillwater is closing a very small trail section downtown for spring flood preparedness. They are closing the Loop Trail from just south of downtown up north near the Zephyr Theatre where the Brown’s Creek Trail begins.

St. Croix Crossing Loop Trail headed south from downtown to get on the new bridge.

Something to Look forward to – The final section of Loop Trail will be complete in summer of 2020 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.

Main Street Historic Stairs – CLOSED as of 3/27!!!! (Sorry, can’t do this one any more due to health safety). 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 at 402 S. Main St. next to Lora hotel. There are more stairs, so look up the map to other locations for a great one-hour walk workout downtown Stillwater here (scroll down to find ‘historic stairs’).

Historic Main Street Stairs. Photo by @TSGMinneapolis.

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.

Interactive Art on Brown’s Creek Trail

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.

Headed north from downtown Stillwater, Highway 95 St. Croix Scenic Byway. Photo by Liz Westerhaus of @ThisMinnesotaLife

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. Find links to all walking tours here: Please practice 6 feet social distancing of course and be safe and stay home if ill.

Steamship at Stillwater, MN Riverfront: Washington County Historical Society

Discover Nature in Nearby Parks: 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. Note that Washington County parks have waived entrance fees through April 7th and public buildings such as welcome centers or restrooms may be closed due to COVID-19.

Afton State Park hiking trails.

Virtual Live Events: Stillwater is a destination for creativity and wellness so don’t let this “Stay in Place” restriction stop your mind from having some fun. Take a class right from your home to learn something new, try a workout, or listen to a live stream concert from musicians. Find out what’s happening in our new section added to our events calendar, click ‘online/streaming‘.

Live Streaming Events in Stillwater

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 – See full list pulled together by the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce for the Great Valley Take Out Rally or go to DiscoverStillwater.com, click ‘dining‘ then search ‘take-out/delivery’. Coffee-shops and sweet shops are offering take-out as well.

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

Online Shopping: Need to re-stock Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Spices or add a new piece Cookware? Outfit you and your family with cozy lounge wear or you with 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 graduation, weddings, baby showers and birthdays! These celebrations are still important as our daily needs, so here’s 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, or featured items available for shipping. As of Friday, March 27 retail shops will have to close until April 10th (grocery, necessities excluded). Downtown Stillwater, just RiverMarket Co-Op will remain open during the next two weeks with Modern Roots, Stillwater Olive Oil, Pinch n Rub Spice & Tea Hub, Candyland, Barbara Ann’s Fudge, and Tremblays Sweet Shop available for curbside pick-up limited hours.

Gift Cards: The future will be bright again! Purchase a gift card from a restaurant, shop, salon, hotel, or attraction. Gift it to a neighbor to lift their spirits or to someone in need or just keep for yourself to redeem when you need your mood uplifted as well. You know you’ll want to go out to eat again, color or cut your hair, purchase thoughtful gifts for friends, so just purchase them now to help small businesses during these unprecedented times. You can purchase gift cards online, over the phone, social media direct message…whatever is suggested for the specific business.

Here’s a full list of local tourism businesses you could support…

Here’s a list of ones currently offering specials on gift cards:

Map of Shops in the Historic District of Stillwater

Re-Book Salon Appointments: Stylists chairs will be so ready to greet you and make you feel confident and beautiful again soon, so if you had to cancel your appointment due to COVID19, reschedule now while there is room in the books! Policies for timing may differ. Some salons or spas are even taking advantage of this time to spruce it up for you – Uptown Curl just installed new hair dryers at each station and Just for Me Spa will be unveiling new LED light therapy lounge upon re-opening.

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, and The Serenity Room at Just for Me Spa.

Plan your future Staycation: Stay with the US 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, so plan to hit the road and take advantage of cheap gas prices. When travel restrictions are lifted you’ll have your Stillwater getaway all planned. Oh, you are such a smart planner! You know you’ll need an escape after being so cooped up. Our new hotels can’t wait to welcome you.

Stillwater, Minnesota. Photo by: Steve Jacky

Visit DiscoverStillwater.com for a list of restaurants, shops, attractions, festivals, and more. Take note of What’s New and be ready for the re-opening 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.

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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