It’s easier than you think to have a budget-friendly trip to Stillwater – there are plenty of fun low cost things to do in Stillwater! Whether you’re on a budget or just looking for additional activities to fill out your schedule, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite Stillwater activities that don’t cost a penny. Here are 6 FREE ways to Discover Stillwater!
Walk across the Historic Lift Bridge to Wisconsin.
Stillwater’s iconic lift bridge was opened in 1931. The vertical-lift bridge crossing the St. Croix River between Stillwater, Minnesota, and Houlton, Wisconsin is stunning and often photographed. When it was open to vehicle traffic, it connected Minnesota State Highway 36 and Wisconsin Highway 64, and at at its peak around 18,000 vehicles crossed the bridge daily. In 2017, with the opening of the new St. Croix Crossing bridge, to the south of Stillwater, thehistoric Lift Bridge was closed to vehicles and converted to bicycle/pedestrian use. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989 for having state-level significance in the theme of engineering, its a rare surviving example of a vertical-lift highway bridge based on the designs pioneered by Waddell & Harrington. Why did the tourist cross the bridge? To see the beauty of Stillwater that Wisconsin gets to see every day.
Step your way to the Stillwater Stairs.
Stillwater was built on hills (much like San Francisco) with Downtown Stillwater being in a valley. As a result, Stillwater has five sets of historic steps that you can climb for exercise or a sweeping view. Sometimes, you’ll find inspiring messages written in chalk as you ascend. Each set has about 100 steps in a very steep vertical climb. Wind your way through downtown to find them all (about 3 mile/1 hour walk).The iconic steps are marked on the map in the Stillwater Visitor Guide, and you can also see a route between them all here.
Public Art Provides Beauty.
Stillwater, Minnesota has an abundance of art sprinkled throughout the town. From sculpture to murals to beautiful utility boxes, we’ve got it all. Everything is free and available to the public so come visit and experience the creativity, but make sure to keep an eye out because if you’re not actively looking for some of the pieces it’s easy to miss them! Throughout the downtown area, you’ll be able to see murals, the Rive City Art Tour Sculptures, Union Art Alley, painted utility boxes, and galleries. Check out all the stunning art here.
Public Parks are the perfect place to spend part of a day.
Stillwater has an array of beautiful parks!
- Teddy Bear Park: This award-winning urban seasonal (Mid April- Mid October), Teddy Bear park is a paradise for toddlers up to age seven. Kids climb on giant Teddy Bears, a giant train, and a crazy tree house with slides. Voted one of the Best Playgrounds in Minnesota by WCCO!
- Lowell Park: Located North of the historic Lift Bridge, Lowell Park has a riverfront view, open air amphitheater, and a gazebo. Located right downtown, Lowell Park is an active place as many events are held in this scenic location. Take in a riverside walk or picnic in the grassy areas, view the historic lift bridge from this park.
- Pioneer Park: Known for one of the best views of Stillwater, Pioneer Park is perched on a bluff on the northern side of downtown. The park hosts a bandshell, playground, and park benches to sit and enjoy the scenes from. Voted Best View in 2016 by City Pages!
- Washington Square Park: Located on Greeley Av, Washington Square park boasts playground equipment, a ball field, and paver brick path throughout park and tiered gardens, but the real gem is the large gazebo.
There are many great guided and vehicle tours you can take. But if you’re looking for less structure, these self guided adventures may be perfect for you. South Hill Homes Walking Tour and Downtown Walking Tour View videos on your smart phone at each stop on this self-guided tour to learn a little more about 14 historic sites in downtown Stillwater or the stories of 18 historic homes in two loops – Pine Street and Chestnut Street. Lens Flare: This is a web-based FREE app that allows you to view historical sites in Stillwater, Minnesota linked to their GPS locations – view how the site looked in the past right on your smartphone! This includes current and historical photos, audio and written narratives along with location technology.
Live music and events.
Stillwater is alive with events and live music most nights of the week! You’ll find options of festivals, car shows, farmers markets, bands, movies, trivia, and much more, and best of all, a lot of it is free to attend. Find a complete list, check our events calendar. The hardest part will be deciding what to do!
With all the money you’ll save sprinkling these budget friendly activities into your itinerary, make sure you get a good night’s rest at one the many amazing lodging properties!