Here are all of the topics you’ll find in this media press kit, click on the topic below to jump to that section on this web page. Click here for Images & Video.
- Stillwater Overview
- Stillwater Accolades
- Stillwater History
- Tours and Attractions
- Outdoor Recreation
- Festivals and Events
- Group Tour Itinerary Ideas
- Venues: Weddings & Meetings
- Stillwater Trivia
Stillwater, Minnesota Overview
Stillwater is considered one of America’s Most Picturesque Small Towns and the Birthplace of Minnesota. Located just outside Minneapolis/St. Paul on the Wisconsin border of the St. Croix River, Stillwater’s charming historic main street district offers a thriving foodie scene, trendy boutiques and many vintage shops, wineries, breweries, art galleries, river cruises, trolley tours, bike trails and festivals. Stay overnight to feel the nostalgia of times past in this once bustling steamboat town and top lumber producers of the world. Today, Stillwater has new hotels and over 20 venues welcoming weddings, meetings, and leisure travelers year-round.
Stillwater is located in the Midwestern region of the United States, in the State of Minnesota, just outside of the Twin Cities – Minneapolis/St. Paul. Minnesota borders Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Canada. Stillwater is located on the banks of the St. Croix River bordering Wisconsin. Located about 30 minutes from the metro area, Stillwater is a popular day trip destination and welcomes overnight travelers from all over the world.
Stillwater is a city in Washington County, Minnesota and is the county seat. The population was 18,225 at the 2010 census. Stillwater is part of the Twin Cities Metro Area.
Birthplace of Minnesota
Stillwater is considered the historic Birthplace of Minnesota because in 1848 the first territorial convention that began the process of establishing Minnesota as a State was held on the corner of Myrtle and Main Street downtown. Stillwater is also one of Minnesota’s oldest towns, preceding Minneapolis by years. At time of incorporation as a city in 1854, Stillwater was the largest in the State.
National Register of Historic Places
The City of Stillwater is federally recognized as a Preserve America Community and the downtown Main Street area is Nationally registered as the Stillwater Commercial Historic District. In addition, there are 21 buildings on the National Historic Registry and over 100 Heirloom Homes and Landmark Sites. Visit the Washington County Historical Society website for more great history and enjoy the delightful boutique shopping and restaurants in these historic spaces.
St. Croix National Scenic Byway
Stillwater is located on the St. Croix Scenic Byway (State Hwy. 95 which runs through historic downtown Main Street) and is not far off the path of one of America’s Byways called the Great River Road in MN or WI that runs along the Mississippi River from Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico (from hwy 61 in Hastings, MN head north on Hwy 95) . Take the scenic drive listed on MotorcycleRoads.com (Hwy 95/Saint Croix Trail north from downtown Stillwater) for great ride north from Stillwater to Taylor’s Falls, MN. For more information visit Minnesota Scenic Byways.
St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway is located in northwest Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota and is a unit of the National Park System administered by the National Park Service. Relatively free-flowing and unpolluted, the Namekagon and St. Croix rivers flow through some of the most scenic and least developed country in the Upper Midwest.
In 1968, Congress established the Riverway as one of the original eight rivers protected under the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. In 1972, the Lower St. Croix National Scenic Riverway was added to the system.
Together they form the 230-mile-long park that offers outdoor enthusiasts a chance to enjoy a variety of recreation opportunities within easy reach of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The last 25 miles of the St. Croix River are not part of the national park, but are part of the national wild and scenic rivers system. This 25-mile stretch is administered by the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Here is a link to the press kit from the National Park Service St. Croix River office. The official visitor center for the park is located north of Stillwater in St. Croix Falls, WI.
Famous Lumber Town
Stillwater had the world’s largest concentration of white pine trees and by the 1880s, it was the largest lumber producer in the world. The lumber barons provided the town with incredible wealth and dozens of gorgeous mansions, some of which have been converted to historic bed and breakfasts. Stillwater still celebrates this heritage with Lumberjack Days, a week of lumberjack contests, food, culture, games and outdoor live music along the riverbanks.
First Minnesota Prison
The scene in Stillwater has changed dramatically in the last few years with new restaurants, a speakeasy, breweries, fashion boutiques, new bike trails, new event venues and several new places to stay, adding over 150 rooms since 2018.
The media said it best- “With the Lift Bridge Closed, Stillwater’s Main Street is Booming!” (Pioneer Press) “Developers Drop $30 Million on Downtown Stillwater” (KSTP) and 5 Hottest Small Town Destinations in Minnesota (Star Tribune Magazine). Exciting things are happening here…please excuse our dust as we are just about finished with the renovated historic lift bridge trail opening June 1, 2020. For a complete list of what’s new, visit our blog.
Visitors to Stillwater, Minnesota will be amazed at the incredible history and perfect pairing of modern trends and historic beauty as they discover the many different ways to explore the city.
- 5 Small Towns Worthy of your 2020 Destination Bucket List – Real Simple Magazine, 2020
- Best Heartland Waterfront Meeting Destinations – Small Market Meetings, 2020
- Best of the Midwest: 20 Places to Go in 2020 – Chicago Tribune, 2020
- 4 Top Spots to See Fall Leaves Changing – LA Times, 2019
- Best View (St. Croix Crossing New Bridge Bike Trail) – City Pages, 2018
- Best Place to Take Out-Of-Town Guests – City Pages, 2016
- Best Small CVB in Minnesota – MN Meetings & Events Magazine, 2015/2016/2017
- America’s Most Picturesque Small Towns – USA Today Travel, 2015
- 10 Best Antiquing Towns in the U.S. – Fodor’s Travel, 2015
- America’s Best Towns for Fall Colors – Travel & Leisure Magazine, 2014
- 100 Best Midwest Small Town Getaways – Midwest Living
- Best Shopping Hoods – Minneapolis/St.Paul Magazine, 2013
- Best Twin Cities Staycation – CityPages, 2013
- Best Small Town Charm Wedding – MN Bride, 2013
- America’s Top 10 Prettiest Towns – Forbes, 2011
- Best Weekend Getaway – City Pages, 2011
Stillwater dates back to 1848, the year before Minnesota became a territory and a decade before it became a state. The town grew rapidly as its lumber
industry thrived and the area was the regional center of commerce, industry, and wealth. In the first year of its existence, Stillwater established Minnesota’s first schoolhouse, a one room building located on Olive between Second and Third Streets.
That same year, the second hotel in the Minnesota Territory was built on the site of what would become the historic Lowell Inn. The Sawyer House, owned by Elmore Lowell was the gathering site for many of the local lumbermen and their “lady friends”. By 1924 the hotel was razed and Lowell donated the land to the local businessmen for a new hotel. The present property was completed in 1927 and was named The Lowell Inn after its benefactor. Dubbed the Mount Vernon of the Midwest, its 13 columns represent the original 13 American colonies. The Inn was managed by three generations of the Palmer family until 1995. It was purchased and renovated in 2001 by The St. Croix Boat and Packet Company and today features 41 guestrooms, restaurant, and banquet facilities.
Another historic inn located on the St. Croix Riverfront is the Water Street Inn. This building originally opened in 1890 as the Lumber Exchange Building, the headquarters of the mill operators in town. From their office windows, they could keep a close eye on their operations and also on their finances as the vaults held thousands of dollars in cash from their profitable businesses. When the building was eventually converted to a hotel in 1995 the vaults of the ten mill offices were incorporated into some of the guestrooms.
During the Lumber Boom era which lasted from about 1854 to 1915 the St. Croix riverfront was humming and hustling with saw mills, trains and paddle wheelers which steamed up river full of wealthy southerners and aristocrats who took advantage of cooler summers and fabulous scenery. The town’s population at the time was about 500, just shy of the 640 residents than inhabited Saint Paul.
While both cities were considered contenders for the territorial capital, in the end community leaders decided that Saint Paul would be designated the capital city and Stillwater would be awarded the Territorial Prison – after all, there was more money to be made as the prison site, as Stillwater was able to charge other counties for the upkeep on their prisoners. And so the first Territorial Prison was constructed in 1853. The original prison closed in 1914 when a new facility was constructed just south of town.
Stillwater is still in the prison business, operating the Stillwater State Prison in Bayport and the Oak Park Heights Maximum Security Prison, which opened in 1982. Although the Territorial Prison site is now a condominium complex, the Warden’s House still stands as a museum which showcases much of Stillwater’s early history, including information on its most notorious inmates – the Younger Brothers who rode with the Jesse James gang.
Another key historic structure is the Freight House on Water Street. In its heyday 38 trains per day passed through this passenger and freight depot. Today it’s the Freight House Restaurant and Bar which offers an expansive deck with great views of the river.
Stillwater Lift Bridge
Perhaps the town’s most famous landmark is the Stillwater Lift Bridge. When the bridge was built in 1931 to replace a 1910 Swing Bridge, it was intended to accommodate up to 3,000 vehicles a day. Until 2017, the lift bridge carried 18,000 cars and trucks across the river from Wisconsin per day. As of August 2017, the historic lift bridge was closed to car traffic for good when the new St. Croix Crossing bridge was built a mile south to connect highway 36 to Houlton, WI. The Lift bridge, spanning the St. Croix River, will be converted to a bicycle/pedestrian crossing and will also become part of a five-mile “loop trail” system connecting the new river bridge with the historic bridge. The Lift Bridge will continue to operate to allow boat navigation beneath.
Lumber Mill History
Between 1850 and 1915 the ten mills operating in town were capable of cutting 100,000 board feet of lumber in a 12 hour shift using 16’ diameter blades. By 1870 the population had boomed from 500 in 1848 to 20,000 and Stillwater had 57 saloons, 23 churches, 6 cat houses, and the state’s first millionaire – Isaac Staples. Many followed in his shoes and soon Stillwater’s bluffs were filled with luxurious mansions owned by the mill owners and their officers.
But the mills couldn’t operate without the “jacks”, the unsung heroes who worked the forests throughout the winter cutting timber, hauling it to the river on sleighs and stacking the logs up on the ice. Some jacks had jobs as “river pigs” jumping from log to log clearing jams and making sure the swath of logs floated smoothly down the St. Croix. Sometimes they weren’t so agile. A slip into the river often meant death, as it was nearly impossible to surface from beneath the glut of logs moving swiftly through the icy current of the spring melt. This resulted in a unique occupation for one man – John Jeremy the body hunter, who dragged the river for bodies of jacks at night, sometimes commanding up to $500 from their families. It was rumored that Jeremy found some 300 bodies during his lucrative career. But his son, John Jeremy Jr. did even better, rounding up 500.
Real Life Dr. Suess Lorax Story
After 60 years the unimaginable happened. The town ran out of lumber. No one had thought to replant the trees as they were razed and by 1914 – the boom went bust. The great lumber barons were ruined and the town’s population plummeted from 20,000 to 7,000 with many of the lumber barons losing their homes and in some cases, their lives, as suicide was not uncommon.
The bust period was followed by WWI, the Depression and WWII and it wasn’t until the 1960s that people started to rebuild the town and revive the beautiful mansions and main street storefronts to create a lively, productive city. Today Stillwater is once again a thriving, bustling river town. The lumber industry has been replaced with tourism, drawing thousands to shop, dine, and explore the beautiful riverfront area. Hundreds of thousands descend on the city each summer to take advantage of the river and outdoor recreation and the many riverfront festivals held each year.
For more history information, visit the Washington County Historical Society website: http://www.wchsmn.org/stillwater/ .
One of the best ways to begin a first visit to Stillwater is with a historic narrated trolley tour that transports you back in time as you learn about the colorful history of this lumber boom town gone bust. The tour begins along the St. Croix riverfront, once bustling with saw mills, trains and riverboats. You’ll see the mansions of the wealthy lumber barons, the city’s parks, overlooks, and historic sites and hear tales of ties to the rich and famous who frequented the town as well as the lumberjacks who worked the world’s largest pine forests. Note that tours run May-October.
For a birds’ eye view from the air, consider a hot air balloon ride or authentic paddlewheel boat river cruise, which gives a breathtaking view of the river valley or a view from the air or water especially in the autumn months when fall colors peak.
Discover all the things to do in Stillwater from segway tours to romantic gondola cruises to axe throwing bars to cooking classes to tours at historic sites. Visitors can also explore history on their own with self-guided historic tours.
The Warden’s House for the former Territorial Prison now serves as a museum of the area and is open to visitors. In addition to prison artifacts and records, including biographical information on its most notorious prisoners, the Younger Brothers, the museum showcases outstanding photos and tools of the fabled Lumberjack era as ell as well as period clothing, recreational gear and appliances.
Other historic gems in Stillwater include the original Isaac Staples Mill, located just south of the Warden’s Museum, which now houses a sprawling antique shop and the Stillwater Public Library circa 1902, one of thousands of libraries built by Andrew Carnegie at the turn of the century. www.stillwaterlibrary.org
The Historic Courthouse is the oldest in Minnesota, dating from 1870. This distinctive Italianate-style landmark designed by Saint Paul architect Augustus Knight, served as the county’s administrative and judicial center until 1975. Now a popular site for special events and guided tours of the building and old jail.
The St. Croix River is one of the most picturesque in the Midwest and there are many ways to enjoy your visit on the water. Board a Stillwater Riverboat for a lunch or dinner cruise or arrange a romantic private cruise aboard an authentic Venetian gondola. If you’re traveling with a group, consider renting a pontoon for the day and bring along your own food and beverages.
The river is also ideal for swimming or kayaking and the bluffs offer challenging terrain for bikers and hikers. Downtown Stillwater is extremely walkable and you can get your exercise by biking up the many hills, or hiking up the five sets of steep historic stairs (of the original 18) that lead from downtown up into the bluffs of the residential areas.
Explore beyond downtown with several bike trails providing great views along the St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail or Minnesota country side on the Brown’s Creek State Trail.
Highlights include Chilikoot Hill, which at a 24% grade, is the steepest climb for the Nature Valley Grand Prix pro bike race historically held in June, or Pioneer Park at the top of 2nd & Cherry streets which was the home site of the great lumber baron Isaac Staples and offers one of the greatest panoramic views of the river, downtown, and both the new and historic bridges.
Other favorite parks include Lowell Park, right along the downtown riverfront or the Teddy Bear Park at 2nd and Nelson streets which offers picnic facilities and a terrific children’s play ground. Here’s a list of the nearby campgrounds and state or county parks.
The Boomsite rest area located a couple of miles north of town is a place to hike down to touch the sandy shores of the river and view the National Scenic St. Croix River.
Discover the beauty of nature year-round as well when you visit this Minnesota winter wonderland with many trails and ski resorts nearby.
Downtown Stillwater has over 40 shops offering an even mix of fashion, specialty gift shops, art galleries, antique and vintage malls as well as home décor and culinary shops. The boutiques are conveniently located along a six block stretch of Main Street, just one block west of the river. The best part about Stillwater shopping is the fact that all stores are locally owned with friendly shopkeepers and unique merchandise – no big box or chain stores in sight which makes Stillwater, Minnesota the ultimate shop small, shop local destination.
It’s no surprise that such a historic town has many antique shops including one of the largest in the Midwest (Midtown Antiques). Browse for gifts or search for that special item to round out a favorite vintage or mid-century modern collection. We event have an antique light restoration company and historic image repair experts in town.
Look for shopping events like Ladies Night Out and Hometown for the Holidays on our events calendar.
Whether you’re in town for a romantic getaway, girls getaway weekend or attending a summer festival with the kids, Stillwater restaurants offer something for every taste, style and price point. From the corner ice cream parlor or casual café to fine riverfront dining or a lively bar and nightclub, you’ll find the ideal eatery to suit your mood. With over 20 restaurants and pubs downtown and nearly all with outdoor seating, you’ll discover how much of a culinary destination Stillwater has become. For those who can’t decide where to eat, we even have a Foodies on Foot culinary walking tour!
The lodging scene in Stillwater has changed dramatically in the last few years with an addition of over 150 rooms since 2018, for a total of 550 rooms now. Downtown Stillwater has two new boutique hotels right on Main Street ideal for your executive traveler, modern romantic stay, or wedding party suite booking.
- Hotel Crosby – boutique hotel with large suites, restaurant and rooftop salt water hot-tub on the north end of Main St. (Opened November 2018)
- Lora Hotel – boutique hotel and restaurant in historic brewery block on the south end of Main St. (Opened June 2018)
- Water Street Inn – renovation to expand 20 more rooms, a rooftop restaurant and new entrance with clock tower (Completed late 2019)
In addition, in 2017 the City of Stillwater passed an ordinance to allow vacation rental properties so there are now 20+ new vacation home or downtown loft rentals in the area offering more options for groups to stay.
Stillwater also has several moderately priced franchise hotels conveniently located just minutes from downtown Main Street, near major shopping malls and restaurants along Hwy 36.
View all current Stillwater lodging properties here: https://www.discoverstillwater.com/lodging/ .
Bed & Breakfast Lodging in Stillwater, Minnesota
Guests staying overnight in Stillwater can relive a part of its history by staying in one of the area’s beautifully appointed historic inns or Bed and Breakfasts lining the turn-of-the-century residential neighborhoods. Most of the inns were built in the late 1800s by the great lumber barons who made their fortunes off the vast stands of white pine gracing the bluffs of the St. Croix River Valley. The Boom went bust by the 1920s, and although the barons were broke, their mansions withstood the test of time and were converted to B&Bs in the early 1990s, nearly a century after their masters had lived, dined and entertained in these stately homes.
Stillwater’s seven B&Bs offer an average of five guestrooms with fireplaces and private baths with luxurious spa showers or whirlpools. Many also offer private balconies, decks with separate entrances or carriage house suites. All provide a late afternoon snack or reception, a gourmet breakfast and most importantly, a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life in the serene neighborhoods of Stillwater.
Here’s a sampling of B&B’s to choose from while visiting Stillwater:
The Ann Bean Mansion was built for Ann Hersey Bean whose father co-owned the Hersey, Bean & Brown Lumber Company. The entrance to this grand home exudes luxury and romance with a gorgeous parlor decked with antiques and elegant furnishings in shades from pale pink to fuchsia. The bay windows flood the dining room with sunlight for a cheery breakfast experience. Highlights include a 6’ diameter tub in “Cynthia’s Room” and a 4th floor tower that be accessed from the “Tower Suite.”
Aurora Staples Inn – Built by lumber baron Isaac Staples for his favorite daughter Aurora, this lovely home is a testament to his devotion to her. A formal parlor and music room provide a welcome atmosphere for guests for wine and hors d’oeuvres upon arrival. Architectural details include gorgeous wood carvings containing Staples’ signature oak leaf, original stained glass windows and incredible views of the river and Stillwater’s trade marked lift bridge. The St. Croix Suite, which was Aurora’s bedroom until 1924, still contains her original walnut bedroom set – a wedding present from her parents. The Carriage house suite was restored by current owners and has a homey, rustic feel, with antique furnishings, a whirlpool tub, 3-sided fireplace and separate bathroom.
Cover Park Manor – If you crave a bit more of the countryside, head over to Cover Park Manor in nearby Oak Park Heights, and enjoy total seclusion on 100 acres of parkland and open vistas. The two mile hiking trail gets you close to wildlife and an outdoor skating rink provides a great fun in winter. What better way to appreciate the hot tub afterwards? Guestrooms contain private refrigerators stocked with wine, beverages and veggie/cheese trays as well as microwaves and popcorn. All rooms have fireplaces,whirlpool tubs and private deck or porch. In fact there is no reason to leave the rooms and guests don’t want to – breakfast in bed is standard here.
James Mulvey Inn – The Estate of James Mulvey has graced historic Stillwater for 133 years. Located on an acre and one half campus on Stillwater’s south hill neighborhood, walking distance for downtown, the Italianate mansion and stone Carriage House have welcomed guests to an historic inn experience for over 20 years.
Lady Goodwood B&B – This elegant Queen Ann Victorian has been restored to its original splendor with parquet floors, beveled stained glass windows and en elegant exterior featuring fish scale shingles, gingerbreading and a round Palladian window. The three elegant guestrooms have distinctive color themes in tones of fresh blue and white, romantic purple and rose and regal green and gold. This B&B is conveniently located across from a quiet neighborhood park, yet just three blocks from downtown Stillwater.
Rivertown Inn – Built in 1884, the Rivertown Inn is a stunning 9 bedroom mansion that has operated as a B&B since 1979. The ultimate in elegance and opulence, everything about this home is done on a grand scale. The stained glass windows, hand painted wall murals, ornate ceilings and amazing collections of art are of museum quality. Even the complimentary beverage center off the kitchen is lit from above by a gorgeous stained glass skylight. The Rivertown Inn is often voted Best Luxury Inn in Minnesota.
Each of the nine guest rooms is named for an author. They range from the enchanting Lewis Carol attic room decked with statues of the Mad Hatter and White Rabbit to the romantic Jane Austin bedchamber with canopied bed and private bath with a steam shower. The private grand suites in the carriage house include the Agatha Christie Suite, which is a replica of a train car from Orient Express and Oscar Wilde Suite which features a king sized pentagon shaped canopy bed and is decked in rich velvets and leather furnishings in the mode of an English gentleman’s library. The Rivertown Inn offers some amazing extras including massages, themed wine dinners and gourmet cooking classes. Advanced reservations are required for these services.
William Sauntry Mansion – The only area B&B listed on the National Register, the Sauntry Mansion welcomes guests with a spacious parlor featuring a spectacular oil on canvas ceiling, stunning stained glass work and turn of the century furnishings in rich, elegant burgundy velvet. The dining room boasts the home’s original red birch table as well as original wall covering. This 1881 mansion was built for William Sauntry, one of the most famous and richest of the great barons, who was also a cousin to Bing Crosby’s mother. A cottage suite with separate entrance is available for total privacy.
The Lowell Inn sits on the site of Stillwater’s oldest hotel, the Sawyer House which was built by Elmore Lowell in 1848, ten years before Minnesota became a state. The original hotel was razed in 1924 and Lowell donated the land for a new hotel; thus the Lowell Inn was born on July 27, 1924 and is still listed on the Historic Registry. The hotel features 23 guestrooms and two restaurants – the George Washington main dining room and the Matterhorn Fondue Room which specializes in four course fondue dinners. The inn has several banquet rooms and an intimate outdoor deck, making it suitable for social gatherings as well as business meetings.
The Water Street Inn has 61 guestrooms, all with double whirlpools and most with fireplaces and half with balconies overlooking the St. Croix River. Formerly the Lumber Exchange Building, this inn harkens back to the days when men conducted business in regal settings surrounded by plush velvets, rich leather and elaborately carved woodwork. The Water Street Inn houses the classic restaurant featuring indoor and outdoor dining and Charlie’s Irish Pub which is housed on the site of the original 1890 pub owned by Charlie Lustig. The inn hosts weekly wine dinners and has banquet space for up to 300. In late 2019, Water Street Inn expanded to include a rooftop patio (Papas), new glass enclosed river view patio for Charlie’s Irish Pub, new river view conference rooms, 20 new hotel rooms, new clock tower and lobby entrance location.
There is something happening every weekend year-round in Stillwater from art festivals to winter games to live opera on the river to running race events and lots of outdoor live music, movies and car shows. You can find our key annual festivals & events listed in our visitor guide or view all events in our online calendar.
Summer festivals start off with Summer Tuesdays Movies & Music in the Park and the Cruisin on the Croix Car Show for weekday visitors. Independence Day is certainly the pinnacle of fun when the town celebrates the Fourth of July with river cruises, music and an amazing fireworks display at dusk. Join the legions of boaters and spectators who line both sides of the river for one of the region’s most dynamic fireworks shows. The hot summer days fun continues with our annual Lumberjack Days Festival celebrating the town’s heritage.
Stillwater’s fall colors peak from late September through mid October so fall is a very popular time to visit, especially during these festivals Take Me to The River (art festivals in a dozen towns along a 50 mile stretch of the St. Croix river with Stillwater serving as the epicenter), Rivertown Art Festival or Stillwater Harvest Fest & Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off, Drop & Regatta. Thousands flock to Stillwater to visit apple orchards, pumpkin patches and local wineries this time of year as well.
During December, you are invited to make Stillwater YOUR Hometown for the Holidays. Visitors are delighted with Victorian costumed carolers, strolling Santa, decorated shop windows on Main Street, a Twinkle Party official tree lighting and fireworks, and complimentary horse-drawn carriage rides along the St. Croix River as well as other holiday themed events. Once the snow falls look for winter events like curling tournaments, frozen bocce ball, and winter games parka pub crawls.
Stillwater is the ideal location for a group tour stop, as the town has many
outdoor activities as well as interesting indoor tour options. Valley Tours has been conducting step-on guide tours of the Stillwater area for over 20 years and can help plan the perfect itinerary to suit your group’s interests, budget and time frame. In addition to offering step on tours showcasing Stillwater’s Victorian architecture, historic sites and fabulous scenery, Valley Tours can offers customized tour options including Victorian home tours, mystery tours, walking tours or themed tours such as Fall Foliage, Holiday Events, Swedish Heritage or Wineries, Art and Theater. For more information contact:
101 West Pine
Stillwater, MN 55082
We have a list of 50 group experience ideas for you to browse and highly the Stillwater Trolley 45 minutes narrated history tour and recommend you incorporate free time for your tour guests to explore Stillwater’s shops, restaurants, natural beauty and historic sites on their own as well.
Stillwater’s St. Croix River Valley is breathtakingly beautiful. Walk along the riverfront, relax in a park, have a leisurely meal at a waterfront restaurant or plan an outing aboard the riverboats which offer lunch and dinner cruises daily.
When it’s meal time, the town offers several group-friendly options in a range of atmospheres and price points. You can view the 360 tours for restaurants with large spaces or private dining options OR think about setting your group free to choose their own restaurant by splitting up into smaller groups.
Outdoor dining is abundant in Stillwater either on expansive decks, rooftops or indoors with windows. To be closest to the water choose, The Dock Cafe, Water Street Inn, The Freight House, or PD Pappy’s (seasonal).
- Isaac Staples, one of the town’s powerful lumber barons ran Maple Island Farm where he raised food for his lumberjacks. There he invented powdered milk, which was much easier to transport and easy to make with the abundance of fresh water.
- Charles Strite invented the pop-up toaster. Many early model toasters can be seen at the Warden’s House Museum on Main Street.
- Cub Foods began in Stillwater as Hooley’s Grocer in the Lumber Exchange Building in 1968. Cub has stores throughout the Midwest and maintains its headquarters in Stillwater’s former Junior High School on 3rd Street.
- The Freight House Restaurant, the former train depot opened in 1883. It was the first building in Stillwater to be placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979.
- The films Beautiful Girls, The Cure, Angus and Grumpier Old Men were shot in Stillwater.
- Hall of Fame football coach Bud Grant played baseball for the Stillwater Loggers.
- Bing Crosby’s mother Katherine, was from Stillwater.
- The Younger Brothers, who rode with the Jesse James Gang, were imprisoned in the Territorial Prison in Stillwater following their capture after the Northfield Bank Robbery.
- Stillwater’s Lakeview Hospital is highly regarded for the orthopedic unit.
For more Stillwater, MN trivia nuggets, visit this list from the Stillwater Public Library Historic Records: https://stillwaterlibrary.org/trivia-from-our-archives/
Stillwater offers 20+ venues for meetings, executive retreats, social celebrations such as reunions or birthdays and most often weddings ceremonies and receptions. Not surprisingly in this historic river town, many of these venues are as rich in history as they are in architectural beauty. Your group will enjoy the ambiance of these meeting spaces ranging from fresh modern spaces to classic as much as the gorgeous scenery in the town.
Visit our weddings page for a complete venue list as well as local wedding services you may need. For corporate events, visit our meetings page with a link to view 360 tours of most venues right from your desk. Stillwater welcomes all types of events year-round and loves to help out event planners with ideas. We even offer an annual familiarization tour for meeting planners.