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History & Sightseeing

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Discover the Past

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 the time of incorporation as a city in 1854, Stillwater was the largest city in the State. The lumber industry made Stillwater famous. At the height of the log boom, Stillwater’s lumber mills were the largest in the country making Minnesota one of the largest lumber markets in the world. This boom brought wealth, railroads, steamships, gas lights, and grand homes. Today, Stillwater’s rich and vibrant history is celebration year-round with thousands of visitors from around the world.

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.

SLEEP IN HISTORY – Immerse yourself in history and romance…stay overnight in a historic B&B or Inn to get a glimpse into a lifestyle that was the envy of all during Stillwater’s heyday.

SHOP IN HISTORY – Enjoy the delightful boutique shopping and restaurants in these beautiful historic spaces. Many people visit Stillwater for the variety and number of unique antique and vintage shops offered, too. Find your treasure in Stillwater!

PLAY IN HISTORY – Explore the area’s streets, trails, hills and points of interest listed below. Discover what it may have been like to live here during the lumber boom era. From grand paddlewheel boats to axe throwing like a Lumberjack!

LEARN ABOUT OUR HISTORY – Take the trolley tour or guided walking tours or walk the streets with self-guided history tours featuring stories via photo, video or audio. Admire the many historic buildings and homes that still remain today. Downtown Tour, South Hill Homes Tour – Pine Street Loop and Chestnut Hill Loop.

A St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail

Highway 36
Oak Park Heights, MN 55082 (view map)

The St. Croix River Crossing Loop Trail connects Minnesota and Wisconsin over two bridges – historic lift bridge and the new St. Croix Crossing bridge – along the St. Croix river back to downtown Stillwater for a total of 4.7 miles.   Park near at Houlton Elementary school (70 Cty Rd E, Houlton, WI54082) on the Wisconsin side or the lot near the new bridge just off hwy 36 on hwy 95 (1315 Main St. S.) or downtown Stillwater in city lots or on street.

Arcola Mills Historic Site

12905 Arcola Trail North
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.439.1652

Tour and explore this pre-Civil War milling community, now restored and on the national historic site register.   Six miles north of Stillwater. Event rentals available.  Seasonal – open May-October.

BIERCYCLE ADVENTURES

Pedestrian Mall on Water St
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.300.2202

A fun and interactive way to explore beautiful downtown Stillwater! Bike can hold up to 10 eager pedalers, and 3 non-pedalers, for a tour through downtown and along the river. Join us for a public tour or reserve the bike for a private tour with friends and family. Learn about history of the area or join us for caroling tours during the holidays!

HISTORIC COURTHOUSE, WASHINGTON COUNTY

101 W. Pine St. Corner of 3rd and Pine
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.275.7075

The oldest standing courthouse in Minnesota – this magnificent 1867 Italianate style building offers guided tours year-round. Contains the old county Jail and Washington County Courtroom. National Historic Register. Available for meetings and events. Check events calendar for historic exhibits or special events as well.

HISTORIC LIFT BRIDGE

106 Chestnut St E
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)

Stillwater’s lift bridge was built in 1931 and spans the St. Croix River between Stillwater and Houlton, WI.  It is one of a few remaining operating lift bridges in the U.S. today. In 2020, the conversion from a highway to a pedestrian/bike trail only bridge was completed. Check out the lift bridge schedule to see when you can watch it go up/down for boats to pass through.

HISTORIC MAIN STREET

Stillwater’s Main Street river front area is on the National Historic Register and is home to over 100 locally owned shops and restaurants . Open year-round. Art galleries, fashion boutiques, home decor,  and unique gift shops line the streets along with tons of dining and outdoor patios. Guide yourself on a foodie or shopping tour of downtown. Seeking a historic treasure? Stillwater is one of America’s Top 10 Towns for Antiquing!

HISTORIC STAIRS

Downtown Stillwater was built on hills (much like San Francisco) and has five sets of historic steps that you can climb for exercise or the view? The steps are marked on the map in the Stillwater Visitor Guide: Main Street Stairs · Chestnut Street Stairs · Pioneer Park Stairs · Triangle Park Stairs · South Hill Stairs. 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). Click to view/print suggested route.

Historic Walking Tour & Video – South Hill Homes

With funding assistance from the State Historic Preservation Office’s Certified Local Government grant program, the City of Stillwater produced a South Hill Homes Walking Tour. View videos on your smart phone at each stop on this self-guided tour to learn a little more about each historic home just south of downtown Stillwater, Minnesota. This public education tour highlights the story of 18 historic homes in two loops – Pine Street and Chestnut Street. The tour is reprinted within the Stillwater Visitor Guide.

Historic Walking Tour & Videos – Downtown

With funding assistance from the State Historic Preservation Office’s Certified Local Government grant program, the City of Stillwater’s Downtown Walking Tour is the first in a series of public education tours. 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, Minnesota. Brochure of the walking tour included in the Stillwater Visitor Guide.

Historic Walking Tour- Secrets in the Landscape

People have long used Stillwater’s landscape to their advantage and shaped it to their needs. From the cool caves of the limestone bluffs to the steady river, discover the relationship between the landscape and the history of the city as you explore hidden features of Stillwater’s Cultural Landscape District.  This tour was developed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation as part of the St. Croix Crossing bridge construction project. Printable map/descriptions for self-guided tour.

HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES: Aamodts Balloons

P.O. Box 40
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.351.0101

See the St. Croix Valley & River from the air…we are committed to providing a hot air balloon experience for every occasion and budget!

Hot Air Balloon Rides: Stillwater Balloons

PO Box 843
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.439.1800

Whether you are seeking an intimate and romantic excursion, a joy-filled, visually spectacular, once in a life time event, or a gorgeous gravity defying adventure, each flight will embrace your dreams and satisfy your desires. Enjoy the sensational experience of gently drifting over the beautiful and picturesque St. Croix River Valley.

Lens Flare Stillwater

Downtown Stillwater Various Locations
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)

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 tribute to well known photographer, John Runk, and includes current and historical photos, audio and written narratives along with the surprise and magic of today’s digital image and location technology.

Lowell Park

201 Water Street - Lowell Park
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.430.8837

This is the riverfront area of downtown Stillwater where many events are held. Take in a riverside walk or picnic in the grassy areas, view the historic lift bridge from this park. Gazebo area is a popular place to get married. Lowell Park is maintained by the City of Stillwater.

Pioneer Park

Stop by for one of the best view of Stillwater as the park is perched on a bluff on the northern side of downtown. Playground, shelter, BBQ, private rental spaces for weddings and events. Pioneer Park is maintained by the City of Stillwater. Voted Best View in 2016 by City Pages!

River City Sculpture Tour

Stillwater’s historic district downtown features an outdoor exhibit of free public art as multiple art sculptures by Midwest artists are on display as part of a multi-city tour in the the St. Croix and Mississippi River Valleys.  Stroll downtown to see what you can find.

Rivertown Tours

Book online
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
rivertowntours@gmail.com

Discover the hidden gems that built the birthplace of Minnesota through unique guided walking tours!

St. Croix Scenic Byway

Hwy. 95
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)

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. To connect to Stillwater, head north on hwy 95 from hwy 61 in Hastings, MN. Take the scenic drive listed on MotorcycleRoads.com (Hwy 95 headed north from downtown) for great ride from Stillwater to Taylor’s Falls, MN. More about Minnesota Scenic Byways.

Stillwater Escape Room

123 2nd St. N.
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.342.1476

Which adventure will you choose? Check out their rooms to choose your unique experience – historic Connelly Shoe Factory Office, The Cave on an asteroid,  or a train car? Book time in the new Rockstar Karaoke lounge, too. The escape room is located on the North side of downtown Stillwater in the historic Connolly Shoe Factory building home to the new JX Event Venue, The Lumberjack Axe Bar and Velveteen Speakeasy.

Stillwater Ghost Walks

Downtown Stillwater Various Locations
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
stillwaterghosts@gmail.com

Real ghost stories, paranormal experiences, urban legends, and much more! If you’re captivated by local folklore, into legend tripping, a student of history, or interested in sparking your imagination, this guided haunted history walking tour of beautiful downtown Stillwater is for you. Seasonal May-November.

STILLWATER LIBRARY

224 3rd St. North
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.275.4338

The original 1901 design was a one story Renaissance Revival made possible by Andrew Carnegie. Many changes have taken place over the years but much original beauty remains including stained glass windows and wrought iron shelving. The library rooftop deck provides a stunning view of downtown and the St. Croix River.

STILLWATER RIVER BOATS

525 South Main Street
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.430.1234

We offer daily public lunch and dinner cruises on board our authentic Paddlewheel boats on the scenic St. Croix River.   Our private charters can accommodate groups of 25 to 675 with multiple boats in our fleet. Contact us today and we would be happy to assist you in planning your excursion. Seasonal business typically May-October.

Stillwater Trolley

400 Nelson Street
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.430.0352

Hold on to your seat as you tour the hills and narrow streets of historic Stillwater, Minnesota’s oldest town and the 1848 Birthplace of Minnesota. 45 minute narrated tours run daily typically May through October. Check website for times and specialty tours like the story time trolley. Available for group reservations – perfect for wedding parties and other occasions! Seasonal operations May-October.

STILLWATER VETERANS MEMORIAL

3rd and Pine St.
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)

This memorial, across the street from the Historic Courthouse, was founded to honor and remember all area veterans. The Wall of Honor lists names of residents who lost their lives while on active duty starting with the Civil War. Every Memorial Day there is a ceremony at this site.

The Lumberjack Axe Throwing

123 N 2nd Street, Suite 102
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.705.6005

The Lumberjack is a place where visitors can learn about Stillwater’s rich history and locals can find a home. We are not your typical axe throwing bar. We have taken this cathartic back woods play into a warm and friendly environment. We promise a brand new way to enjoy a drink and play with friends. Book your party today!

Tuk Tuk Woo Hoo


888.4TukTuk (488-5885)

Minnesota’s first electric Tuk-Tuk is a super fun 3-wheel motorized people moving machine. Be on the look out for this free service for short downtown Stillwater rides. Tip the drivers! Extended rides and custom private bookings available for a fee (call).

VALLEY TOURS

101 West Pine St.
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.439.6110

Valley Tours offers walking tours for smaller groups, custom motor coach itineraries and walk-on tour guide services. Enhance your Stillwater visit with our knowledgeable, local guides.

WARDEN’S HOUSE MUSEUM

602 N. Main Street
Stillwater, MN 55082 (view map)
651.439.5956

Built in 1853 as the residence of the Minnesota Territorial Prison warden. Over time there were thirteen wardens that lived in the house until 1914.  This home was built next to the first Stillwater Prison. Group tours arranged year-round with public tours seasonal May through October.

Discover Stillwater