Things to do in Stillwater, Minnesota

Places to visit in Stillwater, MN.

Stillwater, Minnesota, is an idyllic, picturesque town along the western edge of the St. Croix River. Known as the birthplace of Minnesota, Stillwater is also home to various attractions and activities that appeal to tourists and locals alike.

Whether you’re looking for some outdoor recreation or want to explore the local history and culture, there’s something for everyone in this small but charming city. Here are some of the best things to do in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Best places to visit in Stillwater, Minnesota

Teddy Bear Park

Teddy Bear Park is a free public park with a nice-sized playground. It has unique play structures to keep the kids busy for hours. Some of the features include a straight stick slide, a rock wall, a spider web-like rope climbing area, a gazebo, and an assortment of statues, to name but a few. The park is open from mid-April to mid-October.

While not as crowded as some of the larger parks in the Twin Cities, you can still get quality time with the family. Aside from the park, you’ll find a small parking lot across the street from the main gate.

Teddy Bear Park Stillwater
Teddy Bear Park Stillwater

Not to be overlooked is the park’s impressive building. In addition to its striking exterior, there is a nice-sized indoor restroom facility. There are also a few amenities like picnic tables and a gazebo.

Stillwater Lift Bridge

Stillwater Lift Bridge is a nine-span bridge that connects Stillwater, Minnesota, with Houlton, Wisconsin. It is one of the few remaining vertical lift highway bridges in the United States. Originally built as a two-lane highway, the bridge has been converted into a bicycle and pedestrian facility.

The lift bridge is an iconic symbol of the city of Stillwater. Built in 1931, it was the first of several bridges over the St. Croix River in the area.

Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge
Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge

In 1931, the Stillwater Lift Bridge was a 10-span two-lane highway that carried traffic. However, it became a bottleneck as vehicular traffic increased. As a result, the Stillwater lift bridge was converted into a pedestrian and bike crossing to alleviate the congestion.

Before the lift bridge was constructed, the Stillwater crossing was served by a pontoon bridge and ferry.

St. Croix Boom Site

A historic wayside is found on the St. Croix River in Stillwater, Minnesota. The site was once an essential marketplace for logging. During the booming era, the St. Croix Boom Site processed more logs than any other place in the country.

The Works Progress Administration created the site. In 1966, the boom site was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is also located on National Scenic Riverway land. There is a waterfall and a hiking trail near the area.

St. Croix Boom Site
St. Croix Boom Site

The Boom Site was in operation from 1856 to 1914. During this time, it served 200 logging companies. Logs were sorted here and then shipped to sawmills throughout the river valley.

In 1975, the National Park Service rediscovered the boom site. Since then, the area has been reforested.

Historic Courthouse

The Historic Courthouse in Stillwater, Minnesota, has served the community for nearly 150 years. It is the oldest standing courthouse in the state. Visitors can enjoy self-guided tours or guided tours. You can also visit the four exhibit spaces to learn more about the history of the building.

The historic courthouse in Stillwater, Minnesota, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Designed by Augustus Knight of St Paul, the courthouse was built in 1870. Located at the corner of Third and Pine streets, the courthouse overlooks the St. Croix River valley.

Stillwater MN historical courthouse
Stillwater, MN historical courthouse

Visitors can tour the historic courthouse. Tours are offered daily. Guided tours take visitors through the courtroom, jail, and history exhibits. In addition, self-guided tours are available during open hours.

In addition to public and guided tours, the Washington County Historic Courthouse offers educational programs and events. There are several different exhibits and activities for families.

Warden’s House Museum

The Warden’s House Museum is one of the oldest house museums in Minnesota. It is located in Stillwater. As one of the last remaining structures built by the Minnesota Territorial Government, the Warden’s House Museum is a testament to a bygone era. Despite the house’s age, it is being kept up to date by a team of volunteers.

Warden's House Museum
Warden’s House Museum

The Warden’s House Museum is home to an impressive display of artifacts, including relics from Stillwater’s heyday as a lumber boom town. The museum also has an extensive collection of Civil War artifacts, which can be seen on guided tours. For those looking for more hands-on experience, the basement of the building is open to the public on certain days.

This 14-room building is constructed of local limestone. Initially, it had a full-width balcony along the front. A couple of wood frame additions were added in 1870. But it wasn’t until 1941 that the property was put under the stewardship of the Washington County Historical Society. That’s when the house officially opened as a museum.

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