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The Complete Staycation Guide to Stillwater Minnesota

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Stillwater is easily one of my favorite cities in Minnesota.  It has great views along the Saint Croix River and limestone bluffs, historical significance as the birthplace of Minnesota and so many great restaurants, drink spots, shops and fun activities.

I normally visit Stillwater as a day trip from Minneapolis since it’s only 40 minutes away but with new boutique lodging options, we recently did a staycation which I highly recommend.  The city has changed a ton in just a few years and there’s so much to explore! Check below for my staycation highlights.

Note: Discover Stillwater hosted our lodging and e-bike tour.  All opinions below are my own.

Day One

Morning

On the way in to Stillwater, stop at Aamodt’s Apple Farm. In the fall, you can pick your own apples and shop for fun fall items in the barn. Year round, you can enjoy wine tasting at Saint Croix Vineyards and cider tasting at Thor’s Hard Cider, all on the same beautiful property!

Next, head to downtown Stillwater to check in to your hotel and get settled. We chose to stay at the beautiful Lora Hotel which is a boutique hotel that recently opened in 2018 on the site of a historic brewery from the 1800’s. The features are incredible as exposed limestone, brick and caves that used to store brews have been preserved.

Beyond its beautiful interiors, The Lora Hotel has a restaurant, bar and delicious coffee shop which are situated around a quaint little courtyard with an outdoor fireplace and classic string lights.  

A highlight for us was the hotel’s Wine Shop built into the limestone cliffs. The hotel offers a complimentary wine tasting for guests. After chatting with the sommelier about various wine regions, he showed us a glimpse into the historic storage brewery caves!

Afternoon

If you’re hungry, grab a bite to eat at any of the fabulous restaurants in town.  Top picks include: Lolo American Kitchen, QuickFire Pizza, Brick & Bourbon, Feller (at the Lora Hotel), or the classic Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop

Head along the river for some beautiful scenery. We wanted to get on the water so brought our paddleboards to the Boom Site boat launch. You could rent a boat, a paddleboard or event take a romantic gondola ride! Check out options for getting out on the water here.

Evening

Before dinner, grab drinks at Forge & Foundry Distillery, a new craft distillery in town. Their patio overlooks the river and is a beautiful place to wind down the day!

For dinner, check out one of the restaurants mentioned above. We picked up dinner at Lolo’s and brought it back to our room to enjoy by the fireplace. We also grabbed malts and French fries from Leo’s walk up window! A great addition to any meal.

Day Two

Morning

Start your day with a coffee or tea from Made Coffee right at the Lora Hotel. You can enjoy your drinks by the outdoor fire table or walk up the stairs directly next to Made for great views of Stillwater.

Next, walk a short 7 minutes to The Oasis Café, a really cute diner built right next to limestone cliffs, for breakfast. You can eat there or else bring it back to the outdoor space at the Lora to enjoy.

From here, head out for a morning of biking! Stillwater has amazing bike trails. Both the Browns Creek State Trail which connects to the Gateway Trail (leading you back to Minneapolis) and the Loop Trail are great options. 

We did both trails in 2 hours because we had assistance from electric bikes we rented from Mike’s E-Bikes! We love biking and had never tried an e-bike before. Now I don’t know how I’ll go back to a regular bike! We had an absolute blast biking and making stops to enjoy the scenery. A highlight was biking back from the Wisconsin side of the Loop Trail across the newly renovated historic lift bridge only opened for pedestrians and bikers!

After your bike tour, grab a coffee and snack from Green Bridge Coffee which shares the same space as Mike’s e-bike shop! I particularly enjoyed the London Fog.

Afternoon

Stillwater is known for Lift Bridge Brewery but there’s another great craft brewery in town too that’s right in the heart of downtown! We went to Maple Island Brewery to enjoy a beverage on their patio space overlooking the river.

If you’re up for a treat, either grab an ice cream from MN Nice Cream or a famous pie from Sara’s Tipsy Pies. We grabbed a pecan pie on our way out of town and wish we had bought the frozen versions to make at home too!

I hope you’re able to plan a staycation soon too – Stillwater is a special place! For more Minnesota trip ideas, check my page here. For additional bike day trip ideas, read my post here.

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