Summertime in Minnesota means escapes to the lake and being outdoors for as long as possible until the bugs or humidity finally get to you. While I try to get on the water as much as possible, I simply love being near water in the summertime, especially when there are so many things to do and explore. That’s where Stillwater comes in.
I know Stillwater is known and visited by many, but everytime I visit, Stillwater continues to surprise me! With new restaurants, shops, and hotel openings, this is the perfect town to escape for a day, night, or weekend!
While there are several lodging options in Stilwater to stay over, you really can just visit for a day and explore so much in a little time! Read on below to curate your own perfect Stillwater day!
Things to do during a day in Stillwater
Coffee + Eats
Mon Petite Cherie
This adorable little spot on Main Street, that formerly located in Minneapolis, Mon Petite Cheri is the hot spot for pastries and pancakes in Stillwater. The atmosphere reminded me of a being in a farmhouse kitchen – complete with exposed brick and antique kitchen cookware. Be prepared to wait in a line – but the food is worth it! Their pastries are out of this world and all made from scratch daily. We went for breakfast and shared warm beignets with fresh jam, citrus ricotta pancakes, and the egg sandwich with homemade apple sausage. My mouth is watering just reminiscing about this breakfast! I will definitely be back as soon as possible. I think the Brioche french toast and amazing cinnamon rolls are on my list next.
If you’re like me, you need your caffeine mid-morning or early afternoon, stop in at the Lora Hotel (it’s gorgeous!) to their coffee shop called Made Coffee. The woman inside working was so sweet and talkative. I got my typical iced latte and went to sit on the patio to soak up some sun! If you’re feeling more adventurous- grab a coffee and head up the iconic staircase right next door. During our visit, a woman was writing positive messages on each step up the stairwell. It was such a heartwarming gesture to see!
You & Me Cafe
Another darling breakfast spot that is tucked away off the main hustle and bustle of downtown, find You & Me Cafe for a lovely option for a breakfast or lunch spot! I love the patio seating outdoors, and also it’s so bright and invitiing inside where you can look through their full coffee menu and their delectable pastry case too! I opted for a coffee and pastry to go and will definitely be back for a breakfast date!
Green Bridge Coffee
A bike and coffee shop in one. this seems to be coming the norm here in Minnesota, right? Either way, I love Green Bridge Coffee, right along Main Street. I always choose this as an afternoon pick-me-up or when I want to get some work done! I love the nods to the city with their Lift Bridge Art. Walk towards the back to see an array of electric bike rentals too from Herman’s Electric Bikes!
Art’s Coffee Hut
The cutest little coffee hut you ever did see – Art’s Coffee Hut is open mornings only and is perfect for a summertime treat! Enjoy the walk-up window and order from their coffee menu and be delight when you get your drink adorned with a mini donut! You can also buy a bag of mini donuts at the Hut too. Perfect for a summer morning to sit outside! Now.. make sure to come back in the morning too when the building next door opens!
Nelson’s Ice Cream
If you’re reading in order, then yep you guessed it, Art’s Coffee Hut is cojoined with Nelson’s Ice Cream! Nelson’s is iconic for their massive-sized cones and offering countless flavors! Perfect on a hot summer day and it’ll give you all the best summer nostalgia feels! I popped in for a treat to finish out my most recent trip to Stillwater when the temps were nearly past 90. Pro Tip: Ask for a kids cone because you’lll still get 5-6 scoops!
MN Nice Cream
I think my summer diet consists of mostly ice cream and I am okay with that. Especially when I’m able to dive into a beautifully handcrafted cone that makes me feel like rainbows and sunshine! The second location in Minnesota, MN Nice Cream is known for its crazy concoctions of soft serve. Follow them on Instagram to see their creation of the day or a secret flavor. Oh, and don’t forget to add the edible glitter!
River Siren Brewing
Summertime fun for me always involves an adult beverage and what’s better than that refreshing first sip of beer from a local brewery? Head over to River Siren Brewing for friendly staff, a great taproom, and patio that overlooks the lift bridge! I loved the vibe inside and out – lots of options for beers and food and the staff is ready and willing to help you pick the perfect beer. I highly suggest going with one of their top sellers – the Upstream Flow Blueberry Hefe. It was the perfect blend of sweet and refreshing for a hot summer day.
Lift Bridge Brewery
Another favorite brewery that is iconic to the Stillwater area is of course Lift Bridge. Located a bit off of the main drag in Stillwater, a visit to Lift Bridge Brewery is always a good idea! In the summer, they host the most fun events, and seems like there is always something fun happening 🙂 They were one of the first ones to get me hooked on Seltzers at breweries too! But, if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try the Farm Girl Saison or the Mango Blonde. Both say, “Cheers to summertime.”
Things to Do
Treat yourself at Just For Me Spa
A new to me place, Just for Me Spa will now be on my rotation when I visit to Stillwater. All I can say is WOW! This 20,000 sq foot spa just absolutely took my breath away. The owner, Heidi, is an absolute delight with the best energy. If you meet her you are in for a treat. You can tell how much she loves and cares for every single person who walks through the door! The full-service spa offers not only spa services (Skin treatments, massage, facials etc), but also has a full-service salon, healing mineral pool, Himalayan Salt Cave, overnight accommodations, and more. This truly is your one-stop shop for a full spa experience!
They are also offering IV infusions with a stop-in from Allison from Salus Wellness. During my recent visit, I was able to try out my first IV infusion and it was quite the experience! Allison was so great and patient as I was a bit nervous to try everything out, but we figured out what infusion would be best for my current state and lifestyle (we did an immunity one since I had been traveling so much!). It took a while to adjust but once it was done, wow I felt a lot better!
It really is a great idea for a girls day out, bachelorette parties, group outings and more, and with the space, Heidi can accommodate pretty much anything (plus she provides a catered lunch!) With numerous options, you are bound to find a package or service that would fit the bill.
I truly cannot recommend booking an appointment with Just For Me Spa. Along with the IV infusion, I was able to try out a Hydrafacial from Cassidy and everything was wonderful. It left no redness or irritation, just a healthy glow and my skin felt so nice and clean afterwards and not to mention I was totally zenned out after my visit 🙂
Bike over to Wisconsin with Diro
The weather has been perfect lately to get out and ride! If you’re like me and don’t have your own bike with you, they now have bikes you can rent. Head over by the Water Street Inn and you’ll find 10 Diro bikes for rent. Simply download the app and scan the QR Code (we were having a bit of an issue scanning the code so we just geo-located our station and entered our bike number) and then off you go! It is $7 an hour plus a $2 flat rental fee. There is even a wire basket in the back to hold your belongings! We decided to go for an hour on the loop trail and bike across the new St. Croix Crossing bridge into Wisconsin. It’s about 4 miles and makes a loop, hence being called the loop trail, coming back on the lift bridge. It’s the perfect way to ride along the water, get in some exercise, and see some great views of Stillwater and the St. Croix River!
Shop all things local at Smith & Trade + Minnesota Made
A trip is not complete unless I’ve done some shopping of course! There are several shops along Main Street and up the side streets but I only had time to tackle a few so you know I’ll be back for more!
You know I love all things local, so really I feel like Smith and Trade was made for me! They have over 100 artists that have work featured in this absolutely gorgeous space. Everything was handmade to the finest degree. This space is unique where it’s shoppable but they also host classes and meet the maker events as well, to truly bring in the community. You will be blown away by this store!
One of my OG favorite shops in Stillwater, Minnesota Made is a must-stop. It’s the quintessential store that just oozes all my favorite things from our beloved state. Plus you can find some amazingly creative designs, made all in house by Sarah. I purchased an adorable Camp Minnesota tank and will be back for more.
Walk or E-Bike the Lift Bridge
A recent construction project (summer 2023) is completing a beautiful new walking path to the lift bridge. It makes downtown even more accessible and getting to and from the Lift Bridge even easier whether on foot or on a bike! Please be aware of the bike lanes but you can’t miss a stroll in Stillwater without visiting the bridge! While I did mention Diro Bikes, don’t forget you can try out E-bikes from Herman’s Electric Bikes which is just minutes away from the bridge.
Meander through Union Art Alley
Another just opened spot in 2023, Union Art Alley celebrated the culture of community and street art in Stillwater. Definitely plan a visit to Meander here during your visits as this alleyway will change and evolve as time goes on. Right now, there is about 4-5 murals and I expect more to come! They are all unique in their own way, created by local artists telling a story. Pop by and take a seat at one of the tables along the way too!
Bonus Things to Do!
While I haven’t done these either in a LONG time or ever – I’ve heard great things about these activities that Stillwater offers that is work checking out!
- Trolley Tours – runs daily!
- River Boat Cruises
- Walking Tour – self-guided and led by audio and an app!
- Gondola Ride
- Aamodts Apple Orchard (Seasonal)
Where to Stay
If you’re going to stay the night or the weekend, check out these charming places all downtown to rest your head and feet after a long day of exploring! Each one is so unique and has its own character 🙂
I hope you enjoyed my explore day in Stillwater! While there are a ton of more things to do, my friend and I had the best time exploring. I think I’m in need of a staycation now to check out all the other restaurants they have to offer! What’s your favorite thing in Stillwater?