THINGS TO DO IN STILLWATER WITH KIDS & FAMILY
Welcome to Stillwater, Minnesota! A visit always manages to feel like something special. The pretty city, nestled in the St Croix river valley, dresses up for every season and caters to every crowd: families, tourists, shoppers, diners, outdoor enthusiasts and music lovers (for starters). Read on for the best Stillwater, Minnesota family fun!
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KID-FRIENDLY EVENTS THIS WEEK NEAR STILLWATER, MINNESOTAFamilies living in Stillwater, Minnesota, will find nearby family fun including other northeast suburbs of the Twin Cities: Blaine, Forest Lake, Lake Elmo, Lino Lakes, Maplewood, Mounds View, North St Paul, Oakdale, Roseville, Shoreview, St Anthony, Vadnais Heights & White Bear Lake. Find our full Twin Cities Family Fun Calendar here.
STILLWATER SPECIAL EVENTS, FESTIVALS & SEASONAL ACTIVITIES
The best things to do in Stillwater in the winter with kids
Stillwater literally shines and sparkles during the winter in Minnesota and is one of our favorite places to experience winter festivals and events with our kids. An ice palace, ice sculptures, dazzling lights and entertainment on the banks of the river are just some of the delights we have sampled. Bundle up and bring with our list of the best.
World Snow Sculpting Championship (plus more activities)
You can choose to come out and watch the sculptors whittle the giant blocks of snow into art (the Event Kick-Off and Opening Ceremony are Jan 17th, carving done Jan 18-20). Throughout the event, visitors can stop by the Indoor Market & Warming House to shop and warm up. You can choose to come out for the awards ceremony, complete with a DJ and fire dancers, you can pick World’s Coolest Block Party (Jan 20th) to pair with a snow slide for the kids or you can come out to LOWELL PARK any day following until the elements call the season quits. Official snow sculpting events run January 17-21, 2024.
Hometown for the Holidays events in Stillwater
Stillwater goes all out to celebrate the changing seasons, populating its social calendar with a multitude of events to choose from. But don’t let that intimidate those of you with children and teens in tow – start with our list of the BEST THINGS TO DO IN STILLWATER, packed with easy to follow ideas for both summer and winter visits (and everything in between).
Stillwater’s 2023 traditional Hometown For the Holidays season runs November 24 through December 25. You may run into Victorian carolers strolling Main Street, spy Santa popping into the shops or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon. Have yourself a merry little look at these signature holiday events:
Get ready to do your part in lighting up Stillwater at the annual Twinkle Party! There will be 2,000 twinkle lights to hand out to kids and families plus the big community holiday tree blinks on over Chestnut Street. Santa’s set to show up, too with music and fireworks to follow. December 2, 2023. Event begins at 4pm, tree lighting at 5pm. Free admission.
Chestnut Street in historic downtown Stillwater becomes a pedestrian winter wonderland where our family had the free LED light show set to music all to ourselves one magical Friday night! Also in LOWELL PARK is the work of the World Snow Sculpting Championships (starting January 17) and a free outdoor ice skating rink. December 1-31, 2023, 5-10pm nightly.
Friday night features the ambience of holiday lights and Christmas carols; roll up your sleeves and get creative on Saturday at the gingerbread house building contest. December 8-9, 2023.
Christmas at the Courthouse – cancelled for 2023
See and shop at the historic courthouse all decked for the holiday season. To entertain kids while shopping: a scavenger hunt around the courthouse might be fun. This event has traditionally been held the weekend before Thanksgiving. Due to ongoing construction at the historic courthouse, the Christmas event will not take place this year.
Summer in Stillwater: Festivals & Activities
Stillwater never misses the mark when it comes to a festival, summer or winter. The city’s signature summer festival pays homage to the industry that built Stillwater. Find lumberjack shows, a parade, live music, the annual community ice cream social, boat cruises and more. July 14-16, 2023.
Stillwater aims to claim the title for largest fireworks display in Minnesota over Independence Day. Plus family-friendly concerts at the bandshell and amphitheater stage. July 4, 2023. FIND OUR GIANT LIST OF WHERE TO SEE FIREWORKS & FOURTH OF JULY EVENTS IN THE TWIN CITIES.
SUMMER FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT & MUSIC IN THE PARK
Lowell Park, 201 Water Street, Stillwater, MN 55082
LOWELL PARK is the hub for summer entertainment in Stillwater. Front and center on the St Croix river with a backdrop of beautiful bluffs and bridges, live music and performances feel extra festive. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can find during the summer:
- Stillwater Summer Tuesdays: An outdoor market opens at 5pm followed by live music from 6-8pm and a free family movie just past sunset. Please see the Stillwater website to check movie titles and bands. Ongoing, July 11-August 15, 2023.
Stillwater Swimming & Beaches
15450 Square Lake Trail N, Stillwater, MN 55082
This lake near the city of Stillwater boasts some of the clearest waters among the thousands in Minnesota. We rate this swimming spot right up there with the BEST TWIN CITIES BEACHES AND PLAYGROUNDS. A $7 vehicle permit is required to enter Washington County Parks (except the first Tuesday of the month, non-holiday.) This can be purchased upon entry to the park.
Fall in Stillwater: festivals & activities
St Croix Vineyards, 6428 Manning Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082
Grape stomping competitions for both children and adults, live music and tours. Plus, you’re on the grounds of AAMODT’S APPLE ORCHARD & FARM so you may as well pick some fresh apples while you’re in the neighborhood. September 9-13, 2022. FREE admission.
Kids activities all day both days, plus don’t miss the pumpkin weigh-in, pumpkin regatta & giant pumpkin drop. October 14-15, 2023. 10am-6pm, FREE.
More fall fun near Stillwater
Fall fun and autumn adventures near Stillwater – the best apple orchards, pumpkin patches and corn mazes to take the kids and enjoy a beautiful fall day in Minnesota. Our guides are bursting with ideas for things to do.
6428 Manning Ave N, Stillwater, MN 55082
Aamodt’s is a typically very popular to spend a fall day near Stillwater. For a quieter experience, try visiting on the later side of a Sunday afternoon. Of course, call ahead or consult the website to see the day’s u-pick apple variety (if you’re interested in picking) and bring cash for the Honeycrisp Express kids train ride or a family wagon ride (both $5/apiece). Adults might appreciate the winery onsite, too.
11211 N 60th St, Lake Elmo, MN 55042
You don’t pick your own pumpkins from the patch here, but there’s plenty more to keep you busy: Play in a giant corn pit outfitted with buckets, slides and toys, bounce house, Silly String Zone, make your way through the corn maze, enjoy the fall scenery on a hay ride, and pan for gems. Free admission, with a charge for all fall activities with the exception of the petting farm and outdoor display photo ops.
Stillwater Halloween events
Participating Main Street businesses offer trick or treating. October 29, 2023, 1-4:00pm.
FIND MORE TWIN CITIES HALLOWEEN EVENTS near Stillwater, Minnesota!
SPRING IN STILLWATER: FESTIVALS & ACTIVITIES
STILLWATER EASTER EGG HUNTS
626 4th Street North, Stillwater, MN 55082
Go on a hunt for a dozen special eggs hidden throughout the historic house, get a treat at the end, and meet the Easter bunny. April 1, 2023. 10am-12pm. Kids 2-18/$6, under 2 are free – purchase tickets on Eventbrite (presented by RE/MAX).
Find more Easter egg hunts near Stillwater on our master list: EXPLORE OUR GIANT LIST OF 2023 EASTER EGG HUNTS ACROSS THE TWIN CITIES METRO!
MORE SPRING EVENTS IN STILLWATER
602 Main St N, Stillwater, MN 55082
Preview new exhibits and learn a little about the history of the 19th century home, home to a series of wardens who ran the prison (now vanished) next door. April 23, 2023, 12-4pm.
COOL PLACES TO TAKE KIDS IN THE STILLWATER AREA
Boat-watch on the Stillwater Lift Bridge
106 Chestnut St E, Stillwater, MN 55082
Young or old, one highlight of a summer day in Stillwater is being near the historic Stillwater Lift Bridge as the center rises to allow rivercraft to pass. You can get as close as standing right on it, giving curious kids (and adults) a look at how the mechanics operate. The bridge is strictly open to pedestrians and small wheels with designated lanes for walking and biking. We encourage you to have a cross to the Wisconsin side and back. Kids will enjoy watching the boats plying the waters of the St Croix.
All aboard the STILLWATER TROLLEY for family fun! In particular, the sweet, red Storytime Trolley picks up passengers outside of VALLEY BOOKSELLER on Saturdays during the summer & fall in Stillwater (reservations a MUST! Grab yours quick as they sell out.) Keep the token you’re given upon check-in at the shop; it’s used as currency for a free snack at CANDYLAND after the ride. The trolley will shuttle families to PIONEER PARK for storytime, then a short loop around town before heading back. The very kid-friendly experience lasts about an hour. $5/pp.
Date idea! Take a 45-minute Historic Trolley Tour of Stillwater. Stillwater Trolley Company Tours run through the summer and fall season.
Get Crafty in Stillwater
221 Chestnut St E, Stillwater, MN 55082
My kids have really enjoyed KARI’S CREATE & PAINT STUDIO, a year-round activity in Stillwater. My daughter reports you can choose to paint either a canvas or a ceramic piece. If you’re stuck for ideas, there are examples on display to fire up the inspiration. This is a great indoor option for kids in Stillwater (or could make a cool birthday party idea!). Open Mon-Tues by reservation only, Thurs-Sun 11am-7pm.)
Explore history in Stillwater
The main exhibit gallery of the WASHINGTON COUNTY HERITAGE CENTER tells the story of Stillwater’s lumbering history, connecting Minnesota pioneers with the folk who continue to celebrate the lumberjacks today. There are a surprising number of small, hands-on exhibits that kids can play with, too, making the stop worthwhile for adults who are interested in learning more about the town. Open year-round, Sun-Tues, 10-4pm. $8/adults, $3 ages 6-17. 1862 Greeley Street S, Stillwater, MN 55038.
WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORIC COURTHOUSE hosts community events and offers Free guided and self-guided tours. Kids can play dress up and go on a scavenger hunt. FREE. 101 Pine St W, Stillwater, MN 55082.
More history for adults & teens…
Once upon a time, Stillwater was home to a large prison (a requirement for Minnesota to be recognized as a territory). The prison no longer exists, but the WARDEN’S HOUSE MUSEUM next door does and is open for tours that include a run through the period-furnished rooms and a spiel with interesting facts about prison life. Open May-October, Thursday-Sunday. Tours on the hour, 104pm. $3-$8/pp. 602 Main Street N, Stillwater, MN 55082.
Stillwater Splurge: Hot air balloon rides
You’ve probably glimpsed the lofty hot air balloons from STILLWATER BALLOON or AAMODTS BALLOON when driving Highway 94. While not priced for an everyday visit, if you have always wanted to go on a hot air balloon ride, a 2 to 3-hour tour would be an unforgettable splurge.
STILLWATER, MINNESOTA, FREE FAMILY FUN AT PARKS & OUTDOOR PLAY
Stillwater’s parks are gems, sprinkling the city with nearly 40 green spaces to explore. Our Parks Search tool covers most of these parks – just type “Stillwater” into the location search space. Some parks not to miss when searching for things to do with kids outdoors in Stillwater:
Free family fun:
- An entertainment and festival hub at LOWELL PARK all year round or just sit and watch the gondola rides. 201 Water St N, Stillwater, MN 55082.
- A unique playground kids will love at TEDDY BEAR PARK. 207 Nelson Street East, Stillwater, MN 55082.
- Perfect picnic space with a view at PIONEER PARK. Grab a couple picnic tables for a lunch and play date. 515 2nd St N, Stillwater, MN 55082.
- A crystal clear beach at SQUARE LAKE PARK.
15450 Square Lake Trail Court North, Stillwater, MN 5508.
More active fun:
- Bike the smooth and level BROWN’S CREEK STATE TRAIL into and out of downtown Stillwater. Find a Brown’s Creek Trail Kiosk & Trailhead in Lowell Park.
- Field house sports & ice skating at the ST CROIX RECREATION CENTER. 1675 Market Dr, Stillwater, MN 55082.
- A dedicated skateboard park. 2222-2266 Curve Crest Blvd, Stillwater, MN 55082.
STILLWATER PERFORMING ARTS
601 Main St N, Stillwater, MN 55082
Each season, Zephyr Theatre has a line up of entertaining shows. And in the summer the performances never cease to delight. Check out this season’s summer musical performed next door to the iconic Historic Stillwater Lift Bridge (where you can hear boats honk their horns throughout the show). Or come inside for a breath of fresh music and nods to the legends.
BEST PLACES TO TREAT THE FAMILY IN STILLWATER
131 Main St S, Stillwater, MN 55082
This malt shop claims the award of best place to eat in Stillwater with kids! Choose from yummy ice cream creations, sandwiches, burgers and fries at the throwback diner on the corner of Water & Chestnut streets. Centrally located and absolutely walkable from Stillwater’s best sights and shops. We have parked in the free lots just steps from the diner and explored on foot in all seasons.
NELSON’S ICE CREAM also has a sweet little branch in Stillwater. Find it tucked away from the city’s bustling main drag. Please trust us when we encourage you to order the kiddie size – these are some generous scoops of ice cream! 920 Olive St. W, Stillwater, MN.
KIDS EAT FREE AT RESTAURANTS IN AND AROUND STILLWATER, MINNESOTA
14725 Victor Hugo Boulevard N., Hugo, MN, 55038; (651) 756-1894
Date/Time: Tuesdays, 5:30-8pm
Deal: Kids eat free – kids 12 & under get one free kid’s meal per adult entrée purchased (includes beverage and ice cream). A magician entertains the whole family. Please call ahead. This deal is temporarily on hold.
3800 Restwood Road, Circle Pines, MN 55014
Day/Time: Sunday, All Day
Deal: Kids Eat Free. Kids 12 eat free from the kids menu – one child’s meal with each adult entrée purchased.
1000 Gramsie Road, Shoreview MN, 55126; (651) 482-1600
Day/Time: Tuesdays at Most Locations, Hours vary by location
Deal: Please call your local Green Mill for details. Kids Eat Free: 1 child (12 and under) eats free with adult purchase.
1845 E County Rd DSTE 100, Maplewood, MN 55109; (651) 777-4500
5785 Minnesota Ave. N, Oak Park Heights, MN 55082; (651) 351-2150
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 11am-8:30pm
Deal: Kid’s Night: One child 12 & under per paying adult.
1190 County Rd J #700, White Bear Township, MN 55127; (651) 756-7788
Day/Time: Mondays, 5pm-8pm
Deal: FREE kids’ entrées and Kids BINGO! One free kid’s meal per paying adult.
STILLWATER, MINNESOTA, FAMILY FUN MAP
Explore the Birthplace of Minnesota the fun way — with kids!
FIND MORE THINGS TO DO IN THE TWIN CITIES WITH KIDS!
Stillwater is just the beginning! FAMILY FUN TWIN CITIES tries hard to be the best resource when it comes to finding things to do with your kids and family in the Minneapolis-St Paul metro area of Minnesota. We strive to cover a wide range of communities and share activities and events we have personally experienced with our own kids in tow (all 12 of them!) We call the Twin Cities HOME and are excited to share the area with you! Visitors to Stillwater Minnesota particularly love these Twin Cities attractions:
- Fall Color Cruises From ST CROIX RIVER CRUISES
- ST CROIX RAILROAD: A Train Lover’s Destination
- Expect a half-hour drive from Stillwater to MINNEAPOLIS.