Best Things To Do in Stillwater in the Winter
The charming town of Stillwater is lovely any of time of year, but simply magical in the winter. Cresting the hill before a descent to the river, my kids have their faces pressed to the car windows to see a downtown strung with twinkling lights and glittering icicles. Stillwater adopts an attitude of good cheer when it comes to the winter season. Instead of shutting its doors tight against the cold, the city beckons families, kids and couples to enjoy the elements. Weekends are reserved for spirited festivals. The riverfront becomes an outdoor studio dotted with sculptures of ice and snow. Come along as we guide you through the best things to do in Stillwater this winter with your favorite people.
Make some more plans! We also feature a list of the BEST THINGS TO DO IN STILLWATER IN THE SUMMER WITH KIDS & FAMILY.
Stillwater’s 2023 Hometown For the Holidays season runs November 24 through December 25, 2023.
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, Santa arrives at 5pm, and the tree lighting at 5:30pm. Free admission.
Tips for visiting with kids & family: Most of the fun winter events in Stillwater are located within easy walking distance of LOWELL PARK, a slim slice of lovely along the St Croix River. Some ideas to have in mind to keep things jolly:
- There are are multiple free public parking lots that border both the north and south portions of Lowell Park so little legs shouldn’t tire quickly. If there is good snow cover on the ground, we’ve seen families pulling sleds to explore the snow and ice sculptures.
- Pick up a box of inexpensive hand warmers to slip in gloves and/or toes of boots.
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.
Located behind 101 Water St S, Stillwater, MN 55082
Not a large rink, but well maintained and close to downtown and free public parking lots. It’s located right behind the Water Street Inn and next to the lights display on Chestnut Street so you can enjoy the show while you skate. Note that the rink is free, but there are no skate rentals available. There is also no warming house and we found only a single bench to lace up on. The ice rink is available in January and February as weather allows. Stay tuned dates TBA.
Enjoy free root beer floats and ice cream from Leo’s Malt Shop at this annual Stillwater winter tradition sponsored by the Washington County Historical Society. Located in Lowell Park. 2024 Date TBA (1/28/23).
It’s true, there’s only one day a year in Stillwater when you can score free root beer floats in the park. But the good news is, Leo’s Malt Shop is open year-round and not only can you get that root beer float, you can choose from yummy malts, burgers and fries, too. The throwback shop is located on the corner of Water & Chestnut streets, just a hop from the lights displays and other winter attractions.
If you haven’t gotten your fill of winter towards the end of February, we guess you and Stillwater deserve each other. The city shows no sign of slowing down its tribute to all things frosty and fun – hallmarks of its annual Winterfest celebration. It’s geared somewhat for the adult crowd, but there are activities for families and kids to enjoy as well including the Torch Parade and fireworks. See the link for the complete schedule. February 15-19, 2024.
Where is the Ice Maze?
The glittery, glowy, twisting and turning ice maze moved to VIKING LAKES in Eagan in 2023. 2024 information is still TBA. It will likely still feature a fun themed scavenger hunt for all ages embedded into the shimmery blocks and a thrilling ice slide. There will be firepits to warm up at and drinks and snacks available for purchase. We’ll let you know the location and dates when they are announced.
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. 5-10pm nightly.
Events we hope to see return
The historic courthouse is traditionally decked for the holiday season. However, in 2023 Washington County Historic Courthouse is closed for repairs and won’t reopen until January of 2024. Look for this event again next year.