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. There’s even a majestic ice palace maze to navigate! Come along as we guide you through the best things to do in Stillwater this winter with your favorite people.
Stillwater’s 2022-2023 Hometown For the Holidays season runs November 25 through December 31.
The historic courthouse will be all decked for the holiday season. To entertain kids while shopping: a scavenger hunt and a free take-home craft from Gammelgarden Museum. Saturday, November 20 & Sunday, November 21, 2021. Free admission.
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 4, 2021. Event begins at 4pm, tree lighting at 5pm. 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.
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 18) and a free outdoor ice skating rink. Now through March 2022, 5-10pm nightly.
601 Main St N, Stillwater, MN 55082
The “crowning” glory of a weekend in Stillwater for our family was a trip to the STILLWATER ICE PALACE MAZE. It glitters, it glows, it twists and turns. There’s a fun themed scavenger hunt for all ages embedded into the shimmery blocks of ice. We all finished off our visit with several thrilling trips down the palace’s icy slide! Warm up in the snazzy (but totally kid-friendly) Zephyr Theatre with snacks and drinks for kids and adults or around one of the outdoor firepits. You’ll want to reserve your weekend tickets several days in advance – they go quick! Jan 14-Feb 20, 2022.
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. Jan 15-Feb 28, 2022.
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 (blocks built Jan 17, carving done Jan 19-22), you can choose to come out for the awards ceremony, complete with a DJ and fire dancers (Jan 22), you can pick MinneSnowta Nice Day to pair with a snow slide for the kids (Jan 23) or you can come out to LOWELL PARK any day following until the elements call the season quits. Official snow sculpting events run January 17-23, 2022.
A winter outing to Stillwater is ideal for both families with kids and couples looking for date night ideas. One weekend only, Lowell Park hosts “Moonglow”, the nighttime release of hot air balloons over the St Croix River. Round out the weekend with snow and ice sculptures on display in the park along with the other downtown-area activities. Here’s a shot of my family’s favorite “Stillwater lumberjack” among the other ice sculptures in the park. Moonglow Jan 28-29, 2022 – sculptures on display starting January 18 while weather permits.
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. Jan 29, 2022, 12-4pm.
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. Feb 19-26, 2022.