Minnesota / North America / Stillwater / Traveling / United States

A Small Town Encounter in Stillwater, Minnesota

Visit Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Right along the banks of the St. Croix River in Minnesota lies a small town named Stillwater. Known as the “Birthplace of Minnesota” and having been named one of the prettiest little towns in America, I had a feeling I would be instantly charmed by Stillwater. Upon arriving, I was greeted with rolling hills (yes, in the midwest!) and inviting small streets woven throughout the town.

Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Downtown Stillwater, Minnesota

Joined by a group of bloggers attending the 2016 TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) North America conference, we set off on a trolley with the Stillwater Trolley Co. to see more of Stillwater and learn about the history of this Minnesota small town.

Stillwater Trolley Company - Minnesota Small Town

The Stillwater Trolley

After Stillwater’s incorporation in 1854, it quickly became well-known as a lumber town — Stillwater Lumber Company was one of the largest lumber mills in the country! Today, the Historic Lift Bridge in Stillwater is one of only three like it that still operate in the country. It was built in 1931 and connects Minnesota to Wisconsin. Although they are currently building another bridge for motorized vehicles, they are keeping the old lift bridge to be used for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and will continue operating for boats.

Historic Lift Bridge - Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Stillwater’s Historic Lift Bridge

Old Historic Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Historic Stillwater

Along the tour we also saw the transformation of the former homes of lumber barons and old Victorian mansions. Many of of these homes were turned into bed and breakfasts. It seemed like there was one on every corner! Turns out, Stillwater has some of the most bed and breakfasts in the Midwest.

Replica of George Washingtons House - Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Exact replica of George Washington’s Mount Vernon home in Virginia.

Aurora Staples Inn - Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

The Aurora Staples Inn was built in 1892 by lumberbaron Issac Staples as a wedding gift for his daughter Aurora and her husband.

Rivertown Inn - Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Built in 1882, all bedrooms at the Rivertown Inn are named after famous authors.

After the informative tour, we had a delicious lunch at the Water Street Inn, yet another historic bed and breakfast. This one has 41-rooms and was originally the Lumber Exchange Building that was built in 1890. Although I was full after my tasty turkey bacon avocado wrap, I couldn’t resist stopping in Candyland, Stillwater’s candy shop that has been around since 1932.

Candyland Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

You can’t walk past Candyland without at least taking a peek inside!

To top off the afternoon, we visited Northern Vineyards Winery for a wine tasting on their deck while overlooking the St. Croix River. Even in the winter, I can imagine I would make frequent visits here if I was in town as the bar inside is the perfect place to enjoy wine with friends.

Northern Vineyards Winery - Stillwater Minnesota Small Town

Some wines for sale at Northern Vineyards Winery

Northern Vineyards Winery Deck - St. Croix River

The deck at Northern Vineyards Winery

You can see the full tasting menu in the photo below. My favorite was definitely the Yellow Moccasin! It was just the refresher I needed on a warm summer day.

Northern Vineyards Wine Tasting Stillwater

Wine tasting at Northern Vineyards Winery

Stillwater is one Minnesota small town you don’t want to miss when you’re in the Midwest. The breathtaking views alone make Stillwater worth a visit, and aside from trolley tours, historical inns, candy, and wine tastings, they also have craft beer, shopping, festivals, and plenty of outdoor activities that I would have loved to try out if I had more time.

It may be small, but the little things are abundant there. Without a doubt, Stillwater’s small town charm won me over in a heartbeat.

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A Small Town Encounter In Stillwater Minnesota

While this trip was facilitated by the organizations and businesses mentioned in this post as well as Discover Stillwater and Explore Minnesota, this did not affect my views and all opinions are my own.


  • Meghan
    June 30, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    Never ever heard of this place before, but now I want to visit. Love surprises like this off-the-beaten track!

  • Jeni F
    June 17, 2016 at 5:29 am

    Your photos are gorgeous. It was really fun to meet you and enjoy lunch around the same table:)


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