Two of my best friends live in the pretty river town of Stillwater, about a 30-minute drive from my house in St. Paul. Whenever I visit, I become plagued with an ailment best described as Stillwater envy. There are plenty of really wonderful reasons to live in St. Paul, but there’s just something about Stillwater. It has this vibe, this energy, this unique historic beauty that leaves a lasting impression on you long after you leave. It’s like the cool kid who doesn’t try to be cool, it just is.
I’ve been to Stillwater too many times to count, for celebrations like Lumberjack Days (replaced as Log Jam), Harvest Fest, Oktoberfest at Gasthaus, and girls’ nights out, but during the summer, I like to go to Stillwater because it’s a family-friendly close-to-home escape. The only problem is that we don’t spend enough time there. One of these days, I’m going to plan the perfect family day in Stillwater. It would go something like this:
10:30 a.m.: After heading down Highway 36 toward downtown Stillwater—with the beautiful St. Croix River looming large on our right—we’d pass by The Freight House and keep driving to Nelson Street, where we take a left, and go up the hill to Teddy Bear Park (on South Second and Nelson). The free parking lot across from the park would be nearly empty. (This is my perfect day, after all. In a perfect world, parking is never an issue.) The park—with plenty of sand, slides, climbing structures, teddy bear sculptures, soft astroturf, and picnic seating—was specifically designed for kids 7 and under. My boys think it’s fantastic.
After playing at the park, we would have lunch on the patio of Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop, followed by a sweet treat from Tremblay’s old-fashioned candy store. Everyone would be stuffed silly, but we’d find the energy to walk along the river (it’s too pretty not to!), watch the boats go under the bridge, and let the kids chase each other on the grassy riverfront lawn. Maybe I’d even get a little boutique shopping in on Main Street. (Or, probably more accurately, a little window shopping until I return solo or with girlfriends.)
After that we would go on a geocaching adventure (search the Stillwater zip code 55082), followed by a Storytime Trolley ride (just like the one in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood!), and finally have dinner at Brine’s before heading home—happy, sun-kissed, and exhausted.