A few weekends ago, Lucas and I made the trek to Stillwater, MN for a bit of a weekend getaway (our first overnight without E... aggh). It was a great time of rest, rejuvenation and remembering the freedom of being a childless young couple again. For real. Not having to work around the next nap time for the weekend was pretty great and it was some much needed quality time with the hubby.
We spent all of our time in the picturesque downtown area of Stillwater and we loved the historic charm and endless options of shops and eats to explore.
We loved it so much, that we felt like we needed to tell you about it.
So the two essentials of any great weekend getaway: where to eat and what to do (I also added a bonus section of where to stay, lucky you).
Below I'll lay out some of the great eats and great things we experienced (and some we didn't get to experience but I'm going to tell you a little about them anyway).
Where to Eat:
1. LoLo American Kitchen
Lolo American Kitchen was by far our favorite place. It's a fusion type restaurant that mixes American, Asian, and Mexican flavors and concepts, which sounds like a lot but it worked and it was all so good. It was a "step out of your box" place, for me at least, because every menu item involved something I haven't tried before nor would I typically choose to eat. But I put on the big girl pants and tried something new and it ended up being great.
2. Dock Cafe
The Dock Cafe was a cute little river side cafe we had for lunch on our full day in Stillwater. It's menu consisted of quite a few seafood options but also included non-seafood options for those that do not favor it (*me raising my hand*). We both had the "House Specialty" Wild Rice Soup with a salad for a quick lunch and if we had waited the 40 minutes to be able to sit on the patio by the river, it would have been absolutely perfect.
3. Mai Little Cakes
This place was absolutely adorable. Lucas thought it was too girly with its pink walls, pink shiny decor and pink apron adorning employees, but it's a cupcake shop and I appreciated the fact someone had the courage to make it look so sweet and fun. Besides the obvious of cupcakes, they had Thai rolled ice-cream (which was tasty) AND......Boba tea. That was redeeming factor for Lucas to get over all the pink and satisfy his inner Asian cravings.
*Thai Ice-cream (rolled or stir-fried ice-cream): a rising sensation way of preparing ice-cream that is incredibly creamy, smooth and amazing.
So we didn't actually eat here, but the owner of this place also owns LoLo, and since that was a favorite, I have a feeling it would be pretty good (plus it continued to show up in our "where to eat" research prior to our trip). In studying their menu, this place is definitely has more of a Latin flavor but elevated with unique combinations (would still be stepping out of the box for someone like me).
5. Leo's Grill and Malt Shop
Also didn't get to eat here. The only reason being there was always a line down the street for this little burger and shake place. An obvious sign that it must be pretty good. It looked very much like the classic small town humble burger joint that everyone loves. We will definitely have to try it the next time we visit.
What to do:
We thoroughly enjoyed this. More than we thought we would. I was expecting a typical tour of driving around town and to get little tidbits of the town's history, but it was so much more than that. Our tour guide was a Stillwater born native and made this tour more exciting and interesting than any tour I've been on. We got all the neat information and all the "did you know?"s about this quaint little town. This is a must do on any trip to Stillwater, you get way more out of this 45 minute tour than you would just driving around on your own.
With Lucas and I being hobby artists, I thought this would be a fun experience to relax and get our creative skills flowing (and a little bit of getting in touch with our inner child). This was such a neat concept that I haven't seen anywhere else before. You can just walk in (or reserve for a party) and you choose from either painting a canvas (choosing from picture options for step-by-step instructions) or painting a piece of pottery (which included plates, bowls, figurines, piggy banks, and more).
So we grabbed our Boba tea from Mai Little Cakes and hung out for a couple hours getting to do something we both have always enjoyed.
You can't go to Stillwater without doing some shopping. There are so many sweet little shops in downtown Stillwater. No Targets. Just good ole' independent small business boutiques.
We spent quite a few hours just walking, shopping and exploring all what this little town had to offer. Some of our favorite shops included Scandinavian North (of course, classic Scandinavian at heart here). Another shop was Alfresco, which was a home goods type of place but it had many sweet baby and kid items that this mama thoroughly enjoyed but the hubby wouldn't let me buy it all. Another neat place we went to was called Smith + Trade Mercantile. The concept behind this place was that it served as a hub for independent painters, creators, makers, etc. to sell their products. Think Etsy, in real life. Another was the ultimate kitchen store that fit the fancy of my sweet cooker of a husband, called Cooks of Crocus Hill. It literally had anything and everything any cook would ever need, ever.
Also. Coffee. There is an abundance of coffee shops to enjoy.
4. Some Others
Some other attractions/activities that we would have possibly tried and have heard positive reviews on include the Teddy Bear Park. A normal park, but with ginormous teddy bears, perfect for the child in your life (or the child-like husband in your life).
Stillwater is quite the upcoming foodie town and a way the city is recognizing that, is hosting Foodie Walking Tours. Basically, you walk from place to place and try out different foods.Can't get much better than that. They also host historic walking tours if you're into that. Some other often talked about activities include a visit to Aamodt's Apple Orchard, enjoying a ride with Stillwater's River Boat tour and various other occasional events you can check out here.
Where to Stay:
Rising in popularity as an accommodation option, Airbnb has numerous options for a place to stay on your visit to Stillwater. For example, there are these incredibly cute and charming lofts above the shops downtown (how convenient because that's where you'll be spending a lot of time). Here's a quick link to the greatness.
2. Historic Bed + Breakfasts
While there's many lovely Airbnb homes to stay in, there's equally as many historic home B+Bs to spend your time in. Here you'll get the full affect of the historic greatness that is Stillwater, and chances are you'll get the insiders low-down and secrets from your B+B host. Here's just a few of the many Historic Home B+B's I looked into prior to our trip: Rivertown Inn, Ann Bean Mansion, Aurora Staples Inn, Lowell Inn.
3. Classic Hotel
The option we chose because we planned somewhat last minute and on a holiday weekend so all the B+B's were completely booked. The chain hotels can be one of the more affordable options though if that's on your mind. So if you're looking for one of the options above...plan ahead, especially for a summer trip. Here's a link to a comprehensive list of Stillwater Hotels and B+Bs.
Lucas and I thoroughly loved our trip here. It was a perfect couple of days exploring and enjoying.
We were only there a couple days, so if you feel like there's something missing on this list that needs to be on here, leave a comment below!