Stillwater is a little city in Minnesota that will always bring back fond memories for me. When I first moved to Minnesota, we stumbled on Stillwater during one of our weekend outings and it quickly became my favorite destination. That weekend we stopped by a festival and I'll never forget walking down by the river and turning my head and seeing Smash Mouth performing live.
After that, we started visiting Stillwater almost once a month. We loved visiting the antique stores, doing wine tastings, and hanging out on the restaurant patios overlooking the St. Croix River. It's a beautiful city with a lot of personality!
Since having Little A we haven't really had a chance to visit so we thought it'd be fun to do a little fall staycation now that she's older. With a little planning, we came up with the perfect family trip and I'm excited to share our recap and tips on visiting Stillwater with toddlers.
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Teddy Bear Park
After a 45 minute car ride to Stillwater, Little A was ready to run around and get some energy out so our first stop was Teddy Bear Park.
Teddy Bear Park is an adorable park for kids that has a bunch of different sized play structures and teddy bears! Best of all the park is free to the public so it makes it a great little detour to burn off some energy.
Little A loved being able to run around and climb on everything, and I loved that the park was super clean and fenced in so I didn't have to worry about her running off (and turf on the ground so no one got hurt!)
We ended up spending over an hour at the park before we decided to walk around and check out the new walking path on the Lift Bridge.
Walking the Stillwater Lift Bridge
We walked down the hill and ended up on Main Street Stillwater, located right on the St. Croix River across from Wisconsin. There's a bunch of cute shops, antique stores, restaurants and a few hotels located on the strip as well as a scenic walking path.
They recently converted the huge lift bridge that crosses the St. Croix river to a pedestrian path this year so we knew we had to check it out. Little A loved seeing all the boats on the river and thought it was so cool to cross such a big bridge!
Lolo American Kitchen
After our walk we were starving! We walked into town and stopped by one of our favorite restaurants, Lolo American Kitchen for a quick lunch. We split an app of guacamole and chips, and got their vegan stir fry bowls that were very good! Little A got the kid's chicken fingers and french fries and loved it. I really liked that the service was quick so we were able to be done with lunch just in time for nap time.
The Cottage at Just for Me Spa
After lunch it was time to check into our cottage for the night. We stayed at a cozy cottage located on the Just for Me Spa property. This was the perfect accommodation because it had a huge yard that Little A loved exploring the big backyard, and I loved relaxing on the cozy swing on the porch during her nap. It was also really conveniently located so we were less than 5 minutes to everything (and had it's own private off street parking!).
Aamodt's Apple Orchard (and Winery!)
After a nap we ventured out to Aamodt's Apple Orchard, one of my favorite Apple Orchards in the Twin Cities. I love Aamodt's because it's an all in one destination - there's the apple orchard, bakery, winery and they make their own cider. There really is something for everyone.
This was Little A's first time going to an apple orchard so we decided to pick apples first. The orchard wasn't too busy we were able to take our time going up and down the rows picking out the perfect apples. Little A really enjoyed this since she had just learned about apples and the farm at school (and she had fun doing a little taste test!)
Once our bags were filled with apples, we stopped by the picnic tables and got a few apple cider donuts and did a cider tasting. Little A was a huge fan of the donuts and mom and dad loved the cider. With our huge bag of apples (we later made Instant Pot Apple Butter with them), we grabbed a few apple muffins to bring home for breakfast (and a bottle of wine for after Little A's bedtime 🙂 ) and headed back to the cottage.
The Tilted Tiki Restaurant
We went back to the Cottage to relax for a little bit and get ready for dinner. I had been looking around on Facebook groups before our trip and was beyond excited to get to try The Tilted Tiki. I had never heard of it before and since going plant based this was one of the most highly recommended restaurants in the state!
The outside of the restaurant is a cute little patio and inside looks like you've been transported to an island! The decor was perfect and fit the space so nicely. We were seated really quickly and ordered some fun yummy tiki drinks!
The menu did not disappoint! They had a wide variety of burgers, tacos and a huge plant based menu. I really appreciated that the plant based options were really unique, as well as most of the regular items were able to be customized to be vegan. It was hard to choose between all the great options, but eventually I decided on the Tropical Pineapple Burger and Chris got the Tilted Tacos.
The food was so fresh and bursting with flavor. They tacos and burgers were delicious! Both of our dishes also came with a side of this delicious Lau'ai slaw that we could've ate a whole jar of!
After our fun filled day, Little A was exhausted so we headed back to the cottage before we headed back home early in the morning. We had so much fun on this trip, made so many memories and can't wait to go back again!
Tips for Visiting Stillwater with Toddlers
Here are my top tips for planning a Stillwater staycation:
- Do a little research before the trip - before taking a trip, get an idea of what you want to do. I like to come up with 4-5 things we'd like to see or do so that we always have an option. Do we always get to everything? Nope, but we can at least have an idea of what's available in the area. I used the Discover Stillwater website to help plan our trip.
- Bring snacks...lots and lots (and lots) of snacks!
- Be flexible - not everything is going to go according to plan.
- Plan for play breaks - stopping by Teddy Bear park and including active activities like apple picking let Little A get some energy out throughout the day
- Bring your own restaurant activities - while the restaurants we visited were kid friendly and had kids menus, not all of them had coloring books or activities. I like to keep these water coloring books in my diaper bag as a backup.
Stillwater will always be one of my favorite cities, and I am so excited that we have a new fall family tradition! It's only 30 minutes from downtown Minneapolis so it's an easy day trip (or staycation) and can really be anything you make of it. From romantic date nights to fun fall family staycations, Stillwater really has something for everyone.