Stillwater, MN
What to do: St. Croix Packetboat Cruises, Gondola Romantica, Trolley Tours, Pedi-Cab Rides, Joseph Brewery Caves Tours, Teddy Bear Park, Warden’s House Museum, tastings and tours of Stillwater’s two breweries and two wineries, boating, swimming, fishing on the St. Croix River.
Where to eat: Stillwater boasts dozens of restaurants, cafes, pubs and confectionaries and ice cream shops along its Main Street area ranging from fine dining at The Dock Café, Water Street Inn or Marx to casual fare at the Freight House, Rafter’s, Brine’s, Smalley’s Caribbean BBQ and Leo's Grill & Malt Shop. Also check out eateries near the top of the race route at Chilkoot Hill, including Meister’s Bar & Grill, The Bikery and the new Chilkoot Café.
About Stillwater
Considered the birthplace of Minnesota, Stillwater grew up as a rich lumber town as it held the world’s greatest concentration of white pine and was the largest lumber producer in the world by the 1880s. The lumber barons provided the town with incredible wealth and dozens of gorgeous mansions, some of which have been converted to historic B&Bs.
Stillwater’s annual festivals range from the Ice Cream Social in January, Rivertown Art Fest in May, St. Croix Vineyards’ Grape Stomp in September, Harvest Fest and Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off in October and the Holiday Twinkle Parade in December.
Stillwater’s stunning location high atop the St. Croix River bluffs provides visitors with panoramic views of the river. Boating is also very popular and visitors can pull up to slip at a local marina, take a paddleboat lunch or dinner cruise or romantic gondola ride, or rent a motorboat, sail boat, canoe or house boat. Narrated trolley tours and pedi-cab rides are also available. Favorite tours include the Joseph Brewery Caves where the temps are a cool 50 degrees year round or the Warden’s House Museum, where visitors can learn about the state’s first territorial prison and notorious inmates.
Shopping and dining are first rate in Stillwater, as the town offers loads of antique shops, clothing boutiques, culinary specialty shops, wineries and dozens of independent bars, restaurants, coffee shops, candy stores, bakeries and ice cream shops, perfect for a Father’s Day treat before or after the race.
There are plenty of recreational riding opportunities in and around Stillwater. Highway 95 follows the scenic St. Croix River from Afton to the south to Taylors Falls to the North. The State Gateway Trail stretches just north of Saint Paul along Hwy 36 through Maplewood, connecting to Hwy 12 just north of Stillwater. This year, this trail system will be extended along the Brown’s Creek Trail and will lead directly into downtown Stillwater.
About the Stillwater Criterium
The Stillwater Criterium starts with a brutal climb up Chilkoot Hill – at 24%, it’s the steepest in North American Racing. After a second climb, the race descends from the bluffs through four harrowing turns down the hills of the surrounding neighborhoods, where racers zip by at 50 mph. You can walk the route to see the race from the various viewpoints, or stay at the start line near Main Street to watch the big screen – jumbotrons staged at key vantage points along the route mean viewers don’t have to miss any of the excitement. This stage is the ultimate test of endurance, as only 30% of the field actually completes the Stillwater Criterium.
Stillwater is extremely family friendly, so bring the gang down early. The Expo starts at 10:30 a.m. and the Men’s Amateurs begin their race at 11 a.m. The kids’ race takes place through the relatively flat start area adjacent to the expo between the Women’s and Men’s Pro races at 1 p.m. Special Father’s Day activities are planned for dads and kids. Another highlight of the Stillwater stage is the final awards ceremony for all races, which takes place at 2:45 p.m.