Stillwater, Minnesota, is a great place for fall views

Taking in views on a trail along the St. Croix River in Stillwater.

Taking in views on a trail along the St. Croix River.

We were pretty excited to hear that fall colors were starting to peak in Stillwater, Minnesota, the weekend we were going to be in the area. Lisa had been checking status since the calendar hit fall in September. So, we were all set for a great time in the former logging city. Leaves brightly showing off their colors. The only thing that failed to cooperate was the weather forecast. Instead of blue skies that would make the red, yellow, brown leaves pop, we were met with gray clouds.

We planned to take in the fall foliage views from a riverboat. Lisa booked us on a three-hour jazz cruise with St. Croix Boat and Packet Company.

More people out for a river boat cruise in Stillwater

More people out for a river boat cruise.

It didn’t start off as a gray day for us. Blue skies with a hint of clouds greeted us as we ventured into the river city, across the St. Croix River from Wisconsin. We visited Stillwater last May as part of a travel conference we attended in the Twin Cities. Lisa and I agreed that the area had to look beautiful in the fall, so we marked our calendar for a return visit.

We enjoyed sunny skies as we checked out the Washington County courthouse. The area was settled in the 1830s. Stillwater became an incorporated city in 1854. The courthouse stands on a hill overlooking the city and the river valley.

The Washington County courthouse in Stillwater

The Washington County courthouse.

A Civil War monument is located on the grounds of the courthouse. Minnesota provided several soldiers to the Union Army during the war.

Civil War memorial on the courthouse grounds in Stillwater

Civil War memorial on the courthouse grounds.

Across the street from the courthouse, a veterans memorial honors the men and women who have served the area in the military.

Veterans memorial across the street from the courthouse in Stillwater

Veterans memorial across the street from the courthouse.

As we headed to the dock for our cruise, the gray clouds quickly moved in. we thought maybe they would move on as quickly as they came in. The cruise was enjoyable. Relaxing, even. The clouds refused to leave town during the cruise.

The cruise included a buffet lunch, along with a band entertaining us with jazz music. The food was good. The music was entertaining. We spent most of the cruise on the top deck of the boat. The band roamed the boat, entertaining everyone on each deck.

A jazz band entertains during our cruise in Stillwater

A jazz band entertains during our cruise.

With the gray skies as a backdrop, the fall colors were actually a little deeper than I thought they would. The trees lining the river’s banks reached to the top of hills. It was a beautiful view. I saw a few houses on top of the hills. These folks have a great view of the area.

Dark fall colors along bluffs near the river in Stillwater

Dark fall colors along bluffs near the river.

The St. Croix River is about 169 miles long. The region is part of a national river scenic byway.

The St. Croix River has plenty of room for recreational boating in Stillwater

The St. Croix River has plenty of room for recreational boating.

The river proved popular with people. We saw several boats and jet skiers during the cruise. Folks on our cruise saw other river boats, speed boats, jet skis and even a sail boat.

This spot seemed popular with boaters in Stillwater

This spot seemed popular with boaters.

Once we returned to the Stillwater dock, Lisa and I decided to check out an old grain elevator we saw during the May visit. The elevator is a coffee and sandwich shop, the Tin Bin. We enjoyed a nice latte and listened to a nice folk band before our trip home.

The Tin Bin. Great place for coffee and some eclectic music in Stillwater

The Tin Bin. Great place for coffee and some eclectic music.

We enjoyed our visit to Stillwater with one small exception. Parking is terrible along the river. I believe Stillwater is a city you need to visit early in the day with hopes of finding parking. The downside to that is the parking lots enforce a four-hour parking limit. The parking dilemma tests drivers’ patience. With the constant traffic we encountered, I believe the city would do well to add a few more parking lots.

Otherwise, we recommend Stillwater as a great place to visit. I believe it remains on our fall foliage bucket list as we are determined to see those colorful leaves pop with a blue sky.

For more information on Stillwater, please visit www.discoverstillwater.com or www.exploreminnesota.com.