The St. Croix Valley in Minnesota is full of charming, historic small towns and an abundance of river-front and country-side nature sites. While you’re in the area you can catch a play at the Zephyr Theatre, discover William O’Brien State Park, or stroll through historic downtown Stillwater.
This helpful guide will help you find the best St. Croix Valley attractions, hotels, and restaurants in order to make your visit memorable.
What to eat in St. Croix Valley
- The Old Log Cabin: Located in Scandia, The Old log cabin is a 7- minute drive from Better Place Forest, Saint Croix Valley. The Old Log Cabin Restaurant has proudly served the area for nearly 30 years with full-service dining and catering services. When you dine at The Old Log Cabin Restaurant, you can be sure you’ll find something for everyone
- Rustic Roots Winery: After a visit to our forest, take an 8-minute drive to this lovely local winery and unwind with a glass of wine or cider. Pair your vino with a seasonal flatbread, cheeseboard, or strawberry and feta salad.
- Nelson’s Ice Cream: You don’t want to miss out on a scoop or two of Nelson’s delicious confections when you are in the area. This family-owned and operated ice creamery has an almost 100-year history in the Stillwater area.
- Brookside Bar and Grill: Located in historic Marine on Saint Croix, Brookside is a short 12-minute drive from our Saint Croix Valley forest. Brookside serves burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, and more—all handmade using fresh ingredients. The full bar and outdoor patio make this a pleasant stop when you are traveling through the Saint Croix River National Scenic Riverway by car, bicycle, motorcycle, or on the water.
Things to do in St. Croix Valley
If you’re asking yourself ‘what is there to do in Scandia, MN?’ we’ve got the answer — there are plenty of fun things to do and see not only in Scandia but throughout the whole St. Croix Valley. History buffs will be thrilled by the local historical attractions, and nature lovers will enjoy all the outdoor activities and sparkling lakes in Scandia. There’s something fun to do for all members of the family in this beautiful region of Minnesota.
- Historic downtown Stillwater: One of America’s most beautiful small towns, Stillwater is considered to be the birthplace of Minnesota. In 1848 the first convention to establish Minnesota as a state was held in Stillwater, and soon Stillwater became a busy lumber hub that brought railroads, steamships, gas lights, and prosperity to the town. Stroll down historic main street and pop into one of the 100+ shops and restaurants, or get some exercise by walking up and down one of Stillwater’s five sets of historic staircases. Don’t miss the Historic Lift Bridge — one of only three lift bridges remaining in the US today!
- Big Marine Lake Park Reserve: Located just a 12-minute drive from our forest, Big Marine Park Reserve is on the southern shores of Big Marine Lake. The park is known for its excellent natural resource features, including high-quality upland and wetland wildlife habitat. The park opened in 2008 and, when completed, will be 1,800 acres, with 80% of it reserved for preservation and protection. Take your swimming trunks and a picnic lunch, and enjoy the beach, playground, and hiking trails. Parking is free on Tuesdays, $7 the rest of the week.
- William O’Brien State Park: Another beautiful park just 10 minutes from our forest, this 1,520-acre state park on the banks of the St. Croix River offers many things to see and do including camping, fishing, canoeing, cross-country skiing, and bird watching. Watch for wildlife like minks, beavers, woodchucks, white-tail deer, and a variety of woodland creatures living along the riverbanks, upland meadows, and among the trees in the woods.
- Gammelgarden Museum: Learn about the Swedish heritage so prevalent in Minnesota at this open-air museum devoted to preserving and sharing the Swedish immigrant history. Just a 5-minute drive from our forest, it’s well worth dropping by and taking a tour or a Swedish language lesson.
- Theatres, Live Music, and Nightlife: Make sure to save some energy after a day of exploring because there are many fun things to do at night in St. Croix Valley! See a play at The Zephyr Theatre, listen to live music at one of the 14 music venues in Stillwater, or grab a cocktail at one of the many bars, taverns, and distilleries throughout the valley.
Where to stay in St. Croix Valley
After a day of exploring all that Scandia and the St. Croix Valley has to offer, you’ll want to tuck in for a good night’s sleep. You’re sure to rest easy in one of these nearby accommodations.
- Rivertown Inn: Located just three blocks from historic downtown Stillwater, the Rivertown Inn boasts elegant furnishing and antiques. Built in 1884, the bed and breakfast is a restored lumber baron mansion offering a full-service, first-class venue.
- Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack: This hotel is in Forest Lake, a 19-minute drive from Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley. The Scandinavian design gives it a cozy feel while providing modern amenities like free Wi-Fi, room service, gym, indoor pool, and a hotel bar. Enjoy the casino, racing, live comedy shows, or a Sunday Brunch Bingo game during your visit.
- Country Inn & Suites: Also located in Forest Lake, this hotel property is owned by Radisson and has everything you need for a convenient and comfortable stay, including in-room refrigerators and microwaves.
Choose a lasting legacy in St. Croix Valley
Making end-of-life plans early relieves the burden from your loved ones, and empowers you to take control of the process. At Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley, your ashes will be spread in an idyllic protected lakefront forest, surrounded by impressive trees and the Midwestern wildlife. It’s a beautiful legacy to leave where your family and friends will always be able to visit.
Our guides and customer care team get to know you and your wishes in order to help you select the perfect tree for your final resting place. Our goal is to give you an easy and stress-free end-of-life planning experience. For more information about our services or the St. Croix Valley forest, schedule a free online forest tour.