Things to Do in Stillwater, MN
Stillwater is a special place. It’s an adorable, quaint town nestled along the St. Croix River. I have now been a couple of times and know that I have only just scratched the surface. The downtown area is busy and has a huge selection of restaurants and bars as well as bakeries and ice cream shops. The waterfront park, Lowell Park, is a beautiful spot to sit and relax or set up a picnic. There is also a lot of hiking to be done!
Enjoy a Gondola Ride on the River
There are many wonderful things to do in Stillwater, including hiking to waterfalls and a trolley ride around town. If you’re looking for something really special, however, you’ll want to take a gondola ride with Gondola Romantica. It’s a very unique way to get on the water and enjoy views of the Lift Bridge up close.
The founder and owner, John Kerschbaum, grew up in Hastings, Minnesota and developed a love for being on the water. John also spent many years as a guide for canoe trips in the Boundary Waters. He first became interested in gondolas in 1998 when he saw a photo of one. He began thinking a gondola would be great on the St. Croix River and he could offer boat tours in downtown Stillwater.
In 2000 John went to Italy to meet an American living in Venice, named Tom. Tom taught John how to properly row a gondola. That same year, an authentic Venetian gondola was shipped to Minnesota. John says, “I’ve enjoyed years of rowing lovers alongside the bluffs and lights of Stillwater. The gondolas bring the romance of Venice to Stillwater and nearby Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
John Makes the Experience Special
John is passionate about what he does, and he made the experience really special for us. Unfortunately it was raining a bit, but we were really unaffected by that. He had a huge umbrella waiting for us, so our seats were dry and we remained dry the whole time.
John shared his story with us, and how he got his business started. He was really friendly. This is also a great thing to do with COVID because we were outside and remained more than six feet away from John the entire time. We felt safe the whole time. Lastly, John sang to us in Italian which was really impressive! It’s clear he has a deep appreciation for Italian culture.
Bring Your Own Food and Drinks
You’re allowed to bring your own food and drinks on the gondola. Unfortunately, we had a little rain while we were out there, but in nicer weather it would be lovely to bring a basket with cheese and crackers and wine.
Things to Know Before You Go
Each gondola holds up to six people. You’ll want to reserve a specific time for your ride, and there are varying options for length of time and prices. All gondola rides are reserved just for your party. If you’re looking for a last minute ride, you can walk over and talk to the gondolier, sometimes their schedule allows for walk ups.
Oh, and one last fun fact about gondolas: They’ve been around for over 1,000 years. The style and design has evolved and been perfected so that it will not flip over like a canoe. It will always right itself due to it’s asymmetrical design. You may notice from my photos, the boat curves to the right and no two “ribs” are identical.
This post is sponsored by Gondola Romantica. All thoughts and opinions are my own.