Explore Stillwater's Operational Steamboats

Known as "The Birthplace of Minnesota," Stillwater is an old mill town nestled in St. Croix Valley. Because the city lies on the banks of St. Croix River, exploring its steamboats should be on your list of Stillwater things to do. Though most widely used from 1860 to 1890, a few steamboats still operate out of Stillwater and are used mostly for entertainment purposes. There of 5 of such historic 1800s river boats, all of them operated by St. Croix Boat & Packet. The company offers leisure cruises down the river, which is the best way to see the St. Croix in Stillwater. Things to do also include wining and dining, dancing and catching the sunset as these boats quietly glide along the river. Their public excursions are open to any amount of people, but you would need to make reservations over the phone beforehand. Depending on the cruise and menu, the rates for adults range from $17.65 to $28.95. For children aged 6 to 12, it ranges from $13.95 to $20.95.

St. Croix Boat & Packet
525 South Main Street
Stillwater, Minnesota 55082
(651) 430-1234; (651) 430-8013


Seating a minimum of 250 and a maximum of 675 people, Avalon is the most capacious paddlewheel boat in the Midwest. With such luxury, it is definitely suited for bigger groups. It can comfortably seat 500 on its 2 heated and air conditioned inside decks. It is furnished with an elevator for handicapped passengers. The rates are $11 per person for 2½ hours for a minimum of 2½, hours and $900 per additional hour.


When you want a night out of your Stillwater Bed and Breakfast, take a trip aboard Empress, a replica of an 1890s paddlewheel boat. With a beautiful Victorian interior with stained glass and tin ceilings, it can seat a minimum of 175 and a maximum of 325 people. The rates are $2,000 for the first 2½ hours for a minimum of 2½ hours, and $700 for every additional hour after the first 2½.


Remember the items on your Stillwater things to do list? You can tick off most of them on a cruise in the Showboat. Called "the heart and soul of Dixie," the Showboat is an authentic sternwheeler. Bedecked with stained glass and bric-brac, it can seat a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 150 people in style. It features modern-day comforts mixed with 19th century romantic tradition. The rate is $600 per hour for a minimum of 2½ hours.

Jubilee II

From your Stillwater Inn, you can walk towards the river to take a cruise on Jubilee II, another paddlewheel boat. It can seat a minimum of 100 and a maximum of 150 people, like the Showboat. It has two levels, with a spacious dance floor on the second level. The rate is also $600 per hour for a minimum of 2½ hours.


Named after Russia's last grand duchess, Anastasia is the newest member of St. Croix Boat & Packet's fleet. Ideal for smaller groups, it can accommodate 50 to 70 people. It features a charming open-air second deck, which makes Anastasia such a beauty inside and out. The rate is $380 per hour for a minimum of 2½ hours.