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BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY Minneapolis 2000 - Stillwater

There is something absurd and wonderful about a hot tub fronted with fake rocks in the corner of a Victorian bedroom got up to look like colonial Burma, particularly if it's the middle of July and you have to turn up the air conditioning before taking a bath. And yet, we can say with authority that if this were the only reason to hop in your car, take Highway 36 to Stillwater, and stay the night at the Elephant Walk B&B, such a midnight bath would be reason enough (we highly recommend bringing a partner). But to the hot tubs we can add the Elephant Walk's four-course breakfast the next morning (complete with flourless chocolate torte--the decadence!); the French Mediterranean dinner or weekend brunch at La Belle Vie; the historic, if doomed, Stillwater Lift Bridge spanning the St. Croix; the overpriced antiques; and William O'Brien State Park just north of town. Those who wish to celebrate the triumph of man over climate would do well to wander over to the St. Croix Vineyards or Northern Vineyards for a wine tasting, while those who wish to celebrate the triumph of nature over human folly may wander down to the St. Croix and look for the growing population of once near-extinct peregrine falcons. And those who wish to celebrate the triumph--if only for a weekend--of idleness over industry are advised to wander anywhere they please and for as long as they please, because the best thing about Stillwater is that it's close enough to stay through Sunday afternoon and still get back in time for dinner and a reasonable bedtime.

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