Whether you’re taking the kids out for an adventure, visiting an attraction, or getting some fresh air, nothing beats a visit to a local park. In St. Louis, Missouri, you’re downright spoiled. With over 150 local, county, and state parks, the greater St. Louis area has one to explore within a short drive.
Located west of the Central West End, north of Interstate 64, and south of the Delmar Loop, Forest Park is the largest and most popular park in the city. Measuring in at 1,371 acres, it’s nearly double the size of New York’s Central Park and offers many of the city’s top attractions.
The St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, James S. McDonnell Planetarium, and Missouri History Museum are all within the park grounds for a day of free fun. During winter, don’t miss the chance to sled down Art Hill, and if you’re around in October, you simply have to check out the Balloon Glow and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.
Laumeier Sculpture Park
Nestled near the intersection of Interstate 44 and Interstate 270, Laumeier Sculpture Park features 60 outdoor sculptures, a 1.4-mile walking trail, and plenty to see for both kids and adults. Dozens of artists have contributed to the collection since 1975, and today, it’s Missouri’s largest collection of outdoor sculptures. Dogs are welcome, but remind your kids (and yourself) not to climb on the structures.
Tower Grove Park
Situated in the heart of St. Louis’ South City neighborhood, Tower Grove Park is a local favorite for concerts, adult kickball leagues, and spending a lazy Saturday afternoon. Covering 289 acres between Grand and Kings Highway, this park has over 400 species of birds and plants, all which seem to come to life right around the first day of spring.
Eleven ornately decorated pavilions offer shelter for barbecues, while massive statues provide excellent photo-ops. On weekends, check out the local farmers market. Here you’ll find local honey, produce, meat, coffee, and ready-made food while you’re serenaded by jazz, blues, and country music from some of the city’s top musicians.
Missouri Botanical Garden
Located adjacent to Tower Grove Park, the Missouri Botanical Garden is home to 6.6 million species of plants, making it the second-largest botanical garden in the country. Built in 1859, it’s also the oldest botanical garden west of the Mississippi River. Both the indoor and outdoor portions of the park have local and exotic plants, surrounded by sculptures and artwork dating back over 100 years.
Strolling through the park is a visual sensation regardless of the season, and many festivals make the gardens a must-visit. The Chinese Lantern Festival, Whitaker Music Festival, Japanese Festival, and the Orchid Show are among the favorites. Admission to the park is $12 for adults (13+) and free for children ages 12 and under. St. Louis County and St. Louis City residents can get in the doors for half price.
From one of the largest urban parks in the country to modernist sculptures, St. Louis’ parks are among the best you’ll ever visit.
Image via Flickr by Philip Leara