If you ask residents what they love about St. Louis, the first thing they will say is Forest Park. While there are many things St. Louis has to offer, Forest Park is the heart of this city.
Built in 1904 for the World’s Fair (as depicted in the musical Meet Me in St. Louis), this park has so much to offer and, most importantly, is accessible to everyone. Admission to every attraction is free and St. Louis is committed to keeping it that way for years to come. That was a big deal to a little girl, who grew up with a family barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. Forest Park is the heart of the city because it truly belongs to all of us! Enough gushing, what exactly does the park offer?
This is my favorite attraction and a monthly stop off. Everytime you go the animals do something different, which means it never gets old. Check out my article on The Zoo and Free Day Out for more on this treasure!
Want to see life-size robotic dinosaurs, experience an earthquake, or watch a twister? Then the Science Center is a the perfect attraction for you to visit. Committed to education, at the science center your child can learn through play about engineering, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, or archaeology. For young children there’s a discovery playroom (for a small fee) where you can play and learn together or there’s the free archaeology dig zone. Older children can explore energy, geology or even the science behind video games through interactive exhibits. You could also explore engineering by building the foam arch together. Lastly, I strongly suggest paying the minimal fee to lay on the floor of the Planetarium as a live speaker shows you the current night sky. The displays are frequently changed, so visit again and again and continue to find something new. Check out my entry First Fridays at the Science Center for even more.
The Art Museum is one of our favorite spots to escape bad weather. You may not think of a place full of priceless breakable items as a place for children, but the museum is full of engaging material! There are scavenger hunts available that send your family looking for suits of armor and gorilla statues throughout the museum. If you don’t want the kids rushing you from room to room, bring a sketch pad and have them draw their favorite gallery finds. The museum has three floors and is a lot to cover in one day, so use the museum’s free map to plan your visit.
Paddle boats are a always a good idea on a beautiful spring or fall day. There are 22 acres of waterways to explore at your leisure around museums, bridges, and trees. You can rent paddle boats, kayaks, or paddle boards by the hour from $15-22 . If you want to enjoy the atmosphere without the physical activity, visit the Boathouse Restaurant or bar! Here you can enjoy the spectacular view while enjoying live music, flavorful food, and drinks.
The Missouri History Museum always displays exhibits on local history that immerse you in a different time and place. They have artifacts from when St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair including commemorative violins, period dress, and models of the fairgrounds. Right now, the museum has interactive exhibits celebrating 100 years of the Muny, another Forest Park wonder. In recent years, the museum added a play section called History Clubhouse where kids can experience history through play. During the summer they also have story time and crafts for young children. The museum is a great way to make history tangible for you and your family.
In 2018, the Muny celebrated its 100th year! When it comes to the theater scene in St. Louis the Muny is our pride and joy! Why? It goes back to our theme for Forest Park, the accessibility to all. The Muny always keeps a certain number of first-come first-serve basis tickets in the back of the theater free. However, ticket prices are reasonable, starting as low as $15 per ticket. I have even procured season tickets (the season runs from June to mid-August) for the four of us for under $400. This outdoor theater brings in some big names including Michelle Williams from Destiny’s Child as Aida and Heather Headley (the Broadway original Aida) as the Witch in Into the Woods .
The Walking trails weave between and all around Forest Park and all the mentioned attractions. As you travel the graveled pathways you will observe the people of St. Louis on family outings, taking pictures and out on dates enjoying the park. Surrounding the paths are ancient trees and new growth dotted with ponds and fountains aplenty. The elegant architecture of the museums and pavilions completes the landscape. Forest Park Forever has detailed maps showing specific trails and the attractions they pass by.
These are just the highlights of this gem. There are athletic fields, a golf course, tennis courts, fishing ponds, and pavilions awaiting as well. Whether you’ve lived in St. Louis all your life or are just visiting there is always a new adventure to embark on!