7 Ways to Stay Active in St. Louis
By Rachel Huffman
Among the cityscape, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature and stay active in St. Louis. Try one of these local activities for something a little different on your next trip.
You can drop in for classes at any number of yoga studios in St. Louis – Gateway Yoga, Shanti Yoga and Yoga In DeMun, among others – but for a yoga session unique to the city, consider special events, such as Sunrise Yoga hosted by the Gateway Arch Park Foundation on Tuesdays and those hosted by Yoga Buzz at some of our favorite establishments – past locations include St. Louis Union Station and the Schlafly Tap Room.
Can’t resist the call of the trail? Luckily, St. Louis has ideal weather this time of year, and hiking trails for all abilities abound. Forest Park offers excellent opportunities to stay active, but that’s a given. If you want to explore more of the green spaces in St. Louis, here are our recommendations.
The River Scene Trail, a three-mile loop in Castlewood State Park, traverses a series of limestone bluffs overlooking the Meramec River before descending into the valley below via a long wooden staircase. While you’re at the park, you might want to explore the Grotpeter Trail, as well – and don’t forget to pack a picnic.
For other stimulating loop trails with similar lengths, try the Lime Kiln Trail in Rockwoods Reservation, which will get your heart pumping with a steep incline no matter which direction you hike it, or the White Bison Trail in Lone Elk Park, which combines twists and climbs with frequent wildlife sightings – think white-tailed deer, elk, bison, wild turkey and waterfowl.
Located in a floodplain at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Columbia Bottom Conservation Area features wetlands, forests and open fields, as well as a level, paved trail that’s part of the Missouri River Greenway.
On the other hand, Shaw Nature Reserve, a 2,400-acre nature reserve operated as an extension of the Missouri Botanical Garden, has myriad hiking trails, as does the World Bird Sanctuary. At the latter, trails range from easy to moderate, snaking through the sanctuary’s 305 acres of hardwood forest. After your hike, check out the on-site aviaries that provide safe havens to approximately 270 animals, including eagles, falcons and owls.
Skip your spin class and pedal along St. Louis’ best bike trails instead.
Approximately 12 miles from start to finish, Grant’s Trail stretches through St. Louis County, offering a flat, carefree ride past Grant’s Farm, the Clydesdale pastures and more.
Staying in downtown St. Louis? You can easily access the Riverfront Trail via Washington Avenue or Chestnut Avenue through the Gateway Arch National Park. Part of the Mississippi River Greenway, the 15-mile family-friendly trail awards unique views of the industrial landscape along the river.
For even more adventure, tackle Bootlegger’s Run in Creve Coeur Park. Cyclists face multiple ravine crossings, dips and turns, and you can slow down to admire the fall foliage or speed up to make the ride more exhilarating. Afterward, cool off by Creve Coeur Lake and then refuel at Westport Plaza, which boasts sushi from Drunken Fish, tacos from Fuzzy’s Taco Shop and a classic bar and game lounge at Westport Social.
If you’re hoping to go further afield, the Katy Trail is the longest recreational rail trail in the U.S. and a go-to route for walkers, runners, skaters and, of course, bikers in Missouri. You can start the 240-mile-long trail from any number of spots, but we suggest parking at the St. Charles trailhead near the Lewis & Clark Boat House and Museum. If Missouri wine country is on your bucket list, you can also bike part of the trail from Augusta, which is stunning in every season.
The Mississippi River gets a bad rap, but Big Muddy Adventures proves that it’s not only safe to paddle the river, it’s also a lot of fun. Whether it’s your first time paddling or you’re a bona fide river rat, the world-class adventure company has a trip for you. Highlights include 45-minute micro-adventures through the heart of St. Louis; full moon floats to a beautiful, uninhabited river island in time for the sunset and a gourmet campfire dinner; and a combination biking and paddling trip in the Missouri River Valley.
It’s no secret that Midwesterners love float trips. If you want to partake in that pastime, as well, the closest place to St. Louis is Brookdale Farms in Eureka, where you can rent canoes, kayaks, rafts and tubes to set out on the Meramec River. Floats – four or nine miles – offer beautiful views, clear swimming holes, gravel beaches and fascinating wildlife; plus, you’ll likely have a great story to share with your friends and family afterward.
At RYZE Adventure Park, thrill-seekers can climb to new heights. The state-of-the-art Adventure Tower features 110 different obstacles reaching four stories high. People of all ages, abilities and adrenaline levels can climb, zipline, swing, ride, rappel and trek through the exhilarating jungle gym, but RYZE also provides entertainment on the ground with its 18-hole mini golf course.
For a more traditional climbing experience, check out one of St. Louis’ climbing gyms. Upper Limits Indoor Rock Climbing Gym has three locations in the area, offering the works: bouldering, auto belays, top roping and lead climbing. Climb So iLL is another modern, indoor climbing gym located in the former City Hospital Power Plant; the space provides more than 10,000 square feet of colorful climbing areas, including a training zone for beginners.
If you want to move beyond artificial rocks and get your hands dirty, consider one of Vertical Voyages’ rock- and tree-climbing workshops. Aiming to connect people and positive, intimate experiences with nature, the St. Louis-based company accommodates everyone from novices to experts. Full-day climbing sessions for beginners – led by AMGA-certified Single Pitch Instructors – take place in various locations, such as Robinson Bluff and Pere Marquette State Park. For an unforgettable activity that not many people have done, however, we suggest a tree climbing course. Tree climbing is an emerging adventure sport that uses specialized equipment to scale trees. The trees are tall and mature with broad canopies, and the experience allows climbers to see the forest from an extremely rare perspective.
In St. Louis, you can skate year-round. Parks with paved trails – think Jefferson Barracks Park, George Winter Park, Shaw Park and Tower Grove Park – are great for sunny days, but when rain clouds roll in, head to an indoor rink, such as Rollercade Roller Skate Center. And in winter, the fun doesn’t stop. Bundle up, strap on your ice skates and find your stride at Steinberg Skating Rink, which opens for public skating in mid-November each year.
Have you been swept up in the pickleball craze? We understand. Played on a petite, 20-by-44-foot court, the sport doesn’t involve intense sprinting to and fro, it allows players to socialize, and it doesn’t require much technical know-how. So, even if you haven’t played, you’re bound to have a good time. The game’s low-key combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong has also created famous fanatics such as Leonardo DiCaprio and the Kardashians.
While you’re in St. Louis, test your skills on the courts throughout the area. The Tower Grove Park Tennis Center in Tower Grove Park, the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park, Tilles Park in the Northampton neighborhood and Shaw Park in Clayton, all have top-notch outdoor pickleball courts, while the Missouri Pickleball Club in Fenton and the Frontenac Racquet Club in the Frontenac neighborhood boast indoor courts for all weather.
Chicken N Pickle, a distinct entertainment complex featuring pickleball courts and a variety of yard games, along with a casual, chef-driven restaurant and sports bar, is also slated to open in St. Charles in the coming months.
St. Louis is a city for all seasons, but fall is arguably the best for outdoor activities. With this list, we hope we’ve made it easier to stay active and enjoy a couple more months outside.