Take it Outside
Explore the natural side of St. Louis
By Jackie Tucker
St. Louis is a park-lover’s paradise. With more than 100 municipal parks inside the city limits—as well as state and county parks nearby—the Gateway City boasts a public oasis at every turn. So slip on your shades, grab a bottle of water and head outdoors.
Considered one of the nation’s greatest urban public parks, Forest Park is the beating heart of St. Louis. Its 1,300 acres are filled with gorgeous landscapes, lakes and streams perfect for walking, biking, picnicking and boating. You can also find five of the region’s major cultural institutions, including the Saint Louis Zoo and the Muny, an 11,000-seat outdoor amphitheatre.
With 179 acres of rolling green hills, Carondelet Park is the third-largest park in St. Louis. Check out the Boathouse—an architectural wonder completed in 1908. It’s surrounded by walking paths, tennis courts, ball fields, horseshoe pits, playgrounds and plenty of pavilions for picnics. Drop a line in Horseshoe Lake, where, with the right license, you can try your hand at urban fishing.
Right in the middle of downtown St. Louis, Citygarden is an oasis of nature, art and fun. Paved pathways meander through two city blocks filled with green lawns, interactive art sculptures, reflecting pools, rain gardens and a refreshing kid-approved splash pad. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a quiet bit of sanctuary amidst your visit to the bustling downtown area.
Creve Coeur Park
The main attraction at Creve Coeur Park is the large lake that gives it its name. Enjoy breathtaking views from the 3.8-mile loop trail that surrounds the lake. Or rent a kayak and take the adventure to the water. The Go Ape! Treetop Adventure zipline offers a popular family option. Once you’re done, enjoy a picnic and watch the sailboats in Sailboat Cove.
Tower Grove Park
Originally created as a Victorian strolling park, Tower Grove Park charms with forests, walking paths, playgrounds and pavilions for picnicking. Its crown jewel—and a favorite spot for wedding photos—is the Fountain Pond and Ruins. Take a weekend stroll, then head over to the park’s Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Babler State Park
Pitch a tent and stay the weekend in Babler State Park. Once you’ve got your campsite set up, hit the trails for a long hike or bike ride. The equestrian trails are perfect for horse lovers. The park is only minutes from St. Louis, but the thick forests and rugged terrain make you feel like you’ve really gotten away.
Gateway Arch National Park
No visit to St. Louis would be complete without a trip to the Arch. Visitors now have direct access from downtown St. Louis to the Arch grounds and surrounding national park. Stand beneath the iconic Arch, then take the Riverview Pathways along the edge of the Mighty Mississippi, where you can reach out and touch a piece of history.
Castlewood State Park
If you’re looking for a day out in nature, Castlewood State Park is the place to go. It’s only 45 minutes outside of St. Louis and well worth the drive. With more than 1,800 acres, this state park is packed with great fishing spots as well as trails for hiking and running. And it’s regarded as one of the best mountain biking destinations in the St. Louis area. Whether you want a peaceful day in the woods or an adventure on the trails, Castlewood has you covered.