Summer 2015 in St. Louis
The Gateway Arch is 50 years old this year. The National Park Service will commemorate the anniversary with an event on Oct. 28, 2015. After 50 years, the Arch grounds are undergoing a $380 million renovation project. The CityArchRiver project will completely transform the visitor experience by connecting downtown, the historic Old Courthouse, and the Arch grounds with the Mississippi River. Designed by world-renowned landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, in addition to redeveloping the grounds surrounding the Arch, the project will renovate the museum under the Arch with new exhibits and interactive story telling. The Arch grounds will expand with 11 new acres of bicycle trails, pedestrian pathways, performance venues, and the Lewis & Clark Explorer’s Garden for children.
Be sure to visit the Saint Louis Zoo’s newest summer attraction McDonnell Polar Bear Point; a 40,000 square foot, $15 million state-of-the-art polar bear habitat. Enjoy an Arctic cave room with four-panel viewing wall where visitors can view polar bears swimming in a 13-foot deep pool, carrying 50,000 gallons of saltwater. Guests will be able to watch polar bears play and train with the zoo keeper. Polar Bear Point will be situated between Bear Bluffs and Penguin & Puffin Coast. Polar Bear Point will be the newest exhibit this summer at the world-famous Saint Louis Zoo, which also features new exhibits areas: the Purina Painted Dog Preserve, Andean Bear Range and Sun Bear Forest.
With an $815,000 grant from NASA, the Saint Louis Science Center is one of only 10 organizations in the country selected to receive funding to support informal STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs. The grant will fund a new Mars exploration exhibit titled, “Bridging Earth and Mars (BEAM): Engineering Robots to Explore the Red Planet” which will open this summer. Visitors will simulate Mars exploration through programming a robotic rover in the main building of the Science Center and watch the rover at work in the James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens presents an all-new Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined from May 23 through Aug. 23. Lantern festivals are an essential part of Chinese culture and celebrate the Chinese New Year. The 22 sets of ornate lanterns will be made from silk, wire and porcelain materials. Each lantern will light up the sky along with a detailed interpretation of the design’s symbolism and tradition.
Children and teens, grades 3-12, can join the summer vacation challenge by entering the Ultimate Tourist Contest. Winners will receive $500 and be featured on explorestlouis.com and in the 2016 Official St. Louis Visitor’s Guide. From May 1- Sept. 2, visit at least three St. Louis attractions and tell us about your experiences in a 500-word essay. Visit explorestlouis.com for more information.