Maryland Heights is the backyard everyone craves. Step out your door and pick your adventure: row, golf, hike, swing from the treetops, kayak, paddle board, sail, photograph passing deer and waterfowl, or picnic. And that’s just at Creve Coeur Memorial Lake & Park. Add to that a waterpark, the 20,000 seat outdoor Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, Hollywood Casino, nearly 4000 hotel rooms, an historic aircraft museum, the comedy club, and a farm from the late 1800s where you can pick your fruit and even take a pickling class. In addition, there’s three state of the art soccer and sports parks and the new St. Louis Community Ice Center, home to the St. Louis Blues practice facility that just broke ground and is expected to open next fall. Adventure anyone?
Located 25 minutes west from downtown St. Louis, Maryland Heights is 23 square miles of jam-packed fun, with Creve Coeur Park the center of it all. Formed several thousand years ago when a meandering loop of the Missouri River was cut off, it became the county’s first and largest (2,100 acres) park in 1945. Originally a summer resort in the early 1900s, the park also holds the distinction of serving as the site of a large amusement park known as “Electric Park,” home to the annual county fair for nearly 30 years, and a booster station for the city’s electricity that powered the streetcars. In fact, visitors to the park today can see the original rail lines where streetcars entered and exited the park.
For the brave of heart at Creve Coeur Park, try the Go Ape Zipline Treetop Adventure in which groups explore the forest canopy via an epic treetop rope course. Way more than just zip lines, Go Ape is a 2-3 hour exhilarating journey complete with uniquely suspended obstacles and Tarzan swings that will keep you flying through the trees.
But the 320-acre lake and wetlands area is where the action is. It is here where outdoor enthusiasts can launch their sail boats, rent kayaks or paddleboards near the Taco Bell Shelter, canoe, take a rowing lesson offered by the St. Louis Rowing Club, hike or bike around the six-mile paved Creve Coeur Water Trail, which also connects to the Katy Trail, and even access interpretive information by smart phone or brochure on various points of interest along the trail. Or, just enjoy the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore while laying on the beach (no swimming allowed), or the waterfowl making their way through the preserved wetlands winding through the area. Marvel at the deer that wonder often through one’s viewfinder. Then eat and drink at the Creve Coeur Lake House. The park also hosts the annual Dragon Boat Festival at Sailboat Cove every June.
The park shares part of its border with The Quarry at Crystal Springs Golf Course, a premier public facility, overlooking the Missouri River Valley. The original quarry, established in 1888, receives its name from the many clear springs winding throughout the property. The golf course has Federally Protected Wetlands, untouched “Environmentally Sensitive Areas,” and vast lakes and native prairie grass areas. The course is also a rich habitat for wildlife. Woods surround the other three sides of the course.
On the other side of the park is the newly opened Creve Coeur Park Soccer Complex, one of three in the area. Home to 13 artificial turf fields, including a standalone championship field with seating for up to 500 fans, and two youth-sized natural grass fields, the complex is a huge draw for area players dreaming of the next World Cup Games. Minutes away is the Lou Fusz Soccer Complex and the Lou Fusz Training Facility at Rams Park. Founded in 1992 by former professional soccer play and coach Don Popovic, the complex provides playing fields for soccer, football and lacrosse players at the amateur and professional levels. Area teams also utilize the 90-acre multi-purpose Sportport International athletic facility, featuring a GreenField watered turf stadium field built for play at the international and world championship level.
Hockey fans take heart. The St. Louis Blues, the city of Maryland Heights and the St. Louis Legacy IceFoundation recently broke ground on their new $78 million practice facility. This new community ice center, to be completed in fall of 2019, will be open to the public when the Blues are not using the facility. Hello, Stanley Cup dreamers.
Indoor gamers also have several incredible options to try their luck at winning. Hollywood Casino and Hotelwhich opened in 1997 in the Riverport area. The 120,000 square feet of gaming space is filled with 2,100 of the hottest slots and video poker machines and 70-plus table games. The casino’s partnership with Live Nation and the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre right next door offers great hotel packages, a shuttle to and from the concerts, and pre-and-post party venue options. The 20,000-seat outdoor theater plays hosts to topline entertainers such as Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, the Zac Brown Band, Brantley Gilbert, Brad Paisley, Jimmy Buffet, Counting Crows, Niall Horan and Lynyrd Skynyrd, to name a few.
Gamers of all ages can take stock of the hundreds of arcade games at Dave & Buster’s, the family-friendly sports bar, located down the street from the casino and amphitheater. Or, take your buddies to task and “settle the score or get served,” as they say, at Westport Social, a classic bar and gaming lounge, located at Westport Plaza. Patrons can participate in one of seven games including a larger than life pop-a-shot station, floor shuffleboard, darts, ping pong and bocce ball, to name a few. Or, watch the latest game on one of the dozens of drive-in like TV screens. Karaoke rooms are available for those who prefer to showcase their vocal chords. Westport Social is just one of the many restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues located within the 42-acre Westport Plaza development. Also there, is the Funny Bone Comedy Comedy Club where professional comics, plus weekly open-mike nights, draw laughs from audiences of all ages. Steps away from the club is the Westport Playhouse supporting theater for decades in St. Louis. Westport Plaza hosts the Vintage Bliss Market (June), which showcases repurposed, reused and reclaimed wares from vendors, as well as Parties on the Plaza, a free happy hour series held monthly May through October.
The municipality is home to many award winning restaurants, pubs and craft brewers, including Big Baby Q Barbecue (#1 in Missouri, Food & Wine), Drunken Fish (Best Sushi, Riverfront Times), Six Mile Bridge Brewery and the O’Fallon Brewery, among many others.
It’s an adventure whirlwind in Maryland Heights. Welcome to the St. Louis’ backyard.