9 Ways to Experience the Outdoors When Visiting St. Louis
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
I was born and raised in the St. Louis area. Large parts of my family still live there. I recently returned for a travel photography seminar, giving me the opportunity to look at the city through the eyes of a traveler, not a resident. I visited attractions and neighborhoods with my fellow photographers seeing the city through their lens. At the end of my visit I had a renewed pleasure in the city of my youth. If you love the outdoors there are lots of fun things to see and do. The weather is conducive for outdoor fun. Spring comes slowly and sweetly and the warmth of fall often lingers into November, making the time you spend outdoors enjoyable. I would recommend St. Louis as a long weekend or multi day road trip stopover to anyone. For more information on visiting St. Louis, check out my post, A weekend Getaway in St. Louis Looking for some gear to help you enjoy the outdoors, check out my Amazon Store.
The Saint Louis Zoo
Second only to Washington DC, St Louis has more free attractions than any other city in the United States. In Forest Park, the award winning St Louis Zoo is free everyday. Established in 1910, the Flight Cage was part of the 1904 World's Fair and first exhibit in the zoo. Through the years new exhibits have been added. In 2017 and 2018, the St. Louis Zoo was chosen best in the United States by USA Today.
Forest Park is a nature oasis within St. Louis. Named #1 City Park in the United States by readers of USA Today in 2016, Forest Park truly has something for everyone. It is 1,300 acres of wooded and grassy spaces with a large lake system, There is plenty of space to hike, bike and kayak.
For bike rentals contact City Cycling Tours
For boat rentals contact the Boathouse at Forest Park
For a map of the walking trails go to Forest Park Forever.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens
One of my favorite outdoor spaces is the Missouri Botanical Gardens with its year round Climatron simulating a tropical rainforest and the serene Japanese Gardens. Founded in 1859 by Henry Shaw, there 79 acres to explore in this one of the oldest botanical institutions in the United States. Admission is $14.00.
Further to the west of the city, is Grant's Farm, the 281acre ancestral home of the Busch Family, of Anheuser Busch Brewery fame. It is named after Ulysses S. Grant who worked a portion of the land on this site. Admission to the grounds, petting zoo and tram ride are free. Feed for the animals is an extra charge.
Laumeier Sculpture Garden
Also to the west of the city is Laumeier Sculpture Park in the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Area. Designed to bring people together through art and nature, this free attraction is a great place to spend the afternoon walking the trails and enjoying the outdoor sculptures.
St. Louisans love their sports teams. The St. Louis Cardinals are one of the nation's oldest and most successful major league baseball teams. Winning 11 World Series championships, second only to the New York Yankees. A visit to St. Louis in the spring or summer is always enhanced by a trip to Busch Stadium to see the Cardinals play.
Visiting in the winter, don't miss a St. Louis Blues Hockey game at the Enterprise Center. Excitement is high for the Blues, as they won their first Stanley Cup championship in 2019, after 42 playoff appearances in their 52 season history. Beginning in 2023, you will be able to see professional soccer played in a brand new stadium in downtown St. Louis.
The rolling hills and numerous waterways making hiking just outside of St. Louis a delightful way to get some exercise. Don't forget your day pack and hiking shoes.
Shaw Nature Reserve
Shaw Nature Reserve, owned and operated by the Missouri Botanical Gardens, is 35 miles west on I-44 from the Chase Park Plaza. It has 14 miles of hiking trails with something for every level of hiker through beautiful hard wood forests. For more information about hiking in Shaw Nature Reserve visit their website.
Lone Elk Park
Lone Elk County Park is 21 miles west on I-44. The White Bison Trail is a 4 mile loop around the Lone Elk Reservoir where you can often see Elk wandering. You can get a trail map on the St. Louis County website.
Cliff Cave Park
Cliff Cave County Park is 21 miles to the south off I-55. It offers multiple trails for all skill levels along the Mississippi River. You can get a trail map on the St. Louis County website. Unfortunately the caves are not open to the public.
Do you have a favorite outdoor space or hiking trail in the St. Louis area? Please leave it in the comments section, so we can all try it out. Ready to book your trip, head over to booking.com.