As summer winds down and the St. Louis weather cools, there is nowhere more enjoyable to be than the outdoors. Forest Park is a natural escape set deep into urban St. Louis, and upon entering, it’s as if the entire city disappears into the skyline. Saint Louis University students and St. Louisans alike can enjoy the sheer beauty of 1,293 green acres set aside purely for their entertainment.
Founded in 1876 on the centennial of the nation, Forest Park was the site for the 1904 World’s Fair and holds many lingering jewels from that time. There are various trails for bikers, joggers and aimless walkers that encompass the whole park. If a different mode of transportation is preferred, there are beautiful water channels available for boating when the weather is favorable. The various water channels, lakes and lagoons are teeming with wild life, and fishing is permitted in many areas. Various pavilions, barbecue grills and picnic tables are provided at every turn to rest, eat and enjoy the scenery.
The park has a sports complex, including racketball, tennis, basketball and handball courts. There are also fields for rugby, football, softball, baseball, cricket and lacrosse. For golfers, there is a 36-hole golf course, where it is rumored that the 264-foot Ferris wheel from the World’s Fair is buried.
Forest Park is not just a pretty face – it is also a major historical and cultural center for St. Louis, offering many free amenities open to the public. A major attraction is the St. Louis Zoo, which is highly rated by many travel guides.
The Missouri History Museum is a stop worth making, as exhibits include Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of the World’s Fair and the National Bicentennial Exhibition of Lewis and Clark. The St. Louis Art Museum sits high on the park’s historic Art Hill and, as one of the last pieces of architecture left from the World’s Fair, is a piece of art in itself. The museum is divided into sections of time period, world location and style. It is easy to breeze through each floor and follow time as art and the world change.
If history and art are not your idea of a good time, the St. Louis Science Center (SLSC) is full of fun and interesting things to do, especially for kids and kids-at-heart. Along with its exhibits, the center has an Omnimax theater, a discovery room and a planetarium.The SLSC is interactive, allowing patrons to touch and control features for further fun and understanding.
The park is close enough to SLU’s campus that students can easily drive down Forest Park Avenue, hop on the MetroLink on Grand and get off at the Forest Park stop, or even walk. Forest Park is not easily experienced in one day, so there is always something new to discover.