At least once, though, explore Forest Park without an agenda, and use the park’s interactive map. You’ll discover details of the park you never knew, a few yards from wherever you’re standing. And if you want to find a secluded, less familiar part of the park, look on the east side: Picnic at Murphy Lake, tucked in near the southeast corner of Lindell and Kingshighway. Walk the Prairie Boardwalk north of Steinberg Skating Rink—cross that elegant Victorian footbridge, built in 1885 at the streetcar entrance—then play chess on one of the stone tables.
If you’re free on a Thursday, try this full-day itinerary:
Start with a Then & Now Tour of the park at 9:30 a.m. (Grab breakfast at Kingside Diner first.) Register the evening before online. If you’d rather bike, take 90 minutes to see the park’s highlights—from the site of the hippodrome used for Victorian carriage races to the spectacular new flowerbeds atop Art Hill. You’ll find your guide, Chris Gerli of City Cycling Tours, outside the Dennis and Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center.
Cool off on a boulder at Flegel Falls, near the park’s Skinker entrance. The cascades were designed to mimic the original World’s Fair cascades on Art Hill. Then head over to the zoo and relax with a hot dog as the seals amuse you. If you’re up for a hike but you’ve done Kennedy Forest, try the Successional Forest, smack in the middle of the park, next to the Jewel Box. Once manicured parkland, it’s been left to evolve as nature intended for three decades now.
End your day with a two-hour sunset picnic on a pedal boat. You’ll launch from the Boathouse, which has new gas torches and tables by Spire.
If you go on a Sunday...
Start with brunch at the Saint Louis Art Museum’s Panorama. Don’t miss Modern Madonna, the terra-cotta sculpture by John Storrs that recently went on display. The sculpture has the clean lines and machine-like precision of the Art Deco era yet conveys, in its purity, a tenderness.
If you haven’t seen Threads, head next to the Missouri History Museum. Project Runway designers and students used the textile collection—which includes Katherine Dunham’s dance costumes and Charles Lindbergh’s flight suit—for inspiration.
Grab a bite at Café St. Louis before traveling back 2,000 years to Pompeii as it was when Mount Vesuvius erupted. The Saint Louis Science Center has pristine artifacts on loan from the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, along with body casts made from the impressions left in the ash. In the exhibit’s small theater, you’ll feel the rumbling, smoky eruption. In the Omnimax, catch the companion film, Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation.
End your evening at The Muny. Assemble a group of 15 and take a free backstage tour, winding up on the fabulous new stage. Celebrate your 15 seconds of fame with a box supper in the courtyard before the show. Afterward, catch the actors streaming from the stage gate (east side of the theater, near the café). Then head to the Chase Club. The Muny puts its actors up at the hotel, so you can sip a Summer in the City and stargaze a little longer.
We may not need to convince you that Missouri wine country is beautiful and easily accessible, but ponder this as you sip: The 15 square miles that encompass Augusta were the first officially designated as an American viticultural area. (Napa Valley was so named the following year.)
Start a Sunday fun day off right with the affordable buffet brunch—accompanied by wine (of course), a Bloody Mary, or a beer from the new Perennial Artisan Ales tasting room—at Chandler Hill Vineyards.
Next, pick up a two-wheeler from Katy Bike Rental and pedal the pleasant 7 miles of Katy Trail between Defiance and Augusta. The bike shop has an outpost on the trail in each town.
Saunter a short way up Main Street from the Augusta Trail Head to Mount Pleasant Estates, the perfect spot for a late-afternoon glass of the award-winning Norton red, made from Missouri’s official state grape. Live music’s a frequent weekend offering.
Turn back toward Defiance and one of the six rustic cabins (or one of the 43 campsites, with a nearby shower house) at Klondike Park, where you can dream about your trail travels under the stars, next to a scenic stretch of the Missouri River.
If it seems that downtown has been under construction of some kind or another for years, well, you’re not wrong. All those cranes and rerouted roads are paying off in a renewed front door to our town.
Start with breakfast at Blondie’s. We’re fans of the basket of popovers and spreads (strawberry butter is a don’t-miss), along with a St. Germain cocktail. Afterward, take in the expansive story of blues music at the National Blues Museum. An absolute requirement: creating your own blues song by following the digital terminals throughout the galleries, then emailing yourself the finished tune.
The reimagined Museum at the Gateway Arch tells a whole new story about a beloved part of our history and skyline. If you don’t have the time, inclination, or physical ability to take a tram to the top, check out the keystone exhibit in the ticket lobby. There, a replica of the last piece of the Arch to be placed includes authentic windows, the original red aviation safety light from the top, and live video screens showing the view from 630 feet up.
After all that rah-rah civic boosterism, maybe you’re ready for something a little more subversive: Tom Huck’s Evil Prints is just the tonic. Huck’s eye-popping woodcut prints include a fair amount of Ozark Gothic subject matter, often profane and just as often hilarious. Huck’s studio, where you can see the process and buy the product, is open most afternoons.
When the sun starts to set, make your way back to the refurbished
Kiener Plaza, which has been resurfaced, landscaped, and lit. Kids and grownups will enjoy the new playgrounds and pop-jet fountains. If you’re lucky, it might be a night when the SkateLyfe rollerskating crew shows off its moves.
Before setting out, fuel up at Yolklore in Crestwood. Try the Mary B.E.A.R. (that’s Brie, egg, arugula, and pickled red onion, all nestled on a ciabatta bun), or just go big and have the signature chocolate cake for breakfast.
After you’re sufficiently sated, hit the trail. Emmenegger Nature Park spans 93 acres, showcasing a spectacular array of local tree and bird species along a stretch of the Meramec River. Bring your pup—leashed dogs are welcome.
If lake life is more your thing, try your hand (and feet, and quads, and core) at stand-up paddleboarding on Valley Park’s Simpson Lake. SUP St. Louis outfits you with everything you’ll need, including patient instructors.
Once you’ve let your inner athlete out to play, take a breather and watch some other folks sweat. Grab a bite from the Celtic-inspired menu at the Llewelyn’s Pub location in Webster Groves, where you can get on the Saint Louis Football Club special. For home matches throughout the 2019 season, $10 will get you a general admission ticket to the match, a drink voucher, and a trolley ride to and from the soccer park. With the team’s ascent to the USL’s conference quarterfinals last year, a night at the game is a memorable experience.
If you ask us, fireworks are best viewed from under the Arch while you listen to live music. Expect rock climbing, fair food, and the aforementioned music and fireworks. July 4–6. Gateway Arch National Park.
The Bastille Day celebration has it all: live art demonstrations, music, street performers, and so much more in downtown Maplewood. July 12. 6–11 p.m. Downtown Maplewood.
Visit Forest Park’s Shakespeare Glen to take in one of the Bard’s earliest comedies, Love’s Labour’s Lost, unconventionally humorous and wholly delightful. May 31–June 23. Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park.
The Missouri Botanical Garden presents its popular concerts at 7 p.m. each Wednesday through August. Bring a blanket and settle in for a music-filled evening in the garden. 44344 Shaw.
More than 300,000 attended last year. Along with the parade Sunday, there’ll be performances, music, and food. This year’s theme is “Millions of Moments.” The fest is free, but a $5 donation is appreciated. June 29 & 30. Downtown St. Louis.
Local filmmakers and films with ties to the city will be celebrated with screenings and awards. See docs, shorts, and feature films and go behind the scenes with Q&As. July 12–14 & 19–21. Brown Hall, Wash. U.
More than 300 vendors from near and far gather in St. Charles to showcase handmade clothing, soap, art, food, and more. August 16–18. St. Charles.
Last year, the celebration of global crafts, food, music, and other performances drew over 125,000. More than 100 local cultural organizations will be represented at this perennial favorite. August 24 & 25. Tower Grove Park.
The Delmar Loop celebrates summer with an entire week of festivities, beginning with the Juneteenth Celebration and culminating with the Loop Arts Fest.June 15–22.
See art and artists uncensored and free to connect. This festival is intended to “create an experience that truly satiates the needs of both artists and audiences.” August 13–18. Grand Center Arts District.
Grammy award winners Dave Weckl and Eric Marienthal perform at Chesterfield’s celebration of wine and contemporary jazz. June 15. Chesterfield Amphitheater.
New music director/conductor Darwin Aquino leads the orchestra in four summer concerts: July 14, 18, 21, and 28. (The July 18 concert will be performed at Chesterfield Amphitheater.) 560 Music Center.
On the third Wednesday of each month through September, catch free performances 5–7:30 p.m. in downtown St. Charles. 100 N. Main.
Westport Plaza’s popular concert series is back with Dirty Muggs on June 20, Dr. Zhivegas on July 18, and Anthony Gomes on August 15. Music starts at 5:30 p.m. Westport Plaza.
Enjoy an array of local talent on the zoo’s Schnuck Family Plaza. The free concerts are held at 5 p.m. every Friday. May 24–August 30. 1 Government, Forest Park.
Spend Friday and Saturday summer evenings listening to music as varied as the farm-fresh snacks. Through July 6. 951 S. Green Mount, Belleville, Illinois.
At sunrise, park at Pere Marquette State Park lodge and hike the Hickory Trail at least as far as the scenic road. See who’s first to sight an indigo bunting (look at the forest edge) or yellow-billed cuckoo (head east on the road to the first overlook—they prefer hills). Eat breakfast at the lodge—you’ve earned the red velvet pancakes, with cheesecake and whipped cream, named for French explorer Médard Chouart de Grosseilliers.
Play a little Brobdingnagian chess until your meal settles, and then head to the stable, choose your steed, and spend an hour trail riding.
It’s then time for a pick-me-up: a hunk of cheesecake fudge at Grafton Fudge & Ice Cream.
At the Grafton Harbor Marina, rent a kayak or splurge on Jet Skis. If you’re with a group of 10 or fewer, split the $195 rental for two hours on a nice easy pontoon boat. The marina sits at the zero mile marker on the Illinois River, where the Illinois empties into the Mississippi. Head north on the Illinois—it’s calmer, with less debris—and dock at one of the little islands for a swim.
Once you’re back on shore, walk to Beasley Fish for catfish fritters and onion rings. If it’s the last weekend of the month, shop the Riverside Flea Market at The Loading Dock. If not, sit down a cold beer and listen for the boat-builders’ ghosts; you’re standing where the builders crafted boats used in World War I and Vietnam.
National Great Rivers Museum in Alton. Exhibits touch on water management, wildlife, and river history and lore. You can also take a 45-minute tour of the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, which control water flow and barge traffic on the river. It’s all free, and you’re sure to see pelicans, bald eagles, gulls, turtles, and other wildlife, depending on the season.
Looking to learn more about the Mighty Mississippi? Head south to The
If you’re a little tired after all that roaming along the river, that’s OK: You won’t need to get out of your car the rest of the evening. Cruise southeast along the Mississippi to Wood River and dine at King Louie’s Drive-In, family owned and operated for 35 years. A carhop will bring you a King Louie for $3.75, but we recommend the Lion Tamer—jalapeño, onion rings, spicy mayo, and pepper jack cheese—for $4.25. (We do not recommend the King of the Jungle Challenge, which requires you to consume 2 pounds of burger, loaded potato planks, and a 32-ounce soda in 30 minutes. But if you’re fool enough to try it, at least make sure your soda is King Louie’s homemade root beer.)
Now drive south to Belleville, where your fun will reach a climax at the Skyview Drive-In. Don’t dawdle—on Saturday nights the place fills up fast. As this icon of American culture turns 70 this summer, catch a double feature. The decades may have wiped out all the other drive-ins, but they’ve only improved this one: It was rebuilt, better, after a tornado in 1955; a second screen was added, after storms in the ’80s, and then a third. Alas, the Skyview is no longer painted Bloomer Pink, the custom carnation-bright hue that the drive-in, part of the Bloomer family’s chain of theaters, once wore. The neon sign’s still there, though, its swordfish-nosed rocket ship blasting right into the heavens.
Looking for some family fun you haven’t done to death? Get a first glimpse of The Magic House @ MADE. Opening June 7 at 5127 Delmar, the interactive workshop allows families to explore art, design, makerspaces, and entrepreneurial projects in well-equipped workshops. It marks the first permanent satellite location of the popular children’s museum.
Reserve a bay at Topgolf and let your junior duffers try their swings in fun high-tech games. The crowd-pleasing food and drink (including, get this, filling-injectable doughnut holes) can rack up quite a tab, so keep costs low by going on half-price Tuesdays. Golf equipment is included in the cost.
On June 21, be awed by nature’s own living lanterns at The Butterfly House’s Firefly Festival. Enjoy hands-on activities, a flashlight tour of the conservatory, and a walk outside with entomologists to see the real thing.
Blaze through Third Friday at Third Degree Glass Factory, starting at 6 p.m. on the third Friday of each month. There’s live music and dancing, captivating demos of glassblowing and flame-working, food trucks/vendors, and even workshops (first-come, first-served) to create glass jewelry, nightlights, magnets, and more.
Take on Town Square at St. Charles’ new Play Street Museum, designed for kids 8 and under (though older sibs can come along for free). The kid-scaled experiential museum houses a play restaurant and farm, blocks, dinos, some ooey-gooey stuff, art supplies, science experiments, and more.
Connect with the food you eat and the natural systems on which it all rests at the Saint Louis Science Center’s GROW exhibit. Agriculture and chemistry and biology and ecology all play into the cool hands-on exhibits…but there’s also a new Mud Pie Kitchen, if that’s where your kids will be most at home. Be sure to take a stroll through the tech-enabled aquaponics (fish plus farming in a sustainable loop) greenhouse, too.
Start your day in old St. Charles with breakfast at Allin’s Diner. Since 2005, husband and wife Dave and Vicki Allin have co-owned the small-ish wood-paneled space, which looks like your grandma’s rec room if your grandma’s rec room served short stacks of the lightest buttermilk pancakes you’d ever tasted. Those come with two eggs any way and bacon (crispy or medium) or sausage (links or patties) in Allin’s Big Breakfast. Allin’s also serves a mean slinger—hash browns topped with ground beef, eggs, Dave’s chili, cheddar, and onions—and a house omelet spiced up with andouille sausage. For the kiddos, there are Mickey Mouse pancakes.
Because you’ve just consumed a week’s worth of calories in one breakfast, get moving by walking the length of Main Street. Park on the south end and pop into Vintage Rose, where you’ll find an enviable collection of milk glass, and continue north until you hit the mother lode, Joys Collective Market. What started as one shop, Joys by Austin Warren Design, has spilled over into a much larger store out back where more than 50 designers, makers, and artisans now stock booths for the curious to comb through. Inside, find delicate handmade trinket boxes and whimsical animal figurine planters dusted with 22K gold by Chelsea Wilkins of Scavenge + Bloom. Or hand-poured candles made with soy from American farms in scents as comforting as lemon sugar cookies at 320 Sycamore Candle Co.’s booth. Or an arrangement of air plants and succulents, tucked into a hanging glass vase, from LoKey Designs. In the market for an easy, breezy summer dress? FR & Co. is the place to get it—as well as a good spot for hostess gifts, housewares, and out-of-the-box stationery.
By now, the large patio at Bike Stop Café is calling your name. If you’ve planned ahead, you’ll also be picking up your rental bikes to explore the 200-plus miles of the Katy Trail. But the spot serves vegan queso (made with cashews), a stuffed avocado, and a riff on a cucumber sandwich called the Community Garden—cream cheese on wheat bread with cuke, tomato, avocado, greens, and balsamic vinaigrette. Another lunch option: a new location of Salt + Smoke recently took over what used to be the Little Hills Winery, where owner Tom Schmidt is excited about the huge brick-paved beer garden, dotted with fire pits and water features. As with its other locations, the barbecue-and-whiskey joint serves a carnivore’s greatest hits of indulgences: pulled pork, Trashed Ribs, beef fat fries, fried jalapeño-and-cheddar bologna...
Balance that fried bologna with some culture by swinging by the Foundry Art Centre to catch “Putting It Together 2: The Art of Assembling” (May 31–July 19). This free juried show of assemblage and collage explores the different ways in which 2-D and 3-D materials can be combined to create something more interesting than their individual elements.
Still stuffed but in need of a drink? Bella Vino it is. The wine spot offers flights—the white features an Albariño plus two Chardonnay blends for $22—and a good selection of by-the-glass pours. But dig a little deeper for this hidden gem on the menu: the Ramona, $9, a culty grapefruit wine spritzer drink, made with Zibibbo grapes from Sicily, that’s favored by such stars as Rihanna and Kanye West. (And if you’re peckish, the food is divine.)
One of the region’s best-kept serenity secrets sprawls across 76 acres in Augusta. The Mid-America Buddhist Association is a monastery that also offers a free Sunday service followed by a free vegetarian meal. Begin at 10 a.m. with a sitting meditation, followed by a walking meditation around a giant Buddha statue overlooking the field, a dharma talk (a sermon by a monastic teacher), and chanting (in English, truly beginner), which wraps at 11:45 a.m. for lunch in the Blue Lotus House. Afterward, participants are allowed to explore the grounds.
The property is a little bit of paradise, says the guide, Venerable Kongyan. On a tour, she notes that the monastery’s residents have designed and constructed most of the buildings, even laying the wide stone path around the Buddha by hand. MABA grows its own vegetables—lettuce, carrots, potatoes, squash, an herb garden—in outdoor plots and a greenhouse the Buddhists have constructed themselves. There are peach, plum, and persimmon trees. Two chunky German shepherds, Mitta (“friend”) and Sati (“mindfulness”)—named so the residents always remember those virtues when calling for them—add life to the surroundings.
MABA also hosts a series of retreats for those who are more advanced in their meditation practice. On June 22, seek out the summer solstice mini-retreat. Participants will meditate in silence 8:30 a.m.–3 p.m., then listen to a talk until 4 p.m. If you’re on the fence, let this insider tip sit with you: MABA’s neighbor owns Montelle Winery. The Buddhists may not drink, Venerable Kongyan says, smiling, but that doesn’t stop them from walking laypeople who participate in retreats down the road to their friend’s winery.
Listen, no one said that self-care can’t be delicious. On May 4, the outdoor Ferguson Farmers’ Market opens in its new location at the Plaza at 501. Each Saturday through October 26, come out for a quick breakfast (hand-pressed juice from The Raw Juicery, plus a made-to-order pancake, a new addition this year) or lunch (a Salvadoran pupusa from the also new Delicias Latinas). Afterward, browse alpaca wool items by fan favorite Alpacas of Troy. On select Friday nights, the market hosts a concert series, now in its 10th year, at the new location.
After a morning at the farmers’ market, hop on the Ferguson Trolley and take a ride to EarthDance Farms, where you can surrender your stress and dig in the dirt. Visitors are welcome at the farm anytime—for a private tour or to volunteer in the fields, harvesting produce or weeding—as long as they let EarthDance know in advance. Every Saturday at 11 a.m. through October, EarthDance offers free farm tours that highlight how it provides organic produce to the farmers’ market, Local Harvest, farm-to-table restaurants such as Vicia, and community programs. “We like to call them tasting tours,” says Heather Durawski, who works for EarthDance’s Organic Farm School. “We’ll pull a tomato off the vine, which is great, because a lot of people haven’t seen that.” If your interest in farming runs deeper, sign up for the part-time farm and garden apprenticeship, where you’ll learn how to grow from seed to market. Not ready to pull the trigger on the apprenticeship program? You can still attend the Tuesday classes. For example, a local herbalist might walk you through the property’s herb garden to pick green things for a medicinal tincture.
June is a sleepy month for the farm, Durawski says—a bonus for those seeking quiet. (“I hear constantly from our junior farm crew members; they’re, like, ‘This is the most peaceful place I’ve ever been,’” Durawski says.) One exception: the summer solstice event, June 21, when the farm hosts a community potluck. But the lull won’t last long this year: Starting in the fall, EarthDance is piloting a farm stand at the front of the property so community members can get their produce roadside.