This time of year, the slanting rays of sunshine take on golden colors from the leaves and call your family outdoors. Especially in St. Louis, where the fall season could mean the last outdoor fun before ice and snow send you indoors. Here are some family faves for enjoying fall in the Lou.
St. Louis Zoo
1 Government Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
Having a free zoo is one of the best things about living in St. Louis. Some of the newer attractions have a nominal charge now, but it’s still possible to spend the day at the zoo without spending a dime. Bring a picnic and enjoy the fountains and grounds of Forest Park while you’re there. You could walk through the Art Museum (kids like the suits of armor downstairs or the mummies) or check out what’s in bloom at the Jewel Box, and your day is still free.
Machens to Clinton, MO
Leave the TV and video games behind and get out for a long hike or bike ride. The whole family will love the woodland serenity of the world-class Katy Trail. You can even bring your dog on a leash. If you have younger kids — or a dog with short legs — just take a short hike in, enjoy a picnic or snack and hike back out again.
Laumeier Sculpture Park
12580 Rott Road
St. Louis, MO 63127
Do kids like sculptures? They do if it’s a giant eyeball. The massive outdoor sculptures at Laumeier will wow even the most jaded youngsters, and kids love running ahead and ‘discovering’ the next piece of art. Don’t miss the art trails in the wooded part of the park, especially if you’ve brought your leashed dog. In addition to the art for humans, there are exhibits for Fido on those trails. Picnic tables, restrooms and water fountains are available.
Related: Top Dog Walking Trails In St. Louis
Lone Elk Park
1 Lone Elk Park Road
St. Louis, MO 63088
Many St. Louisans don’t even know about this oasis of nature in the middle of Kirkwood. The park features open woodlands and a small lake, populated with herds of elk and white tail deer. You’re free to hike on the trails and get reasonably close to the animals for photos. Be sure to bring tick repellant and wear hats. Enjoy the picnic tables with open grills. On your way out, you might catch a glimpse of a massive bison or even a whole family of them, but you must stay inside your car in the bison area.
Powder Valley Nature Center
11715 Cragwold Road
Kirkwood, MO 63122
Younger kids will love the interactive exhibits in the Nature Center. They can look out through insect eyeballs, put on a puppet show, watch bees at work or see how trees make food from sunlight, air and water. Several nature trails are available for hiking outside the Center, including a short, wide, paved trail that’s perfect for strollers or wheelchairs.
Lauren Haas was the founder and publisher of The St. Louis Area Family Gazette magazine, and editor-in-chief of Marketplace Magazine. Now, Lauren is a full-time freelance writer who travels the world, using St. Louis as her base. Contact her at Lauren@LaurenHaas.com