Ask a true St. Louisan why they live in a climate that rises above 100 degrees in the summer and dips below zero in the winter, and you’ll hear about the beauty of changing seasons. If you’ve been nesting indoors all winter instead of getting out to enjoy those seasonal changes, don’t worry. It’s not too late to enjoy the last dregs of winter in the Lou.
Hidden Valley Ski Resort
17409 Hidden Valley Drive
Wildwood, MO 63025
This mountaintop getaway is a golf course in the summer and St. Louis’s only ski resort in the winter. Since Hidden Valley makes its own snow, you can ski or snowboard regardless of the weather. If you’re a total beginner, don’t worry. You can rent all the gear you’ll need, take a group or private lesson and be gliding down the beginner hill in no time. More experienced skiers can take a chairlift to the top and tackle one of the steeper slopes. Visit the website for pricing, schedules, snow reports and other details.
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5555 St. Louis Mills Blvd.
Hazelwood, MO 63042
When the weather isn’t cold enough to skate Steinberg Rink in Forest Park, you can still keep your skills sharp at the indoor IceZone skating rink in The Mills. This rink is the official practice facility of the St. Louis Blues, so as you can imagine, it’s roomy and well maintained. The IceZone’s schedule includes public sessions, stick and puck practice and drop-in hockey. Equipment rental, lessons, adult leagues, birthday parties and scouting badge programs round out the offerings. General admission is $5.50 and skate rentals are $2.50.
Grafton, Illinois Eagle WatchingGrafton Visitors Center
950 E. Main St.
Grafton, IL 62037
The Mississippi River Valley in winter is home to the second largest population of bald eagles in the country. You can spot them at Pere Marquette State Park, the Brussels Ferry area, the Melvin Price Locks and Dam or the Chain of Rocks Bridge. Winter eagle watching goes on until early March. The picturesque rivertown of Grafton, Illinois is at the center of the action and offers bike rentals, restaurants with river decks and charming antique shops.Related: Getaway Guide: Weekend Trip To Steelville, MO
St. Louis Zoo
1 Government Drive
St. Louis, MO 63110
Visiting the Zoo in winter has always been a special treat for St. Louisans. Cooler weather means no playing in the fountains of the Children’s Zoo, and some of the animals are less active. On the other hand, winter means no crowds, no difficulty parking and being able to have some of the most popular exhibits all to yourself. If the weather is really cold, you can enjoy the indoor exhibits, including the primate house, the herpetorium (reptile house), the indoor portion of the giraffe and antelope area and, of course, the penguin tanks.
Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63110
Think the Botanical Garden is just a summer attraction? Think again. In late winter, the camelias are blooming inside the Linnean house and the Climatron offers a steamy tropical walk on a cold day. Just outside the Climatron is the Temperate House, an enclosed Mediterranean garden with a tiled Moorish garden and a carnivorous bog. If you’re lucky enough to come during a late winter snowfall, you’ll discover that the Japanese garden was designed to be viewed in the cold months as well as warm. Curved bridges, rounded shrubs, well-placed boulders and other architectural shapes become the garden’s primary features in the starkness of winter.
Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.