Outdoor Recreation

Greater St. Louis offers one of the premier urban parks in the United States, an unsurpassed botanical garden, a wide selection of great golf courses, and a rapidly growing web of walking and biking greenways. It offers some of the best birding in the country and ready access to beautiful rivers and streams that are ideal for canoeing and fishing.  Whatever your taste for outdoor activity and whatever your level of fitness, there are options here for you to enjoy yourself outdoors.  And because St. Louis has four distinct seasons, those opportunities are constantly changing in the character of their appeal.

Forest Park, about 60 percent larger than New York’s Central Park, is in many ways the heart of the region. Along with jogging and bicycle trails, ball fields, 36 holes of golf and passive green space, Forest Park features many of the area’s top cultural and recreational attractions, including the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Municipal Opera, and the Saint Louis Science Center.  It’s also gorgeous; in 2013, Travel & Leisure named it to its list of the “World’s (10) most beautiful city parks” – one of only four American parks to make the list. 

But the region also contains scores of other parks, large and small.  Forest Park is one of more than 100 St. Louis city parksAmong them, Tower Grove Park, a gorgeous, 289-acre Victorian Park on the City’s South Side is one of only six municipal parks in the United States designated a National Historic Landmark. Close by is the Missouri Botanical Garden, a national historic landmark, and one of the most beautiful and scientifically significant botanical gardens in the world. St. Louis County maintains more than 40 parks, including Queeny and Creve Coeur. St. Charles County features the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area, providing nearly 7,000 acres for fishing, hunting, bird watching and more, as well as the Weldon Spring Conservation AreaKaty Trail State Park, and more. Metro East features Moody Park (Longacre Park) in Fairview Heights; Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, with its 630-foot manmade geyser, erupting three times a day to the height of the Gateway Arch; Edwardsville Township Park; and O’Fallon Sports Park, among others.

(The Future)

Major new outdoor opportunities are on the horizon.  For example, a major renovation of the Arch grounds, already under way, will give St. Louis a gorgeous, more accessible and more interesting riverfront at the site of city’s founding on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The work, which will also tie the Arch grounds seamlessly to downtown, is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2015.

Likewise, St. Louisans have agreed to finance an accelerated expansion of the area’s unusual and popular network of interconnected trails and greenways -- the River RingThe Ring is designed to connect communities, provide transportation alternatives, and preserve nature, among other goals. Although it began to take shape only in 2002, the River Ring already covers 114 miles of off-street trails, and over the next decade, will be expanded to more than 200 -- with plans to grow eventually to 600. Walkers and cyclists will find the region knitted together as never before.  See also: The Trail Blazers.

Cycling and Hiking

Professional and College Sports