Forest Park, located just west of Washington University Medical Center, is often referred to by those in the medical school community as “our backyard.” With a variety of attractions — a world-class zoo, art museum, science center, planetarium, the Muny (an outdoor amphitheatre), Missouri History Museum, the Jewel Box (an art deco greenhouse), skating rink, running and bike paths, bird-watching, boathouse, and more — the park offers year-round activities for its more than 12 million annual visitors. Popular annual events in the park include:
• Great Forest Park Balloon Race — a hot-air balloon competition (September)
• LouFest Music Festival — two-day event featuring local, regional, and national acts, from funk and indie-rock to alt-country and soul (Labor Day weekend)
• Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis -- (late May through Father's Day)
• Bark in the Park — a Humane Society event featuring a 5K race, a one-mile fun walk for animals and their humans, contests, and the Purina Incredible Dog Team (May)
Central West End
St. Louis’ Central West End, home to Washington University School of Medicine, is an area populated with cafes, galleries, boutiques, pubs, and restaurants. Many students, faculty, and employees live in the area, putting them within walking distance of Washington University Medical Center. Noted to have a distinct European feel, the Central West End's architecture includes tree-lined streets and turn-of-the-century homes, The area hosts a number of annual events, including:
• Labor Day Festival — hosted by the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, this annual event includes food, dancing and other entertainment (Labor Day weekend)
• Spring House Tour
• Central West End Art Fair & Taste Festival (June)
Another area located nearby the medical center is The Grove, a vibrant and growing business and entertainment district. With diverse restaurants, nightlife, retail, and services, the Grove is a thriving center for the LGBT, artist, and cycling communities in the St. Louis area.
From its storied history as St. Louis’ garment district, through a period of decline, to its resurrection in the 1990s, Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis is now one of the city’s trendiest locales. The area’s classic 19th century architecture has been largely restored and now hosts a variety of restaurants, boutiques, and residential lofts, with some of the best nightlife St. Louis has to offer.
The Missouri Botanical Garden — a 79-acre botanical garden located in the heart of St. Louis city, is a National Historic Landmark and a center for science, conservation, education, and horticultural display. Open year-round (except Dec. 25), the garden offers free daily tours and special events throughout the year. Among the most popular are:
• Orchid Show — a once-a-year opportunity to see 800 exotic, fragrant winter –blooming orchids displayed among tropical plants (February—March)
• Chinese Culture Days — a springtime celebration including a Grand parade and acrobatics, theater, martial arts, calligraphy, authentic regional cuisine, and more (May)
ª Whitaker Music Festival — a 10-week outdoor concert series featuring artists performing a variety of musical styles (June-August)•
• Japanese Festival — A weekend celebration featuring taiko drummers, sumo wrestlers, candlelight walks through the 14-acre Japanese garden, dancing, and food (Labor Day weekend)
• Best of Missouri Market – Missouri food producers and craftsmen offer specialty foods, baked goods, flowers, produce, and handcrafted items (October)
• Garden Glow — Stroll the garden at night surrounded by unique lighting installations, with entertainment throughout the grounds (November-January)
St. Louis Cardinals Baseball is always exciting, and 2013 was no exception — the Redbirds cinched the National League Pennant for the 19th time in the franchise’s storied 113-year history. The 2015 team promises to bring just as much excitement, and a new twist for baseball in St. Louis is Ballpark Village, a venue located directly across from Busch stadium. Make sure to stop by before or after the game to take advantage of Ballpark Village’s dining, nightlife, entertainment, and the Cardinals Hall of Fame & Museum.
The young and talented St. Louis Blues hockey team entertains throughout the long months of winter at the downtown Scottrade Center, and the NFL’s St. Louis Rams take to the turf on Sundays throughout the fall and winter at the Edward Jones Dome, also located in downtown St. Louis.
In addition to professional sports, minor league and college teams are also a big hit in St. Louis. The Saint Louis University Billikens compete in the Atlantic 10 conference in a variety of men’s and women’s sports. The Men’s basketball team is coming off of three consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament. College basketball is at the top of the sports menu every March as well. The State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament comes to town at the Scottrade Center and the winner earns an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.
Spring sporting events include the Spirit of St. Louis Marathon & Family Fitness Weekend, held in April. Runners of all abilities participate in a half-marathon, marathon relay, 5K run/walk, children’s fun runs and a health and fitness expo.
Long known for its major beer breweries — such as Anheuser-Busch — St. Louis also boasts a booming craft beer industry. In fact, there are so many microbreweries popping up around town that the city celebrates St. Louis Craft Beer Week each July, an event that hosts some 80 events over a week’s time to provide beer lovers an opportunity to sample what the city’s beer scene has to offer. St. Louis Hops is a community of people dedicated to promoting the beer culture in St. Louis.
Missouri Wine Country
Besides being famous for its beer, Missouri is home to more than 120 wineries. Many are close enough to St. Louis tomake it an easy day trip by car. Some winereies also offer lodging and other amenities so you can extend your day trip to an overnight event -- or longer. Here are 13 wineries where you can 'stay and play.'
In recent years, largely due to the efforts of Bike St. Louis, the city has become much more bike-friendly. Since 2005, some 70 miles of bike routes have been added to St. Louis' streets, connecting the city's many parks and providing safe commuter route options. Just across the Mississippi River in Illinois, the 20-mile Great River Road biking trail offers riders a peaceful outing along a winding road, with limestone bluffs on one side and the Mississippi River on the other. The Katy Trail, a 237-mile walking and biking trail, stretches across most of the state of Missouri. You'll ride along river bluffs, through farmland, and small communities. Other biking opportunities and groups abound throughout the area.
Explore St. Louis is the best source to learn about the myriad goings-on in St. Louis.