Forest Park is an oasis of natural beauty to behold in an otherwise urban setting in St. Louis. The park is located on 1,300 acres of land which makes it the seventh largest urban park in the United States. In fact, Forest Park is larger than New York City’s famed Central Park by around 450 acres. Those of you looking for what to do in St. Louis will want to pay a visit to Forest Park to experience its gorgeous beauty.
St. Louis Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo takes up the southern central section of Forest Park. This is by far the most popular attraction in Forest Park. The zoo is home to over 13,000 animals from 555 species. The zoo is divided into six zones. Each of these zones has a unique feel to it. River’s Edge is the zone situated along a scenic waterway where you can observe animals from four different continents: Africa, Asia, South America, and North America.
Some of the animals you can find in River’s Edge include Andean bears, black rhinos, hippos, Asian elephants, and Malayan sun bears. The Wild is the zone you will want to go to check out the animals from sub-Antarctic and tropical rainforest environments. Grizzly bears, penguins, polar bears, gorillas, and chimpanzees are among the animals found in this zone.
Those of you who have young children will want to head to Discovery Corner where there is a children’s zoo in this zone where the young children can pet a variety of animals. Also located in this zone is Bayer Insectarium where you can check out a variety of insects. Historic Hill is one of the oldest zones at the zoo.
This historic zone is home to charming attractions including the 1904 Flight Cage, the Bird House & Garden, the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium, the Primate House, and Judy and Jerry Kent Family Sea Lion Sound. Red Rock is the zone of contrasts where some of the world’s most notorious predators live frighteningly close to some of the most humble prey on the planet.
In Red Rocks, you can check out tigers, jaguars, lions, leopards, zebras, camels, giraffes, okapis, takins, among other animals. Lakeside Crossing is serenely nestled around a lake. This zone is home to Stingrays at Caribbean Cove. There are also a few restaurants in this zone: Lakeside Cafe, Ice Cream Oasis, and Safari Shop.
The admission to the St. Louis Zoo is free for all. In fact, this is one of only a few free zoos in the country.
World’s Fair Pavilion
The World’s Fair Pavilion is arguably the most iconic attraction in Forest Park. This magnificent open air shelter serves as the symbol of Forest Park’s historic role as the host of the 1904 World’s Fair. It was built in 1909 with proceeds from the world’s fair in order to preserve the legacy. The pavilion is located on top of Government Hill in Forest Park to the east of the St. Louis Zoo.
From the World’s Fair Pavilion, you will be treated to breathtaking views of the Forest Park landscape including a colorfully lit foundation and reflecting pool. The pavilion building itself can seat up to 500 people. Given its iconic backdrop, the pavilion is popular for things like picnics, weddings, and birthday parties.
The Muny is a historic amphitheater located in the northern central section of Forest Park. This amphitheater is more than 100 years old, having been built in 1917. The Muny can seat up to 11,000 people. The amphitheater produces about seven different performances each year. The Muny is open during the summer season which runs from June through August.
For the 2020 season, the seven performances that you will get to see at the amphitheater are Chicago, Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, Sweeney Todd, Smokey Joe’s Cafe, The Sound of Music, On Your Feet!, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Each of these seven performances will run for around one week. The prices for the ticket varies depending on which seating you choose.
The Jewel Box
Another beautiful attraction you will want to check out in Forest Park is The Jewel Box. This is a display greenhouse located to the east of the World’s Fair Pavilion which I mentioned earlier in this post. The greenhouse is designed in the Art Deco architectural style and is known for its unconventional, cantilevered, glass walls. Inside the greenhouse, you can find hundreds of flowers and exotic plants.
In the center of the greenhouse lies a large fountain. In addition to the flowers and plants lining the floor on both sides of the greenhouse, you will want to be sure to look up as there are baskets of plants hanging on the ceilings. The greenhouse’s grounds is beautifully landscaped with rose gardens and lily ponds.
Also located on the greenhouse’s grounds is a statue of St. Francis of Assisi and a memorial to veterans of the Korean War. The admission to The Jewel Box is $1 per person, but there are free days on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9am until noon.
The Boathouse at Forest Park
You will want to be sure to visit The Boathouse at Forest Park. Located in the northern central section of Forest Park, The Boathouse is known for its serene location on Post-Dispatch Lake. The Boathouse’s architecture resemble early 20th century Midwestern boathouse cottages. It has a dual function as both a restaurant and a boat rental. Sandwiches and salads feature prominently on the restaurant menu.
As for the boats themselves, the ones that are available to rent at The Boathouse are paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. The prices for renting the boats are $22 per hour for paddle boat, $20 per hour for canoe and double kayak, and $15 for single kayak and paddle board. Another thing to note about The Boathouse is that it host live concerts on the dock and festivals on the scenic grounds.
So, if you are looking for what to do in St. Louis, you will want to head to Forest Park and feast your eyes on these attractions. Oh and also, Forest Park is also home to three museums. Just over a week ago, I published a post focused on the three museums in Forest Park. So, if you would like, you can head to this post to read about it.
St. Louis Hotels
If you are in need of a hotel to stay overnight at in St. Louis, I am here for you. Here are the two hotels that I would suggest for you.
Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis Brentwood
This hotel is located on Eager Road in the neighboring St. Louis suburb of Brentwood just a few miles west of Forest Park via Interstate 64. There is complimentary breakfast available at the hotel. An onsite restaurant called 5:30 Kickback is also available. As a treat, you can get a free popcorn and soda in the hotel’s lobby each day.
There is a hybrid indoor/outdoor swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel. If you are looking to exercise, a fitness center is available for you to use. All of the hotel’s rooms and suites offer WiFi, coffee makers, mini refrigerators, and microwaves. The average rate for a standard room range from $138 to $203. You can go here to explore your booking options and/or view some photos.
Homewood Suites St. Louis – Galleria
This hotel is located on Clayton Road in the neighboring St. Louis suburb of Richmond Heights, a few miles west of Forest Park in St. Louis. There is complimentary breakfast and snack bar available. Should you get hungry, a few nearby options include Maggiano’s Little Italy, Weber Grill Restaurant, and Texas de Brazil. There is an indoor swimming pool and hot tub at the hotel.
There is also a fitness center available for you to use. All of the suites at the hotel include WiFi and kitchenettes. The average rate for a standard room range from $127 to $222. You can head here to browse your booking options and/or check out some photos.
What are your thoughts? Have you visited Forest Park in St. Louis in the past? Feel free to leave a comment below.