Explore St. Louis

St. Louis' Top 10 Parks

The idea of dedicating public space for recreation and enjoyment is at least as old as ancient Egypt and was exercised by the ancient Assyrians, Greeks and Romans. Today, St. Louis City maintains some 100 parks, and St. Louis County (which surrounds St. Louis on the north, south and west) features about 40 parks, each with its unique charms and amenities.

This list of 10, though far from exhaustive, offers the visitor a spectacular range of activities and attractions. Picnic, anyone?

Forest Park

One of the largest municipal parks in the U.S. (bigger than Central Park) covers 1,300 acres at Kingshighway and I-64 (Highway 40). Home to several of St. Louis’ top attractions: Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Science Center and Missouri History Museum. 

Missouri Botanical Garden

Seventy-nine acres of trees, gardens and conservatories, a must-see for any visitor, any time of year. Free tours of the garden at 11 am daily. Garden open 9 am-5 pm daily (open 7 am W and Sa). Admission $12 adults, free children 12 and under, fees for some special exhibits.  

Tower Grove Park

Beautiful Victorian walking park adjacent to Missouri Botanical Garden has been outfitted with a collection of exotic gazebos, a faux pondside ruin, sports fields, tennis courts, playground, wading pool a bandstand to accommodate free summer concerts, and the lovely Café Madeleine, serving Sunday brunch.

Lafayette Park

30-acre park in the Lafayette Square neighborhood is the oldest developed urban park in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. Amenties include a playground, pond (with geese, ducks and swans), hiking paths and gazebos, all surrounded by some of the city's most elegant Victorian-era residences.

Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center

State-run nature center includes three paved hiking trails of varying lengths. Inside there is a discovery room for kids, a cutaway view of a Missouri pond with fish, a bird watching area and a beehive. Area is open daily 8am-6pm. Building is open T-Sa 8am-5pm. Admission is free.

Castlewood State Park

Straddling the Meramec River, the park is open for day use only. Included are picnic sites, playground, boat ramps and hiking trails. The riverside location is perfect for canoeing and fishing. Several bike trails are challenging for experienced mountain bike riders. Wildlife abounds.

Lone Elk Park

Free-roaming elk and bison grace this 385-acre fenced wildlife display, which is also home to white-tail deer, wild turkeys, small mammals and the World Bird Sanctuary. Picnic facilities available. Admission free. Open daily 8am-sunset.

Creve Coeur Park

St. Louis County park features a 320-acre lake, hiking/biking trails, fishing, tennis courts, picnic facilities, archery range, disc golf and playground. No swimming in the lake, but you can watch sailboats and rowing teams. Also in the park: Go Ape Treetop Adventure zipline.


Two downtown blocks west of 8th St. between Market and Chestnut feature 25 sculptures by major international artists, winding paths, water features, seasonal decorations, and a forest of trees. Free.