Visiting St. Louis? Wondering if there is some place where you can go to a zoo, several museums and a theater, and perhaps find a shady corner for a picnic lunch? You’re in luck! Forest Park is one such place. This park is most famous for being the site of the 1904 World’s Fair and Olympics, and today it contains some of the most exciting activities St. Louis has to offer. Be aware that this park is bigger than New York’s Central Park, so fully exploring it may take a few days.
A popular site is the St. Louis Zoo. This zoo is one of the most visited zoos in America, and students will love watching the penguins play and dive in their frosty tank. Taking a stroll through Historic Hill, the oldest section of the zoo, will offer a trip to watch the monkey’s at the Primate House, or stroll through the 1904 Flight Cage, which recreates a swamp environment. Get a taste of an African safari with a walk through River’s Edge, or watch the pumas and tigers roam about in Big Cat Country. Smaller students will want to check out the Children’s Zoo where they can pet and comb a sheep, watch a group of naked mole rats scurry around, and climb on a giant spider web. There is also a clear, plastic tube slide that runs right through the otter tank! If your group has time, take a ride on the Zoo Railway and get a break from walking. The sea lion shows are also a popular “extra.” The zoo offers student tours, and has several different scavenger hunts that keep students on the lookout for different animals. Student overnights can also be arranged, and students will love having the entire zoo to themselves and learning about certain animals in greater detail. Another great thing about the St. Louis Zoo is that admission is free, as is admission to the Children’s Zoo if the group arrives within the first hour of business. This makes the zoo a great choice for groups on a budget.
Several museums are also a part of Forest Park. The St. Louis Art Museum is the only remaining structure from the World’s Fair, and now sits atop a hill overlooking the park grounds and a large fountain. This museum holds many paintings, sculptures and photographs from medieval times to the present. Famous works of art by Rembrandt, Monet, and Van Gogh can be found as well. The Missouri History Museum can also be found on the park grounds, and contains exhibits designed to teach specifically about Missouri; it’s history, development and present. Special exhibits can usually be viewed as well. Both museums are free, but the Art museum does charge admission to some of the special exhibits.
The St. Louis Science Center is yet another great activity that Forest Park has to offer. Student will love learning about many different aspects of science through interactive and hands-on displays. View optical illusions, learn about outer space, or build your own dinosaur island, then turn on the hose and watch it erode. The Science Center also contains a planetarium and an OMNIMAX® Theater, which has a domed and curved screen designed to let viewers feel as if they are actually shooting through the human bloodstream, or on an African Safari.
Of course there are also picnic sites and walking trails for enjoying a little bit of outdoor fun. Plan on spending a day or two at Forest Park!