Spread out over 1,300 acres in St. Louis, Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. Since its construction in 1876, it has hosted events like the Olympic Games and the 1904 World’s Fair. Of course, it’s only getting better with age! These days, more than 12 million visitors from around the world come to Forest Park each year to enjoy its museums, lakes, and breathtaking green space. When you’re in town for LouFest, take some time to explore the rest of Forest Park for yourself. You never know what you might discover…
ST. LOUIS ZOO
Right in the heart of the park is the city’s famous zoo, home to more than 700 different species. Admission is free, giving you access to one-of-a-kind exhibits like the 1904 Flight Cage, Big Cat Country and the Dana Brown Orangutan Refuge. You won’t want to miss the special living exhibit at Caribbean Cove, which is only open through September 29, 2013. Here you can pet and feed sharks and stingrays as they circle a 17,000 gallon saltwater pool. You can spend an entire day here, getting up close and personal with some of nature’s most unique and fascinating creatures!
ST. LOUIS ART MUSEUM
Another great cultural institution with free admission, the St. Louis Art Museum (or SLAM) was initially built for the 1904 World’s Fair as the Palace of Fine Arts. In addition to pieces by Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet, you can take in their renowned collection of Turkish rugs and Egyptian mummies on loan from Washington University. Renovations that were finished this year added nearly 225,000 square feet of new gallery space, so you can get more out of your visit now than ever before.
JEWEL BOX CONSERVATORY
Home to more than 18,000 trees, Forest Park’s reputation as one of America’s greatest green spaces is indisputable. Surrounded by rose gardens and lily ponds, The Jewel Box is a 15,000 square foot greenhouse that was built in the mid-1930s to showcase various plants while also protecting them from the smog and pollution that had become a problem in the growing city. But even though St. Louis is greener and cleaner, the Jewel Box remains as an Art Deco architectural landmark and symbol of the city’s dedication to environmental causes. The $1 admission fee is a small price to pay for such a great institution.
ST. LOUIS SCIENCE CENTER
With its tall, distinct roof and glass bridge over the interstate (complete with radar guns!), the St. Louis Science Center is another one of the city’s amazing free attractions. Some highlights of the hundreds of exhibits are always on display, including fossil labs, Lost Egypt, and the famous planetarium that gives the building such a unique shape. While a lot of museums put their artifacts behind glass or velvet ropes, the St. Louis Science Center takes a more interactive approach and gives you a chance to be hands-on with history.
Whether you’re a local or you’re in town for LouFest weekend, the rest of Forest Park needs to be on your to-do list! To learn more about the park’s attractions and the ongoing efforts to restore the natural wetlands, prairies, and other wildlife, visit ForestParkForever.org.