Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Free Fun in St. Louis

We have been enjoying our summer with mostly free activities and I just have to share some of them.  For those living in or visiting the St. Louis area, here is the first installment of a small insider's list of the best free activities and events to take advantage of here in the Gateway City.  Please feel free to comment and add your favorite free St. Louis activities.  This is a great town for free fun!

The Missouri Botanical Garden offers the Whitaker Music Festival Wednesdays through August 4.  
The music begins at 7:30 p.m. and free admission starts at 5 p.m.  The Children’s Garden is open with free admission from 5 to 7 p.m.  Parking is free.  

Let's talk about this.  People keep telling me that they don't like going to the music festival because it's so crowded (it totally is) but do you have to have a lawn seat right in front of the stage?  I look at these music festival nights as a free time to enjoy an evening in the garden (which normally closes at 5 p.m.) and it is the only time you are allowed to picnic there.  You are welcome to bring your own picnic supper, baskets, or coolers. Picnic fare is also available for purchase on site.  If you have kids, take them over to the Children's Garden (interactive map here).  It is spectacular (and normally costs $5 per kid.)

Insider's tip: There is some serious picnicking going on here!  Some people bring lawn chairs and set up little tables with wine glasses, fruit and cheese plates and tea lights!  Feel free to do so or bring a blanket and a drive-thru meal.  You could come from 5 to 7, just to eat a picnic dinner and let your kids explore the Children's Garden for free.  Working late?  No problem, you are permitted to enter the Garden until 9 p.m. Enjoy!

(The Missouri Botanical Garden also offers free admission, including the Children's Garden to St. Louis City and County residents on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9a.m. to 12 p.m.  This includes admission to the Children's Garden!)
Malcolm Martin Memorial Park may be one of the area's best-kept secrets.  It is a green space directly across the Mississippi from the Arch.  According to the website: "Eero Saarinen, designer of the St. Louis Arch, originally included a park on both sides of the Mississippi River; decades later his vision has become a reality."  The park includes the Gateway Geyser, which erupts at 12, 3, 6 and 9 p.m daily, April-October.  It's over 600 feet tall (mirroring the height of the Arch) and is surrounded by 4 fountains that are 100 feet tall.  The eruption lasts approximately 15 minutes and is absolutely refreshing.  Majestic, even.  It is the tallest geyser in the US.  See the video here.  Also at the park is one of the best views available of the Arch.  The Mississippi River Overlook is a 40 foot tall platform which "offers visitors marvelous views of the park, both sides of the Mississippi River, and the St. Louis City Skyline."  

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