Forest Park St Louis Mo

Forest Park, St Louis, is an open space like no other. Originally designed for the 1904 World Fair (of “meet me in St Louis, Louis” fame) it is very well maintained and looked after by the City of St Louis – and it’s free all day every day.

Arriving at the parking lot and walking over to the visitor center, I’m welcomed by a guide who is really enthusiastic about the park and all it has to offer. There are 3 self guided walks one can take to see the beauties of the park, and you can get a MP3 player to help you find your way and that explain the history of the park and what you are seeing. And to my amazement these are free – I just has to leave my credit card details to guarantee I’ll bring the equipment back.

On this visit I choose the Grand Basin tour and this starts off my telling me about the history of Forest Park, and then leads me down to one of the focal points of the park – the Emerson Grand Basin. This is a large ornamental lake with 8 spectacular fountains, surrounded by formal walkways, and looking up to the Art museum on top of the hill. This is a truly wonderful sight on a bright sunny day, and I have also been there at night with the fountains and museum lit up and the view then is amazing.

From the formality of the Grand Basin, there run waterways that are more natural looking, and the path takes you over a bridge to “picnic island”, and then over a rustic bridge to “shore”. Here you can see the water running over stones and get the feel of how the natural river that was here must have been.

The walk takes you on down to the Boat House, which is a really nice restaurant overlooking Post Dispatch Lake. On the lake there are various paddle boats to rent, and although I’ve not yet been on one, they look really fun. I did stop for a meal at the restaurant, and found the staff really friendly and helpful, and the food was good too. The menu changes regularly, and when I went I had a good fresh tuna steak with salad, which was excellent and very good value.

The walk takes you back to the Visitor Center from here, but I diverted to go look at the fountains on Government Hill. At the top of the hill is the World’s Fair Pavilion, and on the hill from that down to the lake was a fountain. At my last visit (Sept 2007) this was being re-built into a set of terraces with water cascading down them. Only part of this was open when I visited, but I think this is going to be another spectacular addition to the park.

There is much more to explore in Forest Park, and this is one venue that I will go back to time after time.