Family Vacation Activities in St. Louis
Once the Gateway to the West, St. Louis has survived as a major Midwestern city whose culture has been inspired by the riverboat traffic of centuries past. St. Louis is both massive and diverse, making it a great destination city for any vacation — even if you’ve got children in tow.
While you might not be able to separate from the kids long enough to check out some of its adults-only venues, such as the historic breweries littering the city, your options in St. Louis will be anything but limited. Read on for a quick guide to a fulfilling family vacation to St. Louis in the fall.
Get lost in the Great Godfrey Maze
If you visit between late August and late October, take your kids out to explore the Great Godfrey Maze. This cornfield maze is best explored at night, which amplifies the scary-factor — but not so much that small kids should stay away. Pack a flashlight, huddle everyone close and then slowly make your way through the seven acres of farmland the impressive maze occupies. While the maze runs for two months, it’s especially popular during Halloween season and can be paired with fun Halloween costumes and related Halloween festivities taking place throughout St. Louis in mid-to-late October.
Take in a hot air balloon spectacle
For a sight that will seem truly foreign, check out the Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and Balloon Race, which takes place in mid-September. It’s free to attend and is a truly stunning experience: When the sun sets, hot air balloons from around the area are inflated and illuminated, each of them looking like brilliant-colored spaceships. The actual race commences on Saturday and is celebrated with a variety of additional events, such as a skydive, music, and a kid-specific play area.
Tour the annual Japanese Festival
Every year over Labor Day weekend, the Japanese Festival takes St. Louis by storm. It’s been running for more than 35 years and centers its activities at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where visitors can check out the largest traditional Japanese garden in the United States. Kids may have more fun checking out the authentic arts and crafts, watching musical and theatrical performances inspired by Japanese tradition, and taste the exotic foods popular throughout Japan.
Watch a duel at the Scottish Games and Cultural Festival
If you’re visiting in late September, invest in a family pass and take the kids to check out the Scottish Games and Cultural Festival. Like the Balloon Glow and Balloon Race, this festival takes place in Forest Park and offers a variety of activities for attendants of all ages. A wide range of games will take place over the course of the weekend, including Scottish crafts, bird-of-prey exhibits, sheepdog testing trials, and Scottish sword fights. Meanwhile, kids can take in the unique sounds of bagpipe musical groups and admire the many men pairing tall socks with authentic kilts. A number of musicians will perform over the course of the weekend, and parents will have the opportunity to imbibe in some Scottish-inspired alcoholic beverages — and, of course, some domestic drinks as well.
When it comes to vacations, kids tend to gravitate toward being active and being exposed to new — but exciting things. The aforementioned list will succeed in keeping kids on the move and entertained with sights, sounds, and tastes they aren’t as likely to encounter back home. Keep in mind the point-of-view of a child: your kids might yawn at the St. Louis Arch, but they’ll be dying to tell their friends about the time they watched a sword fight between men in skirts.