It’s fair to say that St. Louis is our “home away from home.” We have started taking pretty frequent trips to the Gateway City given that we are only three hours away and the beauty of visiting St. Louis is that we are able to find something unique each time we are there. During our recent visit in early November, we wanted to head out and explore a variety of parks throughout the city in search of the best fall colors in St Louis.
If you are thinking that St. Louis is all about the “urban” experience, you can think again! Yes, it’s true, you can enjoy everything you would normally associate with an urban metropolis but there is so much more to St. Louis. Scattered throughout the city are a number of gorgeous parks that immediately take you away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Imagine taking a late-afternoon stroll through a park and admiring the eclectic blend of fall colors.
Best Fall Colors in St Louis
If you are considering a weekend trip to St. Louis in either late October or early November, you have picked the best time to enjoy the amazing fall colors that can be seen throughout the city. In terms of weekend getaways in Missouri, we cannot think of any better place to visit than St. Louis given that you can enjoy the fine blend of city life and natural beauty.
The city of St. Louis encompasses a number of suburbs and it’s fair to say locals and visitors alike are spoiled for choice when it comes to exploring the best parks in the area. As we prepared for our visit, we wanted to experience a variety, primarily to enjoy the fall foliage but also to find out why each park is a popular spot for locals to enjoy.
There is something quite magical about seeing the leaves change color. I think we all likely take this process for granted, especially throughout the year when I’m sure many of us never pay attention to the beauty that surrounds us. But it’s during the fall season that we cannot help but notice the amazing colors and we want to embrace this beauty.
However, we also want to encourage you (and ourselves!) to appreciate nature at all times of the year. Take a stroll in your local park at any time of the year and just spend a few minutes admiring what surrounds you. You may be pleasantly surprised at just how cool it is. I know I am a HUGE culprit of taking things for granted. Our local park is Craighead Forest Park in Jonesboro and only recently did I start appreciating the beauty there.
Let’s take a look at a selection of our favorite parks in St. Louis that we would encourage you to visit on your next trip to the Gateway City.
When it comes to “green” spaces in St. Louis, the number one spot locals and visitors alike will visit is Forest Park. Covering 1,300 acres, Forest Park is undoubtedly one of the nation’s iconic urban parks and certainly comparable with the likes of Central Park in New York City and Balboa Park in San Diego (Forest Park is actually bigger than both).
Stay in the nearby Cheshire St. Louis hotel for the ultimate luxury experience (and British, literary inspired hotel) and you can enjoy a long weekend exploring Forest Park’s inherent beauty.
There is no better time of the year to visit Forest Park than during the fall season. An epitome of natural beauty, Forest Park showcases a diverse collection of botanical species with an abundance of color, making this the perfect environment to enjoy the fall season. If taking a stroll in the cooler weather is your idea of a fun activity, Forest Park is certainly the place to be. But taking a stroll around this attraction is just the start of the fun you can experience here.
Head over to St. Louis Zoo to experience a myriad of wildlife while also admiring the fall foliage that is scattered throughout the zoo. There are not many zoos in our opinion that can compete with St. Louis, not only because of the diversity of animals here but also because it is FREE (yes, you read that right!).
It’s no surprise that the star of the show in Forest Park is the collection of trees. As you walk around the paved trails, you can admire the beauty of the foliage combined with a plethora of monuments, historic architectural masterpieces, water features and more.
The peak time to enjoy fall foliage in Forest Park is usually mid-November. If you are fortunate to visit at the high point of the fall season, we are convinced you will be left speechless and will not want to leave this beautiful paradise.
Although Forest Park may be the pinnacle of fall foliage in St. Louis and at any time of the year, there are several others parks across the city that are worth visiting if you are intrigued by the prospect of seeing gorgeous autumnal colors. Take the short drive from Forest Park across the city to Lafayette Park, a lesser known urban environment but equally spectacular during the fall season.
The history of Lafayette Park dates back to 1836 when it was set aside from St. Louis Common and in 1851, it was recognized as one of the first (and largest) public parks in the city. In terms of history, many historians consider this to be widely recognized as the oldest urban park west of the Mississippi River.
When you think about the size of Lafayette Park, yes it’s small in comparison to Forest Park but relatively large compared to others in the region. At 30 acres, there is definitely plenty of space for various walking trails and because of that, a myriad of breathtaking fall foliage. We spent a couple of hours walking around the less crowded area of the park and quickly fell in love with the variety of colors on display.
If you love fall foliage as much as we do and consider yourself to be “leaf peepers” (not sure I really like that term but anyway…), Lafayette Park is an area of St. Louis you won’t want to miss given the solitude, relaxation and wealth of colors available here.
Tower Grove Park
When Tower Grove Park opened its gates to the public in 1872, it quickly became recognized as one of the most iconic parks across the city. Renowned as being an elaborate display of gorgeous architecture, monuments and symmetry, this park is frequently known as being an idyllic spot for engagement and wedding photographs. After you take a stroll around the park, you will soon see why.
During the fall season, Tower Grove Park springs to life with aging trees constantly springing to life as they display a plethora of colors in full bloom. The elaborate gates and architectural design help Tower Grove Park stand out in comparison to its counterparts across St. Louis and the unique characteristics certainly make this an appealing attraction for locals and visitors alike.
At 289 acres, it’s the second largest public park owned by the city of St. Louis after Forest Park. Extending 1.6 miles from west to east, there are numerous scenic walking trails throughout the park and the fall season is certainly a time when you will want to spend more time here exploring.
One of St. Louis’ smaller parks is Benton Park but despite it’s relatively small size, it is packed full of beauty with a gorgeous lake, fountain and bridge that creates the perfect setting combined with the fall foliage that can be found here.
Located close to the iconic Anheuser Busch brewery, Benton Park is another quiet haven for visitors to enjoy a relaxing morning stroll among the beautiful surroundings. Head over to the nearby Gus’ Pretzel shop prior to visiting the park to enjoy one of St. Louis’ infamous local specialties…you won’t be disappointed.
Is there anything better than enjoying a cinnamon sugar pretzel with cream cheese while appreciating the beauty of the fall season on display throughout Benton Park? I am not sure which is more appealing…the pretzel or the foliage! Either way, it’s an idyllic combination and one that you won’t regret experiencing.
Founded in 1866, the land utilized for Benton Park was originally set aside for a cemetery but following the opening of two other cemeteries in the immediate vicinity, this space was chosen as an urban green space for locals and visitors alike to relax among the natural environment.
The rustic bridge that crosses the lake is undoubtedly the focal point of Benton Park and if you are fortunate to visit during the golden hour, you will have the opportunity to take epic photographs with a gorgeous backdrop.
One of the newest parks in St. Louis is Willmore Park, a 105 acre space that is not only a great spot for fall foliage but also for a myriad of activities, both on land and also for bass fishermen to test their skills and enjoy the North Lake that takes up part of the park.
Visitors to Willmore Park can enjoy a disc golf course that runs through the heart of the park where fall foliage can be found. What better way to explore the beautiful fall colors than by testing your disc golf skills among the foliage. Tennis courts, pavilions for visitors to enjoy picnics, softball fields and a large children’s playground are just a few of the on-site experience people can enjoy at Willmore Park.
When it comes to foliage, Willmore Park may not have the abundance of botanical species as Forest Park or even Lafayette Park but that shouldn’t take anything away from the inherent beauty of this park. It’s noticeably “younger” and so it’s going to take time for the foliage to develop, yet even now it offers a distinctive contrast to the older parks across the city.
At almost 180 acres, Carondelet Park is St. Louis’ third largest park after Forest Park and Tower Grove (just classifying those that are affiliated with the city of St. Louis). In terms of natural beauty, this is definitely one of the most spectacular, not only because of the vast array of trees that bloom during the fall season but also because of the gorgeous lake and architecture around the park.
The park was established in 1875 and named after the neighborhood where it exists. Carondelet was actually a city in the mid-18th century until it became part of the greater city of St. Louis. One of the iconic attractions for visitors to Carondelet Park is the gorgeous boathouse that stands proudly in front of the lake and is definitely a focal point inside the park.
Local fishermen will spend hours around the edge of the lake in hope of finding the perfect catch, while those looking to enjoy the natural surroundings can take a leisurely stroll around the perimeter admiring the boathouse and fountain that create an integral part of the park.
A visit to St. Louis wouldn’t be the same without heading downtown to experience one of America’s newest national parks – the Gateway Arch National Park. Regardless of whether you think this should be recognized with national park status, it’s an attraction well worth visiting. While experiencing this iconic landmark, take a short walk to Citygarden, an oasis of rural beauty in the heart of an urban area.
Citygarden is just under 3 acres in size but despite its relatively small size, it has plenty to offer in terms of fall foliage and iconic architecture. This urban park and sculpture garden is the perfect combination for visitors to enjoy natural beauty while admiring artistic masterpieces.
Offering fountains, artwork, gardens with a plethora of floral beauty and much more, Citygarden is certainly a great spot to finish your adventure exploring the best fall foliage spots in St. Louis.
There are currently 24 distinctive sculptures scattered around the park but during our last visit, we couldn’t take our eyes away from the foliage that certainly competed with the very best spots across the city.
Given that we love visiting St. Louis to explore the inherent beauty of the city, we figured it was the perfect location to explore the fall foliage across the various neighborhoods. St. Louis is fortunate to have a number of urban parks, ranging from the iconic (and largest) Forest Park to smaller, lesser known gems that still epitomizes everything there is to love about exploring nature at this time of the year.
I never realized just how rewarding it can be to experience a plethora of fall foliage and over the last few years, we have been fortunate to visit St. Louis during October and November which is the ultimate time to visit to enjoy an epic array of colors. We hope you will find time to add St. Louis to your itinerary of fall foliage adventures…you will not be disappointed!