Forest Park Walking Tour, Saint Louis

Forest Park Walking Tour (Self Guided), Saint Louis

Forest Park, a massive urban park in Saint Louis, offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. Renowned for its multiple entertaining and educational facilities, such as museums, zoo, and green areas, it is often and quite deservedly regarded as one of the city's crown jewels – an ideal location for a great time out! Let's see what you can find on the grounds.

Our first stop is the Missouri History Museum, a fascinating place where you can learn about the rich history of Missouri and its impact on the nation. It houses a collection of artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that bring the past to life.

A short walk from there brings you to the Grand Basin, a picturesque lake at the heart of the park, surrounded by lush greenery and walking paths. It's a tranquil spot for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing picnic.

Further ahead, the Saint Louis Art Museum boasts an impressive collection of art spanning various cultures and time periods – a highly recommended venue for art enthusiasts.

Nearby, the Saint Louis Zoo is a beloved attraction within the park, home to a diverse array of animals from around the world. It's a fantastic place for families to explore and learn about wildlife conservation.

The Forest Park World's Fair Pavilion is an iconic structure that harks back to the park's history as the site of the 1904 World's Fair. It's a beautiful spot to take in panoramic views of the park.

The Muny Theater is an outdoor amphitheater that hosts a variety of live performances, including musicals and concerts, during the summer months.

The Jewel Box is a stunning greenhouse filled with exotic plants and vibrant flowers, making it a favorite spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

Finally, the Saint Louis Science Center offers interactive exhibits and hands-on learning experiences for curious minds, making it a fantastic destination for families and science enthusiasts alike.

As you can see, Forest Park truly offers something for everyone. So, don't miss out on the opportunity to create lasting memories and discover the many wonders of this remarkable urban oasis in Saint Louis.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Forest Park Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Forest Park Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Saint Louis (See other walking tours in Saint Louis)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 Km or 3.7 Miles
Author: doris
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Missouri History Museum
  • The Grand Basin
  • Saint Louis Art Museum
  • St. Louis Zoo
  • Forest Park World's Fair Pavilion
  • Muny Theater
  • Jewel Box
  • Saint Louis Science Center
Missouri History Museum

1) Missouri History Museum (must see)

The Missouri History Museum, operated by the Missouri Historical Society, was founded in 1866. Its main galleries are free through a public subsidy by the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District. The Jefferson Memorial Building, built in 1913 with profits from the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, is the current home of the museum. In 1988, the museum joined the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.

In 2000, the Emerson Center, a significant building addition, was completed, boosting attendance and exhibition capacity. The Emerson Center was selected by the American Institute of Architects' Committee on the Environment as an example of architectural design that protects and enhances the environment. It is an example of a green museum. Its permanent collection includes both national artifacts as well as Missouri- and St. Louis-related materials, such as local colonial and native items, Louisiana Purchase Exposition artifacts, and memorabilia relating to Charles Lindbergh and his trans-Atlantic flight in the "Spirit of St. Louis". A replica of the "Spirit of St. Louis" can be found here, too. A large number of artifacts from the Lewis and Clark Expedition are also housed in the permanent collection. Admission to it is free; however, certain exhibits require a ticket.

Why You Should Visit:
Friendly staff, wonderful location right in Forest Park, and great exhibits make it a good place for a family outing that educates, entertains and inspires.

Check to see if current exhibits are of interest to you. If not, it's still nice to look at the fascinating gift shop and sit down for an upscale lunch at a reasonable price (not typical for a museum).
The Grand Basin

2) The Grand Basin

The Grand Basin is one of the best and oldest attractions of Saint Louis Forest Park. It dates back to 1904 when it was the center of the World's Fair. Nowadays, after a thorough renovation, the Basin looks magnificent with its eight fountains and charming promenades. It is a favorite spot for taking photographs, especially at night, when the Basin is beautifully lit.

Even on the hottest St. Louis summer day, the Grand Basin provides a cool breeze and the large trees provide ample shade. Best place for a picnic!
Saint Louis Art Museum

3) Saint Louis Art Museum (must see)

The Saint Louis Art Museum is one of the principal U.S. art museums, visited by up to a half million people every year. Admission is free through a subsidy from the cultural tax district for St. Louis City and County. Located in Forest Park in St. Louis, the Museum's three-story building was constructed as the Palace of the Fine Arts for the 1904 World's Fair, also known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Architect Cass Gilbert was inspired by the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy.

In addition to the featured exhibitions, the Museum offers rotating exhibitions and installations. These include the Currents series, which showcases contemporary artists, as well as regular exhibitions of new media art and works on paper. The Saint Louis Art Museum began in 1881 as the Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, an independent entity within Washington University in St. Louis. Originally housed in a building in downtown St. Louis, the Museum moved to its current location in Forest Park after the 1904 World's Fair. During the 1950s, the Museum added an extension to include an auditorium for films, concerts and lectures. The collection of the Saint Louis Art Museum contains more than 30,000 artworks dating from antiquity to the present.

Why You Should Visit:
Very eclectic collection – from paintings to pottery, from sculpture to furniture...
Would you like to see Monet's famous 'Water Lilies' and an Egyptian mummy? You can see them both at this museum.

Entrance to the museum is free; the special exhibits are free on Fridays.
Fine dining in Panorama restaurant on the first floor (reserve in advance), and café in the basement.
St. Louis Zoo

4) St. Louis Zoo (must see)

The Saint Louis Zoo, located in Forest Park, is a renowned zoo known for its excellence in animal management, research, conservation, and education. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), which recognizes its high standards in animal care and welfare. One of the unique features of the zoo is the 2 ft narrow-gauge Emerson Zooline Railroad that encircles the zoo, taking visitors on a tour of the popular attractions.

Established in 1910, the Saint Louis Zoo has been continuously improving its exhibits, areas, and buildings to enhance the care of animals, showcase a diverse range of habitats and animals, and offer educational and interpretive programs. The head of the male lesser kudu, with its stunning spiraled horns, is the symbol of the Saint Louis Zoo.

In addition to its focus on animal welfare, the Saint Louis Zoo is also dedicated to conservation efforts. The Living Earth Collaborative, a conservation effort that the zoo joined in partnership with the Missouri Botanical Garden and Washington University in St. Louis, seeks to promote understanding of ways to preserve natural environments that enable plants, animals, and microbes to thrive. The zoo also runs several other conservation programs, including the #byetobags movement, which encourages the use of reusable bags, and a turtle-tracking program that tracks the location, population, and health of the box turtle population in Forest Park.

The Saint Louis Zoo is unique in that admission is free, thanks to a public subsidy from a cultural tax district, the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District (ZMD). However, fees are charged for some special attractions.

In recognition of its high standards, the Saint Louis Zoo was chosen as the best zoo in the United States by USA Today in 2017 and 2018. The zoo's commitment to animal welfare and conservation makes it a must-visit destination for animal lovers and anyone interested in learning more about conservation efforts.

Why You Should Visit:
Free zoo with world-class exhibits and special events on some evenings. It's walkable, clean and there are areas indoors and out (if you need a break from the weather).

You're unlikely to be able to see all you want in a single day, so spend some time online and select your preferences.
Forest Park World's Fair Pavilion

5) Forest Park World's Fair Pavilion

The Forest Park World's Fair Pavilion is a historic building located on Government Hill. The pavilion sits on the site of the large Missouri State Building that was built for the 1904 World's Fair, but burned down just 10 days before the closing of the fair.

Despite the Missouri Building's many features, it was built as a temporary structure on a wooden framework with staff. After the fair ended, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition Company promised to restore the park to its original state, and the World's Fair Pavilion was built in 1910 as a gift from the company to fulfill that promise. The pavilion was designed by English architect Henry Wright.

Over the years, the pavilion has undergone several renovations, including a major restoration in the early 2000s. The $1.1 million restoration included the addition of new restrooms and a catering kitchen, as well as the removal of the eastern archways to open the building to its original state. The restoration also included new lighting and the reconstruction of the twin towers of the building.

Today, the Forest Park World's Fair Pavilion serves as a popular venue for weddings, receptions, and other events. Its historic architecture and beautiful setting make it a cherished landmark in St. Louis, reminding visitors of the city's rich history and the legacy of the 1904 World's Fair.
Muny Theater

6) Muny Theater

The Muny Theater is a beloved and historic amphitheater that has been entertaining audiences for over a century. With a seating capacity of 11,000 people, it is one of the largest outdoor theaters in the United States, offering plenty of space for a diverse range of performances.

One unique aspect of The Muny is that it offers 1,500 free seats in the last nine rows on a first-come, first-served basis, ensuring that everyone has the chance to enjoy world-class entertainment. The Muny seasons run every year from mid-June to mid-August, offering a variety of musicals, concerts, and other live performances that appeal to people of all ages.

The Muny's history dates back to 1914 when Luther Ely Smith began staging pageant-masques on Art Hill in Forest Park. In 1916, a grassy area between two oak trees on the present site of The Muny was chosen for a production of As You Like It. The production was produced by Margaret Anglin and starred Sydney Greenstreet, along with a local cast of "1,000 St. Louis folk dancers and folk singers" in connection with the tercentenary of Shakespeare's death. The audience sat in portable chairs on a gravel floor, and the production was a resounding success.

Since then, The Muny has been a hub of cultural activity in St. Louis, attracting performers and audiences from all over the world.

Why You Should Visit:
The place to go if you want to enjoy a fun, inexpensive night under the stars. Located in a gorgeous park with lots of amenities.
You can spend the day biking, going to a museum, riding a paddle boat or having a picnic – then head over for a nighttime performance at The Muny.

If there's a show that you have been dying to see, splurge and get tickets closer to the front – in section A or closer – or use binoculars and you will not miss a thing.
Jewel Box

7) Jewel Box

The Jewel Box, also known as the St. Louis Floral Conservatory and the City of St. Louis Floral Display House, is a historic greenhouse located in Forest Park. It was built in 1936 by the Robert Paulus Construction Company and designed by architect William C. E. Becker. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a public horticultural facility.

One of the unique features of the Jewel Box is its five stepped, composition-covered wood roofs with clerestories, which were designed to prevent damage from frequent hailstorms. The greenhouse consists of 16,664 square feet of plate glass in over 4,000 panes, set in wood and wrought iron supports. Most of the glass is framed by copper with a verdigris patina. The building is supported by eight fixed arches, which carry the structure's weight, and there are also triangular trusses between every other arch. The ceiling is composed of wood planking.

The Jewel Box's entrance is a vestibule made of limestone, and inside the greenhouse, there is a concrete-floored balcony located across the south end. A reflecting pool lies in front of the Jewel Box's entrance. Visitors to the Jewel Box can enjoy a variety of plant displays showcasing the plants that can survive the high levels of smoke and soot within the city.

The Jewel Box's history dates back to 1913, when Nelson Cunliff became Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for St. Louis City. Due to the high levels of smoke and soot within the city, Cunliff began a survey to determine which plants could survive the conditions. He later asked John Moritz, who was in charge of the city's greenhouses, to set up a display greenhouse to showcase various plants that could survive. It is said that someone called the displays "like a jewel box", hence the name. The Jewel Box has been an important part of St. Louis history for over 80 years and continues to attract visitors from around the world.
Saint Louis Science Center

8) Saint Louis Science Center (must see)

The Saint Louis Science Center is a collection of buildings which incorporates a science museum and planetarium in the southeastern corner of Forest Park. With over 750 exhibits in a complex of over 300,000 square feet, it is among the largest of its type in the country, and according to the Association of Science and Technology Centers, is one of the top five science centers in the United States. As of 2007, the complex hosts 1.2 million visitors each year, with another 200,000 served through offsite programs at schools and community centers.

The first building of the current complex, the Planetarium, opened in 1963, hosting about 300,000 visitors per year. In 1983, it was combined with an existing Museum of Science and Natural History that had been located in Clayton, upon which the Planetarium was renamed the Saint Louis Science Center. In 1991, a major expansion increased its size seven-fold, adding a main building and Omnimax theater. In 1997, an air-supported building, the Exploradome, was added next to the main facility, and in 2003, a Community Science Resource Center southeast of the main building was added to the complex. The northern and southern sections of the Science Center are connected via a pedestrian bridge over the interstate, which also has science exhibits, such as radar guns that the visitors can use to investigate traffic patterns.

Why You Should Visit:
You can easily spend the entire afternoon here with your kids. The staff gives talks that are appropriate for every age and level.
Most everything is hands-on and educational – and of course, the IMAX and Planetarium are good for all but little kids.

If you are traveling by yourself, breeze through quickly at a less crowded time; maybe book a Night Sky show, which is better than the kid-oriented planetarium shows.

Walking Tours in Saint Louis, Missouri

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