Sure, we're all getting tired of the ribbons of orange plastic fencing that have been wrapping Forest Park like a Christo work gone sour. But as the barriers come slowly down, a park transformed by years of planning and fundraising is unveiled. Lawrence Halprin's stunning gates aside, the park's best actualized
improvement is the newly rebuilt boathouse. Though there was some anxiety about the hoity-toity nature of the new facility, designed by local architect Laurent Torno, naysayers can now relax and enjoy hassle-free leisure. Costs for boat rental have been reduced from $20 to $12 per hour, beer and wine (and margaritas!) remain accessibly priced, and dog bowls provide water for your best friend. What ups the boathouse to Best Improvement, however, is its status as a capstone for the refurbishing of (the unfortunately named) Post-Dispatch Lake. Thanks to extensive dredging and reshaping, boaters can now paddle around two islands on their way to the Grand Basin and navigate the eight newly installed fountains before kicking back on the patio. The boathouse is open year-round (hours: Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday till midnight; call for boat-rental hours), with a large stone fireplace sure to attract cold sledders come the winter's first snow.