Best Public Park - 2004
Queeny County Park
It's a fall day at Queeny Park, a 569-acre recreation complex that mercifully interrupts the urban sprawl of the west-county suburb of Ballwin. Dogs chase Frisbees through an open field alongside kids flying kites. The open stretches of green are surrounded by rolling hills stacked with oaks, maples and dogwoods that, thanks to the cool summer, are already showcasing vibrant autumn hues. Horses and their riders trot toward the seven miles of nature trails. Joggers and bikers wave to hikers who've stopped for a picnic lunch. If it were winter, cross-country skiers would be taking a crack at the trails, and skaters would be flocking to the park's indoor ice rink. As it is, Queeny's eight courts are bustling with tennis buffs and its five ponds are ringed with hopeful anglers. At the park's "creative playground," kids scramble up a climbing wall that looks like the exterior of a castle and learn to count on a giant abacus before passing out on a blanket beneath the shade of a huge old tree.