Everybody needs a little inspiration to shake up their usual routines sometimes. To keep your outside excursions from getting stale, we have five rut-busting places to explore.
Ellen Clark Sculpture (and Unofficial Dog) Park
The Ellen Clark Sculpture Park is the perfect outdoor oasis planted right in the middle of Midtown. Located on the corner of Grand and Lindell boulevards, it sits adjacent to the stunning St. Francis Xavier College Church on Saint Louis University's campus. While the views outside the park's gates are intricate old buildings and a beautiful cityscape, the feeling within its boundaries is more equivalent to the striking natural scenery of Forest Park.
The park, covered in bright green grass and shady trees, acts as a refuge from the chaos that lies just beyond its fence. While the surrounding city has sounds of cars in traffic, the park has sounds of dogs' collars jingling and birds chirping overhead. Picnic tables and benches are sprinkled throughout, making it the ideal spot to sit and enjoy the view.
The park started out as a stunning display of the colorful and vibrant sculptures of Brother Mel Meyer, the late Marianist monk and prolific artist, and it's also become a favorite of dog owners who account for most of the visitors. Whether you own a dog or not, the Ellen Clark Sculpture Park is the perfect destination for art enthusiasts, dog people or just nature lovers looking for a place to relax in the city.
Round Lake in Forest Park
One of the smallest bodies of water in Forest Park, Round Lake is a wise choice if you're looking for a sunny day activity with few crowds. The lake sits on the northeast corner of the park, between Kingshighway and Lindell Boulevard. Even during busy weekends, parking is easy to find as it is far from the more-coveted Zoo and Art Hill spots.
There are plentiful benches and picnic tables to sit and enjoy the view of the water. While the natural scenery is obviously gorgeous, a beautiful cityscape is just a short walk away. Truly, it's the best of both worlds for the city and nature-loving introverts looking for a relaxing escape to a usually crowded park. As the masses of visitors head for the center of Forest Park, rest assured there will be plenty of space to spread out and relax at the equally stunning Round Lake.
Laumeier Sculpture Park
Laumeier Sculpture Park is a 105-acre museum and sculpture garden that is entirely outdoors. The park is located in Sunset Hills and is complete with a walking trail leading the way to more than 70 sculptures. Laumeier, populated with the towering, mesmerizing and quirky pieces, is an excellent place to take in some culture while outdoors.
One of the more popular attractions at the sculpture park is the Eye sculpture made by Tony Tasset in 2007. The gigantic fiberglass piece sits at nearly 12 feet tall, a humongous model based off of Tasset's own blue eyes. The park's website says the "never-blinking, constantly conscious piece watches over Laumeier day and night." The park welcomes visitors each day from 8 a.m. and closes 30 minutes after sunset. It is also a great destination for an interesting photo-op.
While most of the sculptures sit on the museum lawn and sculpture garden, there are also fields, woods, and trails to explore the natural scenery, as well. If you're looking for a free attraction to enjoy some compelling artwork while outdoors, Laumeier might be the perfect underrated spot for you.
The Gateway Geyser may be the coolest attraction along the Mississippi River — second only to the Gateway Arch, of course. The Geyser is a man-made, large-scale fountain that is located just across the river from the Arch, in East St. Louis. It is capable of shooting 7,500 gallons of water into the air, and on a typical day, it sprays up to 630 feet high.
The idea for the Gateway Geyser grew out of a plan by Eero Saarinen, the architect who designed St. Louis' beloved Arch. Saarinen's original concept was to have matching archways adjacent to one another from across the river. Instead, the Illinois side of the river was given the Gateway Geyser, that can shoot water to the exact same height as the Arch, making it one of the tallest water fountains in the country.
The geyser is located in the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, where there are grassy spots to enjoy the surrounding natural scenery, and benches where you can sit and take in the view of the Geyser and the Arch. Either way, the Gateway Geyser is a fascinating monument that marries St. Louis' interesting history and a beautiful outdoor setting.
Rootwad Park is an attraction created by the late Bob Cassilly, the creative mastermind of City Museum. The project is one of his unfinished works, filled with the industrial ruins of St. Louis' history. Located on O'Fallon Street near the Mississippi River, the park is an ideal destination to explore and take photos.
Cassilly started building Rootwad with the hope of showing the beauty in old, neglected items. Among the attractions are the abandoned structures of the Laclede Power Station and the Cotton Belt Freight Depot, both built in the early 1900s. Also within the park is a bridge made from repurposed mechanical items that are covered in graffiti and concrete turtle and snake sculptures similar to the ones alongside Highway 40.
Rootwad Park is a fascinating setting for an outdoors adventure and often serves as the scene of outsider art performances. It's truly an only-in-St. Louis destination.