Top 9 Best Kept Secrets for Summer Fun in St. Louis!

No matter how long you’ve lived in St. Louis, you know there’s always something to do--especially in the summer! But after your tenth trip to the Arch (in the month of July alone), you may be looking for other exciting activities. This list has the attractions you may have never heard of, never experienced, or maybe just forgot existed, but they all have their own unique version of St. Louis summer fun. And, in addition to a different kind of fun, you won’t have mile long lines and hours of hunting for parking spaces!


1. Riverfront Trail, where you’ll find some of City Museum founder Bob Cassilly’s lesser-known works.

great river road1

 By far some of the best graffiti I’ve ever seen!



The newly renovated St. Louis Riverfront Trail is a hidden gem that follows the Mississippi River on the Missouri side. It starts near the Gateway Arch, at the Trigen St Louis Energybuilding (at 1 Ashley St, 63102) and ends at the Chain of Rocks Bridge (part of historic Route 66).1 The whole trail is almost 11 miles long and there are several attractions of note along it, including:


  • Sculptures by Bob Cassilly

  • Reflecting on a River mural -- a 190-foot long 3-Dimensional mural

  • Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing -- the first designated Underground Railroad site in Missouri 2

  • Native Plant Nursery

  • North Riverfront Park -- rehabilitated from 2005-2007 to keep it “gritty and interesting.” 3


It’s the perfect place for a summer bike ride and/or picnic. There’s also interesting industrial and natural scenery, as well as an area where you pass by the train tracks (and can see a train if you’re lucky)!


greatriver road2

  All of this is secretly a statue of turtle on snake PDA.





 2. The Endangered Wolf Center, where you can answer the call of the wild.


 smiling wolf

 Source: Endangered Wolf Center Photo

I’m not sure I’d be looking so smug if I was endangered.



Did you know you can trace the roots of every single Mexican Grey Wolf in the wild back to one place -- the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, MO? That’s right, this wolf sanctuary has been saving and recovering the population of endangered species of wolves since 1971! And you can see them. Tours are $15 for adults and $12 for kids. These aren’t your Twilight wolves; the wolves you can visit during weekend days include Mexican gray wolves, red wolves, maned wolves, swift foxes and African painted dogs. You can also learn why they’re endangered in the wild and how you can help their species survive. On special nights throughout the year, you can attend Howls, where you howl at the wolves and can hear them howl back!


 wolf cubs

Source: Endangered Wolf Center Photo

Wow, that’s like six kids. And I can barely keep myself alive!



3. Go Ape Treetop Adventure in Creve Coeur Park, where you can fulfill your inner Tarzan fantasies.

go ape1

Look away if you have a fear of heights.


Creve Coeur Park has a new attraction that is bound to make you face your fears. Their website claims it’s Missouri’s first and only adventure course. We don’t agree with this, but it is definitely the only one in St. Louis! The course contains 30-40 obstacles, 2 Tarzan Swings, many crossings and 5 zip lines. They even have a skateboard zip line!


Admission is $38 for ages 10-15 & $58 for adults--considerably less than creating your own Disney set!


go ape 2

 No one was harmed in the making of this article.




4. Broemmelsiek Park Astronomy Site, where all your wishes can come true.

astronomy site1

Note: spouse not included with telescope.


It’s hard to see a lot of stars in the city because of light and air pollution, but we all want our dreams to come true, and what better way than to have more stars to wish upon? You don’t have to travel far out of the city to see tons of stars in St. Louis--just visit Broemmelsiek Park, where there is a special designated area for people who love to gaze at the stars at night. There is very little light and pollution in the area so the stars are more visible. The site has telescopes for guests to use to get a closer view, or you can bring your own and plug it into one of their concrete viewing stations!


The Parks Department and the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (ASEM) also offer educational stargazing programs every Friday night, weather permitting. These actually go all year long--as long as the sky is clear! Check the ASEM website before going to see if there’s a cancellation.



astronomy site2

 We cannot be blamed if this park inspires you to have a mid-life crisis and become an astronaut.




5. Ice’s Plain and Fancy, where science is delicious.


ices plain and fancy ice cream

Excuse me while I go have my blood replaced with this ice cream. 


Are you just SO over regular ice cream? Well, have we got news for you. Ice’s Plain and Fancy in Tower Grove makes ice cream to order through the scientific magic of liquid nitrogen.


Don’t believe in magic? This works because of liquid nitrogen’s incredibly low boiling point! Don’t believe in science? This works because everyone who works there is a certified wizard!


BONUS: They have boozy ice cream!


ices plain and fancy science

The only kind of science that can truly be appreciated.




6. STLive, where you can get your boogie on every Friday! 


stllive 1


Do you like food? Do you like music? Congrats! If you answered yes to both of these questions, then you’re a human being! And you’d love STLive, a weekly event on Washington Avenue downtown with live music at a different restaurant each week. This event actually occurs every Friday all year long, but we think summer is the best time for walking around Washington Avenue and listening to great live music! All shows are free and the venues are from 4th to 14th street. For upcoming schedules, check the StLive Facebook page.


Participating restaurants include: Tigin, Pi, Robust, Takaya, Over/Under, Prime 1000, Dubliner, Stanley’s, Copia, Flamingo Bowl, Bobby’s Place, Hair of the Dog, Blondie’s, Lucas Park Grill, Rosalita’s, Flannery’s, Wash Ave Post, Hiro Asian Kitchen, Sen Thai and many more5. Restaurants will also be offering drink and dinner specials in addition to the live music.


 stlive logo

Source: StLive Twitter Account

If you’re gonna visit every venue on a single night, please be sure not to drive.


7. Circus Harmony Flying Trapeze Center, where you can run away to the circus for a day!


circus harmony 1

I refuse to believe that no one in this picture is actually flying.



Have you ever wanted to defy gravity and perform feats that will shock and amaze your friends but don’t have the years to devote to gymnastics or the genetics to grow wings and fly? Then check out the Circus Harmony Flying Trapeze Center at the Chesterfield Athletic Club (16625 Swingley Ridge Rd.) where you can take flying trapeze classes. In just one class you can learn tricks, flips, and even go across to a catcher! If you get good enough, you could possibly even live the dream and run away with the circus – who doesn’t want that?!


Check out their site by clicking the title for availability and pricing!


BONUS: If you want to see the pros do it live, you can find them on the third floor of City Museum!


circus harmony 2

 Living the circus performer dream.




8. Swap Meet at Lemp Brewery, where you can buy a handmade broach and a used turtle suit in the same place.

swap meet 1Several ghosts, along with Andrew Paulsen, had to be edited out of this image.


Do you like eating and shopping? Of course you do! This is America! So you should check out the Swap Meet at the Lemp Brewery every first and last Sunday this summer from 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. You can find everything from artisan chocolates from Kakao Chocolate to handmade jewelry to the stuff someone found in their attic last night. It’s quite the variety! There are also food trucks to make your tummy happy. Some Sundays you can even adopt a kitten! Who doesn’t love that?!


This is the first year this swap meet has existed so get out and support local businesses, people, and get some cool new things. Just don’t check out too much of the Brewery – you wouldn’t want the ghosts mad at you! You can also sell your own things -- a booth is only $25 -- so if you never did your spring cleaning, now’s the time!


swap meet 2

Source: St. Louis Swap Meet's Twitter Page

I’m really hoping “be nice or leave” is just a loose guideline.


9. Melvin Price Locks and Dam, where you can go with the flow. 

locks and dam

Dam nature, you look good. 


For people who like nature or discovering how things work, you can visit the Melvin Price Locks and Dam in Alton, IL and watch rivercraft use the locks (which enable boats to get through the dam). The dam helps control the flow of the Mississippi River and helps barges navigate through the river.

There are daily free tours at 10 AM, 1 PM, and 3 PM (call ahead for group tour reservations), as well as lots of opportunities for bird watching. Melvin Price Locks and Dam is listed on the National Audubon Society's Great River Birding Trail. They report that this is one of the best places to view large numbers of gulls--7 or more species can be seen, including rare ones! It’s also part of the Great River Road.6