Fall Getaway to St. Louis | Midwest Living

Fall Getaway to St. Louis

More balmy than brisk, fall here is perfect for hopscotching between the city’s historic green (and red and gold) spaces.

Around St. Louis, autumn creeps in like a long, slow swig of sweet tea. You can theme a whole weekend around the idea of lazy strolls.

Once upon a time, Victorian belles walked through Lafayette Park under frilly parasols. At least it’s fun to imagine they did. The prim, perfectly symmetrical park anchors Lafayette Square, a near-downtown neighborhood of elegant homes, including the opulent Park Avenue Mansion inn. A couple miles southwest, in larger Tower Grove Park, pumpkins tempt families at an intimate Saturday farmers market, where music plays and a free yoga class spreads out under the trees. Across the street, the Missouri Botanical Garden sprawls over 79 acres. Come early, and your only company might be amateur photographers or, if you’re lucky, a fox drinking from the lily pond.

Missouri Botanical Garden.

Missouri Botanical Garden. 

Drive a bit farther, and you hit Forest Park, about 15 minutes west of downtown. Home to several free attractions, including the zoo and art museum, it’s both a cultural hub and a sort of vast, communal backyard. If you visit during the Great Forest Park Balloon Race in September, rent a pedal boat and watch the balloons drift through a cloudless fall sky from your floating perch in the Grand Basin.


What to do

Boathouse Forest Park’s signature restaurant rents pedal boats and kayaks.  (314) 367-2224; boathouseforestpark.com

Missouri Botanical Garden Most days the gardens are peaceful, but the bustling Best of Missouri Market (check website for dates) features food vendors, plant sales and music. Admission charged.  (314) 577-5100; mobot.org

Saint Louis Art Museum Plan to bask on the lawn soaking in the magnificent view of Forest Park’s Grand Basin. Free.  (314) 721-0072; slam.org

Saint Louis Zoo Lush landscaping makes this top-notch zoo good for wandering. Free.  (314) 781-0900; stlzoo.org

Tower Grove Farmers Market Buy a croissant, then kick back and listen to the music. Saturdays May–October. (314) 772-3899; tgmarket.org

Lines at the Gateway Arch are shorter in fall.

Lines at the Gateway Arch are shorter in fall.

Where to eat

Atlas Restaurant Near Forest Park, Atlas serves upscale fare, such as grilled pork chops with apples and grain mustard spaetzle. (314) 367-6800; atlasrestaurantstl.com

Baileys’ Chocolate Bar Lafayette Square’s stylishly sexy dessert bar is perfect for a nightcap. Try chipotle-spiced hot chocolate. (314) 241-8100; baileyschocolatebar.com

The namesake dessert at Baileys’ Chocolate Bar layers cake and boozy buttercream.

The namesake dessert at Baileys’ Chocolate Bar layers cake and boozy buttercream.

Sqwires Feast on beef tenderloin with cheddar mashed potatoes, then settle in. The after-dinner mood at this brick-walled Lafayette Square spot is oh-so-mellow. (314) 865-3522; sqwires.com

Where to stay

Park Avenue Mansion This plush B&B facing Lafayette Park has a big courtyard—and three parrots. From $119. (314) 588-9004; parkavenuemansion.com

Ornate homes give Lafayette Square European flair.

Ornate homes give Lafayette Square European flair.

For more information: St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (800) 916-0040; explorestlouis.com

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® September/October 2010.  Prices, dates, and other details are subject to change, so please check specifics before making travel plans.)

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