Top 10 List of Free Outings in St. Louis to Enjoy with a Senior
In descending order of popularity:
10. Bellerive Park (Carondelet East)
Watch the barges, nibble on some cheese, have a glass of wine, experience the river, all in a park that, if you time it right, can be yours. Bellerive Park, all five and a half acres of it, is in south St. Louis, right at the intersection of Bates and South Broadway, and it only has one picnic table, parked under a huge tree. It provides ample shade for sunny days, and if you capture the table, you’re sitting above one of the prettiest views of the Mississippi within the city limits. You can watch the barges as you stuff your mouth with chips and grapes and ‘tater salad and hot dogs. The kids can play on the jungle gym and race around all crazy-like. Bellerive was secured as a park in 1908 and overlooks the Carondelet neighborhood to the south and, to the east, the Mississippi and Illinois. The spot offers easy access to all of St. Louis via the Bates exit off Interstate 55. A perfect destination for a lazy day of sitting, eating and enjoying the breeze. (Excerpt from The Riverfront Times, Best Place for a Picnic, 2003)www.voiceplaces.com
9. Bellefontaine Cemetery (North City)
Founded in 1849, Bellefontaine could be called the first of St. Louis’ cultural institutions. Certainly it embodies elements of all of them. It was a forested park drawing visitors for Sunday strolls before Forest Park opened in 1876. Memorials and archives told the tangible history of the City’s residents long before the History Museum was established in 1866. And thousands of sculptures and monuments to the famed and loved citizens of St. Louis were on display long before Laumeier Sculpture Park came into being in 1968. (Excerpt from the website) www.bellefontainecemetery.org
8. The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (Central West End)
When looking at Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, it is almost as if one were standing next to one of the many old cathedrals in Europe. However unlike the typical European Gothic cathedrals, this cathedral is more of a Romanesque and byzantine style, with its two towers and three large domes. Today, the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis is one of St. Louis landmarks and a true architectural masterpiece.
While the outside of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis certainly is impressive, it is most famous for its beautiful inside. The inside of the cathedral holds one of the largest mosaics in the world, containing more than 41 million pieces. The work is so detailed that it from afar more looks like paintings than mosaics. When looking at the huge mosaic, it’s easy to understand why it took 76 years and a dozen of artisans to finish it.
The cathedral also houses a museum in the basement dedicated to the mosaic and some of the other artifacts found within the cathedral, for example the original organ. The basement also holds a crypt, where former spiritual leaders are buried. www.worldsiteguides.com
7. Faust Park Carousel, Historic Village and Butterfly House (Chesterfield) “The St. Louis Carousel is housed in its own climate-controlled facility on the grounds of the 100-acre park. Built around 1920, the carousel is composed of more than 60 exquisitely hand-carved horses and deer. The carousel was a fixture at the St. Louis Highlands amusement park on Oakland Avenue near Forest Park. The amusement park burned down in 1963, but the carousel was rescued and beautifully restored.
Faust Village preserves the area’s vernacular architecture and history. The village consists of four homes and multiple other structures including a schoolhouse, carriage house, blacksmith shop, along with period gardens. Spanning a period from 1840 to 1888, the Village illustrates differences in lifestyle resulting from both technological developments and special needs. The Historic Village is open on the last two weekends in May, June and July when historical re-enactors in period costume provide tours and a variety of demonstrations. The buildings can be viewed from the outside using a free self-guided tour booklet available at the Seed Visitor Center.
The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House and Education Center is a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden and includes an outdoor butterfly garden and two large sculptures by St. Louis sculptor Robert Cassilly. Excerpts from http://www.greatriverroad.com/stlouis/faust.htm. There’s plenty of public and handicapped accessible parking adjacent to the park grounds.
6. CityGarden downtown and Laumeier Sculpture Park (Sunset Hills)
Enjoy a fusion of sculpture and landscape architecture at CityGarden, an urban oasis featuring works of modern and contemporary art, native plants, six rain gardens and a café overlooking the beautiful scene. Or discover the stunning Laumeier Sculpture Park with over 70 outdoor sculptures in a grassy park setting with trees and trails galore, a music amphitheater for special events, and a traveling series of exhibitions in the handsome indoor center.www.explorestlouis.com Both sites are handicapped accessible with adjacent parking. Benches are conveniently located at intervals.
5. Creve Coeur Lake Park (Creve Coeur)
Here you will find a huge lake (the largest natural lake in Missouri) with a four-mile trail that wraps around the water and creates a path of adventure for anyone willing to take the stroll. Over 1 million people visit the lake each year, topping the charts for the most visited park in Missouri.
Activities to participate in or simply watch with your loved one include: The new Treetop Adventure Course with a half-mile of rope ladders, tarzan swings and zip lines. There’s also swinging in the park playgrounds, wading at the water falls, windsurfing, sail boating, kayaking and practicing rowing crews, bird Watching, rock climbing, picture taking, picnicking, dog walking sand volleyball, riding a quad cycle (A four-seater can be rented at the lake for $10 per half hour), and kickball or soccer on the fields behind the lake.
Open during the daylight hours with plenty of accessible places to park. Cared for by the St. Louis Parks and Recreation department…and our tax dollars www.voices.yahoo.com
4. Meramec Bluff Lookout (Ballwin)
You’ll rarely see this destination on another list for the region. To find it you have to drive through Meramec Bluffs, the LSS long-term care community in Ballwin. But it’s definitely worth it. This lookout rivals the top of the Arch as one of the grandest views in our region.
Meramec Bluffs is the well-known senior community, but its grounds include a site that IS Meramec Bluff and the lookout platform over the Meramec River. It’s next to a handsomely restored log cabin. From the platform you can often spot raptors flying in front of you, looking for food along the river, forests and quarries. You can see for dozens of miles over the Ozark landscape. Deer sometimes feed along the riverbanks, and small boats cruise up and down the bends of the river. There are benches, so you can sit and enjoy the view as long as you like. It’s best to go at sunset, because you are looking south and west. You are also next to Castlewood State Park just to the west, so afterwards you can enjoy a drive through the park.
This is a secret aerie among the residents of Meramec Bluffs. Years ago Ameren once owned the property for its employee picnics. They built and restored the cabin and built out the initial platform, which is an engineering marvel built along the cliff. Once, precipitous steps led down to a railroad line and the river. Freight trains still pass underneath your feet. Find 1 Meramec Bluffs Drive off of Vance Road in Ballwin 63021, and follow Meramec Trails Dr. to the rear of the retirement community. You can park next to the log cabin and walk 25 feet to the platform lookout. It’s all handicapped accessible. You are driving through Meramec Bluffs’ property, so no large groups. Enjoy the view! (no website)
3. Union Station (Downtown)
From its magnificent 65-foot, barrel-vaulted ceiling in the Grand Hall to its Victorian-engineered Train Shed totaling more than 11 acres, St. Louis Union Station remains one of our nation’s true architectural gems. Built in the 1890s, Union Station was designed by German-born architect Theodore C. Link of St. Louis, who won the prized project in a nationwide contest. It’s a National Historic Landmark. The Station’s impressive Grand Hall has sweeping archways, frescoes, gold leaf detailing, mosaics and art glass windows. The Shed currently houses retail and restaurant facilities, a portion of the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, and a lake, stocked with Japanese crap, which are fun to feed.
The $25 million makeover of Union Station is now completed. There is a new bar in the Grand Hall, a gift shop, and a Starbucks in an alcove off the hall.
www.stlouisunionstation.com. Information taken from an article printed in the April 24, 2013 issue of the St Louis Post-Dispatch Jennifer
2. Missouri Botanical Gardens (St. Louis City)
As a destination for sharing companionship with a loved one, you can’t lose with the Missouri Botanical Garden. Most of us a very familiar with all the Garden has to offer, so this entry won’t try to do anything more than cover the main points. Never mind the popular summer concerts or festivals, because you’re not likely to want to take a senior through the hurdles of parking and walking long distances. Most days you can park free at the Garden without difficulty, including handicapped parking.
The garden has numerous points of interest and specialized gardens throughout its 79 acres. Although a map of the garden may look to some like a daunting walk, the pathways are all almost all paved concrete or asphalt, and you could feasibly walk through it in a couple of hours. For those who can’t walk easily or just want a quick tour before exploring on their own, there is a guided tram tour during every season except winter.
The garden boasts an extensive history dating back to its founding by Henry Shaw, a botanist and philanthropist who immigrated to St. Louis from England in 1819. The Linnaean House is the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi, and houses the camellia collection (flowering in January and February). The Climatron, a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome housing tropical plants, is perhaps the most famous building in the Garden. Tower Grove House (Henry Shaw’s country home), and the administration building on the southeast side (utilizing Henry Shaw’s city home, which was moved piece by piece to the country estate) are among others of considerable historic interest.
An example of one of the specialized gardens is Seiwa-En, the largest Japanese Garden in the United States. The Missouri Botanical Garden displays many other types of gardens, like Victorian, Ottoman, English Woodland, Chinese, and smaller gardens showcasing techniques for home gardeners.
Attractions in the Garden include the ability to feed colorful koi fish in the Japanese Garden’s lake, and various water features. There are a number of sculptures, including some by Carl Milles in the lilypad pools in front of the Climatron, and others by glass artist Dale Chihuly (like the large hanging chandelier in the atrium of the main entrance.
The garden is a wonderful place to spend a day or a few hours, and is a respite from hurry and bustle.
Excerpts above are from Trip Advisor. For more details about visiting the Garden, go towww.missouribotanicalgarden.org.
1. Lone Elk Park and Wild Bird Sanctuary (off of I-44 near 141 near Valley Park)
Readers may be surprised that this destination is the best, because a lot of people rarely go there. But it’s definitely worth the trip.
Lone Elk County Park and the Wild Bird Sanctuary are adjacent to each other in a beautiful parkland located about 20 minutes southwest of downtown off of I-44 near the Hwy 141 exit near Valley Park. It’s a nice drive into the country, especially if you like to get the closest taste of the Ozarks – woods, steep ravines, water features, winding roads and wildlife. Once in the park, there are driving routes that provide views of the elk and bison, often at close proximity. The park is also home to many deer, wild turkey and waterfowl. You never have to get out of the car, which makes it nice for those who are infirm or if the weather is bad.
After you have driven the 30 minutes it takes to drive Lone Elk Park, make a point of going into the Wild Bird Sanctuary, which features live displays of threatened bird predators, such as bald eagles, owls, hawks, falcons, vultures, parrots, pelicans, and more. If you can get out of the car and walk down the gravel road where the cages are lined up end to end. You can stand within feet of these rare birds. There are also free seasonal demonstrations, nature trails, educational programs and picnic shelters. The sanctuary veterinarians take birds who have been injured from across the US, heals them, and then releases them back to the wild.
Age at HomeCare, a registry home health company, is owned and managed by Davis Allen, former Exec. Dir. of Sarah Care Adult Day Center. He has an MA in Human Resource Development and is a Certified Nurse Assistant. He continues to work as a companion caregiver with his own clients. All of his associates have previous direct care experience so they are attuned to the needs of their clients and families.
Resources for the Family Caregiver
Davis Allen, Owner