10 area outdoor places to visit this summer

Photo credit: Mariah Stewart

Mariah Stewart | Lindenlink staff

Believe it or not, more than half of 2013 has dwindled away. If you have been spending your summer cooped inside snuggled next to the air conditioning unit, then it is time to get off that tush and go see what mother nature has to offer.

Listed below are places that are in or near St. Charles County that offer a great outdoor experience with an inexpensive taste.

1) Creve Coeur Park

Creve Coeur Lake
Creve Coeur Lake. Photo courtesy of www.stlouisco.com/parksandrecreation/parkpages/crevecoeur

Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park, located in Maryland Heights (just minutes away from Hollywood Casino), offers numerous activities such as fishing, hiking and kayaking, and may be the best park in St. Louis County for rollerblading.

In the mood for romance? Bring a date to the park for a long walk along the lake at sunset for unforgettable majestic scenery.

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2) City Garden

City Garden
City Garden. Photo courtesy of www.citygardenstl.org

City Garden is located downtown on Market Street between 10th and 8th streets. Anyone with young kids will win the coolest parent award for taking them to City Garden after sunset. They will enjoy nighttime fun by splashing around in the water that spouts out of the marble ground.

Meanwhile parents can sit, relax and analyze the large sculptures that dot the landscape.

Note: This place really comes alive after Cardinals games.

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3) Cahokia Mounds

Cahokia Mounds
Aerial view of Cahokia Mounds. Photo courtesy of www.cahokiamounds.org

Just across the Mississippi River sits a historic site that holds the key to midwest history. Cahokia Mounds used to be one of the largest ancient civilizations in North America.

Today people can visit the mounds for a great workout experience or to simply learn more about ancient history. Either way it is a great place to go alone or with a group. 

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4) Busch Wildlife

Eagle sighting at Busch Wildlife
Eagle sighting at Busch Wildlife. Photo courtesy of www.mdc.mo.gov

South of I-64/40 off Highway 94 in St. Charles County, this park’s main mission is animal and environmental restoration. Therefore, if you’re in the mood to get in touch with nature’s chi, this is the perfect conservation area to visit.

With more than 3,000 acres of untapped nature, the possibilites for connecting with mother earth are almost endless.

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5) Forest Park

One edge of Forest Park at dusk
One edge of Forest Park at dusk. Photo courtesy of www.forestparkforever.org

In case you’re not into outdoor fun, Forest Park also has great indoor facilities. The St.Louis Art Museum has recently expanded, the History Museum offers live entertainment and the Science Center is always a joy to visit.

Forest park is the one-stop shop for outdoor/indoor summer entertaining. No hard thinking necessary, just visit and the attractions will speak to you.

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6) Cuivre River State Park

Patrons enjoying a day of fun at Cuivre River
Patrons enjoying a day of fun at Cuivre River. Photo courtesy of www.mostateparks.com.

In Lincoln County just east of Troy off highways 61 and 47, Cuivre River is just as fun to visit for a one-day float trip as it is to camp.

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7) St. Louis Zoo

Photo credit: Mariah Stewart
Photo credit: Mariah Stewart

The Zoo is perhaps everyone’s favorite summertime field trip. The facility is currently holding a Jungle Boogie Nights event where animal lovers can come visit at nighttime. The event is perfect to avoid melting in the sun.

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8) Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Patrons frolicking in the refreshing water at Johnson's Shut-In State Park.
Patrons frolicking in the refreshing water at Johnson’s Shut-In State Park. Photo courtesy of www.mostateparks.com

Johnson’s Shut-Ins is a bit of a drive from the St. Louis area (south off Highway 21, on State Highway N near Lesterville) but it is completely worth the two-hour drive.

Here you can enjoy the cool refreshing water while nestled between large elephant-shaped rocks. Go for a day trip or camp for a weekend. It’s ideal for those scorching hot days.

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9) Katy Trail

View of Katy Trail
View of Katy Trail. Photo courtesy of www.mostateparks.com/

OK, so the Katy Trail may be an obvious destination to visit, starting at Frontier Park on the St. Charles riverfront. But many cool events take place along the hiking and biking trail.

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10) Castlewood State Park

Castlewood State Park
Castlewood State Park. Photo courtesy of www.mostateparks.com

West St. Louis County’s Castlewood is considered one of the best parks near St. Louis to experience hiking and mountain biking. It also offers fun activities such as horseback riding, boating and swimming.

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