1. Music for the whole family. Late summer offers a wealth of opportunities for music-loving parents to expose their youngsters to new sounds. The first-ever LouFest Music Festival takes place on Aug. 28 and 29 at Forest Park. The all-ages eco-friendly event will feature 18 national and local acts performing music ranging from rock and pop to folk and bluegrass and will also include food, shopping and a Kids Village with loads of fun activities. Late summer also boasts not-one-but-two free blues festivals in St. Louis. The new-this-year St. Louis Bluesweek Festival will be held Aug. 27 and 28 on the steps of the Peabody Opera House at 14th and Market streets and will feature a wealth of local blues acts. The following weekend brings the Big Muddy Blues Festival on Sept. 4 and 5 and will include national blues acts including the mighty Magic Slim and the Teardrops.
At right: The Big Muddy Blues Festival at Laclede's Landing (photo courtesy of Big Muddy Blues Festival).
2. Celebrating summer’s harvest. The tail end of summer is an excellent time to introduce kids to the great diversity of foods that are grown and raised in the St. Louis area. At the Belleville and Grafton locations of Eckert’s Farm you can pick your own blackberries and peaches throughout August. Apple-picking begins in September. A number of other local farms offer pick-your-own opportunities throughout late summer and early fall. Check out www.pickyourown.org to find a location and crop that piques your interest.
At right: Peach picking at Eckert's Farm (photo courtesy of Eckert's).
3. Moonlight Movies. Although the heyday of the drive-in movie is long past, there are still plenty of opportunities to treat your kids to Hollywood entertainment under the stars. Many local municipalities and parks offer family-friendly flicks after dark. Whether it’s "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone" at City Centre Park Amphitheatre in St. Peters on Aug. 13 or "Top Gun" at St. Louis Union Station on Sept. 3, movie lovers have much to celebrate in coming weeks. Local company Frontyard Features also presents outdoor screenings throughout the metro area. Check out their calendar for a movie near you. And, of course, those who prefer an old fashioned drive-in can venture across the river to the historic Skyview Theatre in Belleville, Ill.
4. Take a hike. The St. Louis County Parks Department is encouraging families to get back to nature through their 30/30 Hikes Program, which includes 30 hiking trails, each of which takes about 30 minutes to complete. The trails are spread across the county in parks such as Creve Coeur, Greensfelder, Lone Elk, Sioux Passage, Jefferson Barracks, Laumeier and more. To encourage kid participation, the Parks Department offers a 30/30 Hikes patch to anyone who completes all 30 hikes.
5. Festival of Nations. There are a number of local festivals celebrating individual cultural traditions, but for sheer size and scope, nothing beats the annual Festival of Nations at Tower Grove Park in South St. Louis. The two-day, family-focused event – to be held Aug. 28 and 29 – will feature 40 food booths with cuisine from around the globe along with a dizzying array of international music, dance and art. The free festival also includes a number of craft activities designed especially for kids.
At right: A performer during the Festival of Nations. (photo courtesy of Wayne Crosslin/International Institute).6. America’s Pastime. It’s no secret: St. Louis is a baseball town. But with the Cardinals locked in a heated pennant race, tickets can be hard to come by or just too expensive for an entire family. Fortunately, fans of professional baseball have a couple of other options. Both the River City Rascals in O’Fallon, Mo., and the Gateway Grizzlies in nearby Sauget, Ill., play for the West Division of the Frontier League. Although the league is not affiliated with Major League Baseball, many of its players have spent time in MLB’s minor leagues. Tickets for both teams are available for as little as $5. Parking at both stadiums is free, and food and beverages are reasonably priced.
7. Make a splash. With most schools back in session by mid-August, many local water parks become ghost towns during their final weeks of operation. In addition to long-established parks like Raging Rivers in Grafton, Ill., and Splash City in Collinsville, Ill., several newer parks have opened in recent years. Among these entries are Aquaport in Maryland Heights, Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags in Eureka, White Birch Bay in Hazelwood and the Ellisville Edge Aquatic Center. Note that many of these parks offer weekends-only hours during the final weeks of the season.
Best Bets articles represent the views and the research completed by St. Louis Sprout & About journalists and are not driven by advertising or requests by vendors or venues. Best Bets do not imply an endorsement of a business or activity.