Best Winter Activities in Saint Louis

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Living in the Midwest means you get to experience all four seasons to their fullest. Winter in St. Louis is marked by plenty of traffic on icy days, sledding on Art Hill and lots of twinkling lights. I love seeing that giant red bow goes up on the Science Center each year. When you’re not bundled up and hiding from the nasty weather, there’s actually a lot to do in winter in Saint Louis! I rounded up some of my favorite winter activities and events I’m looking forward to this holiday season in Saint Louis. I also noted changes you'll see in 2020 so you can decide where you feel safe visiting this year!

Garden Glow at Missouri Botanical Gardens

November 11, 2020 - January 2, 2021
The botanical gardens feel like a traditional spring and summer activity, but they light up with over one million lights every winter. There are s’mores, seasonal drinks and plenty of photo opportunities throughout the gardens. Garden Glow is a holiday tradition in St. Louis. There are even a few different boozy hot chocolate options to enjoy, as well as the "Merry Manhattan", which includes whiskey, bitters and holiday spiced simple syrup. If you are able, visit during the week for less crowds and discounted tickets. This year, you’ll find hand sanitizing stations, mask requirements, limited trash cans and cashless transactions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Visit the Missouri History Museum

Any Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Get out of the cold and head inside to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. Saint Louisans are incredibly lucky to have access to so many free museums!  All you need to do is make a reservation online. Current exhibits include Beyond the Ballot (women’s role in building St. Louis and the suffrage movement), What’s in a Name (an exploration of St. Louis’s nicknames throughout history) and Mighty Mississippi (a look into the cultures that have existed surrounding the Mississippi River). COVID-19 adjustments include limited capacity, advanced reservations, one-way paths, face masks requirements and frequent hand sanitizer stations.

Ice Skating at Steinberg Skating Rink

November 13, 2020 - February 28, 2021
Did you know Steinberg Skating Rink is the largest outdoor ice skating rink in the Midwest? I’ve been ice skating each winter for years and I learned that while writing this post. The rink is always open for public skating and never closes for private events or sessions, which is definitely a bonus. The rink is also open late during holiday hours (November 25-28 and December 18 - January 2) and doesn’t close on any major holiday. Changes for this season include reduced capacity, face mask requirements, socially distanced tables, disinfected skates and no season passes. 

Drive through Winter Wonderland at Tilles Park

November 20, 2020 - January 2, 2021
I love visiting Tilles Park for the Winter Wonderland light display. I have only ever driven through the lights in my own vehicle, but you can also book a carriage ride! The busiest time is typically 6:30-7:30 p.m. for vehicle traffic so avoiding that hour will make for a smoother drive through the lights. Some changes this year include mask requirements for walking and carriage rides, social distancing guidelines, and Santa is unavailable for photos. There are no walking nights this year.

Sled Down Art Hill

Anytime there is enough snow!
Art Hill sledding is a Saint Louis tradition that dates back to 1905. Be sure to bundle up in plenty of layers, as it only gets colder after you wipe out in the snow. Hay bales are lined along the basin at the bottom of the hill to prevent sledders from falling into the ice-cold water. Art Hill is a great location for sledding since it is so wide, but watch out for the many other sledders that take part in this long-standing tradition.

See Bald Eagles in Alton, IL

Late December 2020 - Mid-February 2021
Bald Eagles typically spend their winters in Illinois and Missouri, where the Mississippi, Illinois and Missouri rivers connect.. These majestic birds build massive nests, 4-5 feet wide, which can be spotted in bare trees. There are a few places to see bald eagles near Saint Louis in the winter. Pere Marquette State Park, the historic Chain of Rocks Bridge, and the Audubon Center at Riverlands all typically host events related to bald eagle viewing. This year, be sure to fill out the mobile Eagle Watcher’s Passport. If you visit five out of ten passport spots, you receive a free Eagle Watcher t-shirt. 

Go Tubing at Hidden Valley Ski Resort

December 18, 2020 - TBD
Hidden Valley Ski Resort is a popular destination for snowboarders and skiers, but we’re not all that skilled. That’s where the Polar Plunge Tubing Park comes in. If you can sled, you can definitely ride a tube. There are no age limits as long as you are able to ride solo. Conveyor lifts take you to the top of the hill and bonfires are available to warm up between rides. Regular hours for tubing are Friday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday. Precautions for the 2020/2021 ski season include required face coverings, advanced reservations, cashless transactions and social distancing efforts. 

What’s your favorite winter tradition? 

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