Fall in Love With Autumn in St. Louis

St. Louis celebrates the return of cool, crisp weather with spirited fall festivities.

St. Louis is the place to be in October, as it is bursting with activities, festivals, music and beautiful fall foliage. With our rich, historic German heritage and love of celebrating a harvest (real or imagined), there’s no shortage of family-friendly reasons to be here. Don't let the quickly cooling weather keep you inside—head out for German music, delicious beer, petting zoos, pumpkins and Halloween haunts at our top six picks for things you don't want to miss this October.

Boo at the Zoo ­

The St. Louis Zoo is ranked second-best in the U.S., and October is an especially great time to visit. Come in costume for the not-so-scary Halloween experience Boo at the Zoo through Oct. 30, 5:30-8:30 pm. Make sure not to miss the mystery straw maze. There will be fantastic music for all ages—definitely catch local star Babaloo if you can—he’s hilarious. ­

Thies Farm Pumpkinland

It’s not October without this darling member of the gourd family. Through Oct. 31, 10:30 am-4:30 pm, this agriculture-inspired playground features mini hay mazes, a corn cannon, farm animals and pony and wagon rides. There are two locations, North Hanley and St. Charles, and tickets are $5 for adults and $6.75 for kids. Of course, pick your own great pumpkin and bring it home ($0.49–$3.25 a pound). The inspiring greenhouses are a bonus.

Eckert’s Farm Pumpkin Jamboree

Right across the river, fun happens at Eckert’s Farm Pumpkin Jamboree every Saturday and Sunday in October, 10 am-5 pm. Once there, pick a pumpkin to take home, ranging from a few pounds up to 150 pounds, and enjoy live music, funnel cakes and pony rides. There are three locations (Belleville, Millstadt and Grafton), but Belleville features a grocery store with local food, an old tractor to climb and tends to have the better bands. Then again … the Millstadt farm has a haunted hayride at 7 pm, Fridays and Saturdays.

Six Flags Fright Fest

This theme park surrenders to October. It’s “thrills by day and fright by night.” Specific meaning? All will enjoy the rides dressed up in a Halloween-themed manner, but when the sun goes down, the zombies and ghouls “attack.” Most will find the antics hilarious, but know that they are pretty good at jumping out at people. This means kids and the faint of heart should head for the gate by 7 pm. No matter what, American Thunder is still the best roller coaster in the Midwest.

Fall in STL

If you’re outdoorsy, plan on visiting St. Louis’ gorgeous parks with refreshing hiking trails. A few to put on your radar include Forest Park, Castlewood Park, Laumeier Sculpture Park and Route 66 State Park. Or, bring your bike and hit the Katy Trail and cycle as much as you want on the 237-mile stretch, much of which follows Lewis and Clark’s path to the West.

Historic Haunts

Halloween may only last a day, but St. Louis has plenty of historic haunts to keep the fright going all month long. Don't miss two of St. Louis' most famous attractions.

The Lemp Mansion

CNNTravel named the Lemp Mansion one of the “10 Spookiest Buildings in the World.” The Lemp family came from Germany and started a successful brewery, but the family was cursed to endure tragedy after tragedy as many of the family members died by their own hand. Then there’s the legend of “the monkeyfaced boy,” which … well, you'll have to find out for yourself on one of their two ghost tours: the Haunted History Tour, which concludes with a dark room session and attempt to make psychic connection with the spirits, and The Lemp Experience, where an infrared camera is used to search for spirits across all three floors of the mansion. Nerves of steel? Spend the night in one of the haunted rooms.

Alton, Illinois

Across the river is “one of the most haunted small towns in America”—Alton, Illinois. The many unexplained happenings and psychic phenomena are blamed on the limestone rock, which some say retains the psychic residue of events. Multiple haunted walking and bus tours are available to learn about the harrowing and grisly tales. Also in Alton, you'll find the Haunted Craft Beer Walk— five haunted locations are paired with local craft brews to … you know, drink up some courage. But for sure hit McPike Mansion and Milton School, which both have been featured on Travel and Syfy Channel shows.

Kevin M. Mitchell
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