Many St. Louis family attractions have re-opened with limited capacity and enhanced safety protocols for visitors and staff. Read more about family attraction re-openings and safety guidelines here. We invite our readers to enjoy virtual events and socially distanced events highlighted in our Things To Do calendar. Public health experts recommend that when you go out, follow public health guidelines: wear masks (required in St. Louis City and County), practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently. To learn why social distancing is important and effective in lessening the spread of COVID-19, hear from Dr. Alexis Elward, Chief Medical Officer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

Coming Soon: Why the Forest Park Playscape, Opening This Year, Will Be Much More Than a Playground

When you’re in the thick of winter hibernation, you dream of the days you can play outdoors without the chill and dampness chasing you back inside. So, you snuggle under the blankets, grab your cocoa and flip on the TV to find an escape until the sun peeks its head out again.

But while you and your kiddos are bingeing Disney+ all winter long, dedicated landscapers and construction workers are braving the cold to create the ultimate playground for the warmer days ahead.

Since breaking ground on the child-inspired Nature Playscape in Forest Park last summer, Forest Park Forever, the City of St. Louis and their team of partners have been pushing forward on this much-anticipated project at full speed, constructing eight activity areas where your kids will soon splash, climb, build, and learn. Already halfway completed, this one-of-a-kind play area in the heart of the park is destined to grow children’s interest in the natural world around them.

Said Stephen Schenkenberg, vice president of communications and marketing for Forest Park Forever, “The Nature Playscape is really a wonderful kind of meeting point between the natural ethos of the park and the sense of play that kids have in places that are meant just for them.”

A new way to explore the great outdoors

One of the biggest surprises to people when they learn about the Nature Playscape is the sheer size of the project. Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis are transforming 17 acres of mowed turf into more natural landscapes for children to explore with biodiverse play areas, including Mounds, Spring, Meadow, and Wetlands.

The Playscape will be home to more than 280 native species trees, 100 species of grasses and flowering plants, and water-based features, but what you won’t find are the plastic materials and manufactured equipment of traditional playgrounds.

“Those things definitely have their place in play” Schenkenberg explained. “But the Nature Playscape will be a dramatically different experience, providing that same joy children get on the playground, but with an even greater sense of discovery. This is really a chance to connect kids to the park and build those same connections with nature.”

Artists' rendering of a section of the the Forest Park Playscape.

To ensure the Nature Playscape is not only a fun place for kids to visit, but also allows them the opportunity to engage as active learners, project leads involved local experts in child development and children themselves in the planning process. According to Schenkenberg, informational sessions were held at more than 20 schools, rec centers and educational organizations around the city to secure kids’ feedback, and in some instances, children came to the park to share their insights on the types of play they would enjoy.

Developers integrated many of their ideas into the design, and by July of last year, the team was able to break ground for Nature Playscape between the World’s Fair Pavilion and the Jewel Box. Since then, the project has quickly taken shape, transforming the landscape and igniting the public’s excitement. As of January 2020, 1,400 tons of rock and boulders from Lincoln County have been installed, more than 130 trees have taken root, and 4,000 flower bulbs have been planted in the sensory garden.

While the Nature Playscape won’t open until later this year, the people behind the park are excited for what the project will mean to both the 13 million annual visitors to Forest Park and to the St. Louis region as a whole.

Said Schenkenberg, “It would be an absolute win if a family who comes to the Playscape for a couple of hours on a Saturday goes back home to their own neighborhood with a greater connection to nature, a greater sense of commitment to green spaces, and a better understanding of why they’re both important. We love when people visit and enjoy Forest Park, but we also want to inspire an interest in the use and value of green spaces in general.”

To learn more about Nature Playscape, watch its progress and be in the loop about its grand opening, visit

Photos/renderings: Courtesy of Forest Park Forever

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Metro East mom Nicole Plegge is the lifestyle and pop culture blogger for STL Parent. Besides working as a freelance writer & public relations specialist, and raising two daughters and a husband, Nicole's greatest achievements are finding her misplaced car keys each day and managing to leave the house in a stain-free shirt. Her biggest regret is never being accepted to the Eastland School for Girls. Follow Nicole on Twitter @STLWriterinIL 

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Things to Do

Under the Big Top at The Butterfly House

Under the Big Top is an all-new summer exhibit at The Butterfly House where guests will be awed by arthopod acrobats and thrilled by sideshow spectacles! Bring your kids to spy on the fabulous flea circus and marvel at circut-inspired botanicals. Daily show schedules include story time, live animal encounters and butterfly releases.



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Magic At Home with The Magic House

The Magic House is bringing innovative, hands-on learning to you at home with its #MagicAtHome series of interactive, instructional online presentations. The Magic At Home series of activities includes lots of fun projects that you can make at home with common materials. The easy-to-follow directions mean your kids can make paper sculpture, do shaving cream marble painting, create make-your-own flowers, go "fishin," make TP roll animals, make salad spin art and more.

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Science @ Home with the Saint Louis Science Center

The Science Louis Science Center is continuing to ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning through its online Science @ Home series! Visit the Science Center's web site or social media channels for DIY science experiments that can be done at home, Amazing Science Demonstrations from the Science Center's Energy Stage team, connections to local scientists, astronomy updates from the McDonnell Planetarium, live chats and more. Content is designed for all ages. 

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City Museum on Air

Make art. Go on a guided tour, DIY a time capsule. Peek behind the scenes. Watch the Cassily Crew at work. Help inspect the slides. All from home! Every Monday through Friday the staff, crew, artists and historians at City Museum are going LIVE on Facebook to share stories, offer free art classes, and entertain kids and families in all the ways they know how (read: mischief, mayhem and making). 



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Amazing Animal Encounters at the World Bird Sanctuary

Take your family to watch birds of prey fly right over your head, snakes slither across the stage, macaws speak the English language and much more at Amazing Animal Encounters at the World Bird Sanctuary. Every program showcases different animals so each day is a new experience. Advance tickets are required. Seating is limited due to social distancing requirements. Masks are required to attend. 

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