winter fun in st. louis

Staying active during the winter months can improve your mood and your physical health. The hard part is finding activities that motivate you to lace up your boots and head outside.
In spite of the cold winter temperatures, there's no shortage of winter activities in St. Louis for the family. Working up the motivation to head out is easier when you have some great ideas for things to do in winter in St. Louis.Whether you're looking for Christmas activities in St. Louis or just some weekend family fun, you're sure to find some great options below.

1. Sledding

Get some fresh air and burn calories sledding on one of St. Louis' many great hills. When the snow comes, kids and parents alike know to head to its most famous sledding hill — Art Hill — located in Forest Park between the Grand Basin and the Art Museum. If you're looking for other options, check out the Dam at Lake St. Louis, Bluebird Park, Suson Park or Blanchette Park.

2. Snowboarding and Skiing

Hit the slopes at the Hidden Valley Ski Resort, St. Louis' own resort. With over a dozen trails covering more than 30 acres, Hidden Valley offers skiing and snowboarding for children and adults of all skill levels. On Friday and Saturday nights during ski season — December through February or March — the resort offers night and midnight ski sessions.

3. Bald Eagle Watching

One of the best things to do in St. Louis in the winter isn't something you'll find just anywhere. And that's what makes it so great. Scores of bald eagles are known to nest along the Mississippi River during the winter months, providing a spectacular opportunity to observe the nation's national symbol. You can find some of the best bald eagle watching when you cross the river into Grafton and Alton, especially along the Great River Road. If you head to the TreeHouse Wildlife Center in Dow, you can join in on a free Bald Eagle Meet and Greet, held periodically throughout the winter.

4. Ice Skating

Lace up a pair of skates and take to the ice at one of the area's outdoor ice rinks. Located in Forest Park, Steinberg Skating Rink is the largest of its kind in the Midwest. Besides offering all-day admission, Steinberg offers a rinkside cafe where patrons can warm up with hot chocolate, coffee or a quick bite to eat before they head back to the ice. Shaw Park Ice Rink in Clayton is a great place to host a skating-themed birthday party or private hockey event — more great ways to spend time outdoors in the wintertime!

ice skating in st. louis

5. Winter in the Woods

Previously known as the Maple Sugar Festival — which featured maple syrup and sugaring demonstrations — the Winter in the Woods Festival has been expanded to feature the best of winter in Missouri. Don't miss this day of winter activities, including photography demonstrations, bird watching, survival skills demonstrations, hikes to identify sugar maple trees and crafts for children. Just make sure to dress warmly for a day of fun outdoors!

6. The Magic House

For family fun indoors, check out the Magic House. This interactive children's museum offers free admission on the third Friday of each month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Featuring a variety of hands-on exhibits that promote critical thinking, collaboration and creativity, the Magic House offers families an indoor space to learn and move together, encouraging a life-long love of learning in children of all ages.

7. Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up

Look ahead to warmer days and baseball season with this annual fan favorite. Meet the players, get autographs and give back to charity with the Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up. All the money raised during the Warm-Up goes to grants for non-profit youth organizations, as well as the construction of youth baseball fields around Illinois and Missouri.

8. Fete de Glace

Witness firsthand ice sculptures crafted by some of the area's most talented professional ice carvers. Held annually along Main Street in the suburb of St. Charles, the Fete de Glace winner is chosen by the audience, who can view the sculptures and then enjoy coffee, hot chocolate and fire pits — all at a safe distance away from the ice, of course!

9. Movie Night at Ballpark Village

Grab the family and enjoy free movies at Ballpark Village during the winter months. Adjacent to Busch Stadium, Movie Night shows family-friendly movies on the Fox Sports Midwest Live! TV, a 40-foot indoor screen.

10. The St. Louis Art Museum

Admission at the St. Louis Art Museum is always free, but Sundays are family day! From 1pm to 4pm, families can participate in a variety of activities, including hands-on art projects and a kid-friendly tour of the exhibits. Each month's activities center around a different theme, so you can enjoy a fresh, new experience each time you go.

11. Missouri History Museum

While you're making the rounds of St. Louis' fantastic museums, you'll want to spend some time at the Missouri History Museum. The museum features a new exhibit each season, but some of its year-round exhibits include a pictorial history of the River City called "Seeking St. Louis," an exhibit featuring the 1904 World's Fair and "History Clubhouse," which is designed for children.

12. The Loop Ice Carnival

Spend the day enjoying the family-friendly fun that the Loop Ice Carnival has to offer, including carnival rides, ice slides, a temporary tattoo scavenger hunt, and a rooftop skatepark on top of the Moonrise Hotel.

13. Get in Shape

Staying active can help you beat those winter blues and get ready for summertime. Winter is the perfect time to try a new exercise class or begin a new workout program. Your local YMCA offers a variety of options for taking control of your fitness, including group exercise, personal training and weight loss programs.

14. Not So Quiet! Concert Series

Held at the Central Library on the third Thursday of each month, these monthly concerts showcase a mix of genres, including R & B, blues, rap, jazz and swing. The Not So Quiet! Concert Series is a great way to get exposure to some of St. Louis' most talented artists. The best part? You won't need tickets or advance reservations for these free concerts. Just come ready to rock!

15. Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Gardens

If you're looking for things to do in St. Louis for Christmas, head to the annual Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. This event occurs in the evenings throughout the holiday season. Visitors can stroll through thousands of lights adorning the garden's most iconic exhibits, as well as take in a variety of creative and traditional displays along the garden's maze of walkways. If you can head out earlier in the day, don't miss the Climatron®, an indoor conservatory that houses more than 2,800 plants. The dome's environment is designed to mirror a tropical rainforest theme, making it home to some unique vegetation, including bananas, orchids, cacao and coffee.

16. Take a Hike

Hiking in the middle of winter may not be the first activity that comes to mind, but it's a great time to enjoy a hike without worrying about heat or bugs. Additionally, when the trees don't have their leaves, even the most familiar of vistas will look different. So, grab a buddy and head to Cliff Cave Park, where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery along one of its four different trails.

take a hike winter st. louis

17. Play a Sport

Wintertime is the perfect time for the kids to try out a new sport at their local YMCA, such as basketball, martial arts or gymnastics. Or, get a jump on summer with swim lessons. The YMCA offers swim lessons for children of all ages and abilities. They even offer ones for adults who've never learned! Parents can also stay involved with their child's activities through coaching or volunteering.

18.SLAM Underground

Art and music come together in this once-a-month party at the St. Louis Art Museum. Held on the last Friday of every month, SLAM Underground features a mixture of music, art and cocktails. While the entrance is free, tickets are required, so make sure to snag yours at the museum's information desk.

19. The St. Louis Zoo

There are plenty of things to see during the winter months at the St. Louis Zoo. The zoo features many animal exhibits inside of climate-controlled buildings, including the Children's Zoo, Antelope House, Herpetarium, Bird House, Primate House and Insectarium, as well as its Penguin & Puffin Coast exhibit. But don't stay inside the whole time. Put on a warm coat and head outdoors to see several cold-weather friendly animals, including tigers, sea lions and leopards.

20. Christmas at the Cathedral

A long-time St. Louis tradition, Christmas at the Cathedral is a great way to kick off your holiday season and focus on the simple pleasures of the holiday season. The concert — featuring classic Christmas favorites performed by the Archdiocesan Orchestra and Choirs — is held annually at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis.

21. St. Louis Symphony

Enjoy soaking in the works of renowned composers like Brahms, Prokofiev, Beethoven and more with the St. Louis Symphony. All the symphony's events are held at Powell Hall, and children are encouraged to attend, although certain performances are limited to children over the age of five. But don't worry. The symphony also has Family Concerts geared toward children of all ages and stages. Held on Sunday afternoons, these performances are limited to 45 minutes so that even the wiggliest of children can enjoy them from beginning to end.

22. St. Louis Science Center

Find your inner scientist at the St. Louis Science Center, home to more than 750 educational and scientific exhibits, including its current Mission: Mars exhibit. The Science Center is also home to the OMNIMAX® Theatre, an IMAX theatre that shows films on a five-story-high, 79-foot diameter dome. While you're at the Science Center, make sure to check out the McDonnell Planetarium. Interactive planetarium shows provide adults and children alike with a fresh look at the night sky — and you won't even need your coat!

23. Find Your Inner Thespian

The Chesterfield Family YMCA offers a community theatre program featuring some of St. Louis' most talented children. When the children aren't in the middle of staging a production, they can participate in acting classes, including Improv Classes and Broadway Basics. Parents can get involved right alongside their children by volunteering to work on costuming, sets and fundraising.

24. Catch a Professional Hockey Game

St. Louis is home to several professional sports teams, including the St. Louis Blues pro hockey team. The Blues are fun to watch during game time, but their practices are often just as exciting. Fans can check out their team practices at the IceZone at St. Louis Mills anytime. Just make sure to call the rink before you head over — their practice dates and times are subject to change.

catch a professional hockey game st louis

25. The Saint Louis University Billikens

In recent years, the St. Louis University Billikens Men's Basketball team has become a regular part of the NCAA Tournament. Fans of all ages can catch a home game at the Chaifetz Arena. In March, St. Louis also plays host to the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament. The winner of this tournament automatically heads to the Sweet 16.

26. Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House

Home to more than 60 species of tropical butterflies, the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House is a must-see during cold winter months. Located in Chesterfield, the Butterfly House maintains a warm, comfortable climate year-round — a perfect way to beat the cold and discover the beauty of butterflies all at the same time.

27. Trout Lodge & Camp Lakewood

Located just 90 minutes from St. Louis in the Ozarks,  YMCA Trout Lodge & Camp Lakewood is a great option if you're looking for a weekend day trip or overnight getaway without going far. The lodge offers cabins or hotel-style lodging, and many of their activities are available year-round — weather permitting. The list of activities is vast, but families can expect to participate in traditional camp favorites like horseback riding, zip line adventures, golfing, archery and more.

28. Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour

Check out the United States' oldest brewhouse and learn how beer is made. The Anheuser-Busch Brewery is open year-round for tours that include a glimpse at the famous Budweiser Clydesdales. If the tour alone isn't enough to catch your interest, plan to head to the brewery during the holiday season and enjoy their annual free holiday lights display.

Contact the YMCA Today

The Gateway Region YMCA is dedicated to providing family-friendly fun for all ages. For more information about YMCA programming and locations, contact one of our branches today.