best fall things to do in st. louis

In St. Louis, Mo., fall is one of the best times of the year. Residents enjoy lots of sunshine, crisp, cool nights and comfortable, warm days. Before winter settles in, now is the perfect time to get outdoors with the family and have some fun. Few seasons are better for exploring St. Louis than fall  when the leaves are changing color and festivals and fairs come to town. Not to mention all the spooky haunted houses, corn mazes and haunted paintball games you can enjoy around Halloween. If you're wondering what to include in your schedule this fall, we've got a list of the best fall activities in St. Louis for 2019.

1. Go Shopping at the Best of Missouri Market

Visiting the Best of Missouri Market is one of the best things to do in St. Louis in October 2019. For three days at the start of October, the Missouri Botanical Garden becomes an enormous outdoor market known as the Best of Missouri Market. Need to get a jump start on your holiday shopping? Visit any of the large tents featuring the very best products grown and made in Missouri from more than a hundred vendors. Products include herbs, handcrafted gift items, homemade baked goods, fresh flowers, dried flowers, artisan-crafted jewelry, wooden toys and plenty more. You can also sample and purchase delicious food, listen to live music and let the little ones make arts and crafts at the kids' corner. For a bit of serenity, stop by a waterfall in the Japanese Garden. Round out your visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden with a stop to explore the Climatron, a domed greenhouse. Take the family to the Best of Missouri Market at the Missouri Botanical Garden this fall for a day full of shopping, food and fun!

2. Visit the St. Louis Zoo

If you're looking for things to do in St. Louis in the fall, plan a visit to the St. Louis Zoo. Across the 90 acres of zoo land in Forest Park, you'll find more than 600 animal species, including bears, lions, cheetahs and even butterflies. The zoo features fun events daily, such as a sea lion show and a tree kangaroo feeding. Every October, this zoo also celebrates Oktoberfest uniquely by holding a family-friendly, fun-filled party called Zootoberfest. This event provides plenty of fun for the whole family. You and your spouse can enjoy German food and beer, while the kids learn about animals and play games. Everyone can have a great time at the St. Louis Zoo!

3. Jam to Awesome Tunes at the Annual Street Festival

In St. Louis, one of the favorite fall events among locals is their annual independent community festival known as Grove Fest. Music genres include blues, rock and hip-hop, along with street performers. Enjoy food from a variety of dining options while you listen. Your kids can also have fun in the kid zone with arts and crafts. If you want, you can join in on the fun and help paint a paint-by-numbers mural on an outdoor wall.

4. Admire the Beautiful Art at the Historic Shaw Art Fair

Love art? Take the family to the annual Historic Shaw Art Fair, the same weekend as the Best of Missouri Market. Here, you'll find art featured from more than a hundred craftspeople and artists over this two-day event. You'll find art in the form of canvas, sculpture, printmaking and clay. You can also enjoy a food court and live music. If you're looking for something to add to your list of the best fall things to do in St. Louis, be sure to add a visit to the Historic Shaw Art Fair to your list.

shaw art fair st. louis in the fall

5. Venture Into a Haunted House — If You Dare

How could we compile a list of best things to do in Missouri in October without including something a little spooky? For a real Halloween fright, venture into one of the haunted houses in the area. If you're in or near Soulard, stop by the Darkness Haunted House. If you're in or near Fenton, stop by Creepyworld. The same group produces both haunted houses, which draw crowds every year.

6. Enjoy the Florissant Old Town Fall Festival

One of the best things to do in St. Louis in October is visiting the Florissant Old Town Fall Festival, which covers 10 blocks with vendors. From these vendors, you can find art, crafts, food and more. The festival also holds activities specifically for kids, wagon rides and a dog show. Find this festival on Rue St. Francois in Florissant and enjoy a genuine taste of autumn.

7. Journey Back in Time at the Renaissance Festival

One of the best St. Louis October events is the recreation of a 16th-century French village held at the Rotary Park located in Wentzville. Watch the jousting demonstrations, admire the period costumes and enjoy the food, crafts and music at this Renaissance Festival in St. Louis. The kids can participate in the designated children's activities, while you and your spouse participate in an adult egg hunt known as Eggs and Kegs. There's plenty of fun for all at the St. Louis Renaissance Festival!

8. Admire the Fall Colors on a Scenic Drive

Head west on Highway 94 or drive up Great River Road and admire the fall colors. The changing leaves create dazzling beauty near the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. You can also stop to bike the trails or have a picnic near the river. What a fantastic way to enjoy the fall season!

9. Treat Your Taste Buds at the Apple Butter Festival

Want to join the largest annual celebration in Kimmswick, Mo.? Stop by the Apple Butter Festival. More than 100,000 attend this festival every October. When you visit the Apple Butter Festival, you can taste samples of apple butter and several other food options. Around town, you can also find hundreds of craft vendors selling their goods in booths. For the kids, the festival includes pony rides, a miniature train and a petting zoo. This festival also displays pumpkin carvings that are a popular attraction for families, so don't forget to admire the pumpkins while you're enjoying the festival.

10. View the Sculptures at the Harvest Festival

Every fall in the Laumeier Sculpture Park, you can find the Harvest Festival, one of the best fall festivals in St. Louis. This park is 105 acres of sculptures and an open-air museum. Besides the sculptures, you can also stop by the farmers' market that sells locally grown produce. The Harvest Festival also offers live bluegrass music, beer and wine from Missouri producers, food from the best restaurants in the area and plenty more.

fall events in st. louis harvest festival

11. Escape the Great Godfrey Maze

In Glazebrook Park, you can get lost in a seven-acre corn maze known as the Great Godfrey Corn Maze. You can venture into the maze during the day, or you can bring a flashlight and brave the haunted maze after dark on Friday or Saturday. When you escape the maze, you can take a ride on a cow train or on a hay wagon to get you and your family even deeper into the fall spirit.

12. Visit St. Louis County Faust Park

Do you believe in ghosts? Visit St. Louis County Faust Park in Chesterfield this fall, and maybe you'll spot a ghost or two at the cemetery behind Thornbill. Faust Park sits on land formerly owned by Missouri's second governor, Frederick Bates. He named his estate Thornbill, which is now open to the public through reservations or for special occasions. Visitors can also walk the grounds around the estate anytime during park hours. You'll find the house decorated for the season and guides who can explain the history, superstitions and mourning practices from the era when Gov. Bates was alive and in office. In Faust Park, you'll also find the Faust Historical Village, the St. Louis Carousel and the Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House. The Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House includes two large sculptures and an outdoor butterfly garden. The Faust Village includes four homes, a blacksmith shop, a carriage house, a schoolhouse and period gardens. The St. Louis Carousel is a climate-controlled facility in the park than features more than 60 hand-carved deer and horses. The whole family can find something to enjoy at Faust Park. You'll also probably learn a thing or two about your local history along the way.

13. Play Haunted Paintball

Even if you've played paintball before, you've probably never experienced anything like Haunted Paintball Park. Every autumn, Millstadt's Extreme Paintball Park transforms so family and friends can defend themselves against monsters and zombies. Alongside 20 to 30 other people, you'll arm yourself with a paintball gun and take a ride on the Haunted Paintball Hayride. Will you and your family be able to keep the zombies and monsters at bay? You can also play Zombie Laser Tag before entering the haunted park. For this game, you'll use outdoor laser guns to fend off the zombies. If your family is itching to get into the spooky Halloween spirit, visiting the Haunted Paintball Park needs to be on your fall agenda.

14. See the Annual Show Hosted by the Midwest Metalsmiths

Are you and your family interested in jewelry or metalwork? Every year in October, the Society for Midwest Metalsmiths hosts a show and sale featuring the work of 25 local jewelers and metal artists. Their expertise includes a variety of materials, and their styles range from traditional to contemporary.

15. Visit the Gateway Arch

Not only is the Gateway Arch a beautiful spectacle to view from the ground, but you can also take a ride up inside the Arch to its apex — 630 feet above the ground. For the best way to soak in the autumn views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River, be sure to visit the Gateway Arch. The museum and park grounds have undergone a recent renovation in honor of the Arch's 50th birthday. For a dose of history, you and the family can also explore the Old Courthouse, the site where Dred Scott sued for his freedom from slavery. A visit to the Gateway Arch is an experience in St. Louis you won't want to miss this fall.

gateway arch st. louis in the fall

16. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Baileys' Chocolate Bar

At Baileys' Chocolate Bar in Lafayette Square, you can eat and drink chocolate to your heart's content. Choose from brownies, chocolate cakes, blondies, chocolate martinis, tiramisu and salted chocolate mousse. Talented pastry chefs make desserts from scratch, so you know you're in for a delectable treat. To indulge your sweet tooth, stop by Baileys' Chocolate Bar.

17. Take a Guided Tour Through Citygarden

Just beyond the Old Courthouse, you can find public art that includes 24 sculptures inside Citygarden. When you download the free Citygarden app, you can listen to the stories behind the sculptures while you view them in real time. Through the use of GPS, the Citygarden app allows visitors to explore at their pace and create a personalized experience. The app will guide you on a tour, where you will hear information provided through audio segments and even use interactive directions for each of the sculptures. This app gives visitors to Citygarden an enhanced, educational experience.

18. Get Your Mouth Watering at Pappy's Smokehouse

Can you smell barbecued meat and wood smoke? You're probably near Pappy's Smokehouse. If customers are willing to line up for an hour to taste the racks of ribs, slow-roasted pulled pork and fried corn on the cob, you know the food must be well worth the wait. The Food Network named Pappy's the Best Ribs in America, so if you're in St. Louis this fall, you'll want to get a taste of these famous ribs yourself. At Pappy's, the cooks prepare fresh food every day. They slow-smoke meats for up to 24 hours over cherry or sweet applewood. You can also choose from three sauces — Original, HooDoo or Sweet Baby Jane Sauce. If you're planning on grabbing a bite at Pappy's Smokehouse, be sure to get there early before they sell out of their food for the day. You also might stumble across Pappy's Rollin' Smoke around town, so keep an eye out for this food truck so you and the family can enjoy delicious smoked meat on the road.

Make Autumn Memories in St. Louis

Boredom is just about impossible during the fall season in St. Louis. For even more fun this fall, you can sign up for a membership at the Gateway Region YMCA with the whole family. You can find upcoming events at your local branch — the Downtown St. Louis YMCA at the MX, which serves downtown St. Louis and its surrounding areas or the Monsanto Family YMCA, which serves North St. Louis City and its surrounding areas. Sign up for a family membership today so you and your family can get started on your fun-filled fall season!