Tag Archives: missouri botanical garden

Five must see October events

There is an abundance of family friendly arts, culture, and Fall fun going on in St. Louis this month. Here are five events you won’t want to miss.

1. 20th Anniversary Celebration of Powder Valley Nature Center, Saturday, October 22, 10 am to 3 pm. FREE. Visitors can enjoy a photo scavenger hunt, a discovery table with live reptiles and amphibians, crafts for kids, live music, and more.

2. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and pianist Olga Kern perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Friday, October 21 at 10:30 am and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm. This concert is a better fit for a musically engaged child 10 years old and up, but if you have a particularly focused kid or a prodigy of sorts, a 7 to 9 year old would most likely be fine. $25 to $110. This concert also features Elgar’s sublime Enigma Variations. Note: there is an additional concert on Saturday, October 22 at 8 pm but it is more expensive and later at night of course.

3. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead, Sunday, October 30 at 3 pm. Kids tickets start at $7! A great Halloween event and wonderful opportunity for children who are beginning to learn about the sounds and textures of the orchestra. Watch a YouTube video about the production.

4. The Missouri Botanical Garden, Children’s Garden, is open through October 31 and then closed for the season. Climbing, pretend play galore, tree houses, a slide, ropes, caves, musical instruments, sand, no automatic flush bathrooms, and more! FREE to $5.

5. Halloween Free Family Day at CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), Saturday October 29, 1 to 4 pm. FREE. Enjoy the museum’s exhibitions, art projects, face painting, storytelling, and more. Children are encouraged to dress in their Halloween costume.

Photo: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Free day at Missouri Botanical Garden

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s founder, Henry Shaw, is turning 211 years old!

To celebrate, the Botanical Garden is throwing a free birthday party this Sunday, July 24. Birthday party activities are from 10 am to 3 pm, but the entire Botanical Garden is open 9 am to 5 pm. Admission to the grounds and the Children’s Garden are free all day.

Family friendly activities this Sunday only include meeting an actor dressed up as Henry Shaw dressed in a sweltering black top hat accompanied by others costumed in vintage Victorian garb, having your silhouette portrait drawn by an artist, watching a stilt walker, listening to a live organ grinder, and seeing enchanting (and a little bit campy, but in a good way) puppet performances by St. Louis’s very own Bob Kramer’s Marionettes. The marionette shows are at 10:30 am, noon, and 1:30 pm, outdoors on Spoehrer Plaza (the fountain area immediately facing you as you exit the second floor of the Visitor’s Center) of the Botanical Garden.

Be sure to play for free in the wonderful Children’s Garden, in the Kaeser Maze located in the Victorian section, and the children’s education area of the Climatron as well during your visit.

If you have some non-kid time to yourself, tour the historic Museum Building this Sunday. Opened in 1859, the Museum Building originally housed the Botanical Garden’s mounted herbarium plant specimens and library, and is usually closed to the public. The Henry Shaw Cactus Society is also presenting a show and sale in the Orthwein Floral Display Hall located inside the Visitor’s Center.

Directions, parking, maps, and more visitor information.

Chinese Culture Days

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Culture Days is this coming weekend, Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22. This annual event highlights the vast and fascinating culture, arts, and history of China. Parades, circus performances, cooking and painting demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, tea tastings, traditional Chinese music concerts, folk dancing, and plenty of delicious food to sample will give you and your family much to discover. Finding quality Chinese culture is a bit of a challenge in the middle of the Midwest, so now’s your chance to experience a little something different! Read more about the weekend’s programs.

The St. Louis Chapter of Families with Children from China (FCC) presents the festival’s Children’s Program with hands-on activities, including creating a dragon boat and fans, and trying out Chinese jump ropes, chopsticks, and yo-yos. All children’s activities are indoors at the Ridgway Visitor Center.

Chinese Culture Days
Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22
10 am to 5 pm both days
Missouri Botanical Garden

$12 adults (13 to 64 years old)
$10 Seniors (65+)
$5 Children (3 to 12 years old)
$5 Garden members
Free (members’ children 3 to 12 years old)

* Parking for any of the Botanical Garden’s big events like this can become very busy. If possible, have someone in your group drop off people at the front entrance and then go park. If the parking lot is full, try the lot at Shaw and Vandeventer.

* Bring snacks for your young children. In the past, we’ve ended up waiting for 20 minutes or more in concession lines. Try eating earlier to avoid some of the crowds.

* Buy your tickets online to save waiting around time at the Botanical Garden. If you’re a member, have your membership number handy to get the reduced price.

* Performances in the outdoor Cohen Amphitheater can get crowded and you might end up sitting or standing pretty far back. Bring your binoculars if you want to see some of the Chinese acrobat contortions close up!

* If you have time, be sure to visit the Children’s Garden or play in some of the fascinating tree houses located throughout the Garden.

* Consider becoming a member of the Missouri Botanical Garden if you’re not already. The member benefits and discounts are quite generous. Check with your workplace for any matching gift programs as well.

A video from last year’s festival.

Top photo: Erin Whitson, Courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Bottom photo: Brent Johnston, Courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Things to Do Indoors on Easter Sunday

After the Easter celebrations are over, what to do indoors on a rainy day when most places are closed in St. Louis? Here are some family friendly places that are open on Easter Sunday.

Children’s Zoo at the St. Louis Zoo
One part of the children’s zoo is indoors. It’s a great place for a little climbing, pretend play, watching and petting animals, and scooping sand. Also be sure to check out the free indoor Bird House (separate from the Children’s Zoo). There are some incredible and crazy looking birds in here.
Open 9 am to 5 pm.
$4 per person. Children under two are free.
Free for certain member levels.
Admission for Children’s Zoo is free the first hour the Zoo is open.

CAM (Contemporary Art Museum)
A just right amount of art and images for your little one. Be sure to go upstairs to explore the books, puzzles, and overall space.
Open 11 am to 4 pm
$5, adults  |  $3, seniors  |  Free for children, students, and members

St. Louis Art Museum
A fun place to just roam. Be sure to download some of the museum’s family gallery guides for ideas to keep your kids engaged.
Open 10 am to 5 pm

Climatron at the Missouri Botanical Garden
After splashing outside in some puddles, head over to the indoor and warm Climatron building for some tropical plant viewing and family fun. Towards the exit of the Climatron is an excellent education room featuring numerous kid geared puzzles, puppets, magnets, pretend play, coloring, books, and more.
Open 9 am to 5 pm
$8, age 13 and up  |  $4, St. Louis City and Country Residents  |  $3, St. Louis City and County Senior Residents (65+)  |  Free, Members and Children (12 and under)

Butterfly House
Experience thousands of butterflies whirling about inside this beautiful conservatory. (Or view the hallway exhibits featuring “enclosed in plexiglass insects” while your family enjoys the conservatory if you’re bug phobic!)
Open 9 am to 4 pm
$6, general  |  $4.50, seniors  |  $4, children 3 to 12  |  Free, children 2 and under and MO Botanical Garden members

Photo: Jennifer Lin

The Children’s Garden is open!

The adventure filled Children’s Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden opened for the season this month and the beautiful spring weather has made visits to this outdoor gem even more ideal. The Children’s Garden is mainly designed for toddlers up through middle school age. It features elaborate tree house type constructions, rope bridges, a creek with boats and locks, slides, fake branches to hang from, pretend play areas including a general store, an unending amount of structures to climb on, a big sand box, musical instruments, water play, and much more. Plus, you have the nature aspect of the garden as well, so you may find your kids entertaining themselves with piles of bark or fallen leaves.

The Children’s Garden is open daily, April through October, 9 am to 5 pm. The cost varies from free to $5 for ages 3 to 12 (see tip number five below). View a map of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The Children’s Garden is number 29 on the map.


1. The bathrooms are conveniently located inside the Children’s Garden and do not have automatic flush toilets (in case your child has a complex about this). There is also a nice frog step stool for kids to use at the sink.

2. You can easily spend a couple of hours at the Children’s Garden with preschoolers. Be sure to bring a snack and drink for your child with you. Technically no outside food is allowed, so be discreet, clean up, and definitely no picnicking. More about the Garden’s rules.

3. The Children’s Garden is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the parking lot (and double or triple that if you have a meandering toddler). So if you anticipate that your child may not walk the whole way, bring your stroller. You can park your stroller near the waterfall by the front entrance of the Children’s Garden.

4. Beyond just running around and going crazy (an important experience in itself!), there are lots of socialization, shape recognition, texture, tempo/speed, color, size, and counting learning opportunities throughout the Children’s Garden for your little one.

5. Although there is a $3 to $5 fee for kids ages 3 to 12, the Botanical Garden offers ample options to experience the Children’s Garden for “free.” Ages 13 and up and 2 and under are free. Garden members Tuesdays all day, and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to noon are free. Family-level members and above are free everyday and St. Louis City and County Residents are free on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9 am to noon. Depending on what membership level you join at, members also receive varying numbers of “Bonus Bloom Passes,” that can be used for a complimentary anytime visit to the Children’s Garden or a tram ride. Memberships start at $65.

6. If you have a child who isn’t taking afternoon naps anymore, the Children’s Garden is less busy on weekday afternoons. This is often a fun time to visit.

7. The Sassafras Cafe located inside the Visitor’s Center is a nice place to eat after a morning at the Children’s Garden. The Cafe serves lunch until 2 pm on weekdays and until 3 pm on weekends. It tends to get very busy from noon to 1:30 pm and the lines can get long so plan ahead.

8. Bring a change of clothes if your child is going to play in the water area. They can get soaked!

Photos: Jennifer Lin

The year-end ask (not from your kid).

Your mailbox is probably overflowing with letters from nonprofit organizations asking for year-end donations. If you don’t already have a personal connection to a cause, what to pick? Who is more worthy than the rest?

Tough call. It’s particularly challenging at the end of the year for cultural organizations to compete with other nonprofits whose missions involve urgent and tangible needs like feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, advocating on behalf of battered women, giving medicine to needy children, and more. But as you know, cultural organizations can also feed the mind, offer solace, inspire, and bring joy (and of course contribute to our economy in a major way). Please keep them in mind as you consider donations this month.

Here are a few recommendations that focus on family friendly places in the St. Louis region and whose memberships include useful benefits that can save you money on your visits. Donations to these companies are tax-deductible (check with each membership level for the exact amount). Do you work for a mid to large size for-profit company? Ask your human resources department about matching gifts. You can often double your donation and the nonprofit typically bumps you up to the next membership level with the match.

Missouri Botanical Garden: Memberships come with complimentary tickets to The Children’s Garden (open April-October), an incredible place for kids to run around, engage in pretend play, climb, play with boats, hang from ropes, slide, stack, play with musical instruments, and more.

Museum of Transportation: This museum is a little on the scrappy side, but perfect for your little one who loves things that go. A membership includes visits to the Creation Station (a wonderful indoor play area that is great for infants to 5 year olds) and train rides that go around a big parking lot two times (kids still love it!). There are great old trains to ramble around in on the museum grounds as well.

The Magic House: People travel from all over the country and beyond to delight in The Magic House, a fantastic children’s museum that caters to infants through 9 year olds (or so). Most museum memberships offer complimentary admission, free visits for playdates, cafe and class discounts, and more. We’ve been visiting The Magic House for the last year and my three-year old often ends up crying/whining about leaving. She has way too much fun. There is an enormous amount to play with and it is all smartly designed. Admission is usually $8.75 per person above one year of age (including you!), so if you end up being a frequent visitor, a membership is definitely worth it.

St. Louis Zoo: Yes, it isn’t exactly warm weather to be romping around at the zoo, but there is an indoor area of the Children’s Zoo as well as some other indoor animal exhibits. With a membership, you get passes for the Zooline train (regularly $5 per person over the age of 2), parking (comes in handy when there is no street parking for blocks and your kid is saying “hold me!” The parking lot is regularly $11 per car.), the Children’s Zoo (regularly $4 per person over the age of 2), and the carousel (regularly $3 per person over the age of 2, that includes a caregiver who is holding the child on the carousel animal).

St. Louis Science Center: If you have a high energy child who likes a little “organized” chaos, this place is for you. The free areas of the Science Center are fairly limited. Special exhibitions, the Discovery Room, the OMNIMAX, and the planetarium among other activities, require admission fees. Parking is $9 per vehicle. Membership benefits include free or discounted admission to all of these and parking passes. If you have a 3 to 7 year old who likes things a little calmer (the rest of the Science Center is really loud on a busy day), the Discovery Room is perfect. Interactive magnet exhibits, a water table, reading areas, pretend play and more help your kids learn a bit about science. The Discovery Room sessions are 45 minutes each and start at the top of the hour.

Opera Theatre of St. Louis: This professional opera company is nationally and internationally respected. It is fiscally sound, bursting with creativity, and produces some fantastic productions. Opera Theatre of St. Louis also has an extensive education and artist training program. About 26% of Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s income comes from ticket sales, so they rely heavily on donations to make their magic happen. We are very lucky to have them in Webster Groves.

Naturally, any of these memberships/donations can be given as thoughtful gifts.

Want to check on these nonprofits’ fiscal management? Check guidestar.org for more or contact the organization directly.

Happy Holidays and enjoy the gift of experience!

Choice September arts events in St. Louis

September ushers in some incredible arts events in St. Louis. Here are a few recommendations:

Read it again!

There are an enormous number of free story times (or story based events that also incorporate songs, movement, and/or crafts) in the St. Louis region, specially tailored for toddlers and preschoolers. These events are a great way to meet new people, socialize your child, learn about new books, and well, get out of the house. Here are a few resources for this summer and beyond.


St. Louis County Libraries

St. Louis Public Libraries

Kirkwood Public Library (Note: They will open at their renovated location on July 17)

Webster Groves Public Library

Rock Hill Public Library

University City Public Library


Missouri History Museum’s Summer Family Fun Series

Missouri Botanical Garden’s Little Sprouts Classes (class session, not drop-in)


Borders: Sunset Hills

Borders: Brentwood

Borders: Creve Coeur

Borders: St. Louis South County

Barnes & Noble: West County Mall

Barnes & Noble: Crestwood

Subterranean Books