Saint Louis, MO

Try These Fun Outdoor Day Trips Close To St. Louis

Kyle Smith

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Taum Sauk MountainKeith Yahl (Creative Commons)

Are you ready for something a little different? Something fun that isn't too far away from St. Louis? If so, keep reading as there are some really unique one-day activities nearby.

Taum Sauk Mountain
This is Missouri’s highest natural point and it is located about 98 miles south of Downtown St. Louis in Iron County. The 3-mile rugged loop trail features two prominent highlights. The first feature is the polished granite plaque located at the start of the trail marks the high point in the state. The second is located halfway along the trail and is the breathtaking Mina Sauk Falls. The Mina Sauk Falls are actually the tallest waterfall in the state of Missouri.

Pleasant drive up to the trailhead, the High Point is an easy walk on a well maintained trail. We then hiked the Mini Sauk trail, which was well marked and splendidly challenging (to my fitness level) with some interesting rock features. The waterfall wasn't running much, but the rock features here and delightful pools of cold water at the top of the falls were a fine sight. Juliann B.

Ha Ha Tonka Castle State Park
If you like unique architecture and breathtaking scenery, then you'll love Ha Ha Tonka State Park.This state park is located on the Lake of the Ozarks and features the stone ruins of a turn-of-the-20th-century castle. In addition to the castle there are more than 15 miles of trails that wind across the park, leading visitors to sinkholes, natural bridges, caves and down to the lake. It's a great trip that you'll be glad you made. Besides, how often do you get to see a castle in Missouri?

Nice visitors center with a super natural wild flower & butterfly/bee area. Multiple parking areas to allow you to hike a variety of distances. Well maintained. Shady picnic areas near the natural bridge were quite nice. Ron D.

Fort De Chartres
This location is found across the river about one hour south of St. Louis in Illinois. The fort was built near Prairie Du Rocher and was actually the seat of the local French government and was the primary military outpost in what’s known as “Illinois Country.” The structure that stands today is actually the third version which was completed in 1754. Earlier forts were made of wood and deteriorated over the years, mostly due to flooding from the Mississippi River. But the final rebuild was actually comprised of limestone. The fort’s stone masonry powder magazine is said to be the oldest building in the state of Illinois. The fort and surrounding lands are a national landmark and actually host colonial-era reenactments on a regular basis.

A unique place to visit. Quiet, serene and full of history, Fort de Chartes provided family fun for all of us from my toddler to my 65 year old mother. Very well maintained grounds. This place offers something for everyone and it’s FREE! J. Lawson

Have you visited any of these locations? What did you think of them?

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