Don’t we all want to squeeze every last bit of fun out of summer? Read on for some tried and true ideas that won’t break the bank.  

    –      Take a walk on the wild side. It’s undeniably one of the best zoos in the country – and it offers free admission. So go for a summertime stroll at the St. Louis Zoo! While you there don’t forget to check out he Dinoroarus exhibit.

    –      Admire the art.

    The St. Louis Art Museum is one of the finest institutions of its kind. No ticket is necessary for the permanent collection galleries. And since it’s free (and there’s so much to see), return as often as you like!  Don’t forget to stop by the “Catching the Moment” exhibit.

    –      Take in a show.

    Another Forest Park treasure is the St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre. One of the oldest and largest outdoor theaters, The Muny provides about 1,500 free seats for every show on a first-come, first-served basis. Get there early! Discover more about The Muny by watching the HEC exclusive documentary “The Best of Us: 100 Seasons of Muny Magic”

    –      Support the arts. 

    Stroll through some of the area’s best art fairs and festivals on both sides of the river. Webster Groves, Clayton, St. Charles, and O’Fallon, IL are just some of the areas with acclaimed summertime shows. The Saint Louis Art Fair takes places September 9 – 11th this year. Learn more about the first 25 years of the fair.

    –      Clydesdales and more. 

    Visit a truly iconic landmark, Grant’s Farm. Take a tram and tour the grounds. Its historical component, plus hundreds of animals to observe and interact with, makes for a fun family outing. Admission is always free, but there is a parking fee. 

    –      Get your hands dirty. 

    Whether it’s veggies, herbs, or flowers – it’s fun to see a garden grow. Fact: you’ll never have a better BLT than one made with a home-grown tomato. Or befriend the bees and butterflies by making a pollinator’s paradise. Learn what scientists in Missouri are finding out about flowers and pollinators.

    –      Wish on a star. 

    Don’t forget to look up during the annual Perseid meteor shower, peaking in mid-August. It’s typically the best opportunity to see stars streaking across the sky.

    –      Make a summertime treat. 

    A fire pit (or even a microwave) can handle the sticky job of making smores. Or, if you’re thinking of a cold treat, homemade popsicles, snow cones, and ice cream sandwiches all sound like pretty tasty options, too.

    –      Pitch a tent. 

    Whether it’s in a park or your backyard, make memories camping. There’s something magical about sleeping under the stars.  

    –      Look at a book.

    Catch up on your summer reading at your local library. Pizza Hut and Barnes & Noble also offer summer reading programs, rewarding kids for time well spent.  Watch interviews with hundreds of well-known authors as part of HEC’s exclusive series “First Person: One on One”

    –      Get back to nature. 

    The great outdoors may be just what the doctor ordered. Go on a hike through Powder Valley while you snap photos, stop and sketch, or make a scavenger hunt by collecting items on the path. If you prefer biking, try the Katy Trail. And if you want to find a new friend, you can pet the farm animals at Suson Park.

    –      Visit another community.   

    A refreshing change of scenery could be just a short drive away. From Hannibal and Hermann to St. Genevieve and St. Charles – there are seemingly endless options for a day trip. Explore.

    –      Get wet. 

    Splash pads are one of the best ways to beat the heat. Citygarden in downtown St. Louis, Millennium Park in Creve Coeur, and Lemay Park are just a few options in the area. Or, if you prefer wading in a creek, check out Mastodon State Park in Imperial.

    –      Help others. 

    Raise funds and donate the proceeds to your favorite charity! Kids can try the tried-and-true lemonade stand or a bike wash in their neighborhood. Or make handmade cards and notes for area nursing home residents. It feels good to give back.  

    –      Pack up a picnic. 

    Make lunch and head out to an area park. With so many great choices, scratch a few off your list this summer. Laumeier Sculpture Park in Sunset Hills offers over 100 acres of contemporary art. Don’t forget your blanket and a good book.  

    –      Get creative. 

    Make a mural or send a message with sidewalk chalk. Create a crown or necklace with flowers. Gather rocks and paint them to look like animals or add smiley faces.  This year’s Webster Arts Chalk Festival will take place on October 1st.

    –      Movie night. 

    Use a movie projector in your backyard or see if your community offers free outdoor movie nights. Or, for a bit of nostalgia, bring a carload of family or friends and check out Skyview Drive-In in Belleville, dating back to 1949. 

    –      Music to your ears.  

    Various free summer concert series are offered all around town. Check community calendars and find one that sounds good to you!

    –      Go online. 

    If it’s too hot to go out, check out virtual visits to museums and more. Monterey Bay Aquarium and the San Diego Zoo are just two places that share webcam videos of their animals. Or go international and tour the Louvre in France. Google will help you find all kinds of options.  

    Don’t let anyone tell you they’re bored this summer. Bubbles, water balloons, sprinklers, and bike rides are some more simple ideas. Go fishing or catch (and release) lightning bugs. There’s time to make more memories before summer slips away!