With beautiful Forest Park as its centerpiece, the St. Louis area is widely recognized as one of the greenest regions in the country.

The showcase of the 1904 World's Fair, Forest Park today is one of the nation's largest metropolitan parks, covering almost 1,300 acres - more than 500 acres larger than New York's Central Park - that house some of St. Louis' premier attractions, including the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Jewel Box, the Muny, two golf courses, tennis courts, a six-mile running trail, dozens of ball fields, and much more. Perhaps the best part is that all of these are completely free.

Tower Grove Park in South St. Louis is the finest example of a Victorian Park remaining in the United States. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark - one of only six municipal parks to achieve that status - and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Henry Shaw, founder of the Missouri Botanical Garden, gave the 289-acre park to the city in 1868. Shaw designed and personally oversaw the park's development, including the planting of more than 8,000 trees and shrubs he imported from around the world.

There are more than 100 park areas in the city, and the crown jewel of downtown is the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which consists of the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse. Every year, these downtown attractions play host to Fair Saint Louis, the largest free three-day Fourth of July celebration in the United States.

Funded by a one-tenth cent sales tax approved in 2001 by voters in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County, the Great Rivers Greenway District is developing The River Ring, an interconnected system of greenways, parks and trails that will encircle the St. Louis region. The River Ring will eventually be a 600-mile web of more than 45 greenways that will crisscross the region and provide access to trail and greenway projects developed separately by the Metro East Park and Recreation District in Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois.

In addition, the Greater St. Louis area is surrounded by a wealth of state parks in both Illinois and Missouri. These resources offer numerous activities - including camping, hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, spelunking, swimming, picnicking, and equestrian and bicycle riding - in beautiful destinations that are all just a short road trip away.

Source: St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association