Red Christmas ornament in the show
St. Louis

Home for the Holidays: How to Spend Your Winter Break St. Louis-Style

Looking for ways to spend the holidays in St. Louis? From sledding traditions that date back to 1905 to holiday fun in Forest Park, St. Louis provides endless opportunities for you to spice up your winter season.

With the semester wrapping up and finals quickly approaching, having fun over winter break may be the last thing on your mind. However, soon you will be free from the stress of school. You may find yourself back at home, sitting on the couch, thinking: What do I do with all my free time?   

Lucky for you, St. Louis has many holiday activities to offer. From sledding traditions that date back to 1905 to holiday fun in Forest Park, St. Louis provides endless opportunities for you to spice up your winter season. Even if you won’t be in town over break, many of these activities extend into the new year, so you will still have an opportunity to enjoy these local wonders!  

So, say “goodbye” to boredom this holiday season and get ready to spend your winter break St. Louis-style.  

Steinberg Skating Rink 

Welcome to the largest outdoor skating rink in the Midwest! Located in Forest Park, Steinberg offers public ice skating all day, every day.  

Bring your cash, a pair of skates (if you don’t want to rent them), and get ready to have a fun time. Once you pay for admission, you can skate any time the rink is open that day. 

The current skating season ends on March 1, 2020, so you have plenty of time to enjoy this St. Louis specialty. 

For photos and more information about pricing and hours of operation, check out their website. 

Sledding on Art Hill 

View from the top of Art Hill looking down toward the Emerson Grand Basin.
This image shows the expansiveness of Art Hill, but it is a good idea to wait until there is some snow before you grab your sledding gear. Photo by Luke Steingruby.

Once upon a time, not long after the 1904 World’s Fair, a new St. Louis tradition was born at Art Hill. Located between the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Emerson Grand Basin, Art Hill is one of Forest Park’s most iconic locations. 

An article by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explains that following a snowstorm in January 1905, “World’s Fair workers grabbed folding chairs and rode them down Art Hill.”   

Since then, whenever it snows, hundreds of St. Louis residents gather their sledding gear and head to Forest Park for an epic sleigh ride adventure at no cost. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch continues: “The hill slopes downward at an 8 degree grade for a 430-foot run to the wall around the Grand Basin.” 

Some may opt for smaller hills at local neighborhood parks due to the chaotic and crowded atmosphere at Art Hill. However, if you try this St. Louis tradition, it will definitely be one you won’t forget.    

Garden Glow at Missouri Botanical Garden 

Carrie Steingruby and her childhood friend, Megan Catlett, pose at one of the Garden Glow's decorated photo spots.
Author Carrie Steingruby and her childhood friend, Megan Catlett, pose at one of the Garden Glow’s festive photo spots. Photo by Laura Catlett.

If you want to experience the magic of Christmas within nature, head to the Missouri Botanical Garden for the annual Garden Glow. This event runs from November 23, 2019 to January 4, 2020. Once you purchase your tickets, you and your friends can stroll throughout the gardens and see a wide variety of lights and decorations. You can also roast some marshmallows at the bonfire stations and enjoy plenty of fun photo opportunities.  

For more information on dates and ticket pricing, see the Garden Glow page on the Missouri Botanical Garden’s website.  

U.S. Bank Wild Lights at the Saint Louis Zoo 

Steinberg and Art Hill are not the only holiday attractions that Forest Park has to offer. Like the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo also builds an elaborate light display for the public to enjoy. Wild Lights takes place from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on select nights and requires tickets in order to enter. This event features many animal-themed displays and offers winter crafts for children and live entertainment on weekend nights. 

For a complete calendar and list of ticket prices, see the Saint Louis Zoo events page.  

Candy Cane Lane 

This picture shows Candy Cane Lane's lit up archway that cars can drive through.
A view of the entrance to Candy Cane Lane. Photo by Mary Steingruby.

If you’re looking to see a beautiful local light display for free, you may enjoy driving through Candy Cane Lane. It is located in the Saint Louis Hills at the 6500 block of Murdoch Avenue. 

Candy Cane Lane truly emanates the Christmas spirit because it is decorated and organized by neighbors in the area every year. It requires a great deal of time, hard work, and a bit of friendly competition to create something for the entire city to enjoy. 

But, baby it’s cold outside…

You guessed it; that crazy St. Louis weather hit. Now, it’s below zero, and if you step outside you might just freeze into a block of ice. But not to worry! There are still plenty of things you can do from inside the comfort of your own home. 

  • Bake: Get creative in the kitchen by baking some cookies, dessert bars, or other treats. Scroll through Pinterest or check out these 29 easy dessert recipes if you need inspiration. If all else fails, you can buy some pre-made cookie dough, pop it in the oven for 12 minutes, and enjoy! 
  • Movie Marathon: Who doesn’t love a good holiday movie? Change into your pajamas and fuzzy socks, grab a cozy blanket and some snacks, and put on your favorite Christmas movie. Whether you’re a sucker for the cheesy Hallmark movies or you prefer a Christmas classic, there’s sure to be something for you. If you’re feeling particularly St. Louis-inspired, try watching Meet Me in St. Louis. This movie is available to rent on YouTube, Amazon Prime, or iTunes, and it is showing in select theaters on Wednesday, December 11.
  • Make a Christmas music playlist: Tired of hearing the same songs on the radio? Download apps like Spotify and YouTube and use their free features in order to make fun holiday playlists with all your favorite songs. Here is an example of a playlist to help you get started. 
  • Make your own holiday decorations: Get crafty this holiday season by making your own festive decorations. My personal favorite is using construction paper to make snowflakes, but there are many holiday crafts to choose from. 

Whether you decide to venture out to Forest Park, drive around to see local light displays, or stay indoors, St. Louis has many activities to bring out your holiday spirit. 

I'm a St. Louis native currently studying Professional Writing at Fontbonne University. My special skills include baking, playing music, and dishing out sarcastic comments. If I won the lottery, I would a buy Volkswagen hippie van and a lifetime supply of Nutella and take a road trip across the country with my dog.

2 comments on “Home for the Holidays: How to Spend Your Winter Break St. Louis-Style

  1. Nicole Shelley

    This turned out great! I can’t wait to see some of these places over break!

  2. Linda Markway, CSJ

    Great job Carrie…definitely worth passing along. Blessings

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