Museums, concerts, and restaurants are all great places to spend a few hours, but what about those times in life when you want to do something with a little more kick? That's where an adventure destination can help you out. You'll find all kinds of thrills near St. Louis from scuba diving (really!) and ziplining to rock climbing and horseback riding. Here are the top picks for adventure attractions near the Gateway City.
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If roller coasters are your idea of adventure, then head to Six Flags St. Louis. The amusement park has plenty of thrills for visitors of all ages. There are more than a dozen high-flying roller coasters to get your blood pumping, along with swings, bungee jumping, and a giant Ferris wheel.
When it comes to roller coasters, don't miss Batman The Ride which takes you through a relentless maze of loops, twists and turns from a dangling chair that's hooked to an overhead track. Or try the Ninja with its double corkscrew, sidewinder loop, and butterfly 360s. In the summer, Six Flags offers extra fun with its Hurricane Harbor water park.
Six Flags is located off I-44 in Eureka, Missouri, about 30 minutes southwest St. Louis. The park is open weekends in spring and fall, and daily during the summer.
Discount admission prices may be available online.
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There are many ways to enjoy the beauty of the Mississippi River bluffs along the Great River Road, but the most heart-stopping is by taking a ride on the Grafton Zipline. It's here that you'll get the chance to fly above the trees and soar through the canopy.
The zip line is divided into nine different sections that cover nearly two miles of terrain. The longest section is a 2,000-foot zip with a 250-foot drop and panoramic views of the surrounding woodlands. The entire zip line adventure takes about two hours to complete. The cost is $69 to $79 a person.
The Grafton Zipline is located off of Highway 100 in Grafton, Illinois, about one hour north of St. Louis. It's open daily during warm weather months.
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You'll find plenty of caves and mines in Missouri, but none are like Bonne Terre Mine in St. Francois County. In fact, the mine was previously named one of "America's Top 10 Great Adventures" by National Geographic. It's one of the largest underground caverns in the world and was a working lead mine until the 1960's. Today, the lower part of the mine is filled with a billion gallons of groundwater creating the world's largest subterranean lake.
There are three ways to explore Bonne Terre Mine: a walking tour, a boat tour or a scuba diving trip. The guided walking tour takes you down to the first two levels of the mine along an old mule trail. You'll see the abandoned mine tools and railway system. From there, hop in a boat for a ride across the crystal clear lake. You'll pass through huge pillar rooms, see underground flower gardens and sparkling calcite falls. The combined walking and boat tour is $27 for adults and $20 for children.
For those seeking even more adventure, Bonne Terre Mine offers scuba diving. There are 24 dive trails exploring the submerged architecture of the mine including oar carts, scaffolding, a giant elevator shaft and more. The water is illuminated from above providing more than 100 feet of visibility at all times. Groups of nine divers are lead by two experienced guides.
Bonne Terre Mine is located off Highway 67, in Bonne Terre, Missouri, about a hour south of St. Louis. It's open year-round on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
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What could be more exhilarating than jumping out of an airplane? Not much, for sure. If skydiving is on your bucket list, Gateway Skydiving Center is the place to go.
Gateway Skydiving Center offers tandem jumps from 10,500 feet above Carlyle Lake. The staff really takes extra care with first-time skydivers to make sure everyone is comfortable and ready to jump. Your day begins with a 30-minute safety video, followed by one-on-one instructions on exiting the plane, free falling, and landing procedures. Then, it's a 20-minute plane ride, followed by a 7 minute descent to the ground. The cost for a tandem dive is $220 a person. Photos and videos are also available for an additional fee.
Gateway Skydiving Center is located off of Highway 127 in Greenville, Illinois, about one hour east of St. Louis. It's open daily in warmer months.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Even when you can't run away and join the circus, you can still be a circus performer for a few hours. Circus Harmony classes will teach you everything you need to know to perform your favorite tricks and stunts.
Circus Harmony offers classes of all kinds including tumbling, trampoline, clowning, acrobatics, juggling, unicycling and more. Most classes are held at the Circus Harmony location on the third floor of the City Museum in downtown St. Louis. One exception is the flying trapeze classes. Those are held at the Flying Trapeze Center at the Chesterfield Athletic Club. Most classes meet weekly for about three months and end with a performance by class members. The cost is $175 to $300 a person.
Circus Harmony offers classes throughout the year including a spring session, summer camp, fall session, and winter break camp.
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It's easy to ditch the wheels and try out some real horsepower at Pere Marquette State Park. St. Louis Trail Riders will guide you through the 8,000 acre park on horseback.
Each trail ride lasts about 45 to 50 minutes and covers about 2 1/2 miles of scenic terrain. Along with a wide variety of trees and plants, you'll also see wildlife like deer, turkey, and red tailed hawks. Pere Marquette State Park is beautiful any time of the year, but if you can plan your horseback ride in the fall when the leaves are changing color, it's truly spectacular. The cost to ride is $35 a person and all riders must be at least eight years old.
The trail rides start from Pere Marquette Stables near Grafton, Illinois, about an hour north of St. Louis. Rides are offered daily, except Tuesday, from May through October.
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When you want to try your hand at rock climbing, but aren't quite ready for the great outdoors, try Upper Limits rock climbing gym. You'll learn the basics of climbing in a comfortable indoor environment. It's a fun way to take on a new adventure and get a little exercise at the same time.
Upper Limits has two locations that cater to climbers of all skill levels. You can start climbing after a quick 15 minute orientation, or take a climbing class for more in-depth instruction. The layout of the gyms is slightly different, but both have 35 or 40 foot high climbing walls with slabs, aretes, roofs, dihedrals and cracks. There are also large arches and several bouldering areas. The cost to climb is $14 for adults and $12 for children.
Upper Limits has locations in downtown St. Louis and in Maryland Heights in St. Louis County. It's open seven days a week, all year long.
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The Katy Trail is a great destination for bicyclists and hikers. The trail stretches more than 200 miles across the state of Missouri. It closely follows the path of the Missouri River offering great views along the way.
In the St. Louis area, one of the most popular treks is along the section of the trail from Defiance to Augusta in the heart of Missouri Wine Country. This eight-mile stretch of the trail goes through the river bottoms and is relatively flat for comfortable walking or riding. You can bring your own bicycle or rent one for the day at Katy Bike Rental in Defiance.
The Katy Trail open daily from sunrise to sunset. The part of the trail starting in Defiance, Missouri, is about one hour west of St. Louis. The Katy Trail is open year-round but, some of the shops and restaurants along the trail close in the winter.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Let your inner speed demon out at Pole Position Raceway in St. Louis County. This indoor go karting track is a fun way to fulfill your dream of being a race car driver.
Races are held on a 1/4 mile track. Adult karts reach speeds of up to 45 miles an hour. Kids karts top out at 25 miles an hour. Races are scored on the single-fastest lap time which you can see on the screens around the track. Each race lasts about 10 minutes. The cost for adult races is $19.99 to $49.99. Kids races are $15.99 to $37.99.
Pole Position Raceway is located in Crestwood, Missouri about 15 minutes from St. Louis. It's open daily throughout the year.
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When it's time to hit the slopes in St. Louis, Hidden Valley Ski Resort is the place to go. In addition to skiing, you can also go snowboarding or snow tubing at the resort.
Hidden Valley typically has more than a dozen ski and snowboarding runs on about 30 acres. Most of the snow is man-made, though the occasional St. Louis snowstorm does add to the snowpack as well. The snow tubing area is called the Polar Plunge. That's where you can ride an inner tube down at 1,200 foot hill. The cost of lift tickets for skiing and snowboarding are $30 to $49 a person. The Polar Plunge is $26 dollars a person for three hours of tubing.
Hidden Valley is located in Wildwood, Missouri, about 30 minutes southwest of St. Louis. It's open daily from mid-December to late February.