October weather in St. Louis, Missouri, can hardly be topped. Ample sunshine, comfortably warm days, and crisp cool nights make getting outdoors a must. Once the leaves start to change colors, fall festivals, beer-drinking events, and celebrations of art abound throughout the Gateway City and beyond. Additionally, Halloween calls for haunted houses, zombie-infested paintball parks, and costume parties all month.
In 2020, many events have been canceled or altered amid the pandemic. Check the websites of event organizers for updated information.
Every year during the first weekend of October, the Missouri Botanical Garden is transformed into a giant outdoor market for three days. The Best of Missouri Market features the finest products grown and made in the state. You can sample and buy dozens of food items or get an early start on your holiday shopping with the more than 120 art and craft vendors. Find home-baked goods, fresh and dried flowers, herbs, handcrafted gifts items, wooden toys, artisan-made jewelry, and more. Live music and a kids' activity corner are included in the event. In 2020, the Best of Missouri Market has been canceled, but you can buy from would-be vendors online.
The historic Shaw neighborhood near the Botanical Garden holds an annual art fair each year on the same weekend as the Best of Missouri Market. The two-day event features work from more than 100 artists and craftspeople, as well as live music and a food court. You'll find everything from clay to printmaking and sculpture, as well as traditional works on canvas and paper. In 2020, the art fair has been canceled, but you can shop the art at ShawStLouis.org.
Founded in 2005, this annual street festival is a city-wide favorite. Music is the primary focus—and it ranges from hip-hop to blues to rock—but there are also street performers and dining options from local Grove businesses. The eclectic, family-friendly event would normally feature a kids zone, arts and crafts vendors, and a participatory paint-by-numbers outdoor wall mural—a highlight of the festival every year. In 2020, however, Grove Fest has been canceled.
Beer lovers head to Augusta at the beginning of October for the city's annual beer festival. More than 40 breweries from across the state serve up their favorite brews, including St. Louis favorites 4 Hands, Civil Life, Square One, and Cathedral Square. Guests are treated to live music and a souvenir glass to take home after the event. Augusta is also the heart of Missouri's burgeoning wine country and a popular destination for leaf peeping. 2020's Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival will take place on Saturday, October 3. Only 500 tickets will be sold.
Real thrill seekers may be interested in celebrating the Halloween season with an obligatory venture through a haunted house. There are many to choose from in St. Louis, but among the most popular are The Darkness—a two-story building in Soulard whose rooms are packed with ghouls and gore—and Creepyworld in Fenton, by the same organizers. The Darkness has an escape room, zombie laser tag, and a new horror arcade in 2020. Creepyworld is a combination of 13 different attractions in one. Both are slated to open on October 2.
Hermann, Missouri, is the place to be during Oktoberfest. This small town comes alive each weekend in October, welcoming thousands of visitors to Stone Hill and its other wineries. Hermann is known for its rich German heritage and its quaint buildings reflect that influence. Naturally, the town also puts on a rendition of the traditional German beer-drinking fest. Amid a backdrop of vibrant fall colors, Hermann's Oktoberfest features not just the standard beer offerings, but ample wine options, too. The town is easy to get to—you can get there by car, Amtrak, or by cycling the Katy Trail. 2020's event will take place on October 3 and 4.
About 20 miles out of the town center, the French-influenced city of Florissant holds an annual fall festival in its scenic Old Town district. Live music, food vendors, a car show, pumpkin decorating, kids' activities, and a flea market span 10 blocks of Rue St. Francois the second Sunday in October. Further entertainment includes a dog show, wagon rides, and a chili cook-off. In 2020, the fall festival has been canceled.
Tower Grove Park is a 289-acre green space adjacent to the Missouri Botanical Garden, both landmarks of the Shaw neighborhood. In the summer, the park hosts dozens of food trucks for its weekly Sauce Food Truck Friday event, but in the fall, the trucks take a break for the Harvest Festival. Part farmers market, part al fresco concert, this celebration of autumn takes place beneath some of the city's most colorful trees. It features wine and beer from local producers, artist booths, bluegrass, and more. In 2020, it's been canceled.
Step into a 16th-century French village—complete with period costumes, crafts, food, music, and more—at the St. Louis Renaissance Festival. Highlights include the "Eggs and Kegs" adult egg hunt and jousting three times daily. During the Oktoberfest celebration, guests are treated to belching contests, beer pong, corn hole, root beer chugging contests, and more creative frivolity. The Renaissance Festival will take place every weekend from September 19 to October 18, 2020, with new health and safety guidelines in place.
Kimmswick's Apple Butter Festival is the largest celebration of the year in this Missouri town, about 20 miles from of downtown St. Louis. Held the last full weekend of October, this autumnal gathering offers more than 100,000 people the chance to sample all types of apple butter and dozens of other fall foods. Impressive pumpkin carving displays and vendor booths are also popular at this charming festival. In 2020, it has been canceled.
Nearly 30 miles outside of downtown St. Louis, this 7-acre corn maze is a bit of a drive, but getting lost in the shrubs is so surprisingly fun, you may even forget about the 40 minutes of driving required to get there. The Great Godfrey Maze is an area tradition. In the daytime, it's a fun challenge for every member of the family; after dark, it's a surefire way to get spooked. The organizers allow night attempts (with flashlights) on Friday and Saturday evenings. And while you're visiting, you can also take a ride on a hay wagon. The 2020 season has been canceled.
Take a Drive to See Fall Colors
October is prime leaf-peeping time in the Midwest and some of the region’s most dramatic autumnal scenery can be seen along the winding Great River Road, about 30 minutes north of the city. You can cruise it to Alton and Grafton for an afternoon of antique hunting, or pause along it for picnics and cycling trips. To extend the trip, you can head further west on Highway 94, starting in West Alton, for a view of changing leaves and colorful bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
Every October, Millstadt's Xtreme Paintball Park becomes overrun with monsters, zombies, and ghouls, upping the ante on its everyday fictional wars. The Haunted Paintball Park features several games, trails, and courses, giving participants countless opportunities to defend themselves against the dead. It also operates a 10- to 15-minute haunted hayride through a makeshift zombie land. Before you enter the haunted park, try out Zombie Laser tag with high-tech outdoor laser guns. The 2020 season begins October 9.