September is a great time to visit St. Louis, Missouri, which offers nice fall weather to follow the summer heat, and plenty of fun family-friendly events and things to do. Plan your lineup of fall festivals, barbecue cook-offs, hot air balloon races, and apple-picking gatherings in this major city along the Mississippi River. If you have a few days, the city also has a handful of free autumn activities ranging from outdoor concerts and movies to craft beer tasting events and Shakespeare performances in the street.
The fall is prime apple-picking season in the St. Louis area, so head over to Eckert's Orchards for the best on September weekends. Eckert's is celebrating with AppleFest at all three Illinois farm locations. Belleville and Millstadt are around 30 minutes away from St. Louis, and Grafton is about 55 minutes by car. The festival features apple treats, live music, wagon rides, and children’s activities.
Labor Day may mark the end of summer, but it's one of the biggest parties in St. Louis. The long holiday weekend is filled with events like the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where you can learn about the history and culture of Japan while enjoying food, art, and entertainment.
Another three-day event is Big Muddy Blues Festival on Laclede's Landing, and you can get your wing samples while experiencing a car cruise and 5K run at Midwest Wingfest on Friday and Saturday of the holiday weekend.
The Great Godfrey Maze is a fall tradition in the Metro East. Visitors head to Robert E Glazebrook Park in Godfrey, Illinois, about 40 minutes from St. Louis, to wander through the giant maze cut into seven acres of cornfield. The corn maze is open on fall weekends; on Friday and Saturday nights, enjoy the attraction after dark.
Bring a flashlight (they are also for sale at the maze) to help find your way through the fun maze. A concession stand and other fun activities are available at this family-friendly place. Kids 5 years old and under get in free.
Twilight Tuesdays is a free outdoor concert series put on by the Missouri History Museum. Grab a spot on the north lawn of the Missouri History Museum in the lovely 1,300-acre park Forest Park, and spread out your picnic blankets and lawn chairs for a night of music. Each series offers diverse music styles, including country, jazz, rock 'n' roll, and reggae. The performances start at dusk and last about two hours.
If you are craving checking out some art, head to the Clayton neighborhood for the annual St. Louis Art Fair, which has been ranked one of the best in the nation. For three days in early September, hundreds of artists from around the United States will show off their talents in painting, sculpture, photography, and crafts. There's also live music and food served up by some of the area's top restaurants.
Enjoy the nice weather while you sample the best dishes from over 20 of St. Louis' most popular food trucks, including Angie Burger, K-Bop, Tiki’s Shaved Ice, Mission Taco Truck, and more. The evening outdoors entails food, craft beer, and music in Tower Grove Park. The event runs from the late afternoon to the evening on the first Friday of September, after Labor Day weekend.
The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, part of the Kentucky Derby Festival, takes place over two days in late September and is one of the biggest events of the year. It all begins on Friday with live music and the Balloon Glow, in which balloons are lit up at night, drawing crowds of more than 50,000 people each year from the Louisville area and beyond. There are also fireworks. Then, crowds return to Forest Park on Saturday for the race of dozens of colorful hot air balloons and a chance to enjoy food and live entertainment.
The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival celebrates the food, music, and cultures of Latin America. The annual event will be held at Soulard Park just south of downtown St. Louis on a late September weekend. The three-day festival is truly a feast for the senses, with live music, folk dancers, and popular Hispanic food. Families will have a festive time watching live Latino bands playing music including merengue, Latin rock, salsa, percussion, cumbia, and bachata.
The best restaurants in town will be showing off their finest dishes (think: Thai BBQ pork mac n'cheese) at Taste of St. Louis, going strong since 2004. The three-day event features food, art, live music, cooking demonstrations, and more. Taste of St. Louis will be held at Soldier's Memorial Park on the second weekend in September. The event is free to attend, but to enjoy tastes from over 30 local dining establishments on Restaurant Row, you'll pay per item.
Saint Charles, an affluent town about 30 minutes from St. Louis, hosts its annual Oktoberfest celebration on the last weekend of September. The free three-day festival is filled with activities for visitors of all ages. There's German music, beer, and food, plus a parade, a bratwurst-eating contest, a wiener dog derby, root beer fun runs, and an antique car show. The children's area includes face painting, a balloon artist, painting pumpkins, and more.
Barbecue lovers can go to hog heaven at Q in the Lou, held on the last weekend of the month at Kiener Plaza, Broadway and Market, and downtown St. Louis. The three-day festival features top BBQ chefs from all over the country, smoking thousands of pounds of meat. There will also be a BBQ school with cooking demonstrations, wine and beer tastings, and live bands.
Since 1998, local brewery Schlafly has known how to throw a party for beer lovers. On the second Saturday of September, head over to their HOP in the City event for unlimited samples of more than 40 Schalfly brews and six rare specialty tappings, plus food and live music during the day at the Historic Tap Room. Children may attend as long as they are supervised by their parents.