Offering sunrise and sunset excursions, Air Balloon Sports floats riders through the clouds on brightly colored, eight-story-tall buoys of heated air. After venturing to the launch site, guests will meet the day's FAA-certified captains, crew, and up to 24 passengers. Air wranglers impart a formal safety briefing as balloons slowly take shape, filling with hot air supplied by area high-school debate teams. A blast of burners lifts leisure seekers into the air, drifting through the blue sky for approximately an hour, bandied about by the day's prevailing winds. Balloons will be followed on the ground by chase crews who rendezvous at the chosen landing site for a traditional first flight ceremony and champagne reception. Recently christened sky devils will also receive a commemorative flight certificate that can be used as a valid passport.
Chandler Hill Vineyards' rolling, verdant rows of Norton, Chambourcin and Vignoles grapes and placid lakeside views offer visitors a quiet place to get away from it all. Built on land once owned by freed slave Joseph Chandler, the winery still retains the essence of the past. The 5,000-square-foot, lodge-like tasting room stands on the site of Chandler's modest cabin. Century-old artifacts discovered during the excavation, including a shotgun and a Hoveround, remain on display, and stones from the original foundation have been carefully repurposed. As candles in a wrought-iron fixture flicker overhead, guests here sip wines from Missouri and the West Coast and chat by a glowing fire in a large stone fireplace.
In its A-List 2010 feature, St. Louis Magazine said, "We?re fans of many regional wineries, but there?s something about Chandler Hill that feels a little more sophisticated, a little extra tucked-away." Thanks to its picturesque vineyards, 5,000-square-foot deck for warm-weather relaxation, and events such as live music performances, the secluded spot was named the Most Fun Winery on Ladue News's 2012 Platinum List.
At the turn of the 19th century, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out up the Missouri River to explore the vast, uncharted reaches of the Louisiana Purchase. They had it a lot harder than the guests of Missouri River Excursions. Today, tracing Lewis and Clark's route (marked with many historical plaques) is about as easy as outdoor exploration gets: just sit down and float. Staff load guests and canoes, kayaks, or rafts onto a shuttle to New Haven or Washington, where they disembark to drift gently with the current down to Klondike Park. Sandbars offer natural stopping points for fishing or picnicking.
Missouri River Excursions' guides can also set up more advanced journeys. They'll arrange itineraries lasting up to three days?marked by stays at quaint riverfront hotels or campgrounds?or lead fishing excursions to catch the modern-day descendants of the fish a bored Lewis once trained to do synchronized-swimming routines.
?St. Louis is the fourth-most-haunted city in America,? the tour guide said on a tour covered by Narratively. "But your tour guide is No. 1.? That guide is David Riordan, a renaissance man who's been a commodities trader, lawyer, and Spanish real-estate seller, and now-owner of Riordan Tours. It was his time in Spain that inspired him to become a tour guide. He practiced his storytelling on the English-language radio station he bought and then began leading homespun tours through the small, picturesque town of Frigiliana.
But when the Spanish economy soured, he moved back to his native St. Louis. Now he draws on his natural talent for yarn spinning and leads groups to tourist attractions and haunted corners of the 250-year-old metropolis. Along the ghost tour, David unravels chilling yarns about events that inspired The Exorcist, the St. Louis Fire, the cholera epidemic, and spirits that still roam the streets, asking people which bus they should catch to get to the afterlife. The less spooky city tours explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Cahokia Mounds, as well as the Cardinal's Busch Stadium and the Gateway Arch.
David also puts his storytelling skills to use at his Unveiled: History & Hauntings of St Louis shows. Accompanied by a folk guitarist, he regales crowds with tales of the city's history. "I can talk about anything," he told the Riverfront Times. "It's not just ghosts and spirits, [it's] the brewery, steamboats, gangsters."
Though most people hate the feeling of getting lost, that?s the point behind spending a day at the maze at Brookdale Farms. Not because the staff wants guests to wander aimlessly, but because the maze makes for a great way to enjoy the autumn sunshine at a relaxed pace and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Open as a family-friendly jaunt during the day and as a haunted attraction at night, the maze tests navigators? skills and affords a rare view into how scarecrows live when they think no one is looking. Outside the maze, the farm offers other autumnal activities such as pumpkin slingshots, pony rides, adrenaline-pumping ziplines, and a hay jump, inviting families to spend a full day disconnected from their televisions, computers, and employer-mandated tracking devices. The farm also has its very own pumpkin patch, where children and adults can pick their own pumpkins, especially after a nice hayride.
Just a short drive from the metropolitan tangle of St. Louis, Twin Rivers Canoe Rentals releases urbanites into the gentle, spring-fed waters of the Meramec River. Adventurers may choose which vessel will best cut through the water’s rippled pane that flickers with shadows from the canopies of trees lining the shore. In a kayak, a single boatman may ply past largemouth bass and flathead catfish or spy a whitetail deer sneaking a drink on the banks while its doe is at church bunco. Canoes can comfortably seat two people and a cooler, whereas rafts transform five to seven passengers into an inflatable party. The leisurely pace and tranquil environs encourage groups to stop and swim or to tether to shore for a picnic.:m]]