It doesn't have a famous name like New York City's Central Park, but St. Louis' Forest Park is actually larger than the Big Apple's signature park. A short one-and-a-half hours from Phelps County, St. Louis' largest park boasts many free attractions that bring thousands of visitors to the woodsy oasis in the middle of a city.

While a special tax helps fund the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Art Museum, and Missouri History Museum, keeping these attractions free to the public, the scenic park also boasts plenty of free special events throughout the warmer months.

As September begins the transition to autumn, free events at the park act as a way to bring families closer together. Try these family-friendly events this September in Forest Park:

Twilight Tuesdays – Every Tuesday

Throughout the month, the lawn of the Missouri History Museum transforms into a concert venue for an evening of exciting music under the stars.

Twilight Tuesdays brings food, drinks and fun to the park from 6 to 8 p.m. Acts this September include Motown Revue, Love Jones the Band, Coleman Hughes Project, and a Tribute to Earth, Wind, and Fire. Prior to these performances, attendees are encouraged to explore the History Museum’s History Clubhouse, a special area for kids that exposes them to the wonders of history in a hands-on way. 

St. Louis Symphony in the Park – September 12

One of the biggest musical events of the year in St. Louis takes place on September 12 on Art Hill overlooking the Grand Basin – a free orchestra concert presented as a gift to the community from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.

This year, the concert serves as the welcome event for the 140-year-old orchestra’s new Music Director, Stéphane Denève, a Frenchman who is bringing his signature warmth and passion to St. Louis. The program consists of familiar favorites by American composers John Williams and Leonard Bernstein, along with pieces by French composers Bizet and Berlioz. 

The evening has a distinct St. Louis flair and ends with a fireworks display. Food trucks will be on site, so come early, and come hungry.

Bee Blitz – September 14

Bees aren’t scary, they’re a necessary and vital part of nature – that’s the message of September 14’s Bee Blitz, which demystifies these fascinating creatures.

The core of this free event is bee photography and a bee survey. Learn the basics of photographing these insects while fanning out in the park, catching the pollinators in action. Along the way, participants will learn about bee biology and their important part of the circle of life.

Forest Park, with its lush and purposeful landscaping, is an ideal setting to learn about these insects.

Registration is free, but space is limited.

Great Forest Park Balloon Glow

The skies above Forest Park will turn every shade of the rainbow when the Great Forest Park Balloon Race comes to Forest Park September 20-21.

The two-day event kicks off Friday night with the popular Balloon Glow, an evening-to-dusk hot air balloon display that transforms the park grounds into a giant mason jar filled with fireflies. Walk amongst the behemoth balloons, chat with the pilots, and make the most of the many photo ops.

The following day, the pink “hare” balloon launches in the 4 p.m. hour, leading the pack as the balloons take to the sky. Hit Forest Park with lawn chairs and binoculars and witness one of the most spectacular hot air balloon races in the country.

For more information about Forest Park, visit www.forestparkforever.com.