No matter the temperature, spending time outdoors is one of the best ways to conquer cabin fever. Whether the sun is shining or snowflakes are flying, Missouri offers some perfect spots for a quick and easy winter adventure.
St. Louis' Forest Park is a lush green oasis in the summer, but winter offers new views – and activities. The park's Steinberg Skating Rink is one of the largest outdoor ice-skating rinks in the Midwest. When it's time for a break, warm up with hot chocolate or a meal at the Snowflake Café. If there's snow on the ground, head to Art Hill for some sledding. Stretching from the St. Louis Art Museum to the Grand Basin, the area is considered by many to be the best sledding hill in the city.
Hike across a piece of history while looking for majestic bald eagles at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge – a span that crosses the mighty Mississippi River. Once a part of iconic Route 66, the bridge – now limited to pedestrians and cyclists – features an unusual bend in the middle its 5,353-foot deck.The structure is a popular spot to watch eagles fish for their dinner in the river during the winter months.
Two easy-to-navigate trails at Ha Ha Tonka State Park will take you to the 11th largest spring in Missouri and to the imposing ruins of a "castle" with an intriguing history. The absence of foliage on the trees in the winter makes the park's towering bluffs and overlooks even more impressive.
Walk, run or bike five miles of scenic waterfront trails in Warsaw. The trails, which include a 660-foot-long suspension bridge, are also a great place to watch for wildlife – deer, wild turkeys, eagles and a variety of other birds.
Six trails of varying lengths await at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center, located just minutes from downtown Kansas City. Travel along Burr Oak Creek, past massive limestone boulders and through restored woodlands and prairies. The conservation area includes a disabled-accessible trail and wildlife-viewing platform.
Follow the footsteps of Missouri's only president, Harry S Truman, through the neighborhood where he once lived in Independence. The 2.7-mile Truman Walking Trail will take you down the favorite route of the country's 33rd president. More than 40 plaques embedded in the sidewalks tell the story of Truman and his hometown.
Experience an array of natural communities on three miles of hiking trails at the Springfield Nature Center. Once you've explored outdoors, warm up inside where you'll find nature exhibits, programs and activities for the kids.
Stroll along beautiful Lake Taneycomo on a 1.5-mile boardwalk at Branson Landing. Don't miss the outdoor water, fire, light and music show in the town square. Take a break along the way for some shopping, dining and fun at more than 100 specialty stores, waterfront restaurants and entertainment attractions.
Explore Cape Girardeau's history and its connection to the Mississippi River at the 1,100 foot long Mississippi River Tales Mural. The mural's 24 panels, 15 feet tall, are framed by stone arches. Access an audio tour on your cell phone and hear the city's history come to life.
A mile-long boardwalk will guide you into Missouri's only cypress swamp at Big Oak Tree State Park, located near East Prairie. In addition to cypress trees with their woody "knees," towering oaks and hickories – the tallest in the state – thrive in the rich soil.
Written by Liz Coleman