Summer may be coming to a close, but West County still has several more months of premier outdoor weather ahead of it – more than enough time to get outside and enjoy the various parks the local municipalities have to offer.
Upcoming events, such as the Manchester Homecoming, Sept. 9-11 in Paul A. Schroeder Park, and West Newsmagazine’s own 20th anniversary celebration on Sept. 11 in Vlasis Park, will show off two of the parks West County residents are lucky to have easy access to, but here’s a more complete list for your use with a few insights into their features and histories.
Ballwin – Vlasis Park – 300 Park Drive
Vlasis Park is geared for sports. With two baseball diamonds, four tennis courts, two sand volleyball courts and eight horseshoe courts, the park is almost bursting with places to play.
It also has a walking path and two pavilions for less intense outdoor activities. The park itself is gorgeously landscaped, with all the amenities laid out in a big half-circle around one of the baseball diamonds. Two ponds – one of which is stocked with fish – add to the scenery of the park.
Vlasis Park also features a historical log cabin: the Harrison-Schmidt-Dahlke Log House. According to St. Louis County, the cabin is said to have been built in 1849 by
Maryland native Joshua Harrison and his wife, Martha Anne Shotwell. The cabin was moved to Vlasis Park in 1992.
Vlasis Park got its namesake from former Ballwin Mayor George Vlasis, who held office from 1956-1961. Ballwin acquired the parkland during Vlasis’ tenure as mayor.
Chesterfield – Central Park – 16365 Lydia Hill Drive
Chesterfield’s Central Park is a marvel to stroll around. When you walk to the western-most corner of the park along the edge of the lake, and look over the lake, it’s pretty hard not to appreciate the beauty of the area.
The park’s trails, and the bridge spanning the central lake, let guests walk a lazy figure eight around the water. Spots for fishing also dot the 38-acre park, and sculptures are interspersed with its natural scenery. The park also abuts two walking trails: the Riparian Trail Loop and Chesterfield Parkway Loop.
Creve Coeur – Millennium Park – 2 Barnes West Drive
Millennium Park has two playgrounds, a pavilion, barbecue grill, a paved walking trail, restrooms, soccer field and a softball/baseball field. The park has a splash pad as well, adding a bit of water-related fun to its amenities.
Millennium also features the Tappmeyer House, a historic home built in Frederick Wilheim and Adelia Tappmeyer from 1880-1884 and moved to the park in 2003.
Originally, the house was built at the corner of present-day Olive Boulevard and Ross Avenue. It was part of a 33-acre farm where the Tappmeyers grew clover hay, wheat, alfalfa and corn. Five years after arriving in Millennium Park, the Tappmeyer House underwent extensive renovations, adding new plumbing, and a handicapped-accessible bathroom, among other repairs.
Des Peres – Phantom Conservation Area – 2660 Barrett Station Road
In 1949, Ray Moore, the original illustrator of the Phantom comic strip, and his wife, Claire, purchased 13 acres of land along Barrett Station Road.
The Moore property is a reflection of Claire’s passion for trees, plants and wildflowers indigenous to the local region. Upon Claire’s death on June 1, 2005, the property was donated to the Missouri Department of Conservation. In honor of her husband, Claire named the property Phantom Forest. This conservation area is accessed by a small parking lot and trailhead off Barrett Station Road.
According Des Peres’ website, Claire reportedly said, “I hope the forest is a source of quiet pleasure in the midst of a locality that is building up so fast. People need a place to walk that is more natural. I hope it means something to a lot of other people, too.”
The nature area remains just that: a quiet, calm and secluded trek through the trees.
Brian Schaffer, Parks and Recreations director for the city of Des Peres [who maintains the trail] said the wood-chip hiking trail is about a half-mile long, and provides ample opportunity for bird and animal watching.
Ellisville – Bluebird Park – 225 Kiefer Creek Rd
Of all Ellisville’s parks, which are all named after birds, the 167.36-acre Bluebird Park is the most well known, and for good reason.
The sprawling park is much more vertical than most other parks and features several rolling hills within its borders.
The park also has three tennis courts onsite and available for open use, as well as a 9-hole disc golf course. In addition, Ellisville residents can make use of the city’s free bike-share program. There also is a good deal of open green space for those with picnics in mind. The park also features exercise stations, featuring equipment like pull-up bars, along one of its trails.
Eureka – Lion’s Park – 340 Bald Hill Road
Another great park for sports, Lion’s Park has two lighted tennis courts, four baseball fields, two soccer fields and a batting tunnel. The tennis courts also are lined and marked for pickleball, which is quickly growing in popularity in the area. In addition to the different courts and ball fields, Lion’s Park also has a tall, distinct and almost bird cage-like playground.
Eureka’s director of Parks and Recreations Missy Myers said she feels Lion’s Park acts a hub for the community, whether it be “children participating in organized sports, families hosting private events or just a day out at the playground.”
Manchester – Paul A. Schroeder Park – 359 Old Meramec Station Road
Home to almost every celebration in Manchester including community concerts, Paul A. Schroeder Park also boasts all the typical park amenities – ball fields, playgrounds and tennis courts. Additionally, the park offers a fine nature trail and a disc golf course that is popular with players throughout St. Louis County. Sand volleyball pits round out the athletic offerings.
On the cultural side, the park is home to the city’s latest public art project, utility boxes painted by artist Allen Kriegshauser.
A rare commodity, Manchester has a merry-go-round at its playground –a delightful find for kids of all ages.
Town & Country –Drace Park – 2310 Cedar Valley Road
Drace Park in Town & Country is located just east of Interstate 270 and south of Clayton Road. Several historic log cabins sit at the front of the park, the entirety of which is ringed by a walking trail. A playground sits in the middle of the property, next to a large wooden picnic pavilion.
Town & Country is also known for Longview Farm Park, located at 13525 Clayton Road, just west of Mason Road. Longview has trails in the park that make their way around a nearby lake, pastures and stables. In addition to the walking paths, a playground is on-site to entertain youngsters, and a pavilion and grill are available for family gatherings.
Twin Oaks – Twin Oaks Park – 5 Ann Avenue
Tucked away in one of West County’s smallest municipalities, Twin Oaks Parks is a tiny green jewel amidst the trees. Directly south of Twin Oaks Christian School, this linear park has a modern playground in the front, walking trail and water feature in the back.
This park actually underwent a major renovation in 2011. As new playground equipment was installed, the Village of Twin Oaks donated the original equipment to the Kids Around the World charitable organization. That organization takes and completely refurbishes playgrounds for re-installation across the globe, impacting kids in countries affected by war, poverty, disease or natural disaster. The Twin Oaks equipment ended up in Osh, Kyrgyzstan [a country in Central Asia] in 2012.
Wildwood – Community Park – 2153 Highway 109
One of the newest parks on this list, Wildwood’s Community Park has a major focus on its playground, and as a result, is every kid’s dream park. The playground features large, open areas conducive to running about unhindered. Yet, it is still filled with a large variety of different types of jungle gyms and tree houses.
For the slightly older park patron, a large pavilion offers a place to rest, relax and grill. Wildwood’s trail network also connects to the park through Windsor Crest Subdivision, just west of the recently installed State Route 109 pedestrian bridge, providing walking access for local residents.
Winchester – Reber Park – 109 Lindy Blvd
Reber Park is a multi-use area ergonomically fitted into a municipality spanning just .25 square miles. The park has baseball fields, a pavilion and a large barbecue pit. Additionally, it has two open playground areas separated by several benches.
It’s a community park like you’d expect to find 20 or 30 years ago, and it’s classy feel is refreshing.