Why the Boathouse in Forest Park Should Make Your Summer Bucket List

Ice cream and fireworks. Swimming pools and picnics. These are just a few things synonymous with summertime. In St. Louis, you can add the all-too-familiar humidity to that list. However, for those looking to enjoy the scenic beauty of one of the most prominent city parks in the country, look no further than spending a perfect summer’s day at the Boathouse in Forest Park.

Nestled along the banks of the Post-Dispatch Lake in Forest Park, the Boathouse is an established St. Louis landmark that allows guests to journey across twenty-two acres of beautiful waterways and wildlife. Through Boathouse Paddle Co., visitors can choose from paddleboards or boats, canoes or kayaks, ranging from $15-$22. But boating isn’t the only activity that visitors enjoy. On any given night, patrons can enjoy festivals, live music, a full food menu (including a special dog menu) and bar with friends, family and colleagues.

Nothing like summer in the city

According to General Manager Natalie Rolwes, visitors have a lot to look forward to this summer, including float-in movie nights and boat races.

“This summer we’ll host bi-weekly stand up paddleboard yoga classes ($30),” she says.  “We will also host weekly Moonlight Picnics on the Lake ($80), which includes dinner and drinks for two and a chance to enjoy sunset on the water from a paddle boat. Later in the season, we'll host a special moonlight picnic for the St. Louis Symphony's performance on Art Hill.”

Front of House Manager Laura Compton adds, “We’ll also have music on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. Plus, there will be lots of dog-friendly events!”

Both Rolwes and Compton are anticipating a busy summer, but are ready to dive in head first to the season. Rowles is particularly excited for the SUP yoga sessions, while Compton can’t wait to see their partnership with CARESTL come to life.

“I love SUP yoga and am excited for it to begin again when the weather warms up,” says Rolwes. “There's nothing more peaceful than the final moments of class when the sun is setting on the lagoon, birds and crickets are chirping and you're floating on your paddle board in savasana (corpse pose).”

Regarding the CARESTL partnership, Compton notes, “We have teamed up with CARESTL which is a nonprofit organization that serves as the established, no-kill partner for the City of St. Louis Animal Care and Control shelter. We will be doing many events where we will give back to the organization.”

Your 2019 STL summer bucket list

Rolwes and Compton were not the only ones who had good things to say about the Boathouse. Several guests felt inclined to share their stories of why they love the Boathouse in Forest Park, and why everyone, St. Louis natives and visitors alike, should stop by.

“I come to the Boathouse maybe twice a month and I love it because it’s in the heart of the city, but you have such beautiful scenery surrounding you,” says Sarah Jotterand, a recent graduate from Saint Louis University who is enjoying graduation festivities with her family in town Wisconsin. “It’s the ultimate St. Louis activity and it’s something that everyone in our city is always talking about.

Another graduate, this time from Washington University in St. Louis, echoed the love for the Park and the Boathouse.

“I come to Forest Park about four times a week or so, but this is my first time at the Boathouse,” says Meta Skillrud. “My sister is visiting because I’m graduating and we wanted to do something fun. We immediately thought of the Boathouse because this has always been on my bucket list. It’s such a unique experience to come out here and enjoy food, live music and kayaking.”

For first-timers David and Kelly Simpson, a visit to the Boathouse was everything they’d hoped it would be, especially considering the special occasion.

“Not only is it a beautiful day, but we’re also out celebrating our anniversary,” says Kelly. “This is actually our first time coming to the Boathouse. We’ve seen it a bunch of times but had never been able to actually make it out here. It’s so relaxing, it’s great fun and the price is pretty good too!”

The couple tried out the paddleboats this time, but plan to give the double kayaks a go on their next visit.

When asked about what makes the Boathouse so special, Front of House Manager Compton mentions the rich history of Forest Park and the 1904 World's Fair, but also the central location to experience so much of a beautiful city.

“Having a view in the middle of the City of St. Louis of a gorgeous lake and families enjoying the paddle boats, seeing kids feeding ducks and couples getting engaged,” she says. “There is nothing like it in St. Louis and I am very proud to be a part of it.”

General Manger Rolwes adds to her colleague’s sentiments.

“There's no other place like the Boathouse in St. Louis,” she says. “It's a great restaurant experience coupled with beautiful scenery, and amazing atmosphere and awesome outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Rodney Pruitt