Back in 1944, before St. Louis became the bustling metropolis it is today, the burgeoning city was immortalized in the film classic, Meet Me In St. Louis, starring Judy Garland. 

Yet even if you adore the city, there are times — especially in summer — when you yearn for a day trip to some other locale that offers fun for the whole family.

We’ve rounded up six excursions that provide a nice change of scenery, without needing to travel very far or break the bank for a day of enjoyment:

  1.   Augusta. Just 37 miles west of St Louis, unassuming Augusta is the original wine country of the United States. Napa Valley may be more famous now, but long before Sonoma County became known as the wine capital, Augusta was the premier American Viticultural Area (AVA). Helping return Augusta to its glory days, David Hoffmann and his wife, Jerri, have invested generously in Augusta, which is just across the river from where Hoffmann grew up. His vision is to make Augusta into a global wine destination. It’s already a wedding destination, so creating a world-class golf course, spa, art gallery, restaurants, and hotel will only enhance Augusta’s existing appeal.
  1.   Finger Lakes State Park. Seeking something bucolic for your day trip? There are a number of beautiful parks within an easy drive of St. Louis, such as Finger Lakes. Built in a former coal mining area, the state park is just two hours from St. Lou, and spans 1100 acres of hills, ravines and slopes, making for enjoyable hiking, biking, and, for the thrill seekers, ATV exploration. And even though it’s an easy day trip, you might be having so much fun you’ll decide to make a weekend of it, and stay at their spacious campground.
  1.   Fugitive Beach. You don’t have to be running from the law to enjoy a day at the amusingly named Fugitive Beach, though you may want to run into the water to cool off — even if no one’s chasing you. Fugitive Beach is a unique water park and volleyball court, with picnic areas and plenty of shade, so it’s a popular place the whole family can enjoy on hot summer days. Be sure to make a reservation, though, or you may find yourself on the run to someplace else.
  1.   Meramec Caverns. Want to go underground, even if you’re not a fugitive? Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri, is only an hour from St. Louis and provides a cool experience in the literal sense of the word. A long cavern structure that’s part of the Ozarks, Meramac offers a variety of guided tours — and is located next to the Meramec River, so you can also arrange to kayak or canoe while you’re there.
  1.   Laumeier Sculpture Park. This one’s for the kids — and for adults who appreciate art and architecture. A mere 20 minutes from St. Louis in Sappington, Laumeier Sculpture Park is an open-air museum featuring approximately 60 installations. While the children are exploring the outdoor structures, you can visit the indoor structure, which used to be a Tudor mansion, and envision a vastly different way of life.
  1.   Great River Road. A road that spans ten states? Small wonder it’s called Great River. Parts of this meandering road pass through Missouri along the Mississippi River, which traverses numerous cities, towns, and both state and national parks. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys cruising the open road, you’ll love this drive, with its many points of diversion along the way.

Enjoy your gateway getaways! You’ll return home refreshed, appreciating St. Louis anew for all it offers.