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31 Free and Unique Things to do in St. Louis This Fall

St. Louis is ー lucky for us ー one of those rare cities that has endless free options of enjoyable things to do, and it prides itself in maintaining this perk. The Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, and the Saint Louis Zoo (all located in the grandiose Forest Park, which is a free attraction on its own) are just the beginning of the many fun and free activities of which you can take advantage right here in the “Lou.”  

However, you can easily find hundreds of articles mentioning these common free attractions with a quick Google search. Once you’ve exhausted yourself on museums and trips to the zoo, there are still plenty of exciting things going on in St. Louis for free. So before you surrender 13 hard-earned dollars to The St. Louis Gateway Arch, take a look at this lengthy list of some of the fun, free festivals, fairs, and functions you can enjoy this fall in St. Louis!


For the Foodies and Food Truck Fanatics:

Technically, this won’t exactly be free unless you’re content with simply giving your olfactory a good time and taking in the atmosphere. More than likely, you’ll give in and spend a few dollars on some cuisine.


1. Taste of St. Louis: September 14-16

Food, live music, and the Stella Artois Chef Battle Royale culinary competition? Sign me up.

2. Sauce Food Truck Friday: September 14, October 5

More than 20 food trucks park right in Tower Grove Park for the enjoyment of your taste buds.

3. Q in the Lou: September 21-23

I don’t think I could describe this any better than their website does:

“We’re all about the BBQ in the Lou. And so we assembled the world’s most renowned pitmasters to feed you a whole lotta hog. Come grab a slab, pound some pork, and bury some brisket in your facehole while enjoying cold drinks and some killer live music at Kiener Plaza in Downtown STL.”

4. Food Truck on the Farm: September 28

Exactly as it sounds, this event put on by Eckert’s Belleville Farm gives you the opportunity to experience food truck food (and live music) on a farm!


For the Fest and Festival Fiends:


5. South Grand Fall Fest: September 15

This annual event includes more than 60 retail vendors and community organizations and gives you a chance to explore South Grand and Tower Grove.

6. The Greater St. Louis Hispanic Festival: September 21-23  

The Hispanic Festival’s mission is as follows: “to help increase regional awareness of the spectrum of cultural contributions made by Hispanic musicians, dancers, artisans, and chefs.” Their Facebook event provides a description of everything you can expect to find at this festival in Soulard!

7. BookFest St. Louis 2018: September 22

“BookFest St. Louis is a celebration of the literary arts that will bring dozens of local, regional and national authors together for a one-day festival in the Central West End. Festival-goers will be able to enjoy author presentations, panel discussions, book signings and an array of family-friendly activities and programming throughout the day.”

8. Strange Folk Festival: September 28-30

Strange is in the name. This indie craft festival in Carondelet Park prides itself on its “unique handmade wares, the best local bands, mobile restaurants, and atmospheric whimsy.”

9. Grove Fest: October 6

Street performers, live music, local Grove grub, local artists and vendors, and the traditional Grove Fest 13th annual paint-by-numbers outdoor wall mural. What else could you fest-ers want?

10. Craftoberfest: October 11

“St. Louis’s first open-air night market showcasing the best in modern craft + design”

11. Schlafly Full Moon Festival: October 27

Live music (obviously), a pig roast (less obvious), and the Schlafly Chili Cook-Off (the least obvious of the three) make the Schlafly Full Moon Festival what it is. But, of course, the most obvious draw for anyone 21-years-old and above would be the kegs.


For the Hot Air Balloon Devotees (?):


12. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race: September 14-15

It doesn’t get much more unique than “The oldest and most well-attended FREE Hot-Air Balloon Event in the world.” Enjoy live music and performances (including the Miller Lite Skydivers), fireworks, and the “Balloon Glow” all in addition to the actual race!


For the People Who Get Jazzed About Jazz Music:


13.  Jazz Concerts at The Dark Room

The Dark Room is right down the street from SLU and offers live jazz music every night of the week and at all times of the day! If you want something really unique, you can go to one of their “Brunchin’ in the Dark” shows, which occur every Sunday morning.   

14. Old Webster Jazz Fest

On its 17th year, the Old Webster Jazz Fest boasts “non-stop jazz and blues from two stages” as well as local food.

15. Wednesday Night Jazz Crawl

Starting right down the street from SLU at KDHX, this weekly Jazz Crawl brings you to a few of St. Louis’s jazz hotspots (including The Dark Room).

16. Live Music at Das Bevo

Thankfully, you don’t have to travel all the way to The Netherlands or Germany to sit under a windmill and enjoy live music; you can do it right here in St. Louis!


For the Thrifty Film Buffs:


17. Prairie Farms Movie Night – “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Jumanji”: September 17

Grab a blanket and some friends for this double feature starting at 6:30 with “A Wrinkle in Time followed by “Jumanji”. Although they are arguably not the greatest films, it could still be fun to watch them outside on the Busch II Infield!

18. Dark Money Screening and Discussion: September 17

If “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Jumanji” aren’t your cup of tea, there’s another option out there for you on the same night! The screening of “Dark Money,” a documentary that uncovers “the shocking and vital truth of how American elections are bought and sold,” also starts at 6:30 at an outdoor venue, the Public Media Commons.

19. Outdoor Summer Movie Series and Food Truck Frolic: September 21

Gather at the St. Charles Community College’s lawn for a free showing of “Incredibles 2” after checking out the food trucks, vendors, and live music.

20. “Monument to the Dream” Screening at The Arch: October 27

Head over to the Gateway Arch National Park on October 27th at 8pm for a special screening of Charles Guggenheim’s documentary about the building of the arch, “Monument to the Dream.” There will also be a live performance of the documentary’s score. Make sure to reserve your free tickets if you want to go!

21. St. Louis International Film Festival: November 1-11

There is an extensive list of free films of all kinds, dealing with an expansive range of issues, you can view during the St. Louis International Film Festival.


For the Lowkey (or Highkey) Intellectuals and Starving Artists:


22. 100 Boots: Aditi Machado and Geoffrey G. O’Brien: September 21

Get your poetry on by listening to readings by Aditi Machado and Geoffrey G. O’Brien at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

23. SHE Stories: Mixed: September 21

Through this event, SHE Stories brings you stories from people of mixed ethnicities, cultures, and racial backgrounds to explore diversity, the “beautiful and challenging dichotomy that has allowed us to both thrive and clash in very profound ways.”

24. SLAM Underground: September 28

SLAM Underground is admittedly somewhat of an enigma to me. It is a recurring event on the last Friday of each month at the Saint Louis Art Museum involving art, music, and cocktails. The event on the 28th is “first day of school” themed, which I’m not quite sure how to envision.

25. St. Louis Poetry Center Workshop with Pamela Garvey: October 21

Submit your poetry by October 14th at 11:59 pm by email to sunday.workshop@stlouispoetrycenter.org and get free feedback and critique from Pamela Garvey, a poet and professor of English, at the poetry workshop on October 21st.


For the Holiday Habitués:


26. Oktoberfest at Soulard Market: October 12-13

Celebrate St. Louis’s German heritage with live music, dancing, and food in Soulard, the oldest surviving residential neighborhood in the city of St. Louis and home to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery.

27. Halloween in the Central West End: October 27

By day, a kid-friendly atmosphere with a dog costume parade, live entertainment, and trick-or-treating. By night, an adult-only costume contest, a DJ, and fire dancers.

28. Ameren Missouri Festival of Lights: November 17

The Festival of Lights, taking place at the Kiener Plaza in Downtown St. Louis, offers live entertainment, “christmas village activities,” free ice skating for everyone, and a finale of tree lighting and fireworks!


For the Market Attendees:


29. An African Market In St. Louis: September 22

At Bowood Farms on September 22nd, you can find an authentic African market, which is meant to give you a glimpse of what an open-air market in Senegal would be like. The best part is that if you buy any of the traditional African food, fashion, or other artisan products, you will be supporting Expedition Sub Sahara’s effort to build a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) school for girls in Senegal, Africa.

30. Riverside Flea Market: September 22-23, October 27-28

This flea market offers “guaranteed treasure hunting fun through a wide selection of antiques, crafts, collectibles, and more.” Guaranteed.


For the Penny-pinching Aspiring Yogis:


31. Free Yoga at Ballpark Village: September 19th

Your last chance for free yoga at Ballpark Village until Spring! Don’t miss out. (And if you want some bargain sushi after a relaxing session of yoga, bring your yoga mat for 20% off at Drunken Fish).  


If you somehow read through that entire list, I’m impressed. Hopefully your calendar is now filled with free festivals, poetry readings, movie nights and more!


Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Saint Louis University. She is a Junior studying English and American Studies with a primary interest in 20th-Century and Contemporary American Literature, particularly semi-autobiographical fiction and novels that celebrate diversity within the fabric of American society and culture. Sarah is originally from Minneapolis, MN (and will talk your ear off about it) and loves all things literature, intersectional feminisim, travel, food, and politics. Ask her for recommendations for exciting new novels or local restaurants, and she will gladly oblige!
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