JEFFERSON CITY — Although calendars are already set for this year, school districts across Missouri will have to start two weeks later in 2020.
In action Thursday, Gov. Mike Parson bucked concerns voiced by local school administrators and signed legislation barring districts from setting an opening date for the school term that is more than 14 calendar days prior to the first Monday in September.
For this year, most St. Louis area school districts are set to start on Tuesday, Aug. 13. The Eureka-based Rockwood school district starts on Monday, Aug. 12, while the Ferguson-Florissant school district starts Thursday, Aug. 15.
Next year, however, the earliest districts can start will be Aug. 26, giving students two more weeks of summer in an attempt to boost tourism spending in the state.
The legislation was included in a package of school-related changes to state law that moved through both chambers on the final day of the Legislature’s annual session in May.
Supporters, including Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, argued that earlier school start dates are affecting the tourism industry as more families end their summer vacations in early August.
Among those favoring the prohibition were amusement park operators and lobbying groups representing hotel owners, campground owners and river outfitters.
“Everyone down here is for it. It helps tourism,” said Misty Barton, an employee at Jadwin Canoe Rental, which rents canoes, kayaks and rafts on the Current River in southern Dent County.
To offset the loss of days, Barton said school districts could shorten the time off they take around Christmas and New Year's.
The measure was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Knight, a Lebanon Republican whose district is south of Lake of the Ozarks.
"With schools starting so early, some of the places that cater to tourists were having to shut down because their teenage workers all had to quit to go back to class," Knight said.
Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia, said the extended summer will allow families to spend more time together.
"To me, this is a pro-family bill," said Pollitt, whose district includes the Missouri State Fairgrounds.
Opponents included the Missouri School Boards’ Association, which said the decision should be made locally.
An early start can mean finishing a semester and squeezing in final exams before winter break. It allows more learning to take place before standardized tests are given in the spring. And it can prevent holding classes in June to make up for snow days after a harsh winter.
“Obviously we don’t like the erosion of local control,” said Melissa Randol, executive director of the Missouri School Boards’ Association. “But, other components of the legislation were important to schools.”
The legislation is House Bill 604.
Local attractions perfect for entertaining kids in the summertime
Cahokia Mounds is home to the remnants of a huge Native American city, one of the largest built by the Mississippian mound-builder civilization. The city itself is long gone, but you can still walk up the famous Monk’s Mound — the tallest such earthwork in North America — and check out a re-creation of what a Cahokian's life was like at the interpretive center.
When Grounds open daily dawn to dusk, interpretive center open 9.a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays ● Where 30 Ramey Street, Collinsville ● How much Free admission, donations encouraged ● More info 618-346-5160; cahokiamounds.org
For all the explorers out there, nothing can quite compare to the City Museum. From the slides to the ball pit to the caves, it is nearly impossible to exhaust all of the possibilities in the museum in a single day. Plus, there’s a constantly rotating cast of exhibits on the upper floors, including a new funhouse exhibition opening June 7. A word to the wise: Wear sneakers and don’t worry too much if you find yourself climbing into an abandoned airplane.
When 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday ● Where 750 North 16th Street ● How much $16, $13 Friday and Saturday, $5 extra for roof ● More info 314-231-2489; citymuseum.org
Endangered Wolf Center
The Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka is home to threatened canine species from around the world. Not only does the center help protect these species, but they also offer tours where the public can meet the residents, which include a new litter of African painted dogs as well as Mexican wolves, red wolves and more. Reservations are required, so you have to do some advance planning, but it’s worth it for an up-close experience with some animals you can’t see anywhere else in St. Louis.
When Reservations required, tours 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. daily except Tuesdays ● Where 6750 Tyson Valley Road, Eureka ● How much $20, $21 per person ● More info 636-938-5900; endangeredwolfcenter.org
Go Ape offers a 2- to 3-hour traverse through the treetops, including a full ropes course, aerial obstacles and zip lines. It's perfect for a summer afternoon if you’re looking to get your adrenaline going, or if you really want to get over a fear of heights.
When Reservations required ● Where 13219 Streetcar Drive, Maryland Heights ● How much $59, $29 ages 10-15 ● More info 1-800-971-8271; goape.com
Grant’s Farm has something for everyone. For the kids, there’s a petting zoo and animal feeding in the Tier Garten, while adults can enjoy the Bauernhof, a traditional Bavarian village that offers free samples of Anheuser-Busch beverages. Tragically, the park’s elephants died at the end of last season, but the new-look Grant’s Farm will feature expanded hours, water buffalo, capybaras, kangaroos and more new creatures, as well as an improved petting zoo, which includes miniature cattle and sheep.
When 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Aug. 10 (extended Friday night hours); limited hours after Aug. 10 ● Where 10501 Gravois Road ● How much Free admission ($15 parking) ● More info 314-577-2626; grantsfarm.com
The Magic House, also known as the St. Louis Children’s Museum, is packed with activities and exhibits meant to pique children’s curiosity. From a room full of bubbles, to a special area for construction, to a three-story slide, there is plenty here for kids of all sizes and interests. From May 25 through Sept. 8, visit "The Pigeon Comes to St. Louis! A Mo Willems Exhibit." From May 23 through June 30, play in the sand on at their own Sandcastle Beach. On June 7, the museum's first permanent satellite location, the Magic House @ MADE, will open at 5127 Delmar Boulevard.
When 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday ● Where 516 South Kirkwood Road ● How much $12, $5 for the Magic House @ MADE ● More info 314-822-8900; magichouse.org
Mastodon State Historic Site
Home to the site where scientists first discovered proof of the coexistence of humans and American mastodons, the museum there features a collection of fossils and a fully reconstructed mastodon skeleton. Plus the park features three hiking trails and picnic sites to supplement the museum experience with some nature.
When Museum is open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, noon-4:30 p.m. Sundays ● Where 1050 Charles J. Becker Drive, Imperial ● How much $4, free for children under 12 ● More info 636-464-2976; mostateparks.com
Missouri Botanical Garden
Get in touch with nature within the city limits at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The garden is home to beautiful horticulture, and is the perfect place for a summertime stroll or a scenic picnic. For an after-hours experience, check out the new Garden Party Lights, open Thursdays through Sundays beginning July 6.
When 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily ● Where 4344 Shaw Boulevard ● How much $14, $6 for St. Louis city and county residents, free for children ● More info 314-577-5100; missouribotanicalgarden.org,
For a family trip that might teach a little bit about the four-legged animals that are a part of so many families, Purina Farms in Gray Summit is worth a drive. For the dog lovers, there are daily performances of canine agility, and if you love animals in general it is hard to beat a baby animal petting center.
When 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays after May 28 ● Where 500 William Danforth Way, Gray Summit ● How much Free ● More info 314-982-3232; purinafarms.com
Raging Rivers WaterPark
Raging Rivers is the granddaddy of water parks in the area, that that doesn't mean it's getting long in the tooth. The water park overlooking the Mississippi River has everything you want in a water wonderland, from a wave pool to a lazy river to handful of big slides. There's even an area for little ones.
Where 100 Palisades Parkway, Grafton • When Hours vary, May 25 to Sept. 2 • How much $22.95-$26.95 (save $5 after 3 p.m.) • More info 618-786-2345; ragingrivers.com
To see our complete guide to area swimming pools and waterparks, go to stltoday.com/pools.
Nothing says summertime quite like a roller coaster, and there are no roller coasters quite like the ones at Six Flags. From classic coasters and other death-defying thrill rides to some more child-friendly thrills and a water park, there is something for everyone regardless of how brave you are when it comes to amusement parks. The new draw to Six Flags this summer is Supergirl, a spinning thrill ride that takes the brave souls who ride it nearly seven stories into the air.
When 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; water park open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. from May 25 ● Where 4900 Six Flags Road, Eureka ● How much $44 in advance, $68 at door ● More info 636-938-5300; sixflags.com
Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House
The main attraction is the tropical conservatory, which houses more than 2,000 butterflies freely fluttering their hearts out. You can also enjoy the summer weather outside in the Native Butterfly Garden, a “backyard” garden where caterpillars grow into butterflies. The Butterfly House is also hosting three festivals through the summer, for fireflies, frogs and summertime winged creatures, respectively.
When 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays ● Where 15193 Olive Boulevard, Chesterfield ● How much $8, $5 for children 3-12 ● More info 314-577-0888; mobot.org
St. Louis Science Center
If you like your family’s summer fun to come with a little bit of learning, the St. Louis Science Center is a good place to start. Home to a huge variety of hands-on science exhibits, including a Makerspace that has been revamped for 2019, and "Pompeii: The Exhibition," which opened earlier in May, there is no better place to spend a summer day exhausting your curiosity. Plus, the Omnimax theater is always fun for an immersive 3D experience, this summer’s special feature puts viewers at Pompeii during the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
When 9:30 a.m-5:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Memorial Day through Labor Day ● Where 5050 Oakland Avenue ● How much Free; admission for Pompeii exhibit ● More info 314-289-4400; slsc.org
St. Louis Zoo
What’s a summer in St. Louis without a trip to the zoo? Forest Park is home to one of America’s best zoos, and admission is free. They’re not quite as small and cuddly as they were last summer, but the litter of cheetah cubs that was born in November 2017 are still pretty cute. And of course you'll find classics like the penguins and sea lions.
When 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily ● Where 1 Government Drive ● How much Free admission (some attractions cost money) ● More info 314-781-0900; stlzoo.org
World Bird Sanctuary
Part animal rescue sanctuary, part hiking trail, part zoo, the World Bird Sanctuary is a center for research and rescue for endangered birds. Luckily for the public, it is also free to visit the full range of feathered friends that call the sanctuary home. This summer, the World Bird Sanctuary is also asking for help from the public to socialize their newest baby barn owl with special daily encounters.
When 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily ● Where 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Road Valley Park ● How much Free ● More info 636-225-4390 Ext. 1001; worldbirdsanctuary.org
Let’s be honest, it gets pretty hot around these parts in the summer. Here are a few places where you can have some summer thrills while still experiencing that sweet air conditioning.
America’s Incredible Pizza • 5254 South Lindbergh Boulevard • 314-282-8742; stlouisincrediblepizza.com
Bounce U • 4403 Meramec Bottom Road, Suite C; 17365 Edison Avenue, Chesterfield • 314-845-7529, 636-532-5867; bounceu.com
Chesterfield Sports Fusion • 140 Long Road, Chesterfield • 636-536-6720; chesterfieldsportsfusion.com
Demolition Ball/ Adrenaline Zone • 1875 Old Highway 94 South, St. Charles • 636-940-7700; db-az.com
Edison’s Entertainment Complex • 2477 South State Route 157, Edwardsville • 618-307-9020; edisonsfun.com
Epic 6 Laser Tag & Sports Arena • 601 Gravois Bluffs Boulevard, Suite G, Fenton • 636-600-1890; epic6fun.com
Kokomo Joe’s Family Fun Center • 4105 North Cloverleaf Drive A, St. Peters • 636-447-5656; kjfun.com
Monkey Joe’s • 9061 Watson Road and 4732 Mid Rivers Mall Drive, St. Peters • 314-962-5637 (South County), 636-487-0620 (St. Peters); monkeyjoes.com
Pole Position Raceway • 8800 Watson Road • 314-925-7545; polepositionraceway.com
Pump it Up • 3691 New Town Boulevard, St. Charles • 636-946-9663; pumpitupparty.com
Skyzone • 17379 Edison Avenue, Chesterfield; 631 Gravois Road, Fenton; 10850 Lincoln Trail, Fairview Heights • 636-530-4550 (Chesterfield), 636-364-4444 (Fenton), 618-589-1111 (Fairview Heights); skyzone.com
Rockin’ Jump • 7375 Watson Road, Kirkwood • 314-270-1669; rockinjump.com
Upper Limits • 326 South 21st Street; 1874 Lackland Hill Parkway, Maryland Heights; 17375 Edison Avenue, Chesterfield; 326 South 21st Street • 314-991-2516 (Maryland Heights), 636-735-3270 (Chesterfield), 314-241-7625 (downtown); upperlimits.com
Escape rooms are so popular these days that there was even a movie based on them. But just because they’re a bit of a fad doesn’t mean the interactive puzzle rooms aren’t also a ton of fun, and there are a lot of great options in the area.
Beast Escape Room • Tuesday-Sunday; 4517 IL-159 No. 4, Glen Carbon; $25; 618-530-7341; beastescaperoom.com
Breakout Games • Open daily; 14523 Manchester Road, Ballwin; $19.99-$29.99; 636-200-5751; breakoutgames.com
Can You Escape? • Wednesday through Sunday; 2700 Locust Street; $28; 314-635-8611
Cracked • Friday-Saturday; 1522 Caulks Hill Road, St. Charles; $29.99; 636-442-2254; crackedstl.com
Escape Challenge St. Louis • Thursday-Sunday; 11978 Dorsett Road, Maryland Heights; $23-25; 314-736-4757; escapechallengestl.com
Escape From St. Louis • Open daily; 7403 Manchester Road, Maplewood; $24-$34; 314-202-8880; escapefromstl.com
Escape the Room • Tuesday-Sunday; 1201 Washington Avenue; $28-$30; 314-828-5178; stlouis.escapetheroom.com
Escape STL • Tuesday-Sunday; 2650 South Hanley Road; $23.95; 314-269-5889; escape-stl.com
Mastermind Room Escape • Tuesday-Sunday; 440 North Fourth Street No. 290, 314-690-3356; 3900 Old Highway 94 South No. 1, St. Charles; 636-373-7801; $28; mastermindroomescape.com
No Way Out • Open daily; 3502 Papin Street; $26; 314-297-7367; nowayoutstl.com
Red Herring Escape Rooms • Open daily; 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 222, University City; $25-$27.50; 314-899-9901; rherooms.com
St. Louis Escape • Wednesday-Sunday; 1517 South Eighth Street; $25-$28; 314-304-1947; stlouisescape.com
If you’re frustrated about not being able to take that perfect vacation this summer, the next best thing might be getting your frustration out by throwing an ax against a wall. Luckily, ax-throwing is the latest big thing, and there are a number of places where you can hurl an ax in St. Louis.
The Axe House • 20 Meramec Valley Plaza Drive, Valley Park • 314-338-6171; theaxehousestl.com
Amp Up Action Park • 13901 Manchester Road, Town and Country • 314-439-8008; ampupactionpark.com
Top Notch Axe Throwing • 440 North Fourth Street, No. 170 • 1-213-885-1242; topnotchaxethrowing.com
STL Axe Throwing • 1862 Scherer Parkway, St. Charles • 636-757-3033; teambuildingstl.com
Lumberjack Saloon • 720 North 1st Street • 314-296-3282; lumberjackstl.com